The first day of ‘Operation Recovery’ saw education officers making contact and engaging over 500 school children across the country, who were absent from the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examination.
The goal is to reach out to every pupil who did not write the assessment.
The visits were conducted across 538 homes in Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine and Ten. Officers in Regions Seven and Eight are in the fields and have not yet submitted the requested data.
Some of the reasons for absenteeism included financial constraints, unstable families, illness, babysitting younger children, migration to the workforce and requirement of school supplies among others.
For those students, the Ministry of Education has undertaken to provide the required assistance and access to Welfare officers in some cases while those who were ill have since returned to the classrooms.
In other cases, a number of students have migrated, some have been transferred to other schools where they have written the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examination and others are being home schooled.
In addition to locating the Grade Six pupils, the exercise is also finding other children who have not been attending school.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, expressed gratitude to individuals, religious organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and other bodies that have reached out to the ministry to help in achieving its goal of getting every student back into schools.
The minister noted that this will be an ongoing exercise and organized partnerships with said bodies are underway. The minister noted that as horrible as the COVID-19 pandemic has been it has also brought opportunities, one of which will be addressing the issue of drop outs that has dogged the system for many years.
Chief Education Officer Dr. Marcel Hutson noted that the initiative is important now since dropping out of school at such a young age can have lasting effects on student’s lives.
“Primary education is a fundamental level, that is an education that is a requirement by law and we want to ensure that we find our children so we’re doing everything within our power and we’re applying all of our resources, whether we have to use boats, whether we have to use ATVs, cars, whether we have to walk- sun or shine we’re going to find these children,” he said.
Further, he emphasized that the exercise does not seek to target parents but to provide remediation to those in need ahead of the NGSA in June.
“I just want parents to know that this is not an attack on parents, it is not an attack on anybody, we want to find out why they’re not in school and maybe what kind of help that they may need to get into the school system because we have to face that some people have serious problems because of the pandemic,” the CEO said.
In some regions, required assistance have already been provided to the parents to ensure that the students can restart school in the new week.
Operation Recovery is an ongoing process which will be extended to the other Grades as the Ministry of Education seeks to ensure every child is educated.
The ministry believes firmly that urgent, practical, sustained measures such as teaching and learning from a consolidated curriculum, the provision of textbooks, re-training of teachers, using technology in the classroom and Operation Recovery will mitigate against the expected drop outs and learning loss to our students and country that research and studies have predicted. (Ministry of Education press release)