Regrettably, it is uncertain whether Tuesday’s Senate vote on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill 2016 will actually lead to protection of girls from too-early marriage.
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Principals warned on rules of registration
Education Minister Anthony Garcia has warned primary school principals found to be engaging in unscrupulous registration procedures which are against the ministry's regulations that they would be made to answer if they were found culpable.
In a release late Wednesday, the Ministry of Education outlined the procedure to be followed by principals for the registration of students for the new academic year beginning in September.
Revealing his personal thoughts upon seeing parents lining up outside primary schools in the Arima district to secure application forms, Garcia said that was responsible for his warning as “unfortunately, there were still some principals who are engaging in this practice.”
At the time, the minister was referring to the fact that parents were now forced to line up from as late as 10 pm or as early as 4 am outside certain schools to obtain a registration form.
He explained that because some principals were only issuing a stipulated amount of registration forms daily, parents were forced to find innovative ways of securing them, thus resulting in the “dehumanising” practice.
Speaking during a press conference at the Ministry of Education, Loinsworth Building, St Clair, yesterday, Garcia said a circular had been issued to primary school principals reminding them of the guidelines to be followed regarding the registration of new students.
He also sought to remind parents there was a criteria to be fulfilled for students to be accepted into their school of choice and that receipt of a registration form did not translate into an automatic acceptance.
Garcia said his ministry also “frowned” upon primary school principals stipulating that hopeful students had to sit an exam or undergo an interview to be accepted into the respective school.
In the release, the ministry acknowledged the “unnecessary stress and hardship” faced by some parents to register their children at public primary schools.
Garcia yesterday appealed to officials to ensure that registration forms were made available to parents over an extended period and during normal working hours.
The ministry has advised that admission lists must be posted at the respective school and parents notified by May 15 each year.
Additionally, principals have also been asked to notify parents who were unsuccessful in securing a place for their children, as well as the reason for the child’s non-acceptance.
Meanwhile, parents have also been asked to note that children shall be admitted to primary school not earlier than the first day of the term in which they attain their fifth birthday and that residence in the catchment area (three km) of the school was the first criterion for admission and refusal to admit was permissible only on grounds of overcrowding.
It is to be noted that when the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, priority must be given to applicants residing in the catchment area of the school and on the age of the child with older children receiving preference.
Parents are also reminded that no registration fee or financial contribution is a condition for acceptance of a child into a public school.