ORLANDO Kerr, the Tobago Officer of the TT Unified Teachers Association, on Wednesday implored parents to send their children to school following “long” weekends, after a low turnout of students on Ash Wednesday.
Roxborough Secondary and Signal Hill Secondary were among several schools dismissed by noon. Kerr suspected the early dismissal was caused by the poor student turnout as there were no reports of health and safety issues.
An animated Kerr said, “What parents failed to realise is that school-days have already been lost, and for students to stay home a third day won’t help. We are confident some students are not going for the rest of the week. We need to continue the dialogue with parents to break this stay at home culture after Carnival and other long holidays.”
Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary and Education Secretary Kelvin Charles, through an attendance sheet sent to Newsday, revealed all schools opened incident free.
Bishops High school reported one of the highest attendance of both teacher and students. Of 62 teachers, 48 reported to duty and 467 out of 731 students were present. Harmon School of SDA reported an 80 per cent teacher attendance and a 54 per cent student turnout.
Goodwood Secondary reported a low turnout of staff and students with 24 out of 42 teachers present and just 55 of 315 students.
Other schools reported between 60 to 80 per cent teacher turnout and between 12 to 37 per cent for student attendance. Roxborough Secondary school reported the lowest student turnout on Ash Wednesday with 35 out of 300 students present. Speyside reported 92 out of 514 student turnout.
Kerr said low student turnout remains a major challenge for Tobago schools.
He said, “The turnout was just as I suspected. I did say the student attendance is below 50 per cent and, in this case, it is just as low as 12 per cent. The challenge is how we get parents to understand the importance of sending children out. I know (education) ministry sent out a constant reminder, but it was not successful. We must have all stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, the Division of Education and parents on board to curb this situation.”