Student enrolment figures for the Cayman Islands’ Government schools for January 2005 show that student numbers since Hurricane Ivan are continuing to increase and are approaching September 2004 figures.
The numbers are expected to continue to grow, said Education Minister Roy Bodden while giving an update on education at the Legislative Assembly Thursday.
In Grand Cayman, he pointed out, the data for John Gray and George Hicks High Schools indicates that there has been a drop in enrolment of 410 for secondary aged students, out of a total of 1,939 students.
‘About three quarters of these are from George Hicks,’ he said.
The Minister said that at primary level, enrolment has dropped by 300 students, out of 2,171. Enrolment in the island’s only special school, the Lighthouse School, has dropped only slightly from 69 to 60 students. In the Sister Islands, enrolment has increased by 32 students.
However, he said that there are still some students who are not accounted for.
He added that the schools and the Truancy Officer are continuing to follow up on students who have not shown up since their schools re-opened or have not been attending regularly.
Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden said the Minister had mentioned a net loss of some 600 students and that some of these are not accounted for. He asked if some of these children are at school overseas and if there is a possibility of them returning here.
Minister Bodden said that the figures relate to children that have re-located and are in school outside the Cayman Islands.
‘The Education Department is receiving many enquiries and most of these will be returning for the beginning of the new school year,’ he said.
East End MLA Arden McLean asked the Minister if the modular classrooms have been installed properly in the schools. He said some of them were propped on blocks and he was concerned that they might not withstand adverse weather conditions or earthquake tremors.
Minister Bodden said the objective is to return to pre-Ivan arrangements by the end of May and the reasons why the modular classrooms are set up the way they are, is simply because they are temporary.
‘We hope to remove them as soon as we normalise arrangements,’ he said.
However, the Minister said he would give an undertaking to check into the stability of the classrooms to allay Mr. McLean’s fears.
He pointed out that in the event of an earthquake, even buildings on strong foundations can crumble.
George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin asked when the temporary classrooms at the John Gray High School site would be ready.
The Minister said his Ministry had impressed on the Public Works Department the urgency of getting them functional
‘We’re at the whims and fancies of other gods on this,’ he said, adding he hoped they would be functional by May.
The Minister also said that Link officers from the Education Department and Schools’ Inspectorate have been monitoring student enrolment closely to track student attendance and to inform decisions about staff deployment and ongoing repairs to schools, to ensure that there is adequate provision for the number enrolled.