Georgetown needs more primary, nursery schools - McAdam

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 31, 1999

The Georgetown Education Department is pleading for either more schools to be built in the city or for extensions to primary and nursery schools to ease overcrowding.

This plea came from Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Georgetown, Romeo McAdam, as he gave an update on the placement of children in nursery and primary schools for the new academic year beginning in September.

He said that the Department of Education was facing a severe school placement problem and "in some cases overcrowding will be inevitable. There will be need for more schools or larger schools. The situation cannot be helped because the physical circumstances cannot be overcome."

The update was given at a press conference hosted by Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar, at the GTV Studios Homestretch Avenue.

McAdam noted that even though the process of placement had gone very well this year compared to last year and previous years, a number of city schools will still be overcrowded because of a growth in the city's population. Entries to nursery and primary schools increased by 19 per cent over the previous year and McAdam said that this may be attributed to the development of the Sophia scheme and urban squatting areas.

The department received 7,300 applications for the nursery and primary levels. Of the applications there were 400 from East Bank Demerara, East Coast Demerara and Region Three. Those applicants from out of town were issued with letters indicating that Georgetown schools can no longer accommodate them.

This year, he said, concessions were not granted for the admission of children, who were too young, to nursery schools as was done in previous years.

Children were placed in 73 schools, 35 of which were primary and 38 nursery.

The postal system adopted this year to distribute placement letters revealed "a certain level of dishonesty", McAdam said noting that a number of persons did not live at the addresses given or were not known in the area as having lived there. Three visits were made to the addresses given but to no avail.

The Georgetown Education Department retrieved 82 placement letters for one postal area in the North Georgetown area and is expected to retrieve more from other postal areas in the city. Except for the Sophia area where the placement letters will be distributed by hand other letters were posted. Some $45,000 was spent to post the placement letters.

Unlike previous years no police or other security personnel were called in to maintain crowd control. McAdam said that the system implemented this year was an improvement on previous years.

Coordinator of the Placement Division, Natalie Arthur, said that it was not always possible to admit children to a particular school there because of the large numbers of applications. Children were admitted to some of those schools if they lived in the area and if they lived out of Georgetown and had a sibling attending the school.

Arthur said that the criteria catering for children to be admitted to a school because of where their parents work was not always possible because preference had to be given to those residing in the area. In one case the applications were five times the number the school could accommodate.

According to her, it appeared as though some parents believe that there are only seven schools in the city ignoring the other schools. All the schools in the North Georgetown area are filled and the majority in the South Georgetown area as well.

For example, she explained that Stella Maris has 120 places at the Prep A level but there are some 346 applications; St Margaret's has 110 places and 458 applications; West Ruimveldt has 175 places and 328 applications; Sacred Heart 300 places and 394 applications and St Agnes, 317 applications and 120 places. The same situation that applies for the primary schools applies to nursery schools that are housed in the compounds of those schools.

Children are still to be placed and the primary schools where places are available are St Sidwell's Primary, Thomas Moore, Bel Air and Freeburg.

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