Nassau, The Bahamas – The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training has launched a Hotline to support its efforts to boost school attendance.
The National School Attendance Hotline -– 422-2253 or 42-CHILD – toll free was introduced during a briefing at the Ivy Dumont Building, Friday, January 12, 2024.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training said the approach to get students back into the classroom is “focused and strategic.” She said the hotline will allow the Ministry of Education to go into the community and seek out children [who have been absent from school].
“We are focused on getting the children in the classroom. We can help mold, shape, support, guide a young person as they go forward with their lives,” she said.
“There is an historic issue with attendance; the pandemic exacerbated it and now we are trying to recover. We’ve made almost a miraculous recovery in two years when we got children back face-to-face; the hotline is yet another strategy. We need the community to assist us because it is your business,” she said.
Acting Education Director Dominique McCartney encouraged the public to support the initiative. She outlined strategies that the Ministry has implemented to assist with increasing school attendance – among them Find Every Child task force initiative (survey), walkabouts, and the introduction of attendance officers.
“Today, we are adding another strategy to improve attendance because 90 percent will not do. We are striving for 100%, said Mrs. Russell.
“We are excited to note that to date attendance figures have levelled out to 90 percent. We are not satisfied with 90 percent. Every child in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas of school age must attend school.
“Chronic absenteeism is the primary cause of poor academic attainment. It is a proven early warning sign of academic risks and school dropout. Therefore, 100 percent of our children must attend school.
“We have increased the personnel, we have engaged monitors in New Providence and Grand Bahama and they assist our attendance officers to find every child.
“We have strengthened our partnerships with Social Services, Urban Renewal, churches, civic organizations and the Royal Bahamas Police Force to mitigate the barriers to education attainment,” she said.
Other strategies include more experiential learning, additional bus routes, the re-established parent unit, expanded mental health initiative to support the healthy socialization of students, strengthening partnerships with corporate and community stakeholders, and the introduction of a breakfast programme in key schools.