The Ministry of Education has put parents on notice that it plans to seek out school-aged children who have been forced to seek employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools.
Subject Minister, Priya Manickchand led the charge on Monday as schools across the country reopened its doors to grades 10, 11, and 12; she said once these children are found, the Ministry intends to have them returned to the school environment where they rightfully belong.
Schools across Guyana have been closed since March when Guyana recorded its first case and death of COVID-19. Manickchand had reported a 60 per cent turnout of students across five regions and said while the Ministry supports parents who have chosen to keep their children at home, it will be investigating the circumstances.
“If you are choosing to stay home, we ask that you stay in touch with us… tell us how we can help you to educate your child. We understand your decisions and we are going to support them.
“While you can keep students home and not send them, we will be investigating the reasons why,” the Minister said.
Manickchand said studies across the world have shown that the longer children stay out of school, they are more likely to suffer from learning loss and becoming dropouts. She acknowledged that under any circumstance, this cohort of students currently affected by the COVID – 19 pandemic will be affected for the rest of their lives.
“We have to examine with the numbers that came out today… was it because of choice? Or is it because somebody’s child has already been lost to the labour force? If that is the case, we will go after each child and bring them back into the system,” the Minister said.
Manickchand could not say to what extent this has occurred, but she promised to approach parents, who have kept their children at home, to provide answers.
“These are not normal times and we are aware that we have to step out of the rigid application of our rules and policies…we want to ensure that our children are educated to the point to write and pass their exams,” she added.
Since the closure of schools, about 55 per cent of children have been academically engaged across the country through a blended approach to teaching. Even with schools reopened, that blended approach continues.