BRADES – With the coming new school year, will come more support for the education ministry’s efforts to protect the island’s children.
According to Director of Education Glenn Francis this September both the primary and secondary school will have additional help to ensure all children receive the support needed to succeed.
Francis was speaking at the opening of a two-day national workshop on Administrative Data Systems for Early Childhood Development, which ended on Thursday, May 22, 2015 at the Police Headquarters in Brades.
The director said Montserrat has its “own unique child protection issues.” In September an additional guidance counselor, who is bilingual, will be shared by both the secondary and primary schools. Francis noted that the island’s growing Spanish community has its own sub-culture and values, some of which may not be in line with the child protection standards being implemented “We have a responsibility to those children as well. We will be adding an additional support person at the secondary school so they can be properly integrated.”
The workshop which focused on developing a template for gathering data for children in the 0 to 5 age range was facilitated by Shelly-Ann Harper, an Early Childhood Specialist with UNICEF. Funded by DfID, this is part of a new focus on child safety within the British Overseas Territories.
Changes will also be coming to the procedures uses by police to interview child victims of crimes; the court system is expected to implement a process of collecting evidence from minors in a more sensitive way and the social services department will also be rolling out more communication as well as education programmes to support an environment more conducive to the protection of children.
“We’re taking the issue of protecting our children quite seriously,” Francis added. UNICEF is to also support a local Child Friendly Schools training course in July on island.