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Standardised school forms are out

An agreement has been reached on a standardised application form for government and denominational primary schools.

Representatives of the Association of Denominational Boards of Education (ADBE) met February 6 with a team from the Ministry of Education on the process to be used for entry into public primary schools. Agreement was reached on the contents of a standardised form and a strategy for making them easily available to applicants. The form and circular to be issued to principals was sent to Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

Chair of the ADBE, Sharon Mangroo said the meeting was “very cordial and productive”. The other persons on the ADBE team were Anne Thomas (Methodist), Jeewan Ramdhanie (Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha) and Vickram Ramlal (Presbyterian).

The ministry was represented by Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan; Director Curriculum and Planning Division, John Roopchand; Ag Director of Schools Supervision and Management, John Thompson and Ag Director of Educational Planning, Lisa Henry-David.

A circular from the office of the permanent secretary, replacing Circular No 2 of 2017, sought to clarify the admission of students to public primary schools. It advised school supervisors and principals of the introduction of standardised forms for admission to First Year at schools, and availability from last Wednesday (February 14) at schools and Education District offices during normal working hours. All completed forms must be returned by March 14 to the school where the application was made.

The circular dealt with concerns about practices which placed parents “under unnecessary stress and hardship”. It stated parents “feel compelled to visit schools as early as 4 a.m. to collect entry forms or be required to attend an interview”.

Some principals insist children sit an examination as criterion for admission, or that enrolment is dependent on the employment status of the parent/guardian. The ministry instructed, “There must be no interview process and/or examination as criteria for admittance to a primary school”.

Applications can be made online but the ministry said principals must ensure there are paper copies of applications.

It reminded principals under no circumstances should a registration fee be charged to parents or any request made for a contribution of cash or kind as conditions for acceptance of a child into a school. Through the collaboration, it was agreed religion will be included in the application form.

The dates for the start of distribution of application forms and collection were recommended by principals in the ADBE to facilitate timely processing. At the request of principals, the ministry will arrange for business office assistants (BOA) to be assigned to schools during the vacation period because an increase in the number of application forms is anticipated. The BOAs are usually assigned to the District Office during the vacation as the Principal is on holiday and there is no supervision at the school.

Mangroo explained principals at primary schools are on holiday when the school closes and to process the forms, principals and teachers voluntarily come out during their vacation. The ADBE and ministry agreed schools will have their own registration form and procedures. – LPG