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JIS News

A programme to increase attendance in primary schools, is currently being implemented by the Ministry of Education, and sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Japanese Government.
The 18 month intervention project is targeting 100 schools and is seeking to develop a profile of each community, in which the schools are located. This will include socio-economic variables, and analysis of data collected by liaison officers in the Ministry, on the reasons for low attendance in the selected institutions.
Manager of the Project, Professor Zellyune Jennings, told JIS News, that she and her team have held workshops with parents, teachers and students in all six regions of the Ministry, to develop their fact-findings, and will now be moving to implement the means to reduce absenteeism in the schools.
“In consultation with school administrators, other Government agencies, and service clubs, we are embarking on sustainable strategies to address community and other related problems that we have identified. The project is largely community based, and a lot of the causes that prevent children from going to school are rooted right there in the communities. We have established links with the Social Development Commission, which has been extremely good to us, they have officers who work in the communities where the schools are located and they will be quite valuable in the implementation stage,” she informed.
Part of the interventions will be to provide needy students with uniform and other related educational items, such as bus fare to travel to and from school; provision of counselling support for parents and students, and incentives to encourage students who breach the attendance bar of 85 per cent.
Professor Jennings said that on Fridays and other days when absenteeism is at the highest, the team will be organising out-of-school activities, “trips and other social interaction. And for the project to be sustained, a number of income generating projects will be undertaken (such as) the establishment of chicken rearing farms on the school compound, and plots for ground provisions/vegetables on or off compound. Also, there will be skill training for parents who are interested in seeking employment, and seminars to teach parenting skills and the value of education,” she informed.