HC Deb 04 February 1942 vol 377 cc1177-8
44. Mr. David Adams

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the high percentage of non-attendance at school of 30 to 40 per cent. of children of school age in Jamaica, it is intended to adopt remedial measures, either by compulsion or otherwise, to terminate this situation?

Mr. George Hall

Non-attendance at school in Jamaica is due not only to social and economic conditions but to inadequate accommodation, and until further accommodation can be provided any extension of the areas in which attendance is already compulsory is inadvisable. A number of steps are being taken to diminish the serious non-attendance factor among children already enrolled, including the framing of proposals for the more effective application of compulsion in the compulsory attendance areas. Schemes for the improvement of the educational system, including the provision of additional accommodation, are at present being considered by the Comptroller for Development and Welfare in the West Indies.

Mr. Adams

May I take it that the Minister is seriously concerned about the growth of illiteracy in Jamaica?

Mr. Hall

That is one of the reasons for which the Controller has been appointed, and I can assure my hon. Friend that they are paying special attention to that matter.

Mr. Sorensen

Is it not a fact that one reason why some children do not go to school is because poverty necessitates their employment?