Government Minister Cynthia Forde says it was a “stupid” idea to close off Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School and pump the students who developed late into other secondary schools where there are no properly-designed programmes targeting their needs.
Forde who is asking her Government to act with haste to resume classes at the Speightstown, St Peter institution, closed in 2017, said there was diagnostic testing at the institution and students benefited from smaller classes.
“It was constructed, or developed, because we had children in those six or seven composite schools who were moving all over the place like a wave, no sense of direction. That school was purpose built and established for those late developers to find a niche, and the principal was there at the inception for more than ten years.
“And other principals who were there would tell you that more than 200 of those students who passed out have become their own entrepreneurs, managing their businesses, doing things with leather craft, painting, are into cultural activities, and so on, but they are not criminals today,” she said.
Forde, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, added her voice to the call for Alma Parris to be reopened, as she delivered remarks during the recent launch of Child Month 2019 at Divi Southwinds Resort, Christ Church, where she also made the point that the school was critical for Barbados going forward.
Forde said there was no point in schools, including Princess Margaret Memorial, St George Secondary, or Grantley Adams Memorial, bursting at the seams, because they were now required to take in additional students that should have been allocated to Alma Parris which was established on September 25, 1995.
“Those were schools that were scaled down to 500 children the most at a point because Alma Parris pulled off the ones who would have scored under 30 per cent when they reached the 11-plus. And they were put into training specifically in the summer holiday of that year that they would have an extra year in school, and probably do the examination at 12 years old.
“The history of Barbados must be piloted and chronicled so that people understand the background for Alma Parris. It didn’t just come out the sky, and the lady after whom it was named was one of the best Scout leaders in this country. I was trained under her, so I knew the lady as well. If it works well for us, why did you close it off?”