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Stepping Stones
Edition 7
Stepping Stones
Edition 8
Stepping Stones
Edition 9
Stepping Stones
Edition 10
Stepping Stones
Edition 11
Stepping Stones
Edition 12
Stepping Stones
Edition 13
Stepping Stones
Edition 14
Stepping Stones
Edition 15
Stepping Stones
Edition 16
Stepping Stones
Edition 17

The forgotten children among us need help

Summer school break is almost over and the time approaches for our children to return to school. In the midst of the rush and the hustle and bustle to get our children ready, I am haunted by a sad reality when I was reminded that not all our children will have a place in school this year.
My readers, I had a visit this week from a mother of six children. She is unemployed and her husband is deceased. She is already a grandmother due to an unfortunate teenage pregnancy. This mother has never experienced the joy of seeing her children going off to school nicely groomed and having the kind of childhood that is deemed normal and accepted as a basic part of life by many of us.   

Education is a fundamental right. This is backed up by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26:

“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.”

It is disheartening to see those little ones left by the wayside and floundering due to flaws that might be in an established system. As I rest my hands on one of her children, an eight year old girl, she says, “I want to learn my lessons.” My heart was broken.

I realize that it is quite normal for a child to have such a need even if (s)he has never been introduced to it. It is natural for us to want to learn, even more so for a young mind, eager for development.

My readers I have given you snapshot of this family’s present situation and this is but a microcosm of a problem that exists here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Too many children go on without an education, whether it is due to a lack of space in our public institutions or the financial difficulties that are associated with educating a child privately. 

And it is true that a vast majority of our children that are out of school are underprivileged children.
It is up to us to secure a better future for our children. It is our Government’s responsibility to provide education for all and we have to demand it.  Education is more than just learning and teaching; it diminishes poverty, creates leaders, and provides a sense of freedom.

Education provides a nation with more opportunity for change, spreads knowledge and information, and allows for growth and international recognition.

It was recently brought to my attention that here in our little country there are over 200 documented cases of children that are presently out of school. It makes me wonder, what is a child doing with their days if they are not allowed in school? 

If a child is not in school and without guidance, the fallout can be the gradual demise of a prosperous, moral society. The adage is true; “the devil finds work for idle hands. The children get in trouble with the law, creating career criminals; young girls, susceptible to the charms of boys their age or seduced by older men become pregnant.

And this pales in comparison to the fact that we will have a generation of illiterate children, who will grow up to become illiterate adults; unable to find the means for his or her survival. Let me introduce you to a sociological and economical phenomenon called the “cycle of poverty.

The cycle of poverty has been defined as a phenomenon where poor families become trapped in poverty for at least three generations, i.e., for enough time that the family includes no surviving ancestors who possess and can transmit the intellectual, social, and cultural capital necessary to stay out of or escape poverty.

Such families have either limited or no resources. There are many disadvantages that collectively work in a circular process making it virtually impossible for individuals to break the cycle. This occurs when poor people do not have the resources necessary to get out of poverty. In other words, poverty-stricken individuals experience disadvantages as a result of their poverty, which in turn increases their poverty. This would mean that the poor remain poor throughout their lives.

Education is a battering ram that can break this terrible cycle.

During these times, filled with political and economic concerns, I am worried about our children, especially the lost and forgotten ones. I am hoping that everyone who is concerned about the future of our country will become concerned about the future of the lost and forgotten children here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  It is a simple truth that our children are our future and the way the way we treat and prepare them is the way we will be repaid tenfold in the years to come.
If we really want to serve mankind and bring relief to the downtrodden and chart a course for a better Turks and Caicos Islands you need to advocate now not later for the education of all children living here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

How can you help?
Let some of your issues and goals be to advocate for the expansion and improvement of  comprehensive early childhood care and education- the starting point of our educational development, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

You can rally for the improvement of all aspects of the quality of education, so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

I have always been a huge advocate for education and the poverty stricken, because I remember where I came from and what I would have wanted someone to do for me. I need the help of the people to remember that these are merely children, children who do not deserve the denial of education.

It is depressing some of the things that I have seen on this little island. I have seen mothers with over four children, none of which ever attended school; to children over eight who stutter and stumble, almost brought to tears when asked to repeat the alphabet.

Turks & Caicos, education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Yet millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of poverty. Let us use this as a stepping stone and make TCI a leader in the quality of education by expanding our schools, teaching a skill, catching learning disabilities at an early age, there should be NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!