Thu | Jun 30, 2022

Millions unspent in Yard to Yard search

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2022 | 1:49 AM

As the Ministry of Education and Youth continues its countrywide search for thousands of students who have not returned to the classroom, its safety and security in schools unit has revealed that millions of dollars allocated to the initiative has not been spent.

Hundreds of social and youth workers budgeted for under the programme have not been engaged, Richard Troupe, acting director of the safety and security unit in the Ministry of Education and Youth, revealed in response to Sunday Gleaner questions.

According to Troupe, $103 million was allocated to the Yard to Yard Find The Child initiative, which he said was being undertaken by 3,000 deans of disciplines, guidance counsellors and teachers, along with a cadre of social and youth workers. But the acting director said just over $45 million of that amount is still unspent and the programme will be extended by three months.

“As at April 13, 2022, I can confirm that 84, or 90 per cent, of the 108 social workers have been engaged. I can also confirm that 303, or 52 per cent, of the 579 youth workers have been engaged. Based on the confirmation of the number of persons engaged, the expenses that would have been incurred as at the date of the referenced report amounted to $57,870,000.00,” stated Troupe in written responses to follow-up questions from our news team.

Funding support

He added: “I can also confirm that a number of schools have indicated that the funding support that was disbursed by the ministry to support the engagement of a youth worker and/or social worker has not been utilised because their unaccounted students have returned to school.”

The acting director also said the ministry was in the process of utilising the unused funds to support the efforts of other schools that are still struggling to identify and engage their unaccounted students.

“No additional funding will be requested. The ministry is committed to a further extension of the initiative … utilising the unspent budgetary support that was provided to the 478 schools across the 14 parishes. Beyond the extension date, the school-based teams, including deans of discipline, guidance counsellors and teachers, will continue to conduct home visits to locate and re-engage students,” said Troupe, while adding that the education and youth ministry is working on an app dubbed ‘Family Connect’ to be used by all schools to identify, support and re-engage unaccounted students.