Press conference on the Government Industrial School – March 20, 2021. (PMO)

Acting Principal of the Government Industrial School (GIS), Ronald Brathwaite, has stated that it is a safe place for all residents.

Mr. Brathwaite made the comment while responding to a question posed during a press conference today. He stated: “The Government Industrial School is a safe place for all children that come to it.…  There are numerous boys and girls that would have come through the school and their circumstances have been enhanced by being at the school.”

The acting Principal went on to explain the entry process of the institution. “When a child comes to Government Industrial School, there is a very intense intake programme that they’ll go through and it covers all the aspects that attribute to the child. It covers the biographical data; the data pertaining to any problems they might have; their diet [and] any psychiatric problems that they would have.  All of these problems are captured within that document.

“Then within 72 hours after that, there is a student guide that is implemented through the social workers, and that guide deals with all the aspects that the children should be undertaking at the school. It covers how they access education; how they access medical services; their diet preferences [and] their personal development plans. It looks at the whole child, the child in totality and caters a programme for that child throughout its stay at the school. So, the school goes a long way in assisting all residents that come to it, that are sent there through the law courts of Barbados,” Mr. Brathwaite explained.

He noted that the GIS has a varied staff complement to assist in the overall care of children at the school, which has a 60 per cent population of children with mental health issues. 

To cater to those children with mental health issues, he said the staff includes psychologists and social workers, who in addition to the Psychiatric Hospital’s Child Guidance Clinic and Occupational Therapy, look after the mental and social well-being of children. Those children are assessed on a weekly basis.

Mr. Brathwaite disclosed that there is a mentorship programme facilitated through the University of the West Indies.  He said the children are provided with a mentor, who they have access to throughout their time at the school. 

He pointed out that any interaction with their mentors is private and the school is not privy to what takes place in any discussions with the mentors.

The acting Principal also spoke of a pre-release and transition programme in place at the GIS. He said when the children are released back into society, they are followed up by the social workers for two years, or until they reach age 19, whichever comes first.  He added that the GIS has partnered with the Probation Department to assist in the transition programme. 

Provision is also made for children at GIS who have the mental capacity to undertake CXC examinations to do so.   Mr. Brathwaite noted that the institution offers up to eight CXC subjects under its current educational programme. He highlighted that a boy who was recently released from the school left with three CXC subjects and is awaiting results on two other subjects.

In speaking on the school’s curriculum programme, Minister Abrahams, stated: “We’re re-looking the curriculum. I spoke to the Minister of Education up to today; we’ve had a number of discussions on it prior to now, and … I spoke to her to confirm that we’re going to re-look the curriculum to make it useful and relevant to the students that are in there.”

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