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MoBay mother runs pillar to post to find primary school for son

Published:Saturday | June 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Repeatedly told schools have no space

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:Acceptance for primary-level education is becoming increasingly difficult for one five-year-old boy in Montego Bay, St James, after several school officials told his parents that they do not have space to accommodate him.

Distraught and running out of options, his mother, Latoya Gray, is concerned that her son will not have a school to attend in September after his graduation from the Montego Bay Infant School in July.

"I have gone to several primary schools in the Montego Bay area and all they are saying is that they are full and they don't have any space for him, even though I went within the stipulated registration times they announced," she said.

Gray, who lives in proximity to two popular primary schools, says that with each rejection, she turned to the Ministry of Education's Region Four for assistance, but was told they were unable to intervene.

SEEKING ASSISTANCE

"I don't know what else to do. I go to the schools, they say they have no space. I go to the Ministry of Education, and a representative said it is up to the principal to make the decision on student placement," added Gray.

"So where next must I go? My son wants to go to school. Am I to tell him he doesn't have a school to go to come September?"

Chief education officer for the Ministry of Education's Region Four, Hilary Foster, said they do try to assist parents with placement each year given the situation with space.

"It is unfortunate that a representative told the parent that we cannot help because over the years, we have assisted parents in placement. They may not get their child in the school of their choice, but if the parent is having a challenge having their child placed, we do our best to help," Foster said.

She said that every year prior to May 1, a meeting with elementary and primary school principals is convened to identify and address issues related to space for students, especially in the Montego Bay area.

Western Focus understands that there are concerns on the part of some parents about placement procedures at several primary schools in the western city, citing that they sometimes have to pay to get their children in schools that have an outstanding record of academic excellence.

But a no-nonsense Foster charged that the activity is frowned upon at the ministry and should not happen.

"Parents should not 'pay a t'ing' in order to get their child in a particular school. The ministry does not condone that activity. It is a no-no! If it is being done, parents are being encouraged to report it to the school board or to the Ministry of Education."