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Application chaos at Jessie Ripoll Primary

Parents swarm school to secure places for their children

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 07, 2010    

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THERE was pandemonium at Jessie Ripoll Primary School in Kingston yesterday as hundreds of parents sought to secure places for their children at the institution, which has in recent years boasted impressive Grade Six Achievement Test results while excelling in other areas.

"This is ridiculous," was a sentiment echoed by several parents lined up or otherwise bundled outside the school's gates, waiting for hours to be issued an application form while unsure whether they would get one.

Some of them had been there from as early as 5:00 am. Others, the Observer was told, from 11:00 pm Wednesday night.

"When mi come, mi hear seh paper (application forms) done give out already because paper give out from last night (Wednesday night)," said one obviously frustrated parent, who gave her name only as Shernette.

"When you have this (large crowd with the gates locked), you have people in limbo. This don't mek any sense," added the mother, who is trying to get her child, now in a prep school, into grade three at Jessie Ripoll.

A father echoed her sentiments.

"When I came here, I thought it was the embassy... This is total madness — a crowd is at the gate and there's a line toward the end," he told the Observer minutes to 7:00 am. "It could have been done better; it was not well-organised. And you don't have much people to help man the situation. If two people decide to rush the gate, it was not set up for that."

No sooner than the words were out of his mouth, a group of parents began to brace against the gate, threatening to run over the security guard posted there. A team of police officers had to be called to the scene to help monitor the situation.

"The lines are long, but if the parents would (co-operate) or if there was a number system, there would be (progress). I see this as ludicrous, foolish," complained another mother.

"Some a dem parents yah a real waste a time. But everybody want good fi dem child still," said another. "Dem (school administration) nuh organise dem thing, still, which is why yuh wi always have this Vice-principal Marcia Detry Fogah admonished parents for their behaviour, but assurred them that all would receive application forms.

"Already my teachers don't want you here because you don't have any behaviour, some of you," she said from inside the gates, via the public address system, to which one parent quipped: "Wi nuh want yuh either."

"Even if you are the thousandth person in the line this morning, you will get a form," the vice-principal continued.

Detry Fogah admitted later that the application process was not handled well, but promised improvements for next year.

In all, she said the school received about 400 applications, but said only about 200 children would be admitted. She said there were many who had already eliminated themselves.

"Right now I have forms before me who people have killed their chance already. The parent's name is not there. The contact number is not there... We won't even get into the (issue of proximity)," she said.

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