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By Unity Labour Party

The issue

Believe what you see (Pt1)” highlighted some of the progress of SVG under the ULP government since March 2001.  In summary form, we outlined the accomplishments of real significance which are before our very eyes in the following areas: Houses, Electricity, Water, Telephones, Appliances; Garbage Collection and Disposal; Motor Vehicles; Roads, Bridges, River and Sea Defences; Airports and Seaport; Hospital Facilities, Polyclinics, and Clinics; Jobs, Salaries, and Wages; and Government Finances.

In this article, we identify other areas of phenomenal progress.  As always, it is wiser to believe what you see than what you hear.

The broad education story

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Everyone knows that there has been, ongoing, a path-breaking Education Revolution in SVG since 2001 under the ULP government.  The quantitative and qualitative achievements are visible, and are impactful in a hugely positive manner on individuals, families, the communities, the economy, society, and political system.  So, let us summarise the then (before 2001) and the now (after 2001) situation:

In 2001 the dismal story was as follows: Only 15% of the 3-5 year olds were in early childhood education; only four out of every ten 12-year olds were at secondary schools; only 500 students were at the various divisions of what is now the SVG Community College (SVGCC); only a handful of students were at cramped and ill-equipped facilities for technical and vocational education; only four teachers in the primary school system were university graduates; special education was in a ramshackle condition; library services were next to non-existent with no proper public library; some one-quarter of the population were functionally illiterate — they could not read or write properly or at all, or able to fill out a simple form.

Since 2001, all this has been reversed and enormous progress made: Some 90% of the 3-5 year olds are in early childhood education; about 70% of all primary school teachers are university graduates and some 90% are teacher-trained; over 2,600 students (over 5 times the 2001 numbers) at SVGCC; over 2,000 students are pursuing university education, almost all of whom are supported by the government; a Modern National Public Library and a Documentation and Archives Centre have been built; illiteracy in SVG today is minimal — the ULP government carried out a comprehensive national literacy campaign and established the Department of Adult and Continuing Education; special education is advancing, including a modern facility built at Georgetown; in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), there has been massive strides including the construction of a modern TVET institute in Kingstown, one at Petit Bordel, huge expansion of TVET facilities at SVGCC, significant developments at other TVET centres and their evolution as Technical Institutes, and the explosion of TVET initiatives (YATE, SKYE, ON-SITE).

Schools and educational institutions

Since 2001, the following schools and educational institutions have been built, rehabilitated, and expanded:

  1. Construction of 17 state-owned Early Childhood Centres all over SVG.
  2. Construction of primary schools at Sandy Bay, Byera, Colonarie, Port Elizabeth, Union Island; rehabilitation/reconstruction of several primary schools, including at Kingstown Government, Westwood, Barrouallie, Park Hill, South Rivers, Diamond, Stubbs, Calliaqua, Gomea, and Fitz Hughes.
  3. Construction/relocation/rehabilitation/expansion of several secondary schools including: Sandy Bay, George Stephens (Colonarie), North Union Secondary, Adelphi, West St. George, Thomas Saunders, Intermediate High, J.P. Eustace, Grammar Schol, Girls’ High School, Central Leeward, Bequia Community High School, Union Island Secondary, Emmanuel High and St. Clair Dacon.
  4. Expanded considerably SVGCC as follows: Rebuilt the Villa Campus and added over 80,000 square feet of floor space at a cost of some $35 million; expanded/rehabilitated the TVET Division at Arnos Vale; expanded/rebuilt the School of Nursing.
  5. Built 13 Learning Resource Centres across SVG.
  6. Guaranteed, and now pays, the $16.2 million loan of UWI from the Caribbean Development Bank to construct the Open/Global Campus in SVG.
  7. Built School for Children with Special Needs in Georgetown.
  8. Built Technical Institutes as listed earlier.

Four medical schools

In the wake of the withdrawal of the Kingstown Medical College (itinerant with no more than 200 students from St. George’s University in Grenada), the ULP government attracted four “offshore” medical schools with over 1,000 students in the aggregate: Trinity School of Medicine; Richmond Gabriel (formerly All Saints SVG); St. James School of Medicine; and All Saints SVG (formerly American University of SVG).  The attending students are mainly from overseas, but many are from SVG.

Legislative framework

The Education Revolution has necessitated important legislative and institutional changes, principally the following:

  • The Education Act, No. 34 of 2006: Modernises the educational system.
  • Further and Higher Education (Accreditation) Act, No. 35 of 2006: Establishes the independent Accreditation Board and the relevant processes for accreditation.
  • The SVG Community College Act, No. 28 of 2005: Establishes, and provides for, the integrated Community College.
  • The Sector Skills Development Agency Act, No. 19 of 2010: Establishes, and provides for, the SSDA. This body certifies persons with Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs) and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).  This is a vital agency for certification of persons with technical and vocational skills. Holders of CVQs have freedom of movement (no work permit requirement) in CARICOM.

Financing education

The annual budget for Education has grown astronomically since 2001.  In 2024, the government estimates to spend the following sums on Education from the recurrent budget:

  • Policy, Planning, and Administration (MOE)            :        $9.54 million
  • Technical Vocational Education                        :        $4.5 million
  • Special Education                                              :        $ 2.4 million
  • Adult and Continuing Education                      :        $2.5 million
  • Department of Libraries and Archives              :        $2.4 million
  • Education Quality Assurance and Standards             :        $1.9 million
  • Pre-Primary and Primary Education                          :        $59.2 million
  • Secondary Education                                         :        $47.9 million
  • SVG Community College                                 :        $16.5 million
  • University of the West Indies                                     :        $6.5 million
  • Post-Secondary Training (Scholarships, etc.)            :        $ 22.7 million
  • Administration (Higher Education)                            :        $ 0.79 million

Total    :        $176.84 million

It is to be noted that of this recurrent sum, $46.5 million is being spent on post-secondary and tertiary education (items (i) to (l) above.  This sum is slightly more than what is being spent on the Police or on Hospital Services for 2024.

In 2024, additionally, a further $30.7 million is being spent on the capital budget for Education.  In total, therefore, the whopping sum of $207.5 million or some 13% of the overall budget is being spent on Education.

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One reply on “Believe what you see (Pt2)”

  1. More money spent on more students attending more schools for more years earning more paper credentials hasn’t translated into a more learned and enlightened population.

    Indeed, many secondary school students are barely literate and numerate as are many teachers at the elementary school level.

    This is because of a constant decline in educational standards and expectations since the beginning of the so-called education revolution.

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