Educator wants an end to walkathon, but Thwaites says no way

According to Ajagunna, this practice has created an avenue for the children to engage in dishonest behaviour, as they often duplicate the walkathon sheetsand use them to collect money for themselves.

“In our public schools or high schools there is a fund-raising initiative, which they call walkathon – I call it beggerton – where the institution gives the child a piece of paper for them to go and beg money for some sort of development, and my argument is this, when you give them a piece of paper they photocopy it and when them finish collecting, they begin collecting for themselves,” he said.

“The point remains that many of these children do not go to collect. Some of them do not have a reasonable employment but the very thought of what they consider to be a lucrative way of raising money, I think this is where the Ministry of Education needs to come in,” Dr Ajagunna said.

Dr Ajagunna made the call during his presentation on Friday at the 2015 CIBC/First Caribbean Infrastructure Conference at Hyatt Ziva Resort Montego Bay in St James.

Contacted by the Jamaica Observer, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said it was the first he was hearing that students used the initiative to collect money for themselves.

He said he would not support any call for schools to desist from participating in such fund-raising activities but would ask for proper supervision of the process.

“If you have an athletic team or a social endeavour which is assisting students of which they are a part, it is perfectly reasonable to ask students to go and collect money; however, it needs to be managed properly so as to avoid abuse where they may not make accurate returns,” Thwaites said.

But Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison said that the ministry needs to take a closer look at the practice.

“In terms of my own personal view, I am entirely uncomfortable with the idea of children being put out systematically to beg. I know it’s a practice that has been long-standing but depending on the particular condition there may be an instance in which a close look should be taken at the habit,” she said.

According to the children’s advocate, the initiative puts children at risk in instances where they are exposed to unscrupulous people and also when they are exposed to vehicular traffic while out begging.

Further to that, she said there is also the possibility of the practice affecting the student’s time for studies and relaxation.

Gordon-Harrison also deemed the practice “completely unacceptable” when it’s done without adult supervision.


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