PNP describes Gov’t as ‘wicked and uncaring’ re legal action statement | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Opposition Spokesperson on Education and Training, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, has reacted to a recenmt newspaper headline which said: ‘Gov’t mulls legal action as 27,000 children still absent from classroom’, by asking “How wicked and uncaring can this Government be such that the first thought is about penalising the parent?”

Brown-Burke lashed the Government for its approach to the matter during her contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Wednesday.

“I am the first to insist that parents have a responsibility in the education of their children. But in this case, we must look at the reasons behind the absences: children employed and earning, helping to defray the costs of providing for a family,” she said.

Brown-Burke stated that the Opposition has been asking for greater detail about the 120,000 students that were reported as being disengaged from or lost to the education system during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were informed that approximately 30,000 were still missing,” she stated further.

The Opposition spokesperson listed several questions for the Government to consider.

“What do you say to a student who says he is not registered for any external exam, so why should he go back to school now, when he is actually earning?” she began.

“What do you say to parents who have lost their jobs and their daily hustle can’t put food on the table, but their children are now picking up the slack?”

“Can you imagine how distressed these parents must be?” she continued.

Brown-Burke asked “What about providing guidance and support to these youngsters? What about cushioning the crisis for them and their families, and helping them lift their heads above water? What agencies have been asked to intervene to deal with the specific circumstances?”

Brown-Burke said the financial position of many families is dire and not to be taken lightly.

“The involvement of any of these youngsters in illicit activities cannot go unattended, and intervention is required long before penal action is considered,” she remarked.

She noted that in the first 18-24 months of the pandemic, the message from the Ministry of Education was that 60 per cent or more of our students were doing well with remote learning.

“The Opposition has been very interested in the 40 per cent or four of every 10 children who did not do well. We are also interested in getting some clean data about the performance of the 60 per cent of children who are said to have done well,” Brown-Burke said.

She has called for the data to be analysed by gender, citing that the education system is underperformed where boys are concerned.

“We need to know what the reality is; no more half-truths and being economical with the truth, we must rescue our boys,” she said.