The Ministry of Education is advising parents and guardians to ensure that their children are registered in time for the start of the new school year in September.
Chief Education Officer, Grace McLean, said children entering early childhood and primary level institutions for the first time, should be registered in May or June each year, while those entering secondary schools should register after the publication of their examination results.
“Individual schools will announce the specific dates for parents or guardians to come in as well as the deadline to submit applications,” Mrs. McLean said, pointing out that the registration process should be completed by July.
The Chief Education Officer, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, informed that every child, age three to 18 years, must be attending a school registered with the Ministry of Education.
“Parents are being encouraged to select the school they consider to be most suitable for their child in terms of proximity, the level of discipline, and how active the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) and alumni are,” she stated.
“They should also consider the school’s homework and after-school programmes and the range of extra-curricular activities the school offers,” she noted.
All parents/guardians with children entering infant, primary and secondary schools should have the required documents ready, such as a completed registration form issued by the school; the student’s birth certificate; an up-to-date immunization card; a passport-sized photograph; and the last school’s report if the child is transferring from another institution. Students entering grade seven at the secondary level should also have a medical done.
Mrs. McLean advised that parents, who do not have their children’s birth certificates, should contact the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) immediately and apply for the document.
“Present the receipt you received upon application and payment for the birth certificate to the principal or the designated school administrator, who will facilitate registration until the birth certificate is provided. The baptismal certificate, with proof of date of birth, may also be presented pending the birth certificate,” she informed. Mrs. McLean reminded parents that every child should be fully immunized as this prevents him/her from acquiring diseases or infecting other children.
Under the Public Health Act of 1974 and the Immunization Regulations 1986, all children under the age of seven must be immunized before entry to school. These include day care, nursery and other early childhood and primary schools.
The Act also stipulates that schools should not admit a child without an immunization certificate or card. If the child is already admitted, he/she should not be permitted to continue, unless his parents produce the document. Parents who fail to comply with the laws are guilty of an offence and can be fined or imprisoned. According to Mrs. McLean, the Ministry of Education has been receiving numerous complaints from parents and guardians with regard to exorbitant fees being charged for registration packages. “The Ministry does not support this practice,” she stated.
“Fees such as those for IDs (identification), insurance, uniform and other related items should be passed on at a cost from the providers to the parents but must be clearly stated and identified. Where auxiliary contributions are for special development projects, these must be clearly identified and not included in registration fees,” she explained.
She noted that as key partners in the education process, parents and guardians are encouraged to contribute to the development of the schools their children attend. Mrs. McLean further advised parents to provide important information about their child to the school, including any illnesses.
“Attend parent-teachers’ meetings and other school activities. Try to honour requests made by the school, and support the work of the teachers and the school programmes. Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and other parents of children, who attend the school, and ensure that your child obeys the school rules at all time,” Mrs. McLean implored.
She is also encouraging parents to read the school’s handbook and website (if there is one) so that they are familiar with the school’s programmes and policies.
They are also encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Early Childhood Act (2005) and the Regulations (2005) as well as the 12 standards in the Early Childhood Commission’s handbook: ‘Start them Right’.
CONTACT: JUDITH A. HUNTER