Education Minister Anthony Garcia has appealed to both parents and children for students to attend school on Ash Wednesday and to stop the perennial problem of poor attendance. “Ash Wednesday is a normal school day.”
He said they encouraged students to enjoy themselves and to actively participate in every aspect of the celebrations but to remember that school is of great importance.
He pointed out over the years they have seen a decline in attendance of students for Ash Wednesday despite most teachers coming out to school and ready to impart aspects of the curriculum. He said some children are encouraged to remain home from school by their parents and some parents avoid the Carnival festivities to go to the beach, but he asked the latter group to curtail their activities in time so the children can attend school.
The ministry also played a soca jingle that was produced in-house in the ministry to promote student attendance for Ash Wednesday and it targeted both parents and students. “Education more important than fete,” the jingle said.
Garcia said they hoped the jingle would have a positive impact and he recalled that when he was a teacher he would tell his students Ash Wednesday was a normal school day and he expected to see all of them. “Because of my insistence I had almost total attendance of students on Ash Wednesday.”
He said there are excuses sometimes where a child would say ‘Miss or sir my mother played mas, she was tired and she couldn’t get up to get me prepared for school.’”
Last year students’ average attendance at the secondary level was 18.28 percent compared to 22.8 percent in 2016 and at primary level it was 26.3 percent compared to 31 percent in 2016 while the average attendance of secondary school teachers was 77.6 percent and 81.2 percent for primary school teachers.