JIS News

Approximately 87,446 students have been re-engaged through the Ministry of Education and Youth Yard-to-Yard, Find the Child initiative.

This was disclosed by Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, during her contribution to the 2022/23 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on April 12.

During the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 120,000 primary and high-school students were not showing up online or using any of the other modalities provided for their education.

Mrs. Williams said prior to returning students to full face-to-face classes, the Ministry launched the Yard-to-Yard, Find the Child Initiative, which engaged 108 social workers and 580 Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) students at a cost of $103 million for a period of three months.

Added to this initiative were the efforts of 928 guidance counsellors and 177 Deans of Discipline for a total of 1,793 persons.

She noted that many principals, teachers, administrators and ordinary Jamaicans joined the effort and reached out to parents and community members to re-engage students in the face-to-face setting.

“Using a weekly average of 32,554 unaccounted-for-students over the period February 14 to April 1, 2022, shows that we have been able to re-engage approximately 87,446 of the 120,000 students we had indicated were not accounted for during the pandemic,” Mrs. Williams stated.

“We commit to finding all our students. Our Deans of Discipline and our Guidance Officers will specifically redouble their efforts. We also call on all Jamaicans.

You know these children in your communities that are not attending school. Call us at 211. Our internal officers will visit homes to understand the issues why the children are not in school,” she added.

The Minister stated that together with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), and with the help of other sister ministries, “we commit to doing all we can to help the situations in the homes and get all our students in schools and learning again”.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Williams said that parents are required to ensure that their children are in school, and failure to do so is tantamount to educational neglect.

She noted that the Ministry has made provision for the nation’s children from early childhood to secondary level to access full-time education.

“Too many children are absent from school on a daily basis. Jamaica’s absentee rate is above the world’s average. In 2022/23, we will work to reduce absenteeism by at least a half of the current rate,” Mrs. Williams said.

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