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|‘Considerable luxury absenteeism at elementary schools’|
|Tuesday, 5 February 2013 09:03|
ORANJESTAD — Officials of Bureau Compulsory Education notices a considerable luxury absenteeism of pupils at elementary schools. This means parents keep their children from attending school to go on holidays sooner or for a longer period. According to the compulsory education law, which became effective in December 2012, this is not allowed without permission.Minister of Education, Arthur Dowers (AVP), therefore emphasized the parents’ responsibility in their children attending school and pointed out the work performed by Bureau Compulsory Education within that framework. Compulsory education official Julisa Tromp explained that since last year she visits several schools together with her colleagues. We gave the headmasters information on the compulsory education law and discussed the collaboration with Bureau Compulsory Education. These discussions revealed the schools noticed the absenteeism of one group of children that exceeded the school holidays (60 days) per year. “There were 128 cases last year and 30 cases so far this year. It regards cases where the parents don’t report their children sick, or a trip abroad or other reasons why the children aren’t attending school.”
According to the law, children are to go to school every day. Parents are to report every form of absenteeism to the school. “Parents cannot report their children sick in advance but they can report going on holiday sooner and are to submit a request with the school. Whether it regards ten days or less, it is up to the headmaster to give permission or not. With ten days or more the school is compelled to call in the Bureau Compulsory Education”, said Tromp. These rules apply for children in the age bracket four to sixteen, until the day they turn seventeen, Dowers emphasized.
The minister of Education pointed out it’s the parents’ responsibility to send their children to school. He therefore incites parents to observe the compulsory education law. Dowers briefly explained what’s been done in this field to-date. The compulsory education law is introduced in phases. Five compulsory education officials have meanwhile visited most of the schools and explained the law to the headmasters. It is now up the schools to inform parents and guardians, for instance by handing out information leaflets.
The government will also launch a special educational program to help problem youngsters. Dowers explained there could be various reasons why certain pupils are attending school. “However, the law is clear on this; every child must go to school. Problems are not a reason for children to stay home. We will therefore call in extra social workers to offer these children help.”