Going to school is a joy for many children as they are able to interact with their friends whilst be afforded the opportunity to gain a free education. Unfortunately, the financial constraints of many families may be a contributing factor affecting hundreds of children from attending school. Today, headline news visited the Village of Patentia, West Bank Demerara. Statistics show that the community has an unusually high truancy rate. One villager who didn’t want to appear on camera expressed her deep concerns about the trend.
It was quite evident that children were absconding from school. It was 10 am and we saw several teenagers loitering around the community. This prompted me to inquire why they were not in school. According to one youth, who’s a student of the Patentia Secondary School, he was quick to note that it was career day at school and not much work would be done in school, however, his other friends quietly spoke of their parents’ inability to provide funds for them to attend school regularly.
Patentia was once a flourishing village. The nearby Wales Sugar Estate has provided employment for many residents. But things became even more difficult for some residents after the estate was shuttered and thousands of sugar workers lost their job. Some of the villagers claim this closure is a contributing factor to truancy. As Headline News further explored the village; we saw more children skipping school. We spoke to a family whose four children were at home. The Grandparents of the young children explained why the children were not at school.
London desperately wants her grandchildren to attend school but the funds are not available. Before leaving to go to work, the grandfather showed us all the money in his possession at the time which was $320. Today is supposed to be his payday. Nonetheless, he told us how badly he hopes to get paid today.
The grandparents are the caregivers of the children. The two, as well as the mother, are all employed. But, since the closure of the Wales Sugar estate life for the children father has changed as he can no longer provide for his kids.
According to a release from the Education Ministry, numerous studies show the link between academic performance and consistent attendance, which is so critical for the quality of a child’s education. Research suggests that children who are frequently absent from school are more likely to become involved in or be a victim of crime and anti-social behavior. The type of behavior that is shockingly on the rise, not just in this neighborhood, but nationwide.