The Roman Catholic Church in Grenada is adopting a policy in which children of the faithful who pass the annual Common Entrance exams will be given priority to obtain a placement at a Catholic-run secondary school.
This was announced at the weekly Sunday mass at the Roxborough Catholic Church in St. Paul by the parish priest amidst loud applause from the congregation.
In recent years, Catholics have been taking a dim view to the filling up of Catholic schools by non-Catholic children at the expense of Catholic school children, by the Ministry of Education now run by Emmalin Pierre.
When contacted about the policy, a senior member of the church told THE NEW TODAY that it is “still being worked out properly but the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Grenada, Bishop Clyde Harvey will make a statement on the issue “sooner than later in relation to that”.
He said in recent times the Ministry of Education has been sending an increasing number of non-Catholic students to Catholic-run schools but the Diocese is not giving support to that plan.
“It’s first place for Catholic children. The first preference is for Catholic children and then anybody else afterwards,” he quipped.
According to the official, there is ongoing dialogue between the Bishop and the Ministry of Education on the percentages of places in the Catholic-administered schools that should be reserved for Catholic children and those from other denominations.
He said the idea is to arrive at an appropriate figure and then the Ministry of Education can send the rest of the children to fill up the school population.
“…I think they are getting close to that number,” he remarked.
The official pointed out that the principals will have an important role to play in the process as they will be required to prepare a list with the names of the children who should be given priority in Catholic-run secondary schools over other children of different denominations.
“If the child want to go to Convent and they pass for Convent and they put their name down then that is where they’ll most likely go as first place. When the school has gotten what they need then the government can send the balance to make up if the other students who want to go Convent as well who are not Catholics,” he said.
The source pointed out that Sunday’s announcement from the Catholic priest during the mass is part of the thinking of Bishop Harvey “to at least start getting the parents thinking about if you want to get your child to go to Catholic school, get the names in and when the time comes if that child obviously merits a place because they have done well in exams, there is no reason for them to be sent somewhere else and filling the Catholic schools with non-Catholic children.”
He said that Bishop Harvey is making a big effort “to get people prepared and get them working towards that possibility that if they’ve done well enough and they want to go to a Catholic school (that) they merit a place in the Catholic School.”
“…He (The Bishop) is working hard in getting the children into Catholic schools who really deserve a place there and not just filling the Catholic schools with non-Catholic children,” he added.
The official noted out that in recent years, the Ministry of Education has become filled with non-Catholics in key positions and they are “the ones who pushing other children into Catholic schools and trying to change that Catholic identity”.
In addition, he said that some parents who are not Catholics want their children to get an education in a Catholic school.
“The same children who are non-Catholic want to go to Catholic schools because they know the education they get and the discipline that they get in Catholic schools are different even from the government schools,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
Fingers have been pointing at the top brass of the Ministry of Education including the minister herself, Emmalin Pierre, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Kevin Andall and Chief Education Officer, Pauline Finlay who are non-Catholics for helping to push a subtle anti-Catholic agenda in the education system in the schools.
The official disclosed that Bishop Harvey “is fighting hard” against this new tendency within the Ministry of Education towards Catholics and is committed to preserving places in Catholic schools for the children of the faithful.
However, he alluded to a major challenge facing the church in this regards is the fact there are not sufficient Catholic teachers in the classrooms at the moment.
“Catholics are not becoming teachers and filling up the Catholic schools so that is one of the problems,” he remarked.
The official pointed out that there are a few Catholic-administered schools on the island without a Catholic principal in place.
Anti-Catholics have hit back stating that it is the government and not the Catholic Church that is paying the salaries of teachers and that the State should be calling “the shots” on the placement of students into the various schools on the island.