Evacuated children now registered for school
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Scores of Hurricane Dorian displaced students have been provided temporary NIB numbers that will need to be renewed annually.
Some 130 evacuated students could not be registered for school because they were unable to obtain National Insurance Board (NIB) cards.
“The students were bused — all of the persons who were needing NIB numbers and were not registered were hanging around the shelter — they had a bus take them to the ministry’s headquarters,” said School Registration Coordinator Zane Lightbourne.
“And so, they were able to get them registered with letters for entry into schools and they are presently trying to locate those other students by whatever phone contacts we have on record from the day they would have walked in.
Lightbourne continued: “They needed NIB numbers and I think they were given a sort of temporary number, a number they would have to renew every year, and I guess that’s how NIB will keep track of them because we didn’t want any kind of indication to any of the parents of those children, who may be here illegally to think that was some type of access to being granted some sort of [status].
“Because of human rights law and conventions that we are signed onto, we are dealing strictly with educating whatever children are here, while they are here, but that doesn’t stop immigration or whatever other agency from doing their work and if an adult has to be taken at any time, then I guess they would now be able to at least locate their children and have them taken with them if that’s the case.”
According to Lightbourne, there have been attempts by some parents to defraud the system, though he did not go into detail about those incidents.
Last 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.
In late October, Ministry of Health expressed concern with the high number of children at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium who had not been attending school and remained at the facility during the day.
According to a October 25, Ministry of Health Situation report, 150 children were not in school.
The majority of them were in need of NIB cards.
The report said based on conversations with the Ministry of Education, families with students not in schools who were interviewed informed the ministry that they remained out of school due to an inability to have uniform, lack of documentation for registration and difficulty with transportation to and from school.
Yesterday, Lightbourne indicated the Ministry of Education made efforts to address these concerns, including relocating some students, to ease the burden of transportation challenges.
“For the majority who were not going, they attributed it to getting to school and knowing where it is located because of lot of them, their parents did not know Nassau and didn’t take enough initiative to try to get them to those schools once it was out of their area,” he said.
“And reasonably, we couldn’t expect them to get in the east if they are now located in a more western area like the National Stadium, so what we did was we changed, for those who had letters, we accommodated them as much as possible.”
At last report, 1,539 displaced students were processed — 170 requiring placements.
Dorian leveled communities in Abaco and Grand Bahamas on September 1-3.