Categorized | National News

Illegal Immigrants Add To Education Woes

The children of illegal immigrants are partially to blame for unsatisfactory results in classrooms across the nation, according to a top education official.

While appearing on the JCN TV Sunday programme Jones and Company, Director of Education Lionel Sands revealed that children of illegal immigrants, who may not be fluent in English, disrupt teaching patterns in classrooms across the country.

He said teachers find themselves distracted from their assigned schedules and forced to cater to the special needs of students who do not speak English as a first language.

“This slows down teaching patterns in our class and could also be a part of the problem that we are facing where the students are not being catered to as they should be because there is this impediment,” Mr. Sands said.

“It is very difficult, particularly if a child has not been born in The Bahamas and their native tongue is different than what ours is. That is a huge difficulty what we have and the teachers have to face this difficulty.”

Schools situated in areas typically known for high illegal immigrant populations usually suffer the most from this problem.

“There are certain schools in various districts where this problem is more prevalent than others. For example, it is very pronounced in Abaco, southwest New Providence and some parts of Eleuthera where you have this huge immigrant population within our school system,” Mr. Sands said.

Laws are in place to prevent schools from discriminating against the children of illegal immigrants.

This means that Bahamian taxpayers spend millions of dollars annually to educate children of illegal immigrants.

“The only children we do not have to take of are those children who come in with a visitor’s visa. But any other child we must take, it is compulsory, whether you are here illegally or not. But once you have that visitor’s visa that means we do not have to take you because that means you are only here visiting and should be leaving at a certain time. The children of all illegal immigrants must be accepted,” Mr. Sands said.

While immigration woes plague the country’s educational system, Mr. Sands admitted that there are other issues which must be addressed.

“We have a deficiency in literacy and numeracy. The reason we have not been so successful is that we have crammed our timetables with any number of disciplines to the detriment of the fundamental disciplines we should be dealing with. We will now seek to reduce curriculum offerings so we can focus on our weak areas,” he said. “We need to get parents more involved in their children’s educational process as well.”

“We have managed to get 85 per cent of parents out to collect report cards, but outside of that our job now is to get them involved outside of that period of collecting reports. We have found that in every school where we have parents always involved, those children always do invariably well.”

While the Department of Education strives to tackle its varying issues one at a time, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald has said the government will introduce a national high school diploma to standardise education nationwide.

The country has never had a national high school diploma in its educational system.

“The national high school diploma will dictate the criteria which all students will need in order to graduate from all high schools throughout the country, so this means students graduating from Eight Mile Rock will be the same currency as that of a students graduating from a school in Inagua. It will all be standardised,” Mr. Sands said.

Dismal national examination results have forced the government to review and amend the educational system to ensure that high school graduates are equipped for the 21st century workforce.

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