At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Garcia revealed that only 18 percent of the nation’s secondary school students and 26 percent of primary school children showed up for classes after the two days of Carnival.
He said absentee figure has prompted the Ministry to consider exploring the idea of giving schools the entire Carnival week off.
Garcia added, “Attendance of our students has been poor. As a responsible Ministry of Education, we cannot sit idly by and allow this situation to continue. This situation must be arrested.”
He continued, “It pains us when we look at the statistics over the last few years to see that while our teachers are making an effort to come out to school on Ash Wednesday a large number of our students are remaining at home.
This does not augur well. Today is Wednesday. I am making an appeal today to parents to send their children to school on Thursday and on Friday so that they can have a chance at benefiting from the quality of education that our teachers are committed at providing.”
Garcia pointed out that at the primary level between 79 and 84 per cent teachers showed up for school today while between 76 per cent and 81.5 per cent of secondary school teachers attended.
The Minister said, “So it means that the teachers are in school but the students are not there,” he said.
Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan, said the Ministry held discussions over the years with teachers, principals, and TTUTA with respect to dealing with the perennial problem of student absenteeism during the Carnival week.
He added, “One of the things we have considered, which we haven’t made progress in, but I think given the current situation we need to bring back on the table, is the issue of the week for Carnival and whether in fact it may be more feasible for us to not have school during the Carnival week and add a week.
Turnout of students at primary school districts:
Caroni education district- 27.49% present
North eastern district- 14.16%
POS district- 29.5 per cent
St Patrick district- 25.03%
St George East district- 26.92%
South Eastern district- 21.6%
Victoria district- 36.27%
Turnout of students at secondary school districts:
Caroni education district- 16.32% present
North eastern district- 11.03%
POS district- 21.08 per cent
St Patrick district- 15.53%
St George East district- 19.52%
South Eastern district- 12.51%