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School assessment study uncovers urgent needs for students

Economic conditions in the country are wreaking havoc on the ability of many parents and guardians to provide even the most basic school items to their charges.

The dire situation facing many families has been brought to light by a recently-concluded needs assessment by the Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (BNCPTA) and principals and teachers.

The initiative was undertaken several months after the conclusion of Government’s retrenchment exercise in which some 3,000 public servants were sent home as part of austerity measures.

BNCPTA President Rhonda Blackman estimated that the items needed by students, including books, shoes, school fees, 37 khaki pants and 30 school uniforms, could cost as           much as $10 000.

Blackman told Barbados TODAY she was surprised at the extent of the problem.

“The situation is real and these are genuine cases because the teachers would know those cases. That’s why we waited until the beginning of the term so that we could get a true assessment of these students. It is not a case where parents think it is a welfare programme and therefore, ‘I can buy Remy [hair], therefore I can party, therefore I can have my priorities wrong because the PTA will provide’. That is not what it is,” she stressed.

“There are a few students who have not been able to come to school because they don’t have the school clothes and it is telling us how dire the situation is and as a society we need to come together to see how we can assist these families,” she added.

The needs assessment was conducted over a three week period last month at primary and secondary schools across the island.

However, the needs were only identified at five secondary schools and seven primary schools, which Blackman did not identify to ensure confidentiality.

She issued an appeal to corporate Barbados, as well as citizens, to assist affected students.

“It is important that it is understood that the BNCPTA has spearheaded this but what we want to do going forward in the programme is that we would only act as a facilitator and not the major player in the process. We want to embrace our domestic PTA bodies so they can work with their schools and develop the programme within their individual schools,” Blackman explained.

“It would be great if persons could say ‘what does the association need? I can donate X amount’. But if you can only assist one child with one shirt, you have made a difference and that is what is important. [There] is a variety of clothing that we need urgently now.

“Those businesses out there that make uniforms; those companies that sell uniforms, even if you donate one or two, we would readily accept your donation. It doesn’t have to be major . . . so even if you can contribute $20, even if you can contribute $10; if you can contribute a shirt or shirts, we would be willing to accept your contribution,” the PTA head added. 

4 Responses to HARD TIMES

  1. dwayne jordan October 11, 2014 at 10:14 am

    $10,000 sounds a lot,,im a parent of prim and second kids,,i can tell you to school a gov prim school kid is around $800-$1200 before first day begins

    Uniform inclusive bag,shoes,socks etc is $500-$700(5 shirts/5 pants)
    Books $300-$400 plus accessories, stationary depending on class

    At private primary school,, throw in tuitions which depending on which school is in the rage of $720-$1400 per term.

    I fall short of trying to add the $10,000 figure a school year per one child weather private or public,, even when you consider lunch, transport and all other misc costs….

  2. Aryn October 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    @Mr.Jordan The $10000 refers to the collective needs of many students not just one student.

  3. Anonymous October 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Why can’t the schools organize a recycle program with parents where they can bring in used uniforms and books and those who need can be assisted. That system worked very well at the Convent when the uniform factory burned down and new uniforms were unavailable.

  4. amesia hall October 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    send address i willgather something when i coming to barbados,u ask trinidad and tobago for help do not be afraid we need each other


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