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Featuring the Caribbean: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines committed to universal access to education

  • 31 March 2017
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College Sports 2015
© St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an independent Caribbean state comprised of 32 islands, nine of which are inhabited, with a total population of 109,000. The capital city of Kingstown, home to 27,000 people, is situated in the south-west part of the main island, Saint Vincent. The official language of the country is English, which is spoken alongside Vincentian Creole. The latter, which contains elements of French, Antillean Creole, Spanish, and Portuguese, does not have official language status. The national economy is mostly driven by agriculture and tourism.

The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recognizes the importance of adult learning and education for health, well-being and development, especially for marginalized groups, which are mostly made up of poor and unemployed youth and adults. In its capacity, the government strives to put in place relevant policies and practices. This can be seen from the results of the Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III). The Adult and Continuing Education (ACE) Unit, a department of the Ministry of Education of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, acts as the coordination and support agency for all organizations providing ACE services across the state. These include not only basic training in reading and writing, but also training in skills needed to access the labour market or to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. The ACE Unit divides the country into adult education zones. In each zone, a wide range of ACE services are offered through learning resource centres, national informatics and computer training programmes and technical vocational education and training (TVET) initiatives. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, a self-governing autonomous entity which nevertheless falls within the government’s mandate to promote universal access to education, also has a special division on technical and vocational education, which offers courses and certifies students on subjects such as business, engineering, hospitality and agriculture.

As TVET is considered by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to be an integral element in achieving education for all, continual efforts have been made to develop a TVET system in the country, and particularly to improve the monitoring and evaluation process, strategy development, effectiveness and institutional assessment. An ongoing example of this is the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Project, which has been in implementation since 2011 with support from the Caribbean Development Bank.

One of the main challenges for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in advancing adult learning and education is that there are insufficient human and financial resources to adequately fulfill the needs of adult learners. Further challenges are posed by the high numbers of men who drop out of the formal education system and the fact that women participate in adult learning and education programmes more than men.

References:

Caribbean Development Bank. 2016. Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Project – St. Vincent and the Grenadines. [online] Available at: http://www.caribank.org/procurement-notices/general-procurement-notices/technical-and-vocational-education-and-training-development-project-st-vincent-and-the-grenadines [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Education Research and Information Communication Technology Department, Ministry of Education, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 2015. Education for All 2015 National Review Report: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. [pdf] Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002321/232118e.pdf [Accessed 23 March 2017]

UNESCO Institute for Statistics [not dated]. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. [online] Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/country/vc [Accessed 17 March 2017].

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