Situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Dominica lies just few miles from Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north. The island boasts an extensive natural park system, tropical flora and fauna, and bubbling hot springs, earning it the moniker ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’. It is also referred to as ‘the Commonwealth of Dominica’ in all official communications in order to distinguish it from the Dominican Republic. The country’s official language is English.
Dominica joined UNESCO in January 1979 after gaining independence the previous year. According to UN data from 2014, Dominica’s estimated population is 73,000, with around 15,000 people living in the capital city, Roseau. Tourism and agriculture are the main economic drivers in Dominica, with 40 per cent of Dominicans producing agricultural exports such as bananas, citrus fruits, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts. Even the power of Hurricane Dean, which devastated crops throughout the Lesser Antilles in 2009 proved ineffectual at stopping Dominica’s agricultural trade: exports still contributed to 17.68 per cent of the country’s GDP that year.
However, the 2016 Sub-Regional Meeting for the Follow-up of CONFINTEA VI in the Caribbean held in Jamaica showed that the country’s population was experiencing low levels of literacy and numeracy. Acknowledging the needs and right of adults to learn, the government subsequently advocated for quality adult learning and education (ALE) opportunities to be provided across the country. Today, the Adult Education Division, which is part of the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs, promotes ALE’s effectiveness in fostering self-sufficiency, civic engagement and sustainable development.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica also views technical vocational education and training (TVET) as crucial for preparing young people with the skills needed to compete in the global economy. The Ministry of Education introduced TVET into the secondary school curriculum during the 2013/14 academic year in order to initiate and promote educational practices that cater for individual differences, [and] endorse inclusive education and differing learning styles to create equitable accesses.
The Dominica Education Enhancement Project (DEEP) was subsequently established to provide TVET equipment, well-trained teachers and new TVET subjects, such as garment-making, food preparation, crop production and cosmetology, into secondary schools. The hope is that the integration of TVET into the curriculum will enable learners to better meet the needs of potential local and regional employers.
Like their counterparts in Jamaica, secondary school students in Dominica can obtain a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ), which is a regional certification for occupational skills that facilitates the movement of workers in the Caribbean under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). DEEP provides resources to develop CVQ curricula, which is being piloted in three secondary schools in Dominica. CVQs are currently available in food preparation, garment production and crop production; the Ministry of Education is looking to add more subjects in the near future.
Dominica also sees the potential of information and communications technology (ICT) in enhancing opportunities for learning, increasing access to education and stimulating employment, thus contributing to the economic and social development of the country. The Government of Dominica established the Centre for Excellence and Innovation in ICT in 2016 with the support of India. Operating out of Dominica State College, the Centre is expected to generate knowledge and awareness of the latest technologies in order to cultivate locally and internationally recognized experts in software engineering, computer programming, database management, cybersecurity and similar disciplines.
Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. n.d. Dominica, Country Profile. Available at: http://www.cardi.org/country-offices/dominica/ [Accessed 13 April 2017].
Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. 2011. Dominica country highlights 2011. Improving lives through agricultural research. Available at: http://www.cardi.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Dominica-Country-Highlights-20101.pdf [Accessed 30 March 2017].
Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. 2016. Changing the image of TVET in Dominica. Available at: http://news.gov.dm/index.php/news/3464-changing-the-image-of-tvet-in-dominica [Accessed 30 March 2017].