Fewer children reported missing, says Williams

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Fewer children reported missing, says Williams

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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THERE has been a 37 per cent reduction in the number of reports of missing children, Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams has said.

Between January and June, 545 children were reported missing when compared to the 868 reported missing over a similar period last year.

Girls account for approximately 80 per cent of the number of reported missing children.

Williams, who was speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, said the novel coronavirus pandemic has inadvertently contributed to the reduction in the figure.

She said as at June, 417 of the children reported missing have been accounted for, while 124 remain missing.

There have been no reports of children found dead after being reported missing, Williams noted.

“A reason proffered for the 37.2 per cent reduction is that our children are at home as we live through this pandemic. Many of our children are reported missing when they are away from their homes and are on our roads,” said Williams.

She said as Government contemplates the resumption of face-to-face classes, ways must be considered to protect children as they travel from home to school and back.

“It would be a travesty if we simply allow these numbers to begin climbing as more of our children return to school. These figures suggest to us at least one major missing element — greater supervision is needed of our children as they make their way to school and back,” said Williams.

She suggested that a formal school bus system would help to reduce instances in which children go missing, but noted that resource constraints have put that necessity out of Government's reach.

At the same time, she said that the ministry has made provisions for 250 select schools to engage eligible transport operators to provide scheduled service for more than 7,500 students in rural communities who are unable to attend school because of transportation cost or because they travel along routes that are not adequately serviced by the public transportation system.

She announced that the education ministry is currently “reworking” the programme to cater to schools that are resuming face-to-face classes.


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