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Parents on Canouan upset, told to transfer their children

Parents on Canouan upset, told to transfer their children
Parents of children attending the privately owned Pelican School Canouan protesting on Wednesday

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Parents of children attending the privately owned Pelican School are protesting the requirement that they transfer their children to the Canouan Government School.

One of the parents involved in the protest, Shirley Farrell, spoke to SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, September 3, submitting, “We had to hear on the streets, nobody official has come to us and tell us nothing. Not even today we have heard anything official from anyone.”

Parents on Canouan upset, told to transfer their children
A section of the modern Canouan school campus. The private Pelican School was housed in the orange building, while the blue building houses the Science and Computer Labs. The cream building at left houses the secondary school on the upper floor with the primary school on the lower floor.

She said they were told: “there will no longer be a Pelican and that we must go at the Canouan Government School to transfer our children.”

Farrell said she was told that the principal of the Canouan Government School was present at the school on September 3 to register all the children being transferred from the Pelican School.

“We are not moving our children,” Farrell, a mother of two children that attend the Pelican School, in Grade six and Grade one, stated.

“…The teachers have been teaching my child very well, and as a result, her children are very educated,” she said. “I am happy with the teachers, I’m not having any problems with the teachers,” the mother continued.

She said she does not want to transfer her children to Canouan Government School, because she has heard some parents’ concern and she has seen some students when they come out.

“Parents are transferring their kids and I do not know, but I have my reasons,” the mother replied.

From the parents knowledge, recently, many parents seem to want to transfer their children to the Pelican School from the Government school.

“Even up to last week they take a transfer. And even registration for the new children, that does not make any sense. If you knew that the school was going to shut down, when I come to the Ministry to transfer my child, you should have simply said (parent’s name) that transfer is denied,” Farrell posited.

What makes it confusing for the parents, is that the Pelican school teachers, who are non nationals, are present at the school, and a new teacher is said to have recently arrived.

The school fee of $300 that was paid previously in order to attend the Pelican School was eliminated in 2019.

Farrell claims, “the Government has asked for the school fee to cut out because the [school’s] building is on Government property, but we pay insurance, and we pay book loan scheme and we buy our t-shirts.

“You expect we today to get money from where? To buy uniform again, shirt, text book, exercise book,” the frustrated mother said.

Parents on Canouan upset, told to transfer their children
Upset parents on Canouan protesting the sudden closure of the Pelican School

“Where are we going to get the money from? This now for now thing, all yuh don’t think we are being treated unfair?”

Romancia King, the mother of a grade two student was also part of the dissatisfied group of parents voicing their upset outside of the Society Hall in Canouan on Wednesday.

She said the Pelican school was set to open yesterday, September 3, but following the delay of the opening of the Government Schools, it was believed that the school’s opening would also be pushed back.

“We started hearing rumours on the street as of yesterday (Wednesday), she said, and these rumours had stated that there would no longer be a Pelican School.

“We are dissatisfied because we are happy and comfortable with the environment our kids are in at the present moment, which was the Pelican School,” King disclosed.

“Because a lot of people don’t really understand, but some of these teachers they are very … they care beyond just the teacher,” the mother said.

The Pelican School reportedly follows the Cambridge Primary Curriculum from Cambridge International rather than the curriculum of the Ministry of Education.

King said the parents are dissatisfied because their children will be taken out of an environment they are used to, and without any warning , and also dissatisfied because they were seemingly not given any information about the closure.

King noted that their children are doing “very, very well” at Pelican School.

“I have known of parents who had kids who could not even say their ABCs, couldn’t write, couldn’t read, and from the transition, one term and these kids are able to express themselves in so many different ways,” she commented.

She too contemplated that many children had transferred recently. “We have to sit down and ask ourselves why? Why are so many parents transferring their kids from Government school to Pelican school,” the mother submitted.

“We want our school, which is Pelican School and why are they taking…we want to know why are they taking the school away…,” she revealed.

SEARCHLIGHT contacted the Ministry of Education, whose officials were in the process of completing a press release on the issue.

It begins, “The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines maintains that there be a single government school in Canouan that follows the approved National Curriculum as cited in Section 122 of the Education Act Chapter 202 of the revised laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

It continues that “the National Curriculum caters for the needs of children at the primary level.”

They say that this position was previously communicated to the Pelican School and other stakeholders and the Government has made efforts to achieve a seamless transition in the transfer of students.

“The Government recognizes and appreciates the contribution of the Pelican School and the investors to education in the flourishing island of Canouan and anticipates a continued mutually beneficial working relationship,” the release, written by Permanent Secretary Myccle Burke, states.

“Residents of Canouan are kindly asked to make arrangements for their children to be registered at the Canouan Government School for the 2020/2021 academic year,” the Ministry concludes. The release said that permission is granted for those students transferring from the Pelican School to wear their uniforms until the end of term one.

Attempts to speak with the Principal of the Pelican School were unsuccessful.

The modern Canouan school campus, which includes the new Canouan Government School is a joint venture between investor Andrea Pignataro and the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The new campus includes a new public primary school and a secondary school, which opened in September 2019. The campus also includes a library and computer lab, an auditorium, canteen and teachers offices. Up to a few days ago, the modern school campus also housed the privately run Pelican Primary School.

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