Students shun school

Empty classes in western Jamaica despite education ministry directive

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau

Saturday, October 27, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The majority of students at Government-run schools across western Jamaica stayed away from the classroom yesterday, despite a directive from the Ministry of Education for the reopening of schools in the region.

Educational institutions across Jamaica were closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to Hurricane Sandy.

But the hurricane, which battered sections of the eastern parishes as it passed over the island on Wednesday, caused minimal damage to the western region, prompting the education ministry to announce the resumption of classes yesterday.

However, checks carried out by the Jamaica Observer revealed that only a handful of students turned up for classes.

Veronica Beharie, vice-principal of Petersfield High School in Westmoreland, told the Observer that only about 30 of the more than 800 students on roll on the afternoon shift turned up for classes.

The morning shift was even worse, as roughly 20 of the approximately 750 students were present.

At Belmont Academy, also in Westmoreland, just over seven per cent of the 500 students on roll reported for classes.

And there was a similar scene in the neighbouring parish of Hanover.

At Esher Primary School, for instance, only 10 of the 600 students on roll turned up for classes.

“The teachers are here, but the students, it seems, have decided to stay home,” a senior teacher at the institution told the Observer yesterday.

In Montego Bay, there were 220 students in attendance at Corinaldi Avenue Primary School, which has 1,700 students on roll. The small number, however, did not prevent the holding of regular classes.

“Despite the small number we are still having classes. You can hear the students in the background; they are very keen on learning,” said a grade six teacher.

At Granville All-Age School in Trelawny, less than 50 of the more than 400 students were in attendance. The 20 teachers on staff were, however, present according to Principal Ivanhoe Gordon.

In explaining the poor turnout of students, Gordon said “A lot of the parents might not have been aware that schools in this region were to be reopened today (Friday) and also because there were no classes on Wednesday and Thursday, some parents thought it would not make sense to send out their children”. He added, however, that he was expecting a full turnout on Monday.

Meanwhile, Hillary Foster, the acting regional director at the Ministry of Education, while confirming that the turnout of students was very low, said all the State-run schools in the western region were opened.

“Our officers have been making checks since this morning (Friday), and as far as I know all the schools (in the western region) are open for classes,” she told the Observer.





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