MOE official: 500 have not returned for placement letters
NASSAU, BAHAMAS- More than 1,000 students displaced by Hurricane Dorian are now enrolled in schools in New Providence, according to School Registration Coordinator Zane Lightbourne.
Lightbourne told Eyewitness News around 300 students are still waiting to be enrolled.
The senior education officer said more than 1,400 students have been processed at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium over the past three weeks, but 500 students have not returned to collect their placement letters.
The Ministry of Education had previously reported that ten thousand students have been displaced by catastrophic Hurricane Dorian, which decimated Abaco and Grand Bahama last month.
“The process has been going well,” Lightbourne said.
“We have had a few hitches because this is the first time something like this has been done. We expected to have to make some adjustments and we have made those adjustments. Since coming here just three weeks ago we have processed more than 1,400 children through the system, and more than 1,000 kids have already been placed in schools.”
He continued: “The challenge we now have is that persons are not coming back to get their letters, we can’t reach persons by phone and calling that many persons is a very tedious process.
“We are asking persons to come back and collect their letters if they have already registered their children and gone through the health screening process.”
Lightbourne said people with surnames beginning A to L can report to the stadium on October 7, and those with surnames beginning M to Z on October 8.
“We are trying to remedy the frustration of long lines,” Lightbourne said.
“We are trying to alleviate that and have persons organized. We have had 500 persons collect their letters but that is still just about half of persons who still have letters to collect. We have had a lot of praise and equally a lot of criticism from people who don’t want to wait but this process involves a lot of people and a lot of agencies.”
He said: “We are just asking persons to be patient. The nation has been through something extremely devastating. We are asking for persons to come and finish the process and those out there who haven’t done the health screening to come because we are only here until the 11th of October.”
Lightbourne noted: “I don’t think that date is likely to be extended.”
He said the Ministry of Education’s registration initiative is a ‘one stop shop’ operation consisting of Social Services, a mini-clinic, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the National Insurance Board (NIB) verification department, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture along with the ministry of Education’s School Management Division.
“Without this one-step process this could take days or even weeks. It’s not a perfect system but we have had high commendation even from the international community and we are just looking to improve on what we have. We want to have as little as possible negative impact on students and their education,” said Lightbourne.
Education Minister Jeffery Lloyd told Eyewitness News yesterday the process was going “very well”.
“Those students have been placed in the respective schools. At the national stadium every day students are being registered there and placed. Those who have come to New Providence and are registered at the National Stadium would be referred to a school here in New Providence according to their location of residence whether it’s a shelter or private residence.”
Lloyd said: “Those who are in the Family Islands would have themselves gone to the respective schools whether it is Exuma, Long Island, Eleuthera or Andros and they would be placed in the schools there according to the district superintendent.”