CHILDREN of registered refugees are being officially blocked from attending school, including private schools, complained former Arima mayor Ghassan “Gus” Youseph.
He told Newsday that a six-year-old boy who is the son of refugees from Syria was denied permission to enter a private school by the Ministry of Education, on the advice of the Ministry of National Security, due to his refugee status.
The family, who is registered as refugees with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in TT, originally wanted to go to Canada, but have set up a successful business in TT, where they now prefer to stay.
Youseph said the boy’s parents do not expect him to go to a public school where spaces are in short supply, and wanted to pay for a private school, but were being denied that.
“The Ministry of Education sent it to the Ministry of National Security, who turned it down.” Posting a report card of the high marks earned by the boy from his private tutor, Youseph said the youngster deserved to go to school.
He recalled the Prime Minister waived the rules to let children from hurricane-hit Dominica attend school in TT and said these rules were likely just regulations rather than statute law.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia told Newsday that firstly, any non-national wanting to attend a TT school must get permission from the Immigration Division, and secondly, the Education Ministry has absolutely no jurisdiction over private schools.
“If the private school wants to admit the child, so far so good, but he must first get permission from the Ministry of National Security.” He did not cite which law governed this.
The Education Act says every children aged five-16 must attend school full time in line with his “age, ability and aptitude,” except if he is subject to other laws that say otherwise (sections 77-78.)
Newsday was unable to contact Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, Minister of National Security Stuart Young or Permanent Secretary Vel Lewis.