(EMU) – St. Kitts, November 7, 2016 School Attendance Officers held a one day workshop on Friday November 4th with a view to empowering students who have been facing serious challenges to overcome them and be successful in life.

School Attendance Officer, Ms Shirley Prentice, told the Education Media Unit that the officers collectively focussed on the theme, Endeavour to Excel Inspite of Difficult Circumstances,” as they highlighted solutions to some of the challenges faced by the students.

Noting that failure to attend school is always “linked to more serious issues outside of school, Ms. Prentice said it was important for attendance officers not just to do the ground work in terms identifying students with attendance issues but equipping them to be able to adjust accordingly and change for the better through positive intervention.”

Deputy Chief Education Officer, Darryll Lloyd, in addressing the participants used his own upbringing and success as an adult as an example of overcoming major obstacles faced in life. According to Mr Lloyd, the support of teachers and others in his community helped him traverse the challenges of losing his mother during his teen years. “Although there were times when I felt like giving up and experienced some low grades and difficulties I was able to overcome.” Mr Lloyd told attentive participants.

Mr Lloyd also commended the team of School Attendance Officers for their positive work for in partnering with the children and going above and beyond the call of duty in advancing the success of students. “I had a good network of persons who believed in me and every time I fell down, they reassured me that it was not the end of the road. You’re doing likewise for these students, Mr Lloyd encouraged.

School Attendance Officer, Mr Charles Thomas, revealed that some twenty students from high schools in St. Kitts benefitted from the interactive workshop which emphasized active participation by all.

“We enforce the School Education Act, “Mr Thomas stated, “Once you are under 16 you must attend school. We are the front-liners; we go in the trenches; we go in homes; we go in abandoned buildings looking for students so that we can help turn these students’ lives around and make them become part of the community in a positive way.”

A student of the Basseterre High School shared his experience. “I came to the workshop to learn what is life; to talk about what is going on behind the scenes because people don’t know. I grew up; bad life! Mother and Father had ten children so me the 7th biggest had to become the man and go and look a side job; make some money to help support my brothers and sisters. After a while Father left and gone jail. I end up adopted; came to St. Kitts and met new friends and had a new family; learned new things; like the culture; masquerades; singing; everything good! The workshop helped me a lot as well as the people around me. Everybody knows why we were here to change and get better and that is life.”

Deputy Chief Education Officer Darryll Lloyd urged participants to show others how they had advanced upon the return to school. “I want you to go back to your schools to be change agents, to be bright, promising young boys and girls and say to the others; I am a changed person.”