Following the tragic fire last month that destroyed much of Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory and took the lives of 20 children, the Education Ministry is offering alternative learning options to those affected.
Students across the school, regardless of if they lived in the dorms or not, were presented with the opportunity to write their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations in the following year.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand made this disclosure on Wednesday during a contract signing ceremony.
“[The Ministry] offered them the option of writing in January. Some students chose that option and some felt they needed to write it now. We let it be completely a choice, like we did with everything else for the students and their parents,” Manickchand said.
For those who chose to continue their exams now, the Ministry facilitated so with a caveat that if after the results are released and they wish to retake the exams, they will be given a second chance–a first for the Ministry to offer to public school students.
“For the children directly affected by the fire, we have begun to talk to them and their parents about what options can work for them, given all kinds of other present circumstances, including their psychological state of mind,” Manickchand said.
The Education Minister further noted that community members within Micobie suggested either provision of a bus service or a school within their community. Both options are being considered.
“Some students have indicated their reluctance and inability to return to that secondary school in which case we’re looking at where else we can comfortably and safely accommodate those students,” Minister Manickchand said.
“Our insistence is that every single student that was affected by the fire, whether directly or indirectly, will finish high school successfully,” Manickchand added.
Since the fire, the displaced students have either returned to their homes within their home villages primarily including Micobie, Karisparu, El Paso and Chenapau, or are being accommodated in a building organised by the Government.
On May 21, the Mahdia Secondary School’s female dormitory was set ablaze, taking the lives of 19 students and the five-year-old son of the dorm’s caretakers.
Police investigations found the cause of the fire to be arson and authorities have since remanded the 15-year-old accused to the Juvenile Holding Centre in Sophia. The matter was adjourned until July 4.