Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 26, 2017 (SKNIS): Appearing on the radio-television show "Working for You" on May 17, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, William Vincent Hodge, said that efforts are being made to reduce the number of students dropping out of school.
The permanent secretary said that many of the school dropouts are vulnerable to getting involved in some form of crime or initiated into gangs. He noted that for some students, their school career ended in fourth form but that the ministry is working to curtail that.
A concerted effort must be made to prevent this from happening, he said, and one such way would be the rolling out of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) sponsored Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Project.
Mr. Hodge stated that one of the requirements is that students must complete their high school level education, that is, five years of secondary school education.
"In most cases, we would have to have them follow a separate path in terms of the subjects that they would do, and the educational programme for them is going to be different," he explained. "They may not be able to follow the CXC programme, but keeping them in school for a longer time and giving them the opportunity to acquire some additional education and qualification, I am sure it's going to help."
Providing an additional solution, Mr. Hodge said that to combat the number of dropouts there must be an appeal to principals to give students a second chance. He said that even though a student may not have done well at CXC, the principals should give them "another opportunity to comeback and repeat some of these subjects."
He noted that there must be an outreach to the young people and that attendance officers must be in place to play a key role in reducing the number of students who are dropping out.
"To me, I put this at the feet of the school," he said. "Teachers and principals have to get out there and look for these people. These are the ones who are going to come back to rob our homes when we are not there. These are the ones who are going to commit a lot of crimes. So, I would say we use the people on the ground, the local people to bring those students back rather than just letting them drop out of school."
The former principal of the Sandy Point High School, now renamed Charles E. Mills Secondary School, said that during his tenure he reached out to students who had dropped out of school and encouraged them to come back. He also said that parents would ask for their child be accepted back into school and he would agree.
Mr. Hodge encouraged principals to do the same community outreach.
As for the number of students dropping out of school, Mr. Hodge said that incorporating Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) as part of the Education Planning Division will give them definitive data.
"Mr. Chris Herbert is the director and he is doing an excellent job. He is now working with other Ministries of Education to come up with ways to capture that data," said Mr. Hodge. "So, we have a number of principals trying to input data from previous years into the openSIS (Student Information System)."