Keeping the children in school Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
October 24, 2001

THE campaign that officials started yesterday to ensure children are in school when they are supposed to be is a commendable initiative but one fraught with difficulties.

Every child has a right to an education and should be able to attend school at least up to the secondary level to be better equipped to earn a living and to have a fuller life.

A child deprived of an education enters the adult world at a terrible disadvantage and stands to suffer even more in this information age.

Those unable to read and write properly and unskilled in any trade or craft would find themselves condemned to the most menial of tasks to wrest a living. In the worst case scenario, those forced to live by their wits usually soon find themselves in the world of crime.

Some of those children of school age rounded up in the checks yesterday by officials around the city were dressed for school and the excuses they offered for being out of school sounded rather lame.

They clearly had other attractions outside of school unknown to their parents or guardians and should be made to see the error of their ways.

Students in uniform out of school during school hours has long been a common sight around the city and we hope the exercise launched yesterday would soon get all back where they belong - in school and learning.

Those `skulking' in uniform when they should be in school are lucky in the sense that their parents and guardians have ensured that they dress and leave home on school days. What is needed is a much closer check to see that when they leave home, they in fact end up in school.

But among those rounded up yesterday were some not so fortunate and who were clearly out of school because they had no other alternative.

Not all are deviants.
Some boys were out selling plastic bags and other items as they had been doing for quite a while and they are probably helping to feed their families. Their parents or those in charge of them most likely cannot make ends meet and depend on what the children can add to the family income.

These are cases that deserve special attention and would make the task of ministries and agencies involved more difficult.

Some means should be found to address the needy cases uncovered during the campaign with officials taking time out to contact those responsible for the care of those found hustling on the streets when they should be in school.

A school feeding programme has been in place for the needy and maybe donor agencies can be asked to extend this to cater for special cases to remove the compulsion for children to be kept out of school.

Education is too vital to a child and there should be no reason why any should be deprived of the opportunity for a good schooling.

Circumstances sometimes force some parents to view school as a luxury they cannot afford and the authorities would have to go the extra mile to change this attitude.

Some parents and guardians also pay little or no attention to ensuring their children are in school when they have to be and only harsh penalties would prod these into changing their ways.

The vast majority of parents, however, would do all in their power to ensure their children complete school and those who need help should be able to find it when they want.

The campaign started yesterday is a major step on the way to dealing with the slackers.