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No space for sisters - Education ministry probing case of siblings who have dropped out of school

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 6:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Gordon Harrison

The education ministry has started a probe into claims that a teenage girl in the Corporate Area has been out of school for the past four years because she was not placed in any institution after sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

State minister in the education ministry, Floyd Green, last week told The Sunday Gleaner that having been informed of the situation he would investigate the matter and see what can be done for the 16-year-old Ann Grey*, who has reportedly been out of school since she was 12 years old.

Green is also to see what assistance can be found for her 18-year-old sister, who is also out of school.

Ann, who lives in one of the tough inner-city communities of St Andrew, said after she left primary school, her mother made efforts to get her into several high schools without success.

She told our news team that if her mother could afford to pay to send her to a private high school, she would have done so.

"I am so tired and depressed from having to stay home when all I want to do is to get a good education so I can get a good job," said Ann.

"Although I was born and raised in the ghetto, it is not my intention to remain here, I just want to be given the opportunity to further my studies," she added.

 

PLACEMENT AT PENWOOD

 

According to Ann, after she graduated from the Duhaney Park Primary School in 2012 following GSAT, her mother was given a letter stating that she was placed at the Penwood High School.

However, when her mother took her there, they were told that her name was not on the list. It was suggested that she should try another high school, and she did.

She was told at that school that she would be contacted when space was available. When she did not hear from the school, she said she made several trips and got no favourable response.

"I am disappointed that my daughter did not get into any school," said Pauline Brown*, a mother of six.

She told our news team that the teenager now spends her days doing household chores and although she tries to be cheerful, she is sad at times.

"When I hear people saying education is the key, I wonder what is going to happen to my life if I do not get the chance to further my education," said Ann, who wants to work in the hotel industry and is interested in doing studies in food and nutrition.

Ann could soon get assistance from Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison, who pointed out that under the Childcare and Protection Act it was mandatory for children from four to 16 years to attend school. Gordon Harrison is urging Ann's mother to make contact with her office and make an appointment in relation to the issue.

She noted that the best interest of the child was of primary importance and every child has a right to attend school. Under the act, a child is defined as a person under the age of 18.

Ann's 18-year-old sister is also a school dropout, having stopped attending classes at the ninth grade because, "my parents did not have the money to pay school fees". "I am now 18 and I know I may not be able to go back to school but I would love to be given the opportunity to do a course in cosmetology."

*Names changed on request.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com