A window on the education system in Saint Lucia

By Dr. Claudia J. February

Photo by Ben White

It is simply not enough to identify the problems that may exist in an existing education system in its quest for better educational design; it is necessary to highlight, out of discussion, all the vital elements that exist within it. In doing so, the first step is to define the central term “education”.

What is Education? People differ widely on this question. It means different things to different people due to certain variables that would influence their understanding of the term “education”. However, a scholarly sense is necessary for the purposes of this article: a humane and natural education is one that faithfully reflects the essential characteristics of nature and humanity. One of the characteristics of both is the constant evolution of improved design (Pratt, 2011).

What are some of the characteristics of nature? Design is at the heart of nature. Nature has a well-ordered system – think of her processes which are well-ordered, for example, the seasons in the Caribbean (wet and dry) which come and go, which are time bound. Nature has beauty with its absolutely breathtaking flowers all around us, and its vastness on the horizon, which imbues the human body with peace. In addition, it has diversity (colors), dynamism (day turns into night and vice versa) and supports human beings (fruits, vegetables). It is particularly important that nature works for all. It is in this sense that we as a nation should take a narrower view of the educational model from which the Ministry of Education (MOE) operates.

The Ministry of Education has formulated its commitment to provide education for all and has provided documentation to demonstrate its commitment. The Ministry of Education’s commitment to providing education for all is defined in the Education Act 1999 (Revised 2001) as follows: “Subject to available resources, everyone has the right to receive a program education adapted to their needs…” (article 14: the right to education). The MOE strengthens its engagement in several other contexts: the Education Statistical Digest (2019) which states that primary education is compulsory for all children; the Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP) 2000-2005 and beyond which speaks of raising the levels of literacy and other skills of all learners; and the 2015 National Review Report on Education for All (EFA) in which its third goal aims to ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through quality education. Based on this commitment, it can be safely concluded that the MOE has an educational model whose primary objective is to provide quality education for all.

The main objective of this article is to address the educational model of the MOE, in the hope of raising awareness among stakeholders for a better design of education so that no child is left behind in today’s world. today.

In recent years, the Ministry of Education has launched a number of initiatives as part of its efforts to improve the education system, which is commendable. Notwithstanding the various educational services provided, from early childhood to higher education, the MOE provides the following: specialist teachers in public primary schools in addition to classroom teachers; student support services for students in public elementary schools and social assistance programs for those in public secondary schools. In addition, until 2015/16, teachers were granted paid study leave. The following people have been appointed: a School Attendance and Welfare Officer to ensure that school-aged children are in school and, an Attendance Officer to investigate truancy behavior and absenteeism, and encouraging students to attend school at the public secondary level, among others.

However, despite all these achievements on the one hand, on the other hand, a critical issue needs to be resolved. Is the educational model designed to meet the needs of all students as intended?

A central concern for me, a Saint Lucian citizen, researcher, curriculum designer, language policy official, and former teacher, teacher trainer, and school administrator, are the crushing dropout rates from public high schools. in recent years that have been recorded.

The Education Statistical Digest (2016) reveals the following: for the period 2002/03 to 2014/15, public secondary school dropouts fluctuated between 110 and 275. The total number of male dropouts exceeded that of females throughout years, except for the period 2002/3. It should also be noted that there were both male and female dropouts in all forms (1-5). In some years, there have been no male and/or female dropouts in Form 1. However, there have been dropouts from Forms 2 to 5 over the years, with Form 5 recording the highest numbers , followed by Form 4. Male dropouts dominated female dropouts. Form 5 over the years and, for the most part, Form 4 as well. The Digest (2019) shows similar results for the following years 2015/16 to 2017/18. Notably, the number of dropouts increased from 161 in 2016/17 to 204 in 2017/18. Males accounted for about 65% of total dropouts. The 2015 EFA national review report also notes the increase in the dropout rate at secondary level.

Why did these students drop out of school? Where are they now? How are they currently? Has a national survey been conducted to determine the reasons for the problem of students not completing secondary education? Are the measures put in place strict enough for these dropouts to “fall back” and obtain a diploma like their peers? Finally, is the Saint Lucia education system successful in providing quality education that meets the needs of all students?

The effects of dropping out of high school are considerable. The unemployment rate of dropouts, for example, can be twice as high as that of graduates. High unemployment can have detrimental effects on students themselves, schools, families, communities and the country as a whole. As educators/practitioners, one of the key things we need to keep in mind is that while students from low-income families tend to have the highest dropout rate, dropouts tend to cite schools they dislike and verbally intensive subjects considered irrelevant to their life goals (Pratt, 1990).

New strategies likely need to be employed by the Ministry of Education to help alleviate the current situation on the island:

1. A needs assessment survey could be conducted to try to determine why students dropped out of school and ultimately to try to meet their needs;

2. Successful dropout prevention programs start early;

3. Provide timely identification of student issues and guidance;

4. Use sensitive and responsive staff and provide more individualized instruction than conventional programs.

Although it is currently impossible to eliminate the exceptionally high number of school dropouts, we must make every effort to eradicate school dropouts as soon as possible, because sometimes it only takes one person whose reason for school dropout may have was because “nobody cared”. if I went,” or “school was irrelevant to my life” to slaughter a school or a society. Today’s child is most likely tomorrow’s Prime Minister, or a hardened criminal to be feared by all. Better educational design increases the likelihood of success for all.