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Hard economic times forcing more institutions to set up funds

Hard economic circumstances have not bypassed our schools, and some are finding benevolent funds and scholarships handy.

Today, one main teachers’ union and a number
of schools called on more institutions to establish
similar funds.

President of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Pedro Shepherd, supported the idea of benevolent funds, noting that times were indeed becoming hard for parents and their children.

“I believe in this time, this economic crisis or recession, it would be something that we could encourage more schools to do. There are a number of students whose parents simply might not be able to afford what we can call the basic necessities; so if we can have some community-minded individuals or businesspersons who are interested in providing assistance, whether through scholarships or whatever, to schools, that would be a very important thing to have,” he said.

“I haven’t heard teachers calling for it [in the union], but it is something the union would welcome, if all schools could have somebody from the community willing to set up such funds, and so on,” he said.

His comments came as the Forlam Health Clinic in Carrington’s Village today made donations to three educational institutions to help with various aspects
of education.

Philip Roach of George Lamming Primary, who heads that school’s benevolent fund, was the first to call on more institutions to set up similar funds for students who needed the assistance.

“At George Lamming we have developed what we call a benevolent fund where we try to assist those students from Carrington’s Village and surrounding areas that are in most need. There are students that sometimes come to school without breakfast, without lunch money, without the appropriate school uniform, without the appropriate tools to further their education, and we tend to keep it on a low profile,” he said, adding that they tried to shield the children from any negative backlash.

“I think that all schools should have a benevolent fund whereby there is an amount of money set aside specifically for the use and to assist those children who are in some way needy, whether it is in clothing, resources for school or even at home,” he said, adding that his school had also given similar assistance to parents for uniforms and
even food.

It was a step with which principal of the Irving Wilson School, Wendy Blackman, identified, noting that she had recently purchased school uniforms for students there and was wondering how they would go about paying for the items.

The donation by the Forlam Clinic, she said, would come in particularly handy to assist with this cost and others. She told reporters that there were some parents with several children at the school, which traditionally caters to children with hearing, sight and other disabilities, as well as autistic children.

These parents, she noted, needed the kind of assistance such benevolent donations were able to provide.

Similarly, André Roett of the Barbados O’ Level Institute said the assistance the clinic had given with scholarships had come in handy for those students who were finding it difficult to financially keep up with their studies.

Roett said the scholarship fund traditionally went to those students who were unable to pay for CXC exams and the institute would match the donation by the clinic to provide a scholarship for a student pursuing studies at that institution.

He told of one student who was on the verge of dropping out of the institution before the scholarship fund enabled her to sit her CXC exams,
all five of which came back with Grade 1 passes.

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