Pre-care and After-care for Primary School students
The hot topic lately has been “the supervision of children immediately before the commencement of and after dismissal of school” or as it is known in other countries: “Pre-care and After-care Services”.
While this is not a new issue, it would rear its head with some frequency whenever a child is injured or harmed in one way or the other on or in the vicinity of the school compound.
The question of whose responsibility it is to supervise children immediately before the commencement of school and immediately after dismissal often arises without a definite solution. In other countries, and to a lesser extent, in Trinidad and Tobago, these services are being offered at a fee.
For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, a parent pays US$25 a day for Pre-care services (which usually runs for an hour or less) while After-care services come at a cost of US$55. These rates can be paid on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. If a parent signs up for weekly Pre-care/After-care, he or she has to pay for the entire week, whether the child attends or not. Additionally, once a child attends two or three days per week, the parent has to pay for the entire week.
Consider our scenario in Trinidad and Tobago. There are instances where persons offer services like these, but much of the population has not taken advantage of these services for a multitude of reasons. Some may argue that it is the responsibility of teachers to supervise students while they are on the school compound. However, others believe that because teachers have families to care for before arriving and after leaving the school compound, they should not be held responsible for supervising students before and after school.
Primary school teachers’ working hours in Trinidad and Tobago are from 8:30 to 11:30 am and then from 12:30 to 3 pm, for which they are being paid. How many persons in other fields of work are willing to work beyond hours without being paid?
Others may say and have said in the past that the teaching profession is quite different from other professions because it is a vocation and not a job. No amount of money can be paid to teachers for the effort they put out. Consequently, teachers should look beyond the salary and take up the responsibilities given to them with love, devotion and loyalty.
Pre-care and After-care Services have become necessities as it is a reality today that both parents, who are now employed outside the home, must travel great distances to their places of employment for specific times. There are many single-parent households without a parental support system, which in the past may have been provided by extended family members like aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Over the years, many children were given keys by their parent(s) to enter and leave the family homes in the absence of adults. It goes without saying that once they were left unsupervised, these impressionable ‘latch key’ children had a huge risk of falling prey to unscrupulous individuals.
There is definitely a need for Pre-care and After-care services to be acknowledged in Trinidad and Tobago. We have to embrace the need to keep children supervised before school begins, after school is dismissed and the time it takes for their parents to collect them.
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