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SVG educational outputs increasing despite low ranking in sub-region

SVG  educational outputs increasing despite low ranking in sub-region

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Although St. Vincent and the Grenadines has recorded among the lowest student outcomes of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Ministry of Education is insisting that on the local level, these outcomes are steadily increasing.

This comes after it was recently reported that statistics provided in the OECS {{more}}Education Statistical Digest 2012/13 indicated that although SVG has among the highest inputs into its education system, the resulting student performances were low.

Referring to local Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination results, Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist said they continue to improve – with 29.45 per cent of students attaining five or more passes (Maths and English included) in 2014, compared to 18.03 per cent in 2012.

“We are… cognizant of the fact the returns on the investments in education would not be seen overnight but the benefits are long term,” said Gilchrist. “We are working to improve the quality of education at all levels so as to develop our human resource capacity to enable Vincentians to compete with others in the local, regional and international markets for jobs.”

She also stated that in the business of education, there is “no strong correlation” between inputs and out puts.

“The inputs in education go beyond financial expenditure; hence, straightforward correlations are difficult to find because of the complex activities involved in getting from inputs to output and eventually to outcomes.”

Gilchrist said that the government will continue to “invest a sizeable portion of its annual budget” on education, as the Ministry of Education has been working “assiduously” to achieve greater returns on the investment each year.

“The goal of the Ministry of Education is… to ensure that each year the examination results are better than those of the previous one.”

She further assured that the Ministry is working on reducing the gaps in the education sector at all levels; with its school inspection and supervision unit being fully operational to ensure that the Ministry’s mandates are being fulfilled.

“These visits are intended to offer support and to identify areas of strength and weakness with the aim of providing the necessary feedback on ways of correcting the weak areas,” she said.

With regard to the OECS digest stating that SVG only has two social safety net programmes (school feeding and book loan programmes), Gilchrist explained that this is not quite accurate.

“The two safety net programmes that were reported are administered directly by the Ministry of Education and for which the data were available for the period under review,” she noted. “There are other social safety net programmes that were not reported such as the school uniform grant, the primary school text book grant and the payment of examination fees for some students. These programmes are administered by the Ministry of National Mobilization, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities and Youth.”

Other programmes available include: transport subsidies, school bus sytem, one-off bursaries from the Embassy of the Republic of China on Taiwan, teen mothers programme, and the Student Support Services Unit.

Gilchrist said that the Ministry of Education continues to work in conjunction with the various other ministries to ensure that our nation’s youths “become more educated” so that they in turn will be better parents and citizens who will “work diligently to develop themselves and their country”.(JSV)

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