Tabaquite MP and shadow education minister Anita Haynes.

Member for parliament for Tabaquite Ms Anita Haynes says her constituents are worried about the availability of the school feeding programme and school transport provisions. She says she notes the Ministry stating that adjustments will be made to these programmes as more students return to school, however parents are worried about the interim period until sufficient data is collected to facilitate these adjustments.

The following is a press release from MP Haynes:

The Member of Parliament for Tabaquite, Ms Anita Haynes, is raising the concerns of constituents as the second term physical reopening of schools draws nearer. According to MP Haynes, parents have shared with her their worries with respect to the availability of the School Feeding Programme and School Transport provisions.

Ms. Haynes notes that the Ministry of Education provided assurance that the School Feeding Programme is in operation and will be adjusted as more students return to in-person classes. Similarly, the resumption of student transportation services will take place when the final number of in-person students is confirmed. However, parents are worried about the interim period until sufficient data is collected to facilitate adjustments. They are also anxious as no time frame for this exercise has been indicated.

“The safety of our learning spaces and the need to bring innovation into our education sector remain key elements as we prepare for the future of learning, throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we must also improve on the delivery of supporting programmes.”

Haynes continued, “Many citizens are still dealing with the economic consequences of the pandemic. For some households in Tabaquite, the cost of public transport to and from secondary school has increased to almost sixty dollars per child. This increased cost is one that many families will be unable to absorb, even for a short time. This will certainly affect the data collection as, in the event that students do not show up for in-person classes, their need may not be recognised.”

The Member of Parliament is calling on the Education Ministry to implement strategies to conduct data collection in a shorter period of time, “There are records of students who accessed the nutrition programme as well as the transportation service. These already identified households can be contacted and asked to indicate whether or not students will be returning to face-to-face classes. With a bit of planning before classes resume, data collection can be well underway and many students will not face missing out on class time as a result of financial challenges.”