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Migrant children to start in RC schools next term

The Ministry of National Security has given the greenlight for Venezuelan migrant children meeting requirements to begin entering Catholic primary schools in the new academic year in September in the first phase of the integration of these children.

Just over two weeks ago the Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) Sharon Mangroo received the news that migrant children can be integrated into any government or government-assisted school.

“We have recommended highly that we start with the 18 Catholic schools that have been prepared to receive them so what we are awaiting now is final word from the Ministry of National Security on the documentation that is required; we have a good sense of that,” Mangroo told The Catholic News in an interview April 4.

Before getting access, the parents of children will be required to collect documents at schools and submit them to the Ministry of Education who will forward them on to the National Security ministry.

The CEBM is willing to facilitate the  smooth running of the process by collecting the completed documents. “Let the parents submit it to us on behalf of the school because we have been working with those 18 schools closely. We will work with the principals, and the parents. Bring it to us, there are photocopies that will have to be made. We will undertake to do that, submit everything to the Ministry of Education and they will forward it to National Security”.

The children must be immunised and have identification. Mangroo stated, “most importantly”, the children must have been recorded in the migrant registration process which took place over two weeks, May 31 to June 19, 2019. It was open to Venezuelans who entered T&T, both legally and illegally.

Mangroo said, “Those children must have been declared in that 2019 registration exercise. We have about 150 children ready; the documentation is ready. The children have been assessed so that we know what level of English they are able to speak, and our teachers have been trained, and resources have been provided to the schools.”

Mangroo anticipated that once the documentation is provided the process should take about a month. “We expect that before the term ends, we will at least have people knowing what schools they are going to be starting,” she said.

The advocacy for migrant children to get an education started about four years ago but was stymied because undocumented migrants are prohibited from entering the school system.

There are also requirements which must be satisfied to obtain a Student Permit from the Immigration Division including provision of passport information, academic certificates, and an acceptance letter from the institution.

Mangroo stated: “there had to be legislation to allow for an exemption of the conditions of providing the Student Permit because these people would have entered the country illegally and so they fell under a prohibited class for getting the Permit; there was an exemption given only to those people who were registered in 2019.” —LPG