SEATTLE — With around 25 percent of the population living in poverty, education in Saint Lucia has become a large focus of the government in hopes to improve the country’s future.
The government created an Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP) for 2015-2020 to assess the vast levels of unemployment and underemployment and to cure the issue at its heart. It is necessary that all children find affordable education.
Because schooling is mandatory until the age of 16, Saint Lucia ensures that education remains free to all students until then. With this in place, all Saint Lucians receive access to a basic education.
In 2006-2007, the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) addressed an inequity in Saint Lucia’s educational system, in that children were not permitted to attend secondary school if they did not pass the Common Entrance Examination. Therefore, many students from impoverished families and those with learning impairments were denied an equal chance at furthering their education.
USE replaced the need for this entrance exam. Since this action, Saint Lucia has witnessed an increase in the gross enrollment rate from 76 percent in 2005 to 98.4 percent in 2010. The government acknowledges how vital it is for all children to retain an equal opportunity to learn.
The government of Saint Lucia also sought to improve the quality of primary and secondary education. A rise in enrollment does not always ensure an improvement in knowledge. It did this by introducing technology to its schools in order to incorporate modern forms of learning. The Ministry of Education recognized that outdated teaching methods were still in use, pushing Saint Lucians to incorporate methods modern.
The ESDP strives to bring a high quality of education to the students and a high quality of training to its teachers, reestablishing the environment to a more modern technological classroom.
Just this year, representatives from Saint Lucia participated in a workshop devoted to educating women and girls about acts of violence. A group called Voices Against Violence is an informal education curriculum that provides awareness to communities in various countries.
Voices Against Violence’s curriculum is a vital form of education in Saint Lucia, considering the 254 reported acts of sexual violence against Saint Lucian children in 2011 alone. At the workshop, youth leaders taught women and girls how to prevent acts of violence, empower one another and create awareness within their communities.
With female empowerment, a higher quality in education and equal access to a basic education, Saint Lucia is well on its way to reducing the poverty rate.
– Brianna White