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Sep 9, 2014

Progresso School Issues Nearing Resolution

The 2014 school year opened a week ago, with students returning to classrooms across the country. Well, not all students. The classrooms at the Seventh Day Adventist School in Progresso were empty. That’s because parents refused to send their children to school because they have problems with the principal and the administration. The action is a result of complaints which reached the ear of the Ministry of Education in July. Today Orange Walk’s District Education Manager Carla Alvarez explained that the Ministry is looking into the matter and taking steps to resolve the issues, but there are a lot of issues and it’s not easy.

 

Carla Alvarez, District Education Manager, Orange Walk

Carla Alvarez

“We received some complaints from the parents of Progresso, and these complaints came to me in the month of July. We in fact conducted an investigation. I submitted a very lengthy report to the General Manager of that school and I asked him, because it is a denominational school, so therefore it is the management that is primarily responsible for it though it is a grant-aided school – I asked the management to conduct an investigation. I know they visited the school several times and they have responded in at least two correspondences that we have received from them…as to what are some of the things that they will put in place to remedy the problems. The alleged problems were basically problems with the administration, the leadership and that kind of thing. When we took over that school in fact yes there were some serious problems in that school…like record-keeping and so on. Truancy was a major problem. It continues to be a problem to some extent. For example in the month of February and March we have children who are taken out of the classroom by the parents so they go and reap beans. So what we have done as the Ministry we go out there along with the Ministry of Labour and we remind the elders of the Mennonite community and so on that they cannot use the children because it is child labour and so on…so to a certain extent we have curbed that. We do recognize that there are some discrepancies there, and yes there mismanagement to a certain extent and the Adventist mission has made the commitment to do certain kinds of intervention. For example they will have the local manager every two weeks. The General Manager has promised to be there every month, and working along with the Ministry of Education I am sure that we will make drastic improvement.”

 

Up to Friday last week, sixty-five of about eighty children had returned to school. 

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