The development of our human capital is one of the most important goals of any administration.
Transforming the System
Unfortunately, our current education system is not fully meeting its objective to prepare students for the demands of a 21st Century information-driven, hyper-connected world. The majority of students who go through secondary level education emerge without the minimum requirement of five subject passes, which is considered as the baseline indicator of achievement.
Therefore, of paramount importance should be the comprehensive reform of the education sector so that it inculcates in its students, at all levels, the values, skills, aptitudes and competences required of globally competitive and nationally conscious citizens.
The school facility should be made more student-friendly. Schools must be a place that students want to attend and the secondary schools in particular should be designed or retrofitted so that they address the academic needs of the students, while also providing an environment where they can develop their psycho-social skills and any emotional needs can be attended to.
A Focus on Early Childhood Development
There should be a focus on achieving universal early childhood education, with every child guaranteed a place in an accredited early childhood learning centre. Assistance should be provided to parents who are unable to enrol their children in early childhood development institutions.
Support should also be provided for parental skills training, with models such as the Parent Support Program of the Roving Caregivers Program used to provide training and mentoring to eligible parents.
Remediation is Important
At the primary education level, emphasis should be placed on remediation activities to assist children to address and overcome learning challenges before they become more problematic and entrenched.
Specific attention should be paid to ensure that children acquire basic levels of literacy and numeracy skills at the primary and secondary levels of the education system.
The secondary school curriculum should be adjusted to create another education option that aligns with the Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs).
Skills training programs and institutions providing this training should be integrated into the formal education system. This will help to improve the quality of the training provided and raise it to international standards, thereby allowing the trainees to obtain employment in and out of Saint Lucia.
Role of the Private Sector
The Private Sector should be encouraged to invest in the development of its work force, through tax rebates that are linked to the direct support provided for employee training.
Private Institutions that focus on providing second chance opportunities to children who have prematurely exited the formal education system should be encouraged. Similarly, support should be given to institutions and individuals that provide or facilitate after-school or second-chance learning opportunities in high risk areas.