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The Ministry of Education is spending nearly $8 million this fiscal year to address absenteeism in the island’s primary schools.
According to the Estimates of Expenditure tabled on April 7 in Parliament, the objectives of the project are to raise attendance levels at 100 primary schools, and evaluate the National School Lunch Programme, in order to determine its contribution to increasing the level of attendance at the primary level.
Under the project the Ministry plans to conduct interventions in 100 primary schools with the lowest attendance. It will also seek to determine the underlying causes of absenteeism and conduct a study on the effects of the school lunch programme.
The Ministry had, up to February, identified the 100 schools and held 893 community-based meetings in order to identify the cause of poor attendance in schools. It has also provided start-up grants to 70 of the schools for income-generating projects and held workshops, islandwide, for parents, based on problems identified in each community.
This fiscal year, the Ministry is hoping to complete community interventions across the island, including workshops for parents. It is also aiming to produce final reports on work completed to improve absenteeism in the schools, including the impact of the school lunch programme.
The majority of the funding for the project is being provided through a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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