(EMU) – St. Kitts, November 27, 2017: “We solicit the assistance and support of parents and other stakeholders to collaborate with the Ministry of Education by encouraging their children to apply themselves and stay in school.” This plea came from Minister of Education Hon. Shawn K. Richards as he delivered an address to stakeholders attending the Study Workshop on Out of School Children organized by UNICEF and the University of the West Indies, which took place from November 23-24. The two- day activity explored findings of a series of studies conducted over the course of 2015-2016 as the region sought to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals including that of ‘Education for All.’ The effort sought to ascertain data on how many children were actually utilizing the learning institutions that had been provided for their use as well as the barriers preventing them from being in school with a view to addressing them in a systematic manner.
Minister Richards said his Ministry had already started a number of positive steps to boost the Educational experience of students in the Federation, adding that the Out of School Study would, “Shed significant light and assist in helping to come up with effective programmes to address the issue.”
Commenting on reasons for drop out which he referred to as push, pull and fall out factors Minister Richards stated that influences such as adverse circumstances within the learning environment (push); situations which causes students to prefer to be away from school such as financial issues (pull) as well as the fact that students simply dislike school (fall out) would have to be minimized by way of effective programmes.
The Education Minister stated that among ways of enhancing the learning experiences of students the Ministry had already started the implementation of programmes including Student Support Services; The implementation of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training and National Qualifications Framework (NQF); a
School Psychologist progrmme; as well as the web-based Education Management Information System (EMIS) which would capture data of at risk students.
Adolescent Development Specialist at UNICEF, Mrs. Elaine King applauded as commendable the Ministry of Education’s goal of bringing the Drop-out Rate to 1% of all students and no more than 5% at the fourth form level.
Mrs. King stated, “To put the study in context, in 2010 as we were globally looking forward to the mid-decade goals which we were supposed to achieve by 2015, it was felt that not enough information was known on how many children were in school.”
The UNICEF specialist said the consultation explored the findings and engaged participants in a process to determine school, Ministry and policy level activities that would facilitate children in successful schooling.
Permanent Secretary, Mr. William Hodge at the closing ceremony of the successful two-day consultation expressed gratitude to UNICEF and the University of the West Indies for their finical support and facilitation of the workshop also to the various Ministry personnel for their active participation.