The number of students dropping out of school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has fallen by 75% compared to a decade ago.
Minister of Education, Curtis King told Parliament that in the 2010-2011 academic year, there were 385 dropouts, compared to 91 in 2022.
He was responding in Parliament on Nov. 23, to a question from opposition senator, Shevern John about the number of truancy officers assigned to educational institutions in North Windward and their duties.
King said there is one school attendance officer assigned to the area from Georgetown to Fancy.
“And basically, there are six primary schools and one secondary school in that area,” he said, noting that with the temporary location of Sandy Bay Secondary School, it is now in a different constituency.
“So consequently, basically, there is one person assigned to the six primary schools in that area.”
King, who has ministerial responsibility for primary and secondary education, said dropout is a significant issue and this is why the Education Act of 2006 provides for the employment of school attendance officers.
The law also makes it mandatory for people aged 5 to 16 to attend school.
He spoke of the role of school attendance officers, but said he would not credit only them for the decline in the number of students quitting school.
The minister said that very often people speak about an increasing dropout rate among students.
“And a lot of times, it is not based on facts,” he said, adding that for the 2010-2011 academic year, the number of dropouts was 385.
“Quite a significant number, it represented at the time 3.52% of the students enrolled at the secondary level, because this is where the major problem exists — at the secondary level,” King said.
“… since then, we have never recorded a number as high as 352 nor have we recorded a rate as high as 3.52%,” King said.
“In fact, over the last two years, for which we have data — 2020 to 2021 — the number was 96 students who are recorded as dropouts, which represented roughly about 1% of the total population at secondary school,” the minister said.
“Of course, 96 is too many. But I am saying look at where we started at 385. Last year, that is to say 2022, the number was 91, which represented about 0.95% of the total enrolment. So, I’m saying the numbers are trending down, they’re going in the right direction,” King said.
“And we have to continue to work together. All of us. Yes, and we also have to continue to give encouragement to the school attendance officers, so that these numbers would continue to trend downwards.
“Of course, remembering always, as I indicated, the school attendance officers are not the only factor here in the reduction of the dropout rate because we know that this government has put in place several measures to ensure that our school students attend school and stay in school.”