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TT schools take Grenadian students

AZARD ALI Monday, October 4 2004

SECONDARY school students from Grenada have begun to arrive in Trinidad to take up places at schools throughout the country. This was confirmed yesterday by Communications Director in the Ministry of Education, Mervyn Critchlow. However, Critchlow was reluctant to give details and declined to say whether the Grenadian students have yet been enrolled in any local schools. Critchlow said the students, who are sitting the CXC examination next year in May and June, have close relatives who are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

“So the question of accommodation is not really a problem. They are staying with relatives,” he explained. Newsday has been reliably informed that Mayaro Composite School is one of the schools at which Grenadian students will be placed. The principal of that school was sent a circular by the Ministry on Friday requesting that he consider allotting classroom space for intake of Grenadian students. In addition, Critchlow has confirmed that the Ministry has sent circulars to at least two religious denominational boards of secondary schools, asking that they consider accepting students from Grenada.

The manager of one denominational school board confirmed receipt of the Ministry’s circular but said at a meeting last week the board had expressed concern about the Ministry’s jurisdiction to negotiate for an intake of Grenadian students. “Our concern is our Ministry’s jurisdiction in this matter in the light of what Caricom has stated and what (Grenadian) Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has said on the issue of the displaced secondary students,” the official, who declined to elaborate, told Newsday. The offer of school places throughout the Caribbean region to Grenadian students was explored at an emergency Caricom meeting in Port-of-Spain following the devastation of  Grenada by Hurricane Ivan. At that meeting, Prime Minister Patrick Manning offered places to students who will be sitting the CXC examinations next year.

However, the matter has sparked some controversy with top officials of Grenada’s Ministry of Education expressing reservations about the plan, citing the emotional toll that could be suffered by the teenage- students if they have to be separated from their families for an extended period of time to complete their education. Mitchell has expressed the view that while assistance in that regard was welcome, his government was fully aware of the social implications of temporary migration of young students from their home. Schools are getting top priority in Grenada’s current rebuilding drive and some of them are slated to reopen later this month.

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