Marcellus Taylor, director of education. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By FARRAH JOHNSON
LOCAL high schools are still turning away students who cannot prove legal residency or citizenship, according to human rights group Rights Bahamas.
The group claims both CV Bethel Senior High School, and DW Davis Junior High School, recently notified parents that student applications must be accompanied with proof of residency or citizenship – a violation of local and international laws.
When contacted by The Tribune for a response to the allegations, Princess Fox, principal of CV Bethel Senior High School declined to comment, while Nicolette Brown, principal of DW Davis Junior High School, could not be reached up to press time for confirmation.
Marcellus Taylor, director of education, told The Tribune: “This is the first time I’m hearing of it now, but if any school is violating what our rules are, then we will work with the schools (to ensure that no laws are being broken).”
For his part, Darwin Thompson, education committee chairman of Rights Bahamas (RB), called for schools attempting “to impede a student’s access to the classroom” to cease and desist immediately.
The RB statement pointed to Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd’s comments at a recent conclave, where he told educators: “You have no right, you have no authority to deny anyone access to our education system. This is crucial. You cannot ask them whether they are here legally or illegally, what their status is or not. That is not your right. In fact, it is against the law.”
Mr Thompson said: “Every child that is presently living in The Bahamas, regardless of their status, their parent’s status, or their nationality, has the right to an education. There are no exceptions to this. Education is a fundamental human right and we intend to hold those that breach this right responsible.”
The group added that denying stateless students access to education breaches both the Bahamas Education Act and the Constitution, and insisted that if the issue is not remediated, they “will not hesitate to take further action”.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 states: “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.
“Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”