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Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harry Husbands watches some??students of the??Al Falah School at work during his tour yesterday. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands, has lauded the contribution being made by private religious-based schools.

Speaking after a tour of the Al Falah Muslim School, Passage Road, St. Michael, yesterday, the Senator said the Ministry welcomed this diversity which would only serve to strengthen the education system.

"There is the longstanding Seventh-Day Adventist School, The People’s Cathedral School and there are various other religious institutions in the private sector but they all have one thing in common, in that they follow the curriculum of the Ministry of Education. Some of them receive assistance in one form or the other from the Ministry.

"We have the responsibility to take care of educational standards for the general education of the nation’s youth. We think it is necessary to have a closer working relationship with some of these institutions – while seeing what assistance the Ministry

could offer like training and other areas.?? Based on discussions with the principals these are all things that we can explore more fully at a later date," Senator Husbands said.

The Al Falah Muslim School was one in a series of institutions that the Parliamentary Secretary visited during his ongoing tours of private schools. The Senator said he was "very satisfied" with what he had seen so far.

"[Following the tours] we will meet in a formal setting with the principals to discuss and flesh out areas of further cooperation that we can give to the private education system," he disclosed.

Principal of Al Falah, Ibrahim Bhana, said the school’s goal was to set high standards for all of its pupils. It caters to 215 children at the primary and secondary levels and boasts an impressive record in the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, also known as the Common Entrance. In 2011, the Top Student in that exam came from the school, in 2010 it had a student among the Top 10 performers and in 2008, the Top Boy also hailed from Al Falah.

Students are also excelling at the Caribbean Examination Council exams with the majority gaining Grade Ones, Twos and Distinctions, Mr. Bhana pointed out.?? He said the school had been inundated with calls from parents, some of whom were not Muslim, who wanted to send their children there. However, he lamented that Al Falah was bursting at the seams and could not accept any more children. The principal added that they were currently looking for bigger accommodations.

The school has a complement of 17 full-time teachers (mostly retired public school teachers) and five part-time teachers. It also caters to non-Muslim children.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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