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DEAD OR IN JAIL Minister says AEC stats are biggest failure

More than 60% of all school leavers from the Alternative Education Centre ended up either dead or in prison.

That’s the shocking fact revealed by Education Minister Rolston Anglin who described it as “the biggest failure we’ve ever had”.

Mr Anglin was speaking at a West Bay community meeting to talk about the recent spate of killings that has seen five people shot dead in a little over a week.

Almost all of the victims were past pupils at the AEC on Pines Drive.

But now, because it’s proved to be so unsuccessful, the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment has decided to close it down.

Mr Anglin said: “The Alternative Education Centre is the biggest failure we’ve ever had.

“Sixty three percent of the people that have gone there are either dead or in Northward.

“That’s why we are going to disband it. We need to keep our children, even the most severely challenged, in school.”

Mr Anglin added that most of the murder victims never completed their education.

He said, “Almost every single one never completed high school so we need to deal with adverse youth.

“The behaviour started before leaving school. Jobs are very important and we need mechanisms for training, scholarships and for apprenticeships.”

The Government-run Centre provided education for secondary age pupils with behavioural difficulties and a programme geared towards children with special needs.

Now that it’s closed, the pupils will be integrated within specialist units at main stream schools.

Mary Rodrigues, Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education, said according to 2010 figures, 63% of ex-pupils have ended up in jail or deceased.

And that figure doesn’t include the recent spate of murders.

She added, “In a review conducted by a Ministry team member, in 2010, we found 33 students who recently were both in attendance at AEC were also residents of the Bonaventure Boys Home.

“Of that population, we found that 17 (52%) were either in or had been in Northward Prison and 3 (11%) were dead. We are doing further retrospective studies to go back further in time.”

Speaking of the recent gang-related murders, Ms Rodrigues added, “All but one of the recent victims are confirmed to have attended AEC at one point in their school career.

“We are unsure whether the oldest victim attended in previous years.

“We recognised early on this past year that what was being offered to students by sending them to an Alternative Education Centre clearly was not achieving what was originally intended.

“In fact the rate of suspensions and absenteeism increased once a student left their high school and was transferred to this Centre.  In response, we have closed the Centre and reallocated the human and financial resources into specialised School Inclusion Units.”

Two of the units will be at John Gray High School, two at Clifton Hunter High School, and one at Cayman Islands Further Education Centre.

Ms Rodrigues continued: “The personnel hired to work with our high school students with the most challenging behaviours and emotional difficulties now are all trained and qualified specialists in this area.

“This was not previously the case. Their work is focused on keeping students within the mainstream education system with their peers and not withdrawing them into groups which may intensify negative behaviours.”

Additional reporting Tad Stoner and Ivy Lichtenstein-Sahadeo



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