Education Minister, Priya Manickchand has committed to “going after” any child who may have entered into the labour force due to hardships imposed by the pandemic, and to have them reintegrated into the school system. Her declaration came today as schools across the country reopened for students in grades 10, 11, Sixth forms and those attending Practical Instruction Centres (PIC) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
While the minister reported that a significant number of students have returned, attention will also be placed on those who did not.
“What we have to examine, with the numbers that came out today, are the children who stayed home. Was it because of choice – and if it is, we support that, we will make sure we try to help them as far as we can – or is it because somebody’s child has already been lost to the labour force? Then, if that is the case, we will go after each child and bring them back into the system, because we want them to finish High School,” the minister said during a press conference today.
She spoke about the potential dangers of students who join the workforce, and therefore, questions will be asked regarding the reasons for their absence.
“We don’t want to be a World statistic about how many of our children dropped out because of COVID-19…That will harm our country, it is going to harm those individual students and their families, it is going to harm their communities. So, that is why we are getting the data and asking: Where are these students? Why didn’t you come [to school] today? [We are asking them] not with a view of forcing you to come – if it is a choice you made – but with a view in making sure that you remain educationally engaged,” the Education Minister noted.