Charging parents who keep children away from school

Interviews and photos by Oliceia Simon-Tinnie and Dhanash Ramroop

The Ministry of Education has said it will move to charge parents who keep their children away from school without a valid excuse. We asked the man and woman in the street for their views on this announcement. Their comments follow:

Laushana Massiah
Laushana Massiah

Laushana Massiah, Fisheries field assistant – ‘I feel that the decision is a good one because children do not know better and it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are being adequately prepared to face the challenges of the future. Parents who neglect this responsibility should face consequences for their actions.’

Deirdre Campbell
Deirdre Campbell

Deirdre Campbell – ‘Parents should be held responsible for their decisions on their children’s education. Without producing a valid reason for keeping their children from school, I do think some measures should be taken to remind them of their responsibilities along with the importance of a child’s education. Off the back I think fines would be to some extent appropriate, but I am no expert. However, I do not support being put behind bars for a situation like this. For me, that would be a bit too extreme, so I guess finding balance between those boundaries would have a significant effect on the situation.’

Shivani Prashad
Shivani Prashad

Shivani Prashad – ‘Parents have the majority of control when it comes to whether a child has a right to education or not. Nevertheless, every child deserves a right to be educated. Parents should be held responsible for depriving their child an education. Charges against these parents, however, may not be the best solution to solve this issue. Many parents, perhaps will not be capable of adhering to these charges due to their financial situation. In fact, their financial situation may be the reason they’re not attending school. An appropriate solution, in this case, would be to further investigate before presenting the parents with a charge and perhaps educate the parents with information on the nearest public school and provide them with a budgeting service that would be in favour of the child’s education. Putting the parents behind bars is far from an appropriate solution.’

Nicola Halloway
Nicola Halloway

Nicola Halloway – ‘It is the responsibility of parents to ensure their child/children receive a sound education, this can only be realized if children are being sent to school regularly. In addition, every child has a right to be educated and hampering this by a series of absenteeism is infringing on the child’s right. Children have to be sent to school to be taught and it is the parents’ duty to ensure this happens regularly. Low absenteeism will result in high performance since consistency plays a pivotal role in learning. Therefore I stand in support of the ministry’s decision to charge these delinquent parents.’

Shanna Alleyne
Shanna Alleyne

Shanna Alleyne  – ‘Some parents may not or cannot afford to send their children to school, however, the government has recently tried to implement ways/means whereby parents can send their children to school without putting a lot of strain on the parents. Parents are given uniform vouchers which would assist them in getting uniforms for the terms along with public assistance. Some parents would collect the public assistance and spend it on themselves or use it for other things instead of sending their children to school. Such parents should be punished because at the end of the day it’s the child that’s going to be affected in the long run. If you have a child that stays away from school every 3 to 4 weeks in a school term, the child is placed at a great disadvantage at the end of the school term. Some parents keep their children home for simple and stupid reasons. So I agree that charges ought to be implemented against such negligent parents.’

Tenesha George
Tenesha George

Tenesha George – ‘A part of me believes that they should implement the charges on those parents because that means the parents are denying their children education. After all, education is of importance. If a child doesn’t receive a sound education in later days it may tell on the child. It may have an effect on the outer world of socialization for that child and that child may even feel worthless. On the other hand, the ministry doesn’t know what the parents have to do in order to get their children educated. Not sending them to school doesn’t make the parent a bad person, but if there is no valid reason charges should be implemented. Parents don’t have the right to keep a child from learning.’

Yuance Baird
Yuance Baird

Yuance Baird – ‘I think the ministry should investigate further because even if someone has problems they’re not always confident to open up about it to others. So before they decide to charge anyone let them first know the real reason. Just my thoughts.’

dianna-bruceDianna Bruce – ‘Well firstly I do agree with the Ministry of Education penalizing parents who decide to keep their child/ children away from school without a valid reason. The reason being that every child has the right to an education, by law. Taking away a child’s education is like taking away 3/4 of a child’s life. Especially if his or her education is taken away and is replaced with adult responsibilities. For cases where parents may remove their children from school because they cannot afford school essentials, subsidies should be provided. At least, a child should be able to acquire up to secondary education. No parent should hinder the educational development of any child.

Keisha Harrinandan
Keisha Harrinandan

Keisha Harrinandan – ‘Ok well I think that like everything else in life there is a good and a bad. The good part in this situation is that by implementing this, parents would go the mile to make sure that their kids get to school. Of course this would mean less dropouts, kids are encouraged to keep going towards their goals. I think it could help because at times you may find some parents may just not send them because they prefer them at home doing whatever. So it can show kids that the ministry is serious. On the other hand it can be hard on parents that can’t afford it, or are really trying but it may seem as though it’s an excuse to keep them home. So if they decide to implement charges I believe they must put in place proper systems to help parents so that they won’t have excuses. And their charges will actually make sense because now they won’t have any excuses to keep kids from school. Both parents and kids will see that the ministry is serious and that they care about their education.’

Natasha Mokutnauth
Natasha Mokutnauth

Natasha Mokutnauth – ‘Truancy has always been a big issue especially in the rural areas of Guyana. I agree and support the Ministry of Education’s proposal to take action against parents whose children are absent without a valid reason. However, I believe that the parents should not just be placed before the court and asked to pay a fine. There should be counselling sessions to help parents to understand the importance of education and the consequences or disadvantages of children not receiving an education. One of my favourite quotes is: “Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself.” by John Dewey and I believe some parents need to be told this. While some may think everyone knows education is important, I have witnessed otherwise. Measures should also be put in place to deal with parents who after being charged, continue to keep their child/children away from school. There should also be follow up, at least every 2 to 3 months to not only check if the child has been attending school but to see how the child is coping, because children who are absent a lot will find it difficult to be at the same level with the others. With all the details fully analyzed, actions carefully thought about, this is a good initiative but it should be continuous.’

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