The Ministry of Education’s Schools’ Welfare Services nabbed a number of truant students in Sophia when it conducted a campaign there on Friday.
Two groups comprising welfare officers and guidance counsellors accompanied by officers from the Turkeyen Police Station conducted the exercise, a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release said. The team also distributed several flyers pertaining to truancy and child protection laws to the Sophia residents.
Chief Schools Welfare Officer, Carol Melville said that the objective of the campaign is to educate persons about the importance of education. “We want everybody to get on board to have all children attend school,” she said.
The Welfare division conducts two major truancy campaigns per term and the areas they visit are based on the records of attendance the different schools submit to the agency. Mini campaigns are also conducted at the Georgetown bus parks at 9 am weekdays to ensure that students get to school on time.
GINA said the division also collaborates with a number of empowerment agencies such as the Ministry of Social Services and the Child Protection Agency which provides support in addressing a number of social problems unearthed during these exercises. “If a child has been found to be abused, that child is referred to the Child Protection Agency.
Officers within the welfare department also assist by providing counselling,” Melville said. The truancy campaign has also facilitated placement of a number of previously unregistered school children, she added. During the campaigns, if the agency finds that a child is not in school, that child is referred to the placement unit of the ministry and is subsequently placed in a school.
The agency has also taken legal action against 51 parents of absconders. GINA said the magistrate advised these parents to be more active in ensuring their children attend school. “If the parents fail to carry out the order of the magistrate, the parents are taken again before court and a fine given to them,” Melville said.
The chief officer also added that she believes that parents have taken note of the seriousness of the campaign and have been heeding the advice of the magistrate as “so far no parents have been fined.” Melville also noted that the “campaigns are very effective” …“and the agency has noticed that fewer children are at home during their campaigns.”