Featuring the Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda boosts human capital by promoting lifelong learning

  • 28 June 2017
© Government of Antigua and Barbuda

The twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda covers a total land area of 442.6 square kilometres. The islands are located in waters between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast of Puerto Rico. The total population in 2016 was estimated to be 93,000 people, with 22,000 living in the capital city, St. John's, located on Antigua Island. Gaining independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in November 1981, Antigua and Barbuda joined UNESCO in July 1982. While English is the official language, several dialects are spoken around the island, including ‘Antiguan Creole English’ and ‘Barbuda Creole English’.

Antigua and Barbuda has a service-based national economy. The tourism sector alone accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the country’s GDP and 40 per cent of investment, and is one of the key sources of employment and income. The agriculture sector accounts for between 3 per cent and 4 per cent of the overall GDP.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development report on Antigua and Barbuda raised concerns about poverty in the country. In this context, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda recognizes education as a vital means of investing in human capital in order to stimulate economic development.

The promotion of lifelong learning is embedded in the vision of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs in Antigua and Barbuda, which aims to empower the citizens to ‘access and evaluate knowledge through creative problem-solving and critical thinking in preparation for work in a dynamic national, regional and global economy’. In particular, there have been efforts to integrate the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education policy. Recognizing the increasing importance of knowledge-based activities, the government sees ICT as an opportunity to enhance educational reform by enabling educators and students to move away from traditional modes of teaching and learning, and make better use of new and emerging technologies.

There is no centralized mechanism for adult learning and education in Antigua and Barbuda. However, the Ministry of Education oversees a number of institutions responsible for different areas of provision. For example, the Antigua and Barbuda Institute for Continuing Education offers technical and vocational training programmes to students aged between 16 and 60 years. The curriculum is based on the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications Framework and covers subjects such as construction, beauty therapy and business. Related certificates are awarded by the Caribbean Examinations Council.


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