Waiakabra residents call for Govt’s assistance to send children to school
Residents of Waiakabra on the Soesdyke Linden Highway have made calls on the relevant authorities to visit the community and offer guidance and assistance to parents in getting their children into the school system. Residents, who recently reached out to Guyana Times said the issues affecting them included the lack of resources, such as finance and transportation and necessary documentation, for their children to attend school which is located a far distance from their community.Ramona Da Silva, one of the residents who spoke to this newspaper said she has two children ages five and eight who are not attending school since they do not have birth certificates. She said she had visited the Social Protection Ministry where she was advised that a late registration would have to be done for the children. “My children don’t have birth certificate. And the school said they can’t take them in without it. I went to the Ministry and they tell me about a late registration but it’s a long process and I don’t have the means to get it done right now. If I can just get a permission slip for them to be taken into the school I would be very happy because I can work on getting the documents after that,” she said.A few of the other residents, who shared similar issues, called on the authorities to visit the community and advise them on how those and other issues can be addressed. Brian Reynolds who also shared his concerns told this newspaper that there is no school in the community and the schools in closest proximity are located a far distance and there is no public transportation that works in the area and parents usually have to walk their children to and from school if they cannot afford taxi fare.“If you don’t have a taxi fare or your own transportation, you have to walk out of this place. And it goes way down to the back. It’s a long sand road. If we can get one of those school bus the President had shared out we would be grateful because we more need it up here. We are pleading for any interest or help at all from the Administration. We are all citizens of this country but it seems as if we are forgotten most times,” he said.During an interview with Guyana Times, the Education Ministry’s Senior Guidance and Counselling Officer, Vickram Mohabir, in response to the issues outlined by the residents stated he is aware of the issues in that community and believes residents there need to make a greater effort in having those problems addressed. He said the community has a bus which should assist in taking the children to school, however, according to the residents, this is not the case.Mohabir highlighted that the Ministry through its truancy campaign has been making strides in getting vulnerable children off the streets and into the school system. He added that a countrywide truancy campaign is ongoing with the aim of tackling nonattendance among school aged children.According to Mohabir, welfare officers within the various education districts plan truancy campaigns to tackle vulnerable areas with low-income households and high crime rates. He explained that the campaign has taken a new shape as is focuses more on encouraging and empowering parents to send their children to school rather than prosecution. “We are looking to work with these parents to see how we can assist them in getting the children in schools. We want to move away from the prosecution of these parents and we are interfacing with other agencies in this regard,” he stated.The exercises are ongoing in all regions except Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) where the welfare officer there had to be removed for specific reasons. He said overall, the campaign is bearing fruit as they have recorded an improvement in the number of children that were removed from the streets.Mohabir is urging persons to continue to report nonattendance of school aged children by contacting welfare officers on telephone number 225-9537 and all information will be treated with strictest confidentiality.