Government consultant, Gloria Shillingford, has expressed concerns over school dropouts on the island, noting that Dominica is too small to have such a problem.
Shillingford, who is a former government minister, has been mandated to conduct a study on the phenomena in the island’s education system
“For a small island state like ours, we cannot afford to have dropouts in school,” she stated at the opening ceremony on Wednesday of a workshop for enumerators who will be studying the problem.
She remarked that preliminary statistics show that boys drop out of school more often than girls and the problem is especially serious in the third and fourth forms of secondary school.
“We do have preliminary statistics which show us, for example, that boys are the greater percentage in comparison to our girls, that we already know that the third forms and the fourth forms where we have a serious problem,” she explained.
Shillingford noted that the problem exists although access to schools in Dominica is not an issue and there are a number of social interventions by the Ministry of Education and the government.
“We have child-friendly schools, we have transportation, books and uniform programs and school feeding programs yet statistics tell us that still too many of our children drop out of school,” she said.
She explained some aspect of the study.
“We need to know where are those persons who drop out of schools,” she said. “We also need to know what is the major problem. Is it society, is it the school, is it the parent who is responsible for this?”
Shillingford noted that short-term recommendations are being put in place to tackle the problem, which includes the position of School Attendant/Counselor and a system where teachers can easily flag children at risk to report it before it comes to the stage of drop out.