Fri | Dec 1, 2023

‘Too many boys missing classes’

Education ministry to launch app to track students’ attendance

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2022 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

The Ministry of Education and Youth is soon to launch an attendance app in a bid to identify students who are consistently absent from classes, find out the reasons why they are missing classes, and take the necessary actions to correct the situation.

Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams declared on Thursday evening that the average attendance at primary and high schools was about 75 per cent, well above the world average but dismal for Jamaica, especially since most of those who are absent are boys. Williams, who was addressing the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights held at the boardroom of the CRU Bar and Kitchen, 71 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 6, described the situation as unacceptable.

“We happily celebrate that we have all these schools, and so on, but we not taking advantage of it. Having 25 per cent of your students on average out of school on any day, we shouldn’t accept that. That’s a very large number.

“You (are) not in school (so) you not getting the teaching, and as you move from grade to grade, you not keeping up, and pretty soon, you get frustrated and you drop out. The data says that by grade 9, we start losing our boys, and the reasons? Bored because the fundamentals that they need to have, they don’t have it, and so they feel frustrated, and they are leaving. So we have a lot of work to do in that area.”

For this reason, Williams said the education ministry is pretty close to launching the Attendance App, which will track and identify the truant students. She did not give a timeline. She pointed out that while teachers were still calling the roll each day and putting a tick beside the names of those who were present, the relevant information was not being passed to the ministry in good time.

“For us at central ministry, that’s not good enough because we are not able to get the data real time to let us know who is absent from school to make that intervention by sending a text message to the parents or somebody to say, ‘Did you know your child didn’t come to school today?’.

“If we get the data in real time, we can know that the same student has been out two, three days in a row. We can send somebody into the home to really talk with the parents, find out what’s going on. Is it lunch money, bus fare? Is the child being abused? Is the parent taking the child to work? Is the parent sending the child out on the streets?”

While the Ministry of Education and Youth is aware of these issues by way of anecdotal information, it needs empirical data to provide specifics that will be used to inform the necessary interventions.

“We want all our students in school, regularly,” Williams told the audience.