Questions are being raised about the academic performance of Vincentian students, whose outcome is among the lowest in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), although the country’s inputs into the education system is among the highest within the sub-region.
“Despite St. Vincent having … the highest amount of money being spent on these things, we are not performing. What, therefore, is wrong? These are the questions we must address,” Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said Monday as he commented on the situation.
The OECS Education Statistical Digest 2012/13 has reported that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) spent 17.6 per cent of its total recurrent expenditure (6.41 per cent of its GDP) on education, the highest percentage in the nine-member OECS.
SVG’s 15 pupils to one teacher in primary schools and 11 students to one teacher in secondary schools are among the lowest in the OECS.
However, within the OECS, SVG recorded the highest repetition rates at both the primary school (4.38 per cent) and secondary school (12.17 per cent) levels.
During the Budget Debate in January, shadow minister for education, Opposition lawmaker and Southern Grenadines representative, Terrance Ollivierre, pointed out that 1,531 students dropped out of school in SVG between 2009 and 2013
Ministry of Education statistics show that 235 of the 1,531 were primary school students, while 1,296 were secondary school students.
Related: 1,531 school dropouts in four years in St. Vincent
Thirty-three students dropped out of school without completing the first year of their primary school education, and 224 students quit secondary school without finishing the first year.
The OECS statistics show that the primary school drop-out rate in SVG during the period under review was 0.4 per cent. This compares 0.7 per cent in St. Kitts and Nevis, the highest, and zero per cent in Grenada, the lowest.
However, SVG’s secondary school drop-out rate, 2.8 per cent, was the highest in the sub-region — compared to 0.8 per cent in Grenada, the lowest.
“We are having too many drop-outs and something needs to be done to remedy these matters,” Eustace said.
“Having put the biggest amount of money involved, having the lowest teacher-pupil ratio, what are we doing wrong? What is this revolution that we have that makes us end up worse off despite the attempts to put as much money as possible into the system? What is going wrong? That you don’t hear about.
“You always hear about Education Revolution, but now we are talking about the Education Revolution results. What has the high expenditures done for the students? What has the fact that we have the most trained teachers done for the education system in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? All these are questions we must now ask,” he said.
Eustace said he was not criticising the expenditure on education.
“I am criticizing the results that we have received.
“… The government has to be complemented for the amount of money it has put into education, but you are not getting the results,” he said.
I-Witness News was unsuccessful in its repeated attempt on Monday to reach Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist for a comment on the statistics.
We were told in separate calls to her office that she was in meetings or was unable to take the call.
In one of the conversations, her office asked about the nature of our inquiry, but up to publication time she had not returned our call, as requested.
Its very rare that a revolution brings excellence, especially when it is linked to third rate Scientific Socialism regime.
Remember many of our children go to school hungry, with no breakfast. Because their parents have no work and cannot afford the fees for books they are often kept at home, while others cannot even find the bus fare money.
That is why on any weekday there are children in school uniform begging on the streets of Kingstown, seeking money for food and bus fares.
Any Scientific Socialist system is bad enough, but a third or fourth rate one is even worse.
The ULP have failed the people abysmally on every front and continue to do so in education. The European Union and others are wasting their money when the fund any part of our school programme under the current government, including all the schools they have built here. Since building the schools they are falling apart through lack of maintenance, electrics are dangerous and rats run everywhere. Often school toilets are out of commission and several hundred children have to use just one or two toilets.
Next to Argyle International Airport, the “education revolution” has been the biggest hoax perpetuated on the Vincentian people. There are many reasons for this principally (1) too much emphasis on infrastructure and not enough on curriculum enhancement, (2) poor teacher training and motivation, especially at the primary school level, and (3) a dumbing down of standards generally.
Anyone with sense would know that this “education revolution” was bullshit. I have seen more children in their teenage years having a hard time now than I have ever seen. So now we are less educated and less employed. We have the debt revolution, that’s one revolution that these guys got right. How to put us in debt.
The problem here is simple and obvious. It is attitude, attitude, attitude.
It is in the report. You might have missed it; read the third to last paragraph. I-Witness News was unsuccessful in its repeated attempt on Monday to reach Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist for a comment on the statistics. Thats like, who the hell is the fresh up little nattering nabob to want to speak to me. Doesnt he know that I am the Chief Education Officer. Or, you have the results; deal with it. Or, I am government; I am too big for you. Public policy appears to be at the same time above our officials ethics and beneath their talents. Dont forget, screwing the three teachers was more important than what they were selling – the Education Revolution. So if they dont believe in what theyre doing, why should we?
The bottom line is, it is all talk the Education Revolution and education results are worlds apart.
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