150 evacuated children remain out of school

150 evacuated children remain out of school

MOH report: Conversation needed with NIB to process cards for students

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Health has expressed concern with the high number of children at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium who have not been attending school and remain at the shelter facility during the day.

According to a Ministry of Health Situation Report, 150 children were not in school and in need of National Insurance Board (NIB) cards as of last Friday.

“Conversations have taken place with Ministry of Education — informed that families with students not in school were interviewed; remained at home due to an inability to have uniform, lack of documentation for registration and difficulty with transportation to and from school,” read the report obtained by Eyewitness News Online.

Despite the concern expressed, the report went on to say there were “concerns that persons in shelters may be abusing the system”, though it did not expound.

It continued: “Recommendation made for a conversation to be had with NIB (National Insurance Board) so that NIB cards can be processed for children at the shelters. Estimated 150 children are not in school and need the NIB card.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis advised Parliament that 100 students had not been placed in schools because they were unable to obtain a NIB number.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Online just over two weeks ago, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said displaced students “have to be in school” in accordance with The Bahamas’ international obligations

“Even though they may not have an NIB number, they still have to be in school,” Lloyd said. “First of all, they have to prove some attachment; when I say that I mean, you know, show something that you live or have lived here or something — that you did not just walk off the boat. You see.”

More than 1,400 students were processed at the stadium in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Lloyd said while many displaced students from Abaco came to register, “quite a number” of them were from New Providence who were not properly registered and had not been attending school.

He explained part of the reason for not registering, similar to students of undocumented parents, is that “if they do show up and register, or attempt to get into school that their parents are going to possibly be deported”.

Lloyd pointed out that schools have no jurisdiction to go and seek to deport parents.

The government resumed its immigration enforcement policies at the end of September, after suspending deportation exercises in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

According to the report, nearly 1,500 students have been screened and immunized.