Several children apprehended in Operation CARE campaign
Guyana Chronicle
May 12, 2004

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GINA -- THE Schools Welfare Services of the Ministry of Education yesterday apprehended several school-age children at the start of its Operation CARE campaign to curb truancy and encourage children to pursue their education.

Yesterday’s operation, led by Schools Welfare Services Coordinator Yvonne Archer, was conducted at several areas in Georgetown, including bus stops and in the vicinity of Stabroek Market and Salt and Pepper Restaurant.

Despite the heavy downpour, students, mainly boys, were seen at these locations. Some claimed they were awaiting transportation to go to school. Several others said they had no classes because of ongoing “Third Form Exams.”

Members of Operation CARE immediately urged those who said they were awaiting transportation to get to school.

During the first phase of yesterday’s operations four students were apprehended.

Robin, 13, of Plaisance Community High School, said he lives with his mother and father but sells bread outside Stabroek Market after school and at nights for his aunt. Robin was loitering in front of Salt and Pepper Food Court, Croal Street.

Devon, 11, said he was a student of Enterprise Primary but for this school year he has not attended school. He said his mother, with whom he lives, is out of the country and she promised to put him in a school at Sophia. However, she has not done so as yet.

Jomal, 7, said his grandmother, with whom he lives, sent him with his 11-year-old cousin to meet his aunt to talk with his mother who is overseas. His cousin left him in the vicinity of DEMICO and went off to school. Up to the time of the operation his aunt had not returned to take him to talk with his mother.

Rondell of Grove, East Bank Demerara, and a student of the Adult Education Association, explained that she was awaiting money from her mother, who works at a security service.

She said that every day she goes to school late, even though she leaves home at 07:00 hrs. According to her, it takes about two hours to get transportation from Grove to the city in the morning.

Those who were neglected were apprehended by the group and taken to the Welfare Office, Brickdam. The group will question them to ascertain the main reasons for their being on the streets during school hours.

Then contact will be made with their families for confirmation. In instances where parents are found to be negligent, they could be placed before the courts. Truants may be taken to the Police to be disciplined under the Juvenile Offenders Act, or taken before a magistrate for other disciplinary action.

According to the Education Act Chapter 39:01, paragraph 13, “It shall be the duty of the parents of every child to cause the child to receive efficient instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, and if a parent fails to perform that duty, he shall be liable to the orders and penalties provided by that said Act.”

The Operation CARE team includes representatives of the Ministry of Education, Probation Officers of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, the City Constabulary and trained volunteers.

Operation CARE, formerly referred to as the truancy programme, addresses several areas including Care for Children, Assessment of Children, Respect for Children’s Views and Education of Children.

The programme will continue through May and June. It targets several areas in Georgetown and on the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara, including the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Mocha Arcadia, Herstelling, Enmore, Hope West, Plaisance, Better Hope and Sophia.

Ms. Arthur said there have been numerous reports of truancy in the Sophia area. The programme aims to ensure maximum attendance at schools and to reduce truancy.