People’s National Party’s Spokesperson on Education, Dr Angela Brown Burke wants the Government of Jamaica to reintroduce truancy officers to ensure that children are learning, while the fight against COVID-19 continues.
Brown Burke, said the truancy officers would be the intermediary between the Ministry of Education and children affected by COVID-19 regulations.
She said this is necessary, as many of the island’s children do not have the required tools needed to attend online classes and even face-to-face classes.
“The ministry needs to find individuals who can actually be brought into the system that does the kind of follow up like these children were not in school, why were they absent, how can the ministry reach out to them, is there anything that can be done to make sure that these students go to school.”
“What we need is individuals who actually have that as a job so they can liaise to find out what’s happening in the home, to find out what’s happening with the students, to help them,”
Brown Burke said.
According to Brown Burke, who is also the Member of Parliament for South West St Andrew, a short-term solution is to have guidance counsellors who are in training, be the intermediary truancy officers.
She said this would help to uplift the standard of the education the children are receiving, with many currently not attending school, in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the island.
The government ordered schools closed in March, shortly after the first reported case of COVID-19. Online classes resumed early October with a selected number of schools resuming face-to-face classes early November and others joining when school reopen last week Monday.
The online classes, however, are having a variety of issues, with many children without devices or not able to afford data to access internet service.
Brown Burke said that she has gotten reports that many children, at different levels, have now become breadwinners for their family and are having difficulties reintegrating into the education system.
She said truancy officers would also assist in that area as well as children who are attending face-to-face classes as she argues that many times the situation in the homes of these children are not conducive to learning.