Ministry of Education schools Welfare Department launches a database to track and assist at-risk children

(June 20, 2018)- The Ministry of Education (MoE) Schools welfare Department today launched a database to cater for the needs of children who have been affected or might be at risk of becoming affected by some form of social issue.

According to the MoE, the database will collect information from the eleven educational districts and the welfare officers in these regions will facilitate this process.

At the launching of the database at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Chief Education Officer (CEO) Mr Marcel Hutson said that today is another baby step taken by the MoE to transform the education system. Further, the CEO said the role of the Welfare Department is integral to the overall success of the MoE, hence the database launch is a timely one.

Mr Hutson said the initiative will provide the MoE with invaluable information and statistics that will inform the crafting of policies to assist the affected children. According to Hutson, the database will ensure that decisions taken are rooted in statistics and this will guarantee that the necessary psychosocial and other support is provided to the child and family by the relevant agencies.

The CEO believes that the necessary support mechanisms should be in place to assist affected children in confronting social and other issues. He said that despite some children might have made poor decisions previously there should be an opportunity for a second chance for these individuals.

In her address to the gathering, Chief Schools Welfare Officer (CSWO) Ms Glenna Vyphius said that the initiative was birthed at a retreat that was hosted some time ago for welfare officers.

The CSWO said that assistance and technical support were provided by UNICEF to aid in this regard.

Ms Vyphius noted that previously their (welfare department) work was partially stymied because pertinent information necessary for the correct support to be provided was difficult to access.

She said the information gathered will not only be used by the MoE but other agencies such as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the Ministry of Social Protection who will utilize such information to provide the necessary support and guidance. According to Ms Vyphius issues such as truancy, drug use, teenage pregnancy, absenteeism among others will be addressed and strategized for with the realization of such a database.

In her remarks, UNICEF Representative Ms Michelle Rodrigues said that it is important that the data is collected properly and should serve as an agent for positive change. “Making use of the data and understanding it is very important”, Rodrigues quipped. Added to that Ms Rodrigues said it is important for the Welfare Department to know what is happening and where it is happening and what role that department can play in assisting the affected children.