THE Ministry of Education has reintroduced its School welfare service, and on Tuesday will begin the first phase of a public campaign to deal with the problem of street children.
The campaign will also be targeting children who are in uniform and usually found loitering during and after school hours, School Welfare Service Coordinator, Ms. Yvonne Arthur said yesterday.
The exercise will be taken to all the administrative regions, and will involve law enforcement officers such as policemen, city constables, and Probation and Welfare Personnel from the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.
"Our aim in this first exercise is to sensitise and counsel parents, mini-bus drivers and conductors, vendors, employers, media personnel, and many others in the removal of this street child phenomenon," Arthur explained.
She said that during the exercise, leaflets with relevant information will distributed to persons, so that they can know the Ministry of Education is aware of the problems, and is taking the necessary steps to correct them.
"We have to go to several hideouts, hotels, cinemas and other places wherever children are found, warn, and educate them on the social aim, so that when the exercise reaches its second phase, they would not be excused," Arthur said.
The second phase of the exercise which is due to begin next month, will aim directly at removing children off the streets, and the coordinator admitted that such an exercise would be a challenge.
She said that usually when street children loiter around the markets and are confronted by social workers, they (social workers) are opposed and abused by vendors.
"They would try to impede the work of the officers, but we will caution them not to get involved in any verbal exchanges that could lead to confrontation," she noted.
The exercise will seek to re-link the children with their parents or guardians, and in the interim, they will be temporarily housed at institutions such as Joshua House, Thomas Street, Georgetown and the Red Cross Home for Children, D'Urban Backlands, where they could be taken care of, Arthur explained. (JAIME HALL)