Send the kids to school
KINGSTON – Jamaica’s Education Minister Andrew Holness has said parents who fail to send their children to school on a regular basis could face strict penalties under the Education Act and the Child Care and Protection Act.
He said the current 80 per cent school attendance rate was unacceptable and he is considering having certain areas declared compulsory attendance zones, under the Education Act. And Holness made it clear that poverty would not be considered a valid excuse for absenteeism.
“There are parents who are not sending their children to school regularly. I want to (say) to those parents, if the difficulty is an economic one, if your household does not have the economic resources to send the children to school on a regular basis that, in itself, is not an excuse. I certainly do not accept it as an excuse,” he said.
The education minister said those who faced economic challenges could reach out to the various relevant agencies set up to provide financial assistance to the needy – such as the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education – as well as their political representatives, school principals, guidance counsellors or ministers of religion.
“I could only forgive you if you tried and the system did not respond. That is your only excuse, but if you did not try and your children are not in school, then I find you guilty,” Holness said.
He said records had shown that there were students in the system who were registered but only attended on certain days, while there were those who did not attend school at all.
“That’s a significant loss of contact time in education. This is not just a rural phenomenon. We notice that this is significant in urban, inner city areas,” Holness noted.