Since the start of the virtual curriculum in September 2020 to reduce the spread of covid19, a total of 252 primary and secondary school students are presumed to have dropped out of the education system in Tobago.
In giving the statistics on Wednesday at the post executive council news conference at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough, Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Marslyn Melville-Jack said the division’s Student Support Services Unit has helped some of them return to school.
Melville-Jack said provisional data from principals reveal that at the secondary level, a total of 122 students were assumed to have dropped out and 130 students at the primary level.
But she said the staff at the unit, which consists of psychologists, guidance officers, special education officers and school social workers, have been working to reduce the number of school dropouts in the system.
“They, I can attest, have been working assiduously with parents, teachers and students to address these concerns,” Melville-Jack said.
“They have been concerned with conducting home visits, parent consultations, counselling negotiations, even networking with community agencies for support.
“These interventions, to date, have resulted in some measure of success in that some of those students who were assumed to have dropped out have since returned to classes.”
Melville-Jack said since the start of online learning, the unit has received 183 referrals from principals and teachers for academic challenges and concerns among students at both primary and secondary level.
These challenges, she said, include absenteeism, inconsistent attendance, lack of supervision, virtual platform fatigue “to eventual school dropout.”
Melville-Jack said the services provided by the unit include prevention, intervention, transition and follow-up for students and families, who are experiencing problems that will create barriers to learning.
She encouraged teachers, parents and students who may be feeling overwhelmed to reach out to the officers at the division.
At the briefing, Melville-Jack said a total of 1,065 students are registered to sit the SEA exam on July 1, at some 39 centres across the island.
She said 913 students are registered to write the CSEC exam at some nine secondary schools while 377 students will sit the CAPE at five secondary schools.
Melville-Jack urged moderators supervising these examinations to get vaccinated at their earliest convenience.
“Today, at the executive council, the decision was taken that all moderators and examiners who wish to be vaccinated at this time, particularly those who have moderations next week, you will be vaccinated this week.”