Antigua Observer:-Non-national children in Antigua & Barbuda will not be granted transfers to attend public schools unless they have completed three years of instruction in a private school.

This information was released by the Ministry of Education as it prepares to avert a spike in non-national enrollment ahead of the new school year.

Acting Director of Education Clare Browne told OBSERVER media that the rationale behind the move is to allow the ministry “sufficient time to mobilise resources” for those students’ possible entry into public schools.

“The public education system has to make budgetary accommodations for students that are coming in and it is an extensive undertaking to educate one child.

We have to have sufficient time to plan properly and budget properly – that’s the long and short of it,” he said. “We have that problem every summer where people arrive on a visitor’s visa and they stay and apply for school and it puts a strain on our finite resources,” Browne added.

According to the acting director, the policy is necessitated primarily by two factors – the need to allocate finance and other resources, and the limited space in public schools.

“It may not have been explicitly expressed … (but) even if you would have done your three years in private school it (the transfer) is contingent on whether or not we have space in the public school system,” Browne added.

He said whereas the public education system “might have space in a primary school” due to a deceasing population of primary school students, “in the secondary schools we have massive overcrowding”.

The policy was communicated via a notice from the ministry dated June 24, and circulated last week as the Grade Six National Assessment results were disclosed. The notice was in regards to “transfers” into public schools.

It stated, “As it relates to non-Grade Six National Assessment transfers, the following persons are eligible for transfer into public school provided they satisfy the requirements of Sections 28 and 32 of the Education Act of Antigua and Barbuda, 2008: All citizens of Antigua and Barbuda (and) non-nationals who have completed three years of private school within Antigua and Barbuda.”

Browne said, “That’s the policy we follow … for all schools (primary and secondary)”. He argued that to provide “quality education in our school system” the ministry needed time to facilitate the increase in numbers”.