The Church in Grenada is in discussion with the Ministry of Education (MoE) on Common Entrance places.
A mid-March news report from The New Today stated that the Diocese was adopting a policy through which children of the faithful who pass the annual Common Entrance exams will be given priority to obtain a placement at Catholic-run secondary schools.
This was announced at the weekly Sunday Mass at the Roxborough Catholic Church in St Paul by the parish priest amidst loud applause from the congregation.
The New Today explained that in recent years, Catholics have been taking a dim view to the filling up of Catholic schools by non-Catholic children at the expense of Catholic children, by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
The online news source reported that when contacted about the policy, a senior Church official said it is still being worked out properly but Bishop Clyde Harvey will make a statement on the issue.
The senior official said in recent times the MoE has been sending an increasing number of non-Catholic students to Catholic-run schools.
According to the official, there is ongoing dialogue between the Diocese and the MoE on the percentages of places in the Catholic-administered schools that should be reserved for Catholic children and those from other denominations.
He said the idea is to arrive at an appropriate figure and then the Ministry can send the rest of the children to fill up the school population.
“…I think they are getting close to that number,” he remarked.
The official pointed out that the principals will have an important role to play in the process as they will be required to prepare a list with the names of the children who should be given priority in Catholic-run secondary schools over other children of different denominations.
“If the child wants to go to Convent and they pass for Convent and they put their name down, then that is where they’ll most likely go as first place. When the school has gotten what they need, then the government can send the balance to make up if the other students who want to go Convent as well who are not Catholics,” he said.
He said that Bishop Harvey is making a big effort “to get people prepared and get them working towards that possibility that if they’ve done well enough and they want to go to a Catholic school (that) they merit a place in the Catholic Schools.”
“…He (the Bishop) is working hard in getting the children into Catholic schools who really deserve a place there and not just filling the Catholic schools with non-Catholic children,” he added.
The official noted that in recent years, the Ministry has become filled with non-Catholics in key positions and suggested they are “the ones who pushing other children into Catholic schools and trying to change that Catholic identity”.
In addition, he said some parents who are not Catholic want their children to get an education in a Catholic school.
“The same children who are non-Catholic want to go to Catholic schools because they know the education they get and the discipline that they get in Catholic schools are different even from the government schools,” he told The New Today.
However, he alluded to a major challenge facing the Church in this regard is the fact there are not sufficient Catholic teachers in the classrooms at the moment.
“Catholics are not becoming teachers and filling up the Catholic schools so that is one of the problems,” he remarked.
Bishop Harvey clarified his position in a March 25 Facebook clip of his ‘Conversations with the Bishop’ programme on the Good News Catholic Communications.
He explained that the Diocese was in discussion with the Ministry and asked faithful “to pray that the discussions bear fruit”. He said, “the Church’s concern is for the children of Grenada” and it is not saying that Catholic schools are only for Catholic children.