EDUCATION FOR ALL IN THE CARIBBEAN: ASSESSMENT 2000
LIGHTING THE WAY FORWARD
The State of Education in the Caribbean in the 1990s
Volume II: Subregional Synthesis Report
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Boxes
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
1. Background Information
Structure of the Education Systems
Scope and Methodology
Summary of Findings, Issues, and Proposed Targets
The Decade in Review
Issues, Goals, and Targets
Future Challenges to Education
3. Early Childhood Care and Development
Assessment of the Situation
Goal and Target
Examples of the Caribbean Response
Percentage First Graders with ECCE Experience
Gender Parity Index
4. Primary Schooling
Assessment of the Current Situation and Trends
Goal and Target
An Example of the Caribbean Response
Gross and Net Enrolment
System Efficiency Indicators
5. Adult Literacy and Continuing Education
6. Training in Essential Skills
7. Education for Better Living
A. Qualitative Indicators
B. Quantitative Indicators
D. Statistical Annex
This report represents quite an achievement in Caribbean education. While reviews have been
done over the years, this is perhaps the first time that, between two covers, there is such a
comprehensive analysis using specific quantitative and qualitative indicators, and giving the
results in such detail for so many countries.
Not that the report has achieved all that was hoped. The synthesis writers have documented, in
detail, the challenges of collection and analysis. However, the achievement is that in one year, 21
of the 22 countries targeted did go through the exercise and 20 of them completed reports. There
is now baseline data on some of the indicators in some of the countries and a clear understanding
of the challenges in all of the countries. Moreover, the very challenges have led participants in
two workshops, the latter led by Ministers of Education, to commit to the design and
implementation of a regional educational data management system that should reduce several of
the problems which surfaced in this assessment.
Another major achievement of this exercise is the networking and collaboration that resulted.
Two examples will suffice. The bringing together in December 1999 of statisticians from offices
responsible for national statistics and those from Ministries of Education to thrash out knotty
problems of definition and, especially, spatial and age disaggregations so necessary for proper
targeting, especially to address issues of the poor, the at risk, the unreached, and the excluded.
Some participants say involvement of Ministries of Finance is the next critical step.
Yet another example is the achievement evidenced by the Ministers working in small groups
with other stakeholders, in February 2000, to hammer out the action plan, such that it reflects not
only perspectives from different countries but from practitioners, policy makers, and analysts.
The hope is that, where it has not yet occurred, the national plans will be shared with, and receive
similar consultative inputs from, school managers, teachers, parents, students, and others.
Several are to be thanked for this rich process and invaluable outputs and outcomes. First
among them perhaps, our report writers. The several coordinators, planners, consultants, and
others at the national and subregional level, as well as Dr. Vena Jules and Dr.Aignald Panneflek
who did the synthesis report. We thank them all for the consultations by fax, email, and phone
and also at the workshop to clarify, confirm, elucidate, and finally reflect, as far as possible, in a
timely fashion, on the “state of play” in basic education in the region. We thank them, too, for the
dedication, meticulous attention to detail, and concern for learners that pervaded the whole
We also thank the Ministers and senior officials in Ministries of Education whose agreement
and support were essential to the process; the monograph and case study writers who enriched the
data base and the analytical material; our UNESCO and other Forum partners for the resources,
guidance, and encouragement from headquarters; the resources and facilitation from the field; our
resilient technical committee, who made so much happen with so little, and our office staff who
helped to hold it all together. We thank very especially, too, Department for International
Development (DFID), whose generous grant oiled the wheels of the whole process, and the
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) whose grant assisted greatly in the consultation process.
To all we say, see your efforts reflected in the thorough review of the 1990s and vision and
plan for Caribbean learners for the first decade of this century.
UNESCO Representative and Coordinator, Regional Technical Advisory Group (RTAG)
EFA in the Caribbean: Assessment 2000
LIST OF TABLES
1. Estimated GDP Per Capita of Six Selected Island Territories
2. Estimated GDP Per Capita of the OECS States, 1997
3. Estimated GDP Per Capita of Recently Liberalised Caribbean Economies, 1997
4. Estimated GDP Per Capita of the Fixed Exchange Rate Countries of the Caribbean,
5. Estimated GDP Per Capita of Haiti, 1997
6. In-School and Out-of-School Population in Selected Caribbean Countries
7. Gross Enrolment Ratios - Birth to Age 5
8. Gross Enrolment Ratios - Day Care Sector
9. Gross Enrolment Ratios in Pre-Primary ECCE Programmes and % of New Entrants to
primary Grade 1 with ECD Experience
10. Participation Rates of 0-6 Year Olds in Haiti, 1990, 1995, &1997
11. Caribbean Countries: Gross Enrolment Ratios - Pre-Primary Sector (3-5 year olds),
1990, 1995, & 1997
12. Total Expenditure on Early Childhood Education, Care and Development in
Caribbean Countries as a % of Education Expenditures, 1990, 1994, & 1998
13. Pupil/Teacher Ratios (ECCE)
14. Apparent and (Net) Intake Ratios in Caribbean Countries
15. Apparent & Net Intake Rates in Caribbean Countries, 1990/91 - 1997/98
16. Caribbean Countries: Gross Enrolment Ratios – Primary Sector, 1990, 1995, & 1997
17. Gross Enrolment Ratios for Caribbean Countries Without Haiti for 1990, 1995 &1998
18. Gross and (Net) Enrolment Ratios, 1990-1999
19. Public Current Expenditure on Primary Education as a % of Total Public Current
Expenditure on Education (and as a % of GNP)
20. Percentage of Primary School Teachers with Academic Qualifications and (Certified
to Teach), 1990-1999
21. Guyana Pupil/Teacher Ratios
22. Pupil/Teacher Ratios in Caribbean Countries - Overall and in (Public Schools), 1990-
23. Average Repetition Rates to Grade 5 and (GPI) at the Primary Level in Caribbean
24. Survival Rates to Grade 5 at the Primary Level in Caribbean Countries, 1990–1999
25. Survival Rates by Education District - Trinidad & Tobago
26. Coefficient of Efficiency to Grade 5 and in (Primary Education) in Caribbean
27. Percentage of Students who Master Reading/Writing (Mathematics), ACS
28. Literacy Rates Among the 15+ (and GPI) in Caribbean Countries, 1990-1999
A1. Population Numbers in Caribbean Countries
A2. Constant GDP for Selected Caribbean Countries for the period 1989-1998
A3. Exchange Rates
A4. Debt Service Payments for Select Caribbean Countries for the Period 1993-1998
A5. External Debt for Caribbean Countries, 1996
LIST OF FIGURES
1. Trends in Participation Rates of 0-6 Year Olds in Haiti, 1990-1997
2. Trends in Pre-Primary (3-5/6 Year Olds) Enrolment Ratios, 1990-1997: Caribbean
3. Provision of Pre-Primary Facilities
4. Trends in Pupil/Teacher Ratios in Dominica and Suriname, 1990-1998
5. Trends in the Apparent and Net Intake Ratios in Caribbean Countries, 1990/91 –
6. Increases in Over-Aged and Under-Aged Entrants in Grade 1 in Caribbean Countries,
1990/91 – 1977/98
7. Haiti: Gross Enrolment Ratios GERs) – Primary Sector, 1990/1991 – 1997/98
8. Caribbean Average GER With Haiti, 1990/91 – 1997/98
9. Caribbean Average GER Without Haiti, 1990/91 – 1997/98
10. Relationship between the Economy and Primary School Enrolment (5-11 years)
11. Expenditure on Primary Education as a % of Total Expenditure on Education,1997
LIST OF BOXES
1. Main Problems Encountered/Anticipated in St. Lucia
2. Reasons Given Why Parents in Trinidad and Tobago May Not Be Accessing ECCE
3. Over- and Under-Aged Entrants: Basic Education
4. Belize: Revision of Teacher Education Using the Distance Education Modes
5. Repetition and Dropout in Belize
6. Pupil Performance: Anguilla
LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
AIR Apparent Intake Rate
ALTA Adult Literacy Tutors Association
ASP Associated Schools Project
CARCAE Caribbean Regional Council for Adult Education
CARICOM Caribbean Community
CBS Central Bureau of Statistics
CEE Common Entrance Examination
CONFINTEA International Conference on Adult Education
CXC Caribbean Examinations Council
ECCB Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
ECCE Early Childhood Care and Education
EFA Education For All
EMIS Education Management Information Systems
ET Educational Technology
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GER Gross Enrolment Ratio
GIR Gross Intake Rate
GIS Geographic Information Systems
GNP Gross National Product
GPI Gender Parity Index
HAVO Senior General Secondary Education
HFLE Health and Family Life Education
ICT Information Communication Technology
IMF International Monetary Fund
JAMAL Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of
LCB Literacy Council of Belize
MAVO Junior General Secondary Education
NADAPP National Drug Abuse Prevention Programme
NER Net Enrolment Ratio
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
NIR Net Intake Rate
OECS Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
PATH Parents as Teachers at Home
SERVOL Service Volunteered for All
UN United Nations
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
UNICEF United Nations Children‟s Fund
USA United States of America
UWI The University of the West Indies
VWO Advanced Secondary Education
YTEPP Youth Training and Employment Partnership
A document such as this needs the support and contribution of many people. To these
people the writers of the EFA Caribbean Synthesis Report wish to say: “Thank you
kindly!” We acknowledge our sincere gratitude to:
Dr. Claudia Harvey for her faith in us and patience with the many delays;
The Regional Technical Advisory Group (RTAG), all friends, any of whom
could/should have written this document. Thanks for your constant support;
The country report writers and all from the many planning units; the researchers
who worked with them in, at times, impossible situations to collect and collate data
for the national reports. Thanks to you all for your commitment in staying the
course until the job was done, and providing the Caribbean with a virtual bank of
timely education data. We hope countries would use these to facilitate students‟
To the Ministers of Education and Heads of Departments who gave their time and
whatever resources could be garnered to do the task;
The participants of the regional EFA national coordinators‟ workshop,
representatives of donor-lender organisations, regional intergovernmental
organisations, regional associations of teachers, organisations concerned with
social and economic development, as well as individual education specialists,
university faculty, and adult educators who put the findings in focus, and identified
new and relevant issues, and the recommended goals and targets.
The many writers of the monographs and case studies for the data, the
explanations, and the in-depth scrutiny of the particular situation;
To Nicole Smith for the section on Caribbean economies;
To Catherine Agong and Celeste Jules for their invaluable research skills and
computer assistance rendered;
To our colleagues who took time to read and re-read the many drafts of this
To our families, our work mates, and students who put up with us and our many
frustrations and nuances.
The Caribbean region is a panorama of beauty and diversity. Created out of both the
majestic macro-tectonic processes and the quiet deposits of coral-building micro-
organisms, the physical landscape offers everything from forest-clad mountains to miles
of sandy beaches and turquoise seas. This region scythes from the Yucatan peninsula and
Florida in the north to Guyana and Suriname in the south. In the process, it separates the
Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Caribbean as defined for the purposes of this assessment includes Anguilla,
Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British
Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St.
Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Montserrat, the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, Trinidad and
Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. With the
exception of Bermuda, which is at 32 20‟N and 64 40‟W, the region stretches from 1
to 28 North latitude and 56 to 89 West longitude. It comprises islands, island arcs, and
The mainland countries are: (a) Belize on the northeast of the Central American land
mass and (b) Guyana and Suriname on the northern coast of South America. The
Caribbean islands, as they are known today, are really the visible peaks of a submerged
mountain chain which geologists claim was once connected to North and South America.
The island groupings comprise the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Lesser
Antilles. The Lesser Antilles is further subdivided into the Windward and Leeward
groups. The islands of the Greater Antilles are larger and have elevations of up to 3,200
metres, while those of the Lesser Antilles are much smaller. Among them, the highest
elevation is approximately 1,230 metres. This latter group of islands, lying on a sub-
marine ridge just above the active subduction zone of the Atlantic and Caribbean tectonic
plates, is the result of volcanic and coral activity. Various types of mineral springs and
coral reefs, therefore, form part of their landscape. Naturally, there are also many deep
oceanic trenches in close proximity, and even parallel, to the shores of some of the
The climate is tropical marine, which means that the surrounding seas and the
consistent North East Trades greatly influence the climate, the exact nature of which
depends on time of day or year. Overall, temperature can reach a maximum of 34C or
fall as low as 18C. In exceptional circumstances, temperatures have been known to fall
to 10C and lower in the higher altitudes of the Greater Antilles. May to September tends
to be the months of higher temperatures, rainfall, and tropical depressions. December to
April is cooler and drier.
The political history of the Caribbean and, therefore, the origin and mix of its peoples
and cultures also provide diversity in all its richness.
Along with the striking comparabilities in their panoramic physical beauty, geologic
origins, and climate, these countries have many political, demographic, cultural, and
The countries of the Caribbean were all formerly colonies of various European powers.
Haiti was the first to attain political independence in
1804. In the 1950s, the Netherlands opted to give its
former colonies autonomous status within the
Kingdom of the Netherlands. Suriname, however,
became independent in 1975, and Aruba left the
Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate
entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Among the former British West Indian colonies,
Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and
Guyana became independent in the 1960s. In the
1970s and 1980s, they were followed by eight others
(Antigua and Barbuda - 1981, the Bahamas - 1973,
Belize - 1981, Dominica - 1978, Grenada - 1974, St.
Kitts and Nevis -1983, St. Lucia – 1977, and St.
Vincent and the Grenadines - 1979). The colonial
history of the countries of the Caribbean has also left
a language legacy. Their colonial history has also
left a linguistic legacy. The countries which form the
Commonwealth Caribbean are English-speaking,
while those that belonged to The Netherlands use
Dutch as the official language, and the official
language of Haiti is French.
In each country, the capital cities and main towns are mainly ports. These are also the
areas of densest settlement and, in the respective countries, are linked to each other by a
network of coastal main roads. “Interiors,” therefore tend to be areas of sparse and
dispersed settlement, and road links between these and urban areas, or even to each other,
are not always as well developed. With respect to population concentrations, Haiti is the
one exception since its population is mainly (> 70%) rural. Capital cities in the Caribbean
are also the areas of greatest economic activity, and internal migration from the interior to
these urban/semi-urban areas is prevalent.
According to the US Bureau of Census‟ International Data Base, the combined
populations of these 22 countries in 1999 was 13,534,003 (see Table A1 in the Statistical
Annex), with some 20-25% being under 12 years of age. Most of these Caribbean
populations have ancestral origins that derive from the same source. There are, therefore,
similarities in appearance, religions, and in other cultural practices such as music, dance,
and art (see featured children on subsequent pages).
To insert 4 pages of photos and pen portraits of children
Traditionally, the population has perceived education, via schooling, as the means to
“a better life.” The government of each of these countries has, therefore, invested a great
deal of its scarce financial resources in schooling. At the dawn of a new century, all but
two Caribbean countries are politically stable democracies. For the few who have
experienced dictatorship, past periods of political instability have exacted a heavy toll on
the functioning of their education systems. In one case, there was “a succession of over
13 governments (and 23 different Ministers of Education) during a 20-year period”
(Hadjadj, 1999, p. 2). However, this case is the exception and, in 90% of the countries,
political and economic stability has been rewarded with steady, visible achievements in
economic growth and the education of the population.
The wide and varied history of the countries being considered makes an all-
encompassing assessment of them a particularly complex exercise. It is for this reason
that the Caribbean countries presented here have been divided into five broad categories:
(a) the group of island territories which includes Aruba, Bermuda, the British Virgin
Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles1, and the Turks and Caicos Islands;
(b) the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which is numerically the
largest group, consisting of Anguilla2, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada,
Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, (c) the
recently liberalised economies of Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago
which adopted floating rates of exchange in the 1990s; (d) the fixed exchange rate
countries of the Bahamas, Barbados, and Belize, and (d) Haiti, one of the poorest
countries in the Western Hemisphere. A significant characteristic of the Caribbean
economy is its dependence on one primary economic activity. This implies that a decline
in world commodity prices greatly affects the performance of balance of payments. This
is reflected in the dependence of Trinidad and Tobago on petroleum prices, Suriname,
Guyana, and Jamaica on bauxite prices, and the OECS states on the market for bananas.
There is a direct relationship between the economic performance of the Caribbean
countries and the financial resources each expends on education. The burden of economic
debt eats into these resources and has implications for the tightening of the economic
belt, which is often reflected in decreased emphasis on the provision of services.
The island territories
Except for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba which have affiliate (equal) status with
the Netherlands, these islands are dependent territories that have not attained political
independence. Their economies are largely dependent on tourism, and citizens enjoy
fairly high standards of living relative to the rest of the Caribbean. Aruba had an
Strictly speaking, Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth associated with the United States of America.
Anguilla and Montserrat are also island territories of the United Kingdom and, therefore, intersect both
unemployment rate of 0.6% in 1996 and an inflation rate of 3% in 1997. The labour force
is primarily involved in the provision of tourism services, although offshore banking and
oil refining and storage are also important to the economy. Tourism contributes close to
45% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the British Virgin Islands. The unemployment
rate was estimated at 3% in 1995 and the inflation rate was 6.5% in 1997. This economy
is considered to be one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean. The government has
instituted offshore registration for companies that wish to become incorporated. These
fees have also contributed significantly to foreign exchange earnings in the islands.
Table 1. Estimated GDP Per Capita3 of Six Selected Island Territories in the Caribbean,
Country US $
The Cayman Islands 24,500
The British Virgin Islands 10,000
The Netherlands Antilles 11,500
The Turks and Caicos Islands 7,700
The per capita income of residents of Bermuda is among the highest in the world.
Tourism contributes over 25% and originates mainly from North America. The
Bermudian dollar is fixed at a one to one parity with the US dollar. Inflation was
estimated at 2.1% in 1997 and unemployment was less than 1%. The Netherlands
Antilles is also a very prosperous nation relative to the rest of the Caribbean. The labour
force stands at 89,000 with an unemployment rate estimated at 14.9%. The Cayman
Islands is another prosperous Caribbean territory that has benefited from the provision of
offshore financial services to United States businesses. The GDP per capita was over US
$24,000, with no direct taxation. Citizens, therefore, enjoy a fairly high standard of
living. The economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands is largely based on tourism and the
provision of offshore banking services. The unemployment rate and inflation rate were
estimated at 10% and 4% respectively in 1997. GDP per capita was US $7,700 in 1997.
The range of the external debt of the island territories is about US $1,342 if the
Netherlands Antilles and Anguilla are used as the maximum and minimum values
respectively. Generally, the island territories enjoy a higher standard of living than the
wider Caribbean, thus one would expect that the burden of the provision of social
services, and education in particular, is relatively smaller. Finally, due to their close ties
to the metropole, these citizens have access to tertiary education abroad.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
Purchasing Power Parity.
The countries comprising the OECS operate under a monetary union system with a
single central bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The ECCB was
established in 1983 and derived from the Eastern Caribbean Currency Area. Tourism is a
dominant activity in these economies and, directly or indirectly, account for a large
percentage of GDP. Anguilla depends heavily on luxury tourism, offshore banking,
lobster fishing, and remittances from emigrants. This country had an inflation rate of
0.6% in 1997 and an unemployment rate of 7% in 1992. In Antigua and Barbuda, tourism
accounts for over half of GDP and is the leading foreign exchange earner in Grenada. The
second significant contributor to GDP is agricultural activities, primarily bananas, which
accounted for approximately 20% of GDP and employed 40% of the labour force in
Dominica in 1997. Bananas also accounted for 41% and 39% of exports in commodities
in St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines respectively in the same year.
Within the decade of the 1990s, the economic fortunes of citizens of the OECS
increased dramatically relative to the wider Caribbean. This has been largely attributed to
the tourism sector and the success of the ECCB in maintaining economic stability
through a fixed exchange rate across the board. The domestic price level of many of these
small island developing states is closely related to movements in the exchange rate. Thus,
a stable currency has a broader implication for maintaining living standards.
Table 2. Estimated GDP Per Capita of the OECS States, 1997
Country US $
Antigua and Barbuda $7,900
St. Lucia $4,100
St. Kitts and Nevis $6,000
St. Vincent and the $2,400
The range of the economic debt of the OECS countries is about US $150, with St.
Lucia and Montserrat having the maximum and minimum values respectively. Although
the debt burden is a significant factor in the determination and provision of social
services in general, the fiscal and monetary prudence of the OECS countries has put them
in a more favourable position economically than in the previous decade. Increased
competition from Latin American bananas and declining support from former colonial
European trading partners are likely to put increased pressure on the OECS countries to
diversify their economies in the 21st century. The Eastern Caribbean authorities are
confident of the successful development of the economy due to the increasing
significance of tourism to foreign exchange earnings.
The recently liberalised economies
These economies adopted flexible exchange rate regimes in the 1990s. This decision
derived from declining balance of payments positions, substantial foreign debt, and
increased pressure from international lending agencies to adopt more market-oriented
economies. The Surinamese guilder has experienced the greatest amounts of volatility
within this group. It depreciated substantially in 1994 when the exchange rate became
market determined, and has continued to depreciate in value, though at declining rates.
The Surinamese economy is largely dependent on the bauxite industry that accounts for
roughly 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. Purchasing power parity was estimated
at US $3,500 in 1998. The rate of inflation was 20% in 1998 and unemployment was
20% in 1997.
Jamaica adopted a flexible exchange rate regime in 1990. Since then, depreciating
exchange rates, increased inflation levels, and a weak financial sector have plagued the
economy. Socially, living standards have been negatively affected as the purchasing
power of the Jamaican dollar declined. In 1996, the rate of growth of GDP was estimated
at negative 1.4% and remained negative to 1998. The governing authorities are also faced
with an increasing internal debt derived from the creation of FINSAC (Financial Sector
Adjustment Company) and the attempted bailouts of the financial sector.
Table 3. Estimated GDP Per Capita of Recently Liberalised Caribbean Economies, 1997
Country US $
Trinidad and Tobago 8,000
Guyana‟s external debt was estimated at US $1.5 billion in 1997. It is classified as
another of the very poor countries in the Western Hemisphere. The real rate of growth of
GDP was negative 1.8% in 19984. After the adoption of a liberalised system of exchange
rate in 1990, the Guyanese dollar declined substantially and at the end of 1999, it was
approximately US $1.00 to G $163.7. The export of bauxite/alumina, sugar, gold, and
rice continues to play a key role in the generation of foreign exchange. In 1998, GDP per
capita was US $2,500 and the unemployment rate was 12%.
Trinidad and Tobago adopted a liberalised rate of exchange in 1993. This was the
result of protracted balance of payments deficits in the 1980s, precipitated by reduced
international oil prices. The country is currently experiencing an investment boom and is
arguably the most diversified country of the grouping5. Tourism is increasingly becoming
a significant foreign exchange earner. In 1995, 80% of 260,000 arrivals originated from
Europe. Poverty continues to co-exist with the strengthening of the economy. In 1992,
21% of the population was reported to be living in poverty (World Bank, 1995).
From Table A5, it is evident that these countries have accumulated the largest amounts
of external debt of the countries in the study. Economic downturn has implications for the
From 1993 to 1997, Guyana registered positive rates of economic growth. It is believed that political
turmoil contributed to the negative rate of growth observed in 1997.
Petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, steel products, fertilizer, and sugar are the major
contributors to export earnings.
political purse, firms, and industry as well as individuals. Political instability and social
unrest are more common occurrences in these countries that are hard pressed to provide
for their poor. Two of the three campuses that comprise The University of the West
Indies (UWI) are situated in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and the percentages of
students that are enrolled at the tertiary level in the campus territories tend to be higher
than those of the rest of the Caribbean.
The fixed exchange rate countries
The primary economic activity in the Bahamas is tourism, which accounts for more
than 60% of GDP and employs close to 40% of its labour force. The inflation rate and
unemployment rate were estimated at 0.4% and 9% respectively in 1998. The growth of
the tourism sector contributed to a boom in the construction industry in the late 1990s.
The economic fortunes of tourists, particularly those from North America, will also have
a profound effect on economic prospects for the Bahamas in the short term. The
Barbados economy is primarily dependent on tourism and light manufacturing. This
represents a shift from the historical reliance on sugar cane and other agricultural
commodities. Unemployment was estimated at 12% in 1998. The Barbadian dollar
exchanges at a fixed rate of 2:1 with the US dollar. The Belizean economy is largely
based on agriculture and agricultural products, with tourism and construction assuming
greater roles in the 1990s. Sugar and bananas account for close to 72% of exports in
Table 4. Estimated GDP Per Capita of the Fixed Exchange Rate Countries of the
Country US $
The Bahamas 20,100
Export earnings declined in 1997 and 1998 due to the low world prices for sugar and
other exports. Short-term prospects for the Belizean economy are dependent on
diversification from the current primary foreign exchange earners. Barbados has the
highest debt service payments for the countries within this group, yet Belize is the
country that is in the weaker economic position. Due to the proximity of the United States
(US) mainland, Bahamians tend to seek tertiary level education opportunities in the US.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 1998, over 75% of
its population was assessed as indigent and living below the poverty line. Small-scale
subsistence farming is the primary economic activity. The unemployment rate was
estimated at 60% in 1996, although the importance of the informal sector is significant.
Inflation was 8% in 1998. Haiti‟s external debt is currently estimated at US $1 billion.
Table 5. Estimated GDP Per Capita of Haiti, 1997
Country (US $)
Structure of the Education Systems
The countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean have all maintained, and/or adapted,
many aspects of the British educational system, despite efforts to respond to the specific
needs of the Caribbean culture and people. Schooling is still structured with the following
levels: pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Most of the countries
have compulsory primary level education, which is generally offered free of charge in the
public schools. One exception is the Dutch-speaking Caribbean, where both private and
public schools are subsidised by the government once they comply with the legal
requirements for establishing schools.
The majority of the countries maintain age 3 as the entrance age in formal pre-primary
education, while a few others such as the Turks and Caicos Islands and Guyana maintain
age 4. In the English-speaking Caribbean, early childhood education (for children aged 0-
3 and 4-5), for the most part, has been an endeavour of private initiative and is voluntary.
With respect to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), several descriptors are
used., including: day care centres, pre-schools, and playgroups. Day care centres,
nurseries, and playgroups tend to focus on the developmental aspect of the child age 0-3,
while the pre-schools focus on preparation for primary education. This latter group is also
referred to as pre-primary or kindergarten schools.
The day care centres and playgroups function, for the most part, with some guidance
and/or financial support from the government. According to Charles (1999), in most
countries day care is administered by a Ministry other than the Ministry in charge of pre-
primary education. The exceptions are Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the
Turks and Caicos Islands. The guidance from the Ministry of Education consists mainly
in giving in-service training to teachers, providing handbooks to be used in the centres,
and some minor supervision. Licensing is a requirement for the operation of day care
centres and pre-primary education in the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Anguilla, the Turks
and Caicos Islands, and St. Kitts and Nevis. In most countries, however, there is no
system of regulation for either day care or pre-primary services, even though the Ministry
of Education takes responsibility for pre primary education.
Primary education begins at age 5 in the English-speaking Caribbean, with the
exception of Montserrat where it begins at 4.5 years. In the Netherlands Antilles, it
begins at age 6. Primary schooling ends at age 11 in most countries, with the exception of
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bermuda, and the Netherlands Antilles where it
ends at age 12, and Montserrat and St. Lucia where it ends at age 12.5 and age 17
In most countries, standardised tests are given at the end of the sixth grade of primary
education for admission to enter secondary education. The emphasis is on academics, and
language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies are the main areas tested. The
exceptions are Anguilla and Montserrat where standardised tests are also given in the
third and fifth grades, St. Kitts and Nevis in the third and sixth grades, Bermuda in the
fourth and eighth grades, and Belize, where tests are taken at the mid-point of primary
school to measure level of achievement and in the sixth grade to determine selection for
secondary education. In St. Lucia, the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) is taken in
the seventh grade. In Belize, there are no specific national standards regarding any agreed
percentage of an appropriate age cohort which is expected to attain or surpass a defined
level of necessary learning achievement. In Bermuda, however, there are nationally pre-
defined, pre-set standards which determine promotion from grade to grade. Some of the
countries also have automatic promotion.
Pre-school education in Haiti covers the 3-6 age group. The pre-school programme in
the public sector in Haiti lasts only one year, whereas it lasts for three years in the private
sector. Although pre-school education is not yet regulated in Haiti, the Ministry of
National Education, Youth and Sports has distributed the pre-school curriculum and has
put educational materials (pre-learning workbooks, educational games, teaching guides)
on the market for better learning.
Formal basic education covers nine years and is divided into three cycles: a first cycle
of four years, a second of two years, and a third of three years. In the first cycle, basic
knowledge in writing, reading, and arithmetic is established. It is strengthened in the
following cycle, the completion of which is ratified by a state examination (Certificate of
Completion of the Second Cycle). The third cycle enrols children aged 12-14 who have
passed the examinations completing the second cycle. After three years of schooling, they
take an official examination for Grade 9 that gives access to secondary education. At this
stage, the student, whose age is approximately 14, has received complete intermediate
training in preparation for secondary education. As in the second cycle, the third is also
ratified by state examinations (Examination for Completion of Formal Basic Studies).
Nevertheless, at the end of the second cycle, students may choose to either continue their
general or academic training or direct themselves toward technical or vocational
education. Compulsory education covers the ages 6-15.
The Dutch-speaking Caribbean, consisting of Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and
Suriname has, for the most part, adopted the Dutch system of education with very few
modifications. The main reason being that, especially in Aruba and the Netherlands
Antilles, students depend on study in the Netherlands to further their education. The
examinations for Junior General Secondary Education (MAVO), Senior General
Secondary Education (HAVO), and Advanced Secondary Education (VWO) come
directly from the Netherlands and are graded in the Netherlands.
The day care section of early childhood education in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean is
formalised, and covers the ages of 0-3. Private initiative, churches, and communities run
the majority of the centres. The government subsidises some of these centres while others
depend on the fees paid by parents. The Netherlands Antilles is in the process of enacting
legislation to regulate this sector, and teachers for the centres are being given the
opportunity to follow degree programmes to prepare them to deal with this age group.
As of 1998, pre-primary education, or kindergarten education as it is called in the
Netherlands Antilles, which covers the 4-5 year age group, was incorporated into the
formal system. Kindergarten schools are, therefore, completely subsidised and only
qualified teachers are appointed. A similar situation applies in both Aruba and Suriname.
In the Dutch-speaking Caribbean, primary education lasts from Grade 1 to Grade 6. At
the end of the sixth grade, a national examination is administered to determine which
type of secondary school a particular student should attend. Referral to the various types
of secondary education depends on age, advice of the primary school principal, and the
achievement on the Dutch language and mathematics tests. Promotion is based on
achievement. Students who repeat a year twice are promoted because of their age.
Of the five islands in the Netherlands Antilles, four are organised along the lines of the
Dutch educational system of the 1970s. One of these four, St. Maarten, in addition to the
features of the Dutch system, also shows some organisational features of the educational
systems of the USA and the Caribbean. The fifth island, Saba, is organised to prepare its
students for the Caribbean Examinations Council‟s (CXC) examinations.
Scope and Methodology
This report sought to present an analysis of the situation of education in 22 Caribbean
countries. To ensure participatory input from all the 22 countries comprising the
Caribbean sub-region, a workshop to plan for the assessment of education achievement
since 1990 was held in Jamaica in March of 1999. This workshop was attended by
representatives of 21 of the countries.
The purpose of this assessment was:
1. To review achievements since Caribbean governments agreed, with the rest of
the world, to strive for Education for All (EFA) by the year 2000.
2. To provide the necessary information for countries to assess their education
systems and plan for ways to best meet their needs in the first decades of the
The International Consultative Forum on Education for All, which is responsible for
the global coordination of the EFA 2000 Assessment, provided General Guidelines to all
countries. Each country was invited to establish a national EFA Assessment Group,
which was expected to appoint a technical sub-group to collect and analyse the various
data needed. The Technical Guidelines included, among other things, general information
regarding the core indicators, data sources, suggested analytical practices, and several
issues to be kept in mind when implementing the EFA 2000 Assessment.
Eighteen core indicators were given and these indicators assessed:
1. Early childhood care and development
The indicators falling under this section were intended to assess the expansion of early
childhood care and developmental activities, including family and community
interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged, and disabled children. They measured
the general level of participation of young children in early childhood programmes and
the country‟s capacity to prepare young children for primary education. In addition, they
assessed the proportion of new entrants to Grade 1 who, presumably, had received some
preparation for primary schooling through early childhood development programmes.
2. Primary education
The indicators falling under primary education assessed the expansion of access to
primary education to cover all eligible children, but also the improvements of its internal
efficiency so that all students actually complete the primary cycle. More specifically, they
a. enrolment ratios and intake rates
b. public expenditure on primary education
c. teachers‟ qualifications
d. student/teacher ratio
e. measures of internal efficiency including repetition rates, survival rates and
coefficient of efficiency.
3. Learning achievement and outcomes
The indicators that fell under this section assessed the improvement of learning
achievement, such that an agreed percentage of an appropriate age cohort attained or
surpassed a defined level of necessary learning achievement. In addition, the literacy rate
of the 12-24 year olds was to be stated.
4. Adult literacy
This target sought to assess the diverse policy actions and measures undertaken to
develop literacy and other non-formal basic learning programmes, intended to meet the
learning needs of various categories of adult learners.
5. Training in essential skills
This target addressed a wide range of learning activities at the basic level, with the aim
of imparting knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are necessary for young people and
adults in their everyday lives, in their work, and in order to improve their quality of life.
6. Education for better living
This target addressed increased acquisition by individuals and families of the
knowledge, skills, and values required for better living and sound and sustainable
development, made available through all education channels including the mass media,
other forms of modern and traditional communication, and social action, with
effectiveness assessed in terms of behavioural change.
In expanding the guidelines, the countries agreed to insert tables to include the first
cycle of secondary education because the Caribbean, unlike most other developing
countries, had by 1990 attained universal primary education in all but one country. It was
considered important, therefore, for the Caribbean to include an assessment of access and
quality to the secondary level.
The International Forum requested that training in essential skills should be assessed,
both as they are implemented in programmes in schools and in programmes out of
schools. The specific areas identified for assessment in the Caribbean included:
1. Respecting the sanctity of life and valuing human dignity
2. Strengthening democracy and respecting human rights
3. Promoting and maintaining stable families
4. Adopting healthier physical, mental, and emotional lifestyles
5. Recognising and affirming gender equality and respecting gender differences
6. Valuing religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity
7. Respecting their cultural heritage and that of others
8. Leading productive lives and taking advantage of economic opportunities
9. Using creativity and technology to sustain personal, social, and economic
10. Resolving conflicts peacefully and promoting a culture of peace.
In addition to endorsing and, where necessary, expanding the technical guidelines,
Caribbean countries agreed to look in some detail at some qualitative areas which would
support the development of children and youth towards becoming the “Ideal Caribbean
Person.” Such qualitative data could be used to establish baselines to see how Caribbean
countries were doing in these areas which are so critical for the quality of life.
The assessment also focused on issues related to the media, considered an essential aid
to education. Such issues included:
1. Educational broadcasting (radio, television) used in schools
2. Educational broadcasting used in out-of-school programmes
3. Educational broadcasting used to enhance the skills of teachers in service
4. Educational programmes broadcast for the general public
5. Public service announcements through radio and television
6. Geographical diffusion of broadcasts, urban/rural, by region
7. Newspaper and magazines with education columns, features, or supplements
8. Libraries, museums, book fairs used actively to promote and support basic
9. Street theatre and other forms of entertainment that convey educational messages
10. Social mobilisation campaigns to increase public awareness and knowledge, for
example, child vaccination, environmental protection, health hazards.
Given that governments in the region have invested heavily in supports to education,
the impacts of these supports were also to be assessed. These included:
1. Guidance and counselling
2. School service
5. Library resources
6. School equipment
7. Parental involvement
8. Stakeholder awareness
9. Improved school plant and maximised use of school plant
10. Improved attention to multiple intelligences (curriculum diversity)
11. Improved provisions for children with special needs.
The countries agreed that the assessment should involve all stake holders: parents,
teachers, employers, churches, non-formal education groups, various non-governmental
organisations (NGOs), and community groups.
National coordinators were chosen by governments of each country. These
coordinators were responsible for the completion of the country report, with assistance
from representatives of the public, private, and non-governmental sectors as well as from
all other groups. To maintain consistency with regional and international guidelines, a
regional technical committee was established to advise national coordinators and review
country reports. The information contained in this report was generated by the use of a
variety of sources:
1. The 19 country reports and one data set received
2. The 14 monographs and case studies, on specific aspects of education, prepared
by educational researchers and practitioners.
3. A regional workshop of EFA national coordinators, regional intergovernmental
organisations, regional associations of teachers, adult educators, organisations
concerned with social and economic development, individual education
specialists, university faculty, and donor-lender agencies. This workshop
considered the draft regional synthesis, made recommendations, and proposed
goals and targets for the consideration of Ministers of Education.
At the time of writing, (January, 2000), final reports had been received from 19 of the
22 countries, and some quantitative data (tables) had also been received from another.
However, many of the education indicators requested as part of the country reports were
not dealt with by these 20 countries, mainly because data were not available.
Additionally, data received were not consistent across all countries for the years under
review. The limitations of resources had forced some countries to select two or three
years and present more of a trend analysis. The selected years also varied among
countries. The result is, therefore, “spotted” data in some cases, and from one indicator
to the other, the countries supplying the data vary. This has made the computation of a
truly Caribbean synthesis difficult.
Another very important limitation was the unavailability of year by year population
estimates in the required age bands. Few countries had these data. The consequence was
that at least one country used population figures from the last census take and this gave
rise to (theoretically) unsound/ incorrect figures, for example, net (not gross) intakes of
134% of the age group.
Summary of Findings, Issues, and Proposed Targets, 2000-2015
The Decade in Review
Jomtien Objectives on Caribbean Achievements Unmet Targets Needs
Education For All
1. Expansion of early Gross intake rate:
childhood care and
developmental activities, 1990 1995 1997/98
including family and
community interventions, 0–3 year olds: Because of traditional and Declining enrolment from
especially for the poor, 7% 5% cultural practices, decision 1995 in many countries,
disadvantaged, and to be taken on how to treat especially larger ones,
disabled children. with need. therefore:
Policy decisions are
3–5 year olds: 19.7% are not needed to guide plan
87.9% 81.8% 80.3% participating representing of action for age
some 48,511 children (?) group.
in 9 reporting countries. Increase in financial
resources, which for
most is less than 1%
Haiti: 0–6 year olds: Steady growth but 35.7% of the education
20.7% 44.6% 64.3% (232,510 children) still expenditure.
excluded in 1997/98. Quality inputs, e.g.,
2. Universal access to and Primary: 5/6 – 11/12 year olds Universal physical access Better ECCE
completion of primary is available but many not programmes to
education by the year 1990/91 1995 1997/98 participating. prepare students for
2000. Increasing over-age later learning--quality
AIR (Gross) entrants (esp. males) issues need to be
109.8% 140.3% 151.5% For two large-island addressed
countries, enrolment throughout.
NIR: shortfalls among children Data management
40.9% 45.0% 46.4% aged 5-11 represent some issues, e.g.,
66,000 (?) children not improvements in data
Gross Enrolment (GER): 12 countries participating in 1997. quality, reliability,
89.4% 108.6% 116.6% Resource input too low accessibility, and
generally, although there technology to make
Expenditure: seems to be little this possible.
GNP range: 0.4 – 5.1%; median 2%-3% correlation between Since most of the
student enrolment and non- participants are
allocations to education. the poor and
disabled, policy and
programmes to make
affordable to all.
Higher levels of
Teacher Variables: Targeted levels (80%) of Recruit teachers with
academically qualified and stronger academic
Teacher academic qualification
certified teachers not yet backgrounds--
requirement is not rigorously upheld
met. possibly B.Eds.
in more then 50% of countries:
Certified to teach:
System Efficiency Factors: Universal completion not Improvements in the
Average repetition rate to Grade 5: yet attained: between 0– quality of instruction.
10.1% 11.6% 9.6% 28% of primary school
Student survival rate was maintained starters do not complete.
at 72-100% for both males and
females in 1996 in most countries Some reduction in the
except Haiti, where it was 55.0% repetition rates overall, but
and decreasing. increasingly high rates
Co-efficient of efficiency in the among males and overall.
Caribbean averaged 79.4 in 1996
except for Haiti, where in 1997 it
averaged 47.0 to Grade 5 and 50.9
in all primary education.
3. Improvements in 78% master some pre-set norms in Some 20-30% of those enrolled Improve the quality
learning achievement reading and math in 1996/97; 77% in and 15-20% of those who of instruction, teacher
based on agreed-upon 1990/91. survive leave without those competencies both
percentages of an age competencies in math and academically &
group. reading/ writing. professionally.
Provisions of more
resources so that
available to them.
4. Reduction of the adult Considering that there are various Even though there have been Need for a common
illiteracy rate to half its definitions used, various methods to dedicated efforts to provide the definition of literacy
1990 level by the year measure literacy, and also based on the adult population of the across the region.
2000, with special fact that not all the countries used the Caribbean with access to Need to define the
emphasis on female same target population, it is difficult to education, there is still a main terms
literacy. give a Caribbean sub-regional assessment notable gap between the current associated with
of literacy. However, with each country figures “and the criterion of a literacy, e.g.,
using its own nationally define norms, fully literate population. The functional literacy,
and for different age bands between available evidence does not semi literate, absolute
1990-1999, values stated for literacy rates seem to suggest that this gap illiteracy, and
ranged between 54.1-98.2%. was reduced by a half over the peripherally literate.
decade of the 1990s” ( Miller, The definition must
1999, p. 14). (i) respect the first
language of the
individual (ii) be
sensitive to the
communication of the
Need to develop
measuring literacy at
the various school
5. Expansion of the basic Most Caribbean countries did expand The impact targeted for in 1990 Sustained and/or
education and training for their provisions of basic education and has not been achieved because systematic evaluation
youth and adults. training in other essential skills but, for of the “profound qualitative of these programmes
the most part, did not assess changes and changes in the nature of work to assess their
impact on health, employment, and which the EFA Framework for effectiveness.
productivity. Action did not anticipate.” Clear criteria and
(Miller, 1999, p.18). instruments to assess
6. Improvement in Overall, Caribbean countries have Given the nature of this target Sustained and/or
dissemination of increased their use of the media (print dimension, no measurements systematic evaluation
knowledge, skills, and and electronic) to increase the sphere of have been done over the of these programmes
values required for better education. decade. to assess their
living and sustainable effectiveness.
development. Clear criteria and
instruments to assess
Note. AIR: The total number of new entrants as a percentage of the official entry age population.
NIR: The total number of new entrants of school entry age as a percentage of the official entry age population.
GER: The total number of children enrolled as a percentage of the official school age population.
NER: New entrants of school age as a percentage of the official school entry age population.
In 19 country reports received, each of which assesses the state of education in a
particular country over the decade of the 90s, quotations from each country‟s education
plan give a clear indication that education is seen as essential, both to the individual and
to society, in the countries of the Caribbean. In these plans, there is also a recognition of
the need to bring the education systems and projected outcomes in line with global
occurrences, current technological innovations, and related country needs. An assessment
of the efforts of Caribbean countries over the decade of the 90s in implementing their
education plans reveals that there have been some gains and some setbacks with respect
to the educational goals and targets set at the World Conference in Jomtien, and with
respect to Caribbean-originated targets linked to these goals.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE)
1. ECCE in the Caribbean is organised in two tiers:
Tier 1 is referred to in most countries as day care, and caters for children aged 6
months to 3 years. The service offered ranges from custodial to developmental care,
and is usually managed by government Ministries outside of education such as Health
and/or Social Services. Exceptions are Barbados, where a Child Care Board has been
set up and given this responsibility, and Jamaica. In the latter case, legislation was
enacted in 1998 to give the Ministry of Education this mandate. In general, because of
where it is managed, the service rendered for day care tends to have more of a social
assistance objective than an educational one.
Tier 2 is more generally cited as pre-primary schooling and serves children 3+ to 5/6
years of age. This level comes under the purview of the Ministry of Education.
of state and partners, church, private, NGOs, and other initiatives in all except three countries. In these three
countries, the pre-primary division is totally part of the formal schooling process and the
gross enrolment in two of the three is 100%+. All teachers in these two countries are
academically qualified and professionally certified.
Day care services: Children aged 6 months to 3 years
2. Day care services cover between 4-33% of the related age group, depending on the
country and, therefore, are not evenly distributed across the Caribbean.
3. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for day care in the countries of Caribbean in 1998
was 5% (Charles, 1999), a 2% decrease from 1990 for the reporting countries.
4. Barbados (+10%) and St. Kitts and Nevis (+8%) were the two countries with
increases in day care enrolment.
5. As mentioned above, two countries made sweeping changes to deal with the day care
division of ECCE: Barbados established a Board, and Jamaica enacted legislation to
give management responsibility to the Ministry of Education. In the short term, the
special combined Board in Barbados seems to have accomplished some return
6. Haiti, with a 64.3% enrolment in 1997 of children aged 0-6 years, has recorded a
43.6% increase in enrolment and participation of its population.
7. In 1997, the GER for pre-primary education for 9 Caribbean countries with consistent
comparable data was 80.3%. In 1995, at mid-decade, their GER was 81.8%, and in
1990 it was 87.9%. There has, therefore, been a decrease in pre-primary participation
(in these 9 countries at least). This decrease is expected to have an impact on
readiness for later learning and, therefore, on level of achievement throughout
8. In the 9 countries analysed, the 19.7% who were not participating in pre-primary
services represented approximately 48, 511 children.
9. The larger countries seemed to have more difficulty meeting and maintaining their
targets than smaller ones.
10. The Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Netherlands Antilles began and ended the decade
with total enrolment at the pre-primary level. Eight other countries have increased
their gross enrolment: Anguilla (87.8% to 92.7%), Barbados (52.7% to 76%), Belize
(25% to 26%), Guyana (81.9% to 93.6%), Haiti (20.7% to 64.3%), St. Kitts and Nevis
(50% to 79%), St. Lucia (76.3% to 78.3%), and Suriname (88.6% to 95.5%).
11. Countries in which pre-primary activities were conducted on the same site as the
primary school were more successful at increasing their enrolment ratios.
12. The ECCE sector also faced many challenges, among which was the rapid turnover of
staff. The case of St. Lucia, reported in Box 1, gives a picture of the setbacks in most
Main Problems Encountered/Anticipated in St. Lucia
Achievements of the ECECD Unit during the past decade were punctuated with
many problems that affected its management capacity to deliver the best product.
Among them were:
a rapid turnover of ECECD caregivers, most of whom decided to
move on to other occupations because salaries were far too low;
an absence of definitive legislation governing the licensing, staffing
and operations of ECECD centers;
constraints, as a result of insufficient staff, hampered the ability to
effectively monitor and assess the quality of service offered in the
remote parts of the island;
a significant number of centers still did not meet the minimum
most administrators lacked management expertise to effectively
operate their centers as viable business entities. That impacted
negatively on the quality of services and programmes offered;
absence of a Pseudo-Laboratory attached to the Unit to serve as a
model- Early Children Centre. That limited trainees‟ ability to gain
practical on-the-job training and debars the trainer from conducting
genuine laboratory observation of trainees;
having to host early childhood services within two diverse Ministries
has resulted in compartmentalization that has severely affected the
delivery and cohesive service.
Source: Country report, 1999.
13. The proportion of children enrolled and attending ECCE centres in the Caribbean has
increased in seven countries. However, except for St. Kitts and Nevis (+5.8%), neither
the percentage of Gross National Product (GNP) nor the percentage of total current
educational expenditure devoted to this level of the system has increased. Per capita
expenditure for ECCE entrants has, therefore, decreased where the quantum has also
14. The teacher/student ratio in centres catering for children aged 6 months to 3 years is 9,
while it is 30 in the pre-primary sector. The latter is, therefore, much higher than country
stipulated and targeted rates. St. Kitts and Nevis and Barbados, both using around 7% of
their education expenditure, are the only countries to have managed to keep their
teacher/student ratios below their targeted levels.
15. Inability to pay fees is a major reason why parents do not access ECCE centres even
where they exist. Schooling support for children of lower income homes must, therefore,
be included in any agenda aimed at universalisation.
16. Lack of awareness of the value of ECCE to the child, remoteness, and lack of information
to parents are other reasons for non-participation (see Box 2).
Reasons given why parents in Trinidad and Tobago may not be accessing Early
Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for their children to the extent that they should
1. Access – There is need for many more centres within easy reach of those who
need the facility.
2. Cost – The facility costs more than those who need it can afford to pay for it. The
main cause of this is the high rate of unemployment, especially along the East-
West corridor, but also throughout both islands. There is also the attendant
poverty that unemployment engenders. One notices, for instance, a pattern of
January rather than September registration of children in Servol administered
centres. The reason the parents give for this late registration is lack of money.
Many state that they have to hold back pre-schoolers so that they could deal with
the cost of sending the older ones to primary school in September when the new
school year begins.
In county Caroni, specifi-cally, the reason given is that there is more money
available or expected in January when the cane season begins.
3. Some parents believe that if, at a center, their children are not being taught to read
and write from initial entry then that center is a waste of theirs and their children‟s
time. There is therefore a lack of awareness of what early childhood care and
education programmes should be about.
4. Parents who are at home sometimes do not see the need to use the ECCE centres
and so keep the child at home with them to age five (5).
5. Distance between the nearest center and home sometimes forces a parent to
decide not to use the available center. In some of these cases money is a factor for
transportation costs. In others the concern is safety of the child.
6. If there is no known facilitative link between the available ECCE center and the
primary school of choice, parents do not value the center. Parents seem to get
some comfort, from the fact that attendance at a specific center would facilitate
access to a “good” primary school at age 5.
7. Remoteness and lack of information. Other factors related to the low percentage
of children attending the ECCE centres have little to do with parental choice. One
such is extreme rurality and dearth of information in remote areas.
Source: From A 1997 Situational Analysis of Children and their Families In Trinidad
and Tobago pp.148-150, by V. Jules, G, Pargass, and J. Sharpe.
Reported best practices
Three initiatives have emerged from Caribbean countries, two of which have already
shown positive quantitative results. The other is still very new (1998) and would need to be
The first is the setting up in Barbados of the composite Board comprised of all the
partners. The role of the Board is to oversee ECCE (0-5 year olds) in the country. This
Board is comprised of the main interest groups (health, social services, education, etc.).
However, the developmental aspects of the child remain the main focus. In Barbados,
this, together with a consistent 7+% of educational expenditure devoted to ECCE
seems, so far, to have brought visible results in a steady growth in enrolment rates for
the age group.
The second practice comes from Suriname, where participation by those aged 3-5
has grown from 88.6% in 1990 to 95.5% in 1997. Suriname reports:
ECD is not considered a problem in Suriname. Almost all the children aged
four go to pre-primary education. In the coastal area the participation ratio is
considered as high as 100%. The fact that pre-primary schools are housed
by primary schools could be a reason for the high attendance at this level. In
this way parents are assured of enrolment of their child. The primary
schools enrol first the children of their own pre-primary schools. Promotion
to the primary is automatic.” (Suriname. Ministry of Education, 1999, p. 3)
The third is the decisive step by Jamaica to enact, and put into practice,
legislation to have developmental needs of all children aged 0-5 come under the
aegis of the Ministry of Education.
Primary education: Studentss aged 5/6 - 11/12
17. For the first five years of the decade, all Caribbean countries, except one, had a population
of Grade 1 intakes closely aligned to their stipulated school entry age populations. This
means that, over the decade, there was a widening of the gap between net and gross intake
ratios. This implies that decreasing numbers and proportions of children of the expected
school entry age (net) are entering Grade 1. In 1990/91, for 11 Caribbean countries for
which consistent data were available, this gap was 68.9%. In 1997/8, it increased to
105.1%. Over-aged (mainly) and under-aged children are, therefore, being admitted into
Year/Grade 1 in increasingly greater proportions. In two cases, Suriname and Trinidad
and Tobago, GERs are high while both the gross and net intake ratios are low, indicating a
possible beginning trend towards school refusal or entry into unregistered private schools
with some later return to the public system (see Tables A2 and A3 in the Statistical
Gross and net enrolment ratios
18. If the GERs could be used to make an assessment, with one exception, universal primary
education is a reality in Caribbean countries. Overall, enrolment is also stable and high (>
90%). Over the decade of the 90s, with the inclusion of Haiti, primary GERs showed an
increase. However, for 11 countries together, without Haiti, GERs decreased. This implies
that lower proportions of children are enrolled in primary schools. To give a picture of the
magnitude of the problem, two countries, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, will be used
as an illustration. If the data available are correct, then the enrolment figures for these two
large islands represent the non-participation of some 66,100 children aged between 5-11
years in 1996/77 (see Table A3 in the Statistical Annex).
19. Since most countries believed that universal access had been achieved, a great deal of the
efforts have been focused on the quality aspects of systems.
20. However, economic conditions created by structural adjustment in one country for which
data were available seem to have had a very negative impact on maintaining desired
levels of primary school enrolment. No study has been done to verify such a pattern in
21. On average, expenditure on primary education hovers between 3.0-4.0% of GNP and
ranges from 15.3-65.6% of the total current expenditure on education (see Figure 11). By
world standards, 3.0-4.0% of GNP is considered low, but > 50% of total education
expenditure devoted to primary schooling is high, and indicative of the “felt” level of
importance of this school sector in Caribbean countries. Eight of the 22 Caribbean
countries, however, invest less than 2% of GNP on primary level education.
22. An important factor to note is the lack of correlation between high percentages of total
current education expenditure on primary education, or even high percentages of GNP,
and high enrolment levels. A much stronger correlation is seen between (a) acceptably
high primary level outcomes, namely, the percentage of primary level graduates who
master a set of nationally defined norms of academic performance (80-90%) and (b) a
higher investment (7% of education expenditure) on ECCE, linked with 100% of
academically and professionally qualified teachers at the primary education level.
Teachers with academic qualifications
23. In 8 of the 19 countries reporting these data, 99-100% of the teachers had the required
academic qualifications for teaching in 1997/8, and all, except two countries, had
increased their percentages of academically qualified teachers above the 1990 figure.
Three countries, from time to time, recruited teachers using criteria other than academic
qualifications. Across the Caribbean, approximate averages at the beginning and end of
the decade for 18 countries were: 1990 = 74.6%; 1997/8 = 80.9%.
Teachers with professional qualifications (certified to teach)
24. Four countries operated throughout the decade with 99-100% teachers certified to teach.
Nine others increased and five had a decrease in their percentage of professionally
certified teachers. Over the decade, there was an apparent increase of 5.8% (69.1% in
1990/1 and 74.9% in 1997/98). Thirteen countries are still to meet their end-of-decade
target of 80% of teachers with professional certification.
25. There were decreases in the pupil/teacher ratio between 1990 and 1996/99 in 12 countries
and increases in 6. In 1998, among the 18 countries reporting for that year, the median
value was 1:22. In 1990/91, it was 1:22.4.
System efficiency factors
26. The aims of promotion by readiness and mastery at each level have been implemented
fully in two countries and partially in five countries. Many others are locked into the
system of automatic promotion which is still a feature of some education systems in the
Caribbean, and repetition rates are consequently low at between 1.5 and 5.7. Five
countries had higher rates of between 6-26% in 1997. In most countries, repetition is
considered a problem needing remediation.
27. Generally, repetition rates are higher among males than females throughout, reaching as
high as twice as many males to females in some education districts in some countries.
28. The main factors put forward to explain high repetition and poor achievement rates are:
(a) poor reading skills, and (b) the situation in which the language of instruction is not the
(first) language of the child.
29. With Gender Parity Indices (GPIs) of 1.0, both sexes seem to survive primary schooling
equally well, except for females in Suriname and St. Lucia in some years of the decade.
30. Student survival in 1996 among the countries reporting varied between 72-100%. For
Haiti, the figure was 55% and decreasing. What this means is that a sizeable proportion
of those who begin participating in the primary schooling process never complete. For
one country, 45% of those who begin schooling do not complete; for others between 0-
Coefficient of internal efficiency
31. Over the decade, coefficient of internal efficiency values (quantitative summary of the
consequences of repetition and dropout on the efficiency of a system), both for ”up to
Grade 5” and for all of primary schooling, have decreased in the countries reporting.
Values can, however, still be considered high at between 80 to 90, except for two
countries which report values of 56.0 and 43.0 respectively. Maximum efficiency value is
32. Countries with low pupil/teacher ratios, that is, 20 and under (except Anguilla), and a full
or nearly full complement of academically and professionally qualified teachers also had
lower repetition, higher survival rates, and a higher coefficient of efficiency. Teacher
knowledge and possible time for individual student attention are the critical issues.
Percentages attaining some minimum standard
33. When compared with the percentages of children attaining some minimum level of
achievement in reading/writing and mathematics, the internal efficiency data show that
some 15-20% of students each year, in all reporting countries, do not attain the desired
achievement levels. The issue is, therefore, the number of students (15- 20%) leaving
each year without the necessary attainment levels.
34. In the country reports, and in two of the monographs received, literacy has been variably
defined. Similarly, there is no common ground in the modes of assessing and determining
who is a literate person. It has, therefore, been impossible to make a reliable assessment
of literacy in the Caribbean. There is a clear need for a common study of literacy in the
Caribbean in which terms are standardised. Only then will a true literacy assessment for
the Caribbean sub-region have meaning.
35. Additionally, low funding for adult and literacy education may be an indication that
addressing the problem of illiteracy does not have high priority.
Each one teach one
Literates to teach illiterates, and vice versa, since all have some knowledge they can
Training in essential skills
36. In schools, many programmes have been put in place to increase students‟ skills in
literacy, oral expression, numeracy, problem-solving, ability to work and live together,
and improving the quality of their lives. Some of these are Lions Quest in Bonaire,
Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) in Barbados and the Turks and Caicos Islands,
and cooperative learning activities, the Young Leaders‟ Project, and the activities of
SERVOL in Trinidad and Tobago. However, except for the individual, positive oral
assessment, no formal evaluation of the effects of such programmes on students‟ lives is
37. Out-of-school programmes include Scouting, Cadets, Youth Parliament in the
Netherlands Antilles, HEART and National Youth Services in Jamaica, the 4H in Belize,
the vocational work with the National Training Board in Bermuda, and SERVOL and the
Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) in Trinidad and
Programmes for better living
38. Overall, Caribbean countries have increased their use of the media (print and electronic)
to increase the reach of education in many spheres. Barbados, for example, makes use of
radio and an exposition for its Reading Festivals. The aims of these are to:
encourage children to develop a love for reading
help them recognise the importance of reading in everyday life
make reading material more affordable
show reading as an alternative recreational activity.
St. Lucia increased its use of radio and television for story-telling and children‟s movies,
and radio for music programmes to Grades 1 and 2. Barbados used radio to improve
Standard English usage. In Trinidad and Tobago, the television was a medium for
pertinent, focused, curriculum information through the ever-popular school quiz.
Results, therefore, indicate that much has been done to improve the lot of Caribbean
children via education. However, there is much more to be done both by way of being
vigilant in maintaining gains and in increasing and improving quality inputs, with the aim
of achieving higher levels of output.
Issues, Goals, and Targets
Issues emerging from the assessment of EFA goals in the Caribbean subregion are:
Countries were committed to the EFA assessment and, therefore, devoted substantial
resources to it. As a result, a data set on education in the Caribbean now exists which can
be used for any later analysis. Further, the ground work has been laid for conducting such
assessments on a systematic basis. However, the challenges in data acquisition and
collation were many and critical, signaling an urgent need in Caribbean countries for
greatly improved data management systems.
Some of the related issues are:
1. Unavailability of reliable and comparable quantitative and qualitative data both
within countries and across the Caribbean. In some countries, there was either no
data or questionable data available. This was especially the case for data related to:
repetition and promotion
private primary schooling
relevant population age groups
2. Pre-collation of raw data was also a problem. Data existed, but country writers
could not obtain these in the form required to respond to the questions dictated by
the indicators. For example, some country reports could contribute only already
analysed data. Original data needed for indicator formulae computations were, by
then, no longer in existence.
3. Inconsistencies in data received. Data quoted from the same source on exactly the
same indicator in the same country report were, in some cases, different. The most
frequent cases were differences between text and indicator tables data.
4. Coordination of data and access to data. Problems clearly exist within countries
with respect to co-ordination across government departments. What emerged is the
need for a system of co-ordination to facilitate the sharing of data, to reduce
respondent burden, and to ensure that the data needs are taken into account. There
may be need for an education statistics coordination body. The work of this body
would include education concerns regarding population data needs between census
5. With respect to the indicators, there is need for regional participation in
international education indicator development to ensure relevance.
6. There is also need to take a second look at:
The pattern of assessing enrolment in age-related cohorts. This puts less focus on
individual differences and student learning than age-related grades. This pattern
operates with an assumption of an “average” child. These cohorts, therefore, lock
schools and students into paradigms of non-mastery as “efficiency” is targeted. The
emphasis on “over-aged and under-aged” deflects attention from the more important
variable, “readiness of the child for learning at a particular class level.”
Data ought to be disaggregated so that attention can be given to equity concerns, both
for specific locations, for example, education districts and schools, as well as for
individuals or groups within a population, namely the poor and children with special
The definition of repetition in the Technical Guidelines (UNESCO, 1998, p. 17)
needs to be revisited since it implies repetition in the year before it occurs. The
following is suggested: “Proportion of students enrolled in a given grade in a given
school-year who studied in the same grade the preceding year.”
Within the indicator on expenditure, it would also be useful to add the percentage of
the national budget allocated to education.
It is proposed that the number and percentages of male teachers to females be
included in the examination of the teacher variable in the system, since local research
suggests that gender of the teacher impacts on learning, for example, 8-year-old males
ask for teachers to be more “sensitive” to their needs, and males 14 years and over
indicate a preference for more male teachers (Jules & Kutnick, 1998).
In order to measure “system inclusiveness,” future methods of data gathering will
need to program the indicators to discern achievement levels for at-risk groups. This
would assist in assessing the provisions of interventions to ensure inclusion of the
poor, disadvantaged and disabled. Who, for instance, are the students who reach the
minimum attainment levels? Who are the ones who do not? This would make it
possible to assess whether our education systems are developmental for all children,
or whether a large percentage, possibly 20%+, of those who manage to be among the
enrolled are still excluded through no fault of their own.
Most countries represented in the group have specialised statistical units within their
Ministries of Education (MOE) but, for the most part (Jamaica being a notable
exception), these units are under-manned, under financed, and have limited access to the
level of technology needed for a good, reliable and timely system. There also seems to be
some dissonance between data collected and analysed by central statistical units and
those collected and analysed by education statistical units. An example is the difficulty in
getting population estimates disaggregated by region/district/parish, as is necessary to
inform educational policy and targeting. An inter-sectoral group to assist in clearing up
discrepancies, which will devise and implement positive strategies to build partnership, is
Suggestions are that:
Education statistics should be embedded in Education Management Information
Wherever possible, United Nations (UN) and other international classifications
should be used so that national, regional, and international comparability would
Consideration should be given to a regional approach to improving systems,
namely, developing a regional project for improving institutional capacity in the
There is need to incorporate components for improving the EMIS into any major
education project. However, to be able to sustain these effects, a strong
recommendation must be made to governments that adequate resources must be
put into the effort to monitor the achievement of agreed-upon objectives.
With respect to data collection and analysis, it is necessary to initiate the
development of databases in schools, ministries; countries, and region; and to
develop protocols and standards for confidentiality, security, and intellectual
property rights (as part of the school curriculum) across the region.
UNESCO and other international agencies should communicate directly with
those involved in the technical aspects of data collection, especially with respect
to commitments (and their statistical impacts) made at the world conference.
Training and continuous upgrading should be part of whatever is planned.
Monitoring and evaluation should also be conducted on a regular basis.
By 2002, to have Caribbean data management systems which meet the above criteria.
Definition: Basic education is education from birth to secondary which provides the
basic knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values which are needed to be a productive,
fully contributing citizen of the national community.
Early childhood care and education
Administrative organisation. In most countries, the authority and responsibility for the
day care division of ECCE, that is, the division that deals with the first three years
of a child‟s life; the years during which the quality of stimulation provided
accounts for so much of later human development, is outside the purview of
Ministries of Education The approach to this area is, therefore, not necessarily an
educational/developmental one. A switch of authority and responsibility, not
necessarily to education only but a mutual sharing of this area with the current
providers under a common board, as done in Barbados, will go a long way
towards setting the policy context for achieving the set goals and targets for child
development at this level.
Financing. Given the importance of ECCE to individual development, especially the
first three years, expenditure on education is not balanced. The lowest per capita
expenditure within education is on ECCE, which, according to all the recent
related research findings, is the foundation on which all later learning is built. Yet
that foundation is barely provided for. For many of the reporting countries in the
region, enrolment rates increased with no parallel increase in budget allocation.
Where there was an increase in allocation, in some instances, this too remained
small and the lack of resources, either to teachers by way of improved salaries, or
to curriculum implementation, by way of classroom materials, caused other
Low enrolment. Only two reporting countries seem to have met their enrolment
targets. All others are some distance away and a few are still to approach 50%, in
spite of much centre building and refurbishing activities.
The period birth to eight years has been accepted by Caribbean governments as central
to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Human Resource Development Strategy. The
Caribbean Plan of Action for Early Childhood Education, Care and Development (1997–
2002) sets out the framework for development of early childhood education, care and
development (ECECD) provisions. It is proposed that this plan be revisited for activation.
Emphasis would need to be focused on government policies and provisions for the entire
group, but especially for the birth to 3 age group.
By 2002, all governments would have adopted a policy for early childhood, deriving
from the Caribbean Plan of Action, and implemented a regulatory framework for
provisions for children from birth to 8 years, with monitoring indicators to measure
progress at 2- to 3-year intervals to 2015.
All governments reallocate a greater proportion of their budget to support early
childhood provisions, to improve quality and access:
- by 2002, to a minimum 5% of the education budget
- by 2015, to a minimum 10% of the education budget.
and make a complementary increase to the early childhood sector from all relevant
Ministries, including health, housing, labour, social services, and community
Attention would need to be paid to the factors which impact on quality and access.
training, accreditation, and certification of teachers and care-givers
provision of conditions and incentives to early childhood practitioners
commensurate with those of other workers (e.g., primary teachers, social workers,
monitoring of standards for, and evaluation of, provisions
development of curriculum programmes for children
a pupil/teacher ratio in line with the needs of the age group
data management system in use in planning and monitoring
implementation of a programme to expand access to children at risk, including
children with special needs
multimedia public education of pre-parents, parents, and caregivers
in-school programmes (HFLE) for pre-parents
co-ordination of unused funds from other programmes to meet needs of children in
Access is generally not an issue in primary education in the Caribbean, except in
some of the larger countries. The more urgent problem is use of the access
Dissonance between apparent and net intake rates. There is an increasing body of
over-aged students (especially males) registering for entry into the first grade at
the primary level. All things being equal, minimally, this is indicative of a second
issue--a problem of a lack of, or poor, preparation and readiness for schooling on
the part of these students. This underscores the stated need for universalisation of
appropriate ECCE programmes.
Table 6. In-School and Out-of-School Population (Approximate) in Selected Caribbean
Countries (5/6 – 11/12 Year Olds)
Country 5/6 – 12 Yr. Age Group
Official Age- School Out-of-School
Group Population Population Population
Bahamas 34,277 33,999 278
Dominica 11,970 11,614 356
Jamaica* 470,107 415,069 55,038
St. Kitts & Nevis 6,545 6,388 157
Suriname 73,034 72,050 984
Trinidad & 204,034 162,406! 41,628
* 1996 Data (Last year for which data are available)
! Private schools (with an enrolment of approx.7000) not included.
Source. Country reports, 1999.
Another area of concern is the possibly large and, in some countries, increasing
numbers of out-of-school children aged 5 to 11/12 years (see Table 6). In the larger
mainland Caribbean countries such as Belize, Guyana, and Suriname, access of rural
children to primary education is affected by both geographic and social factors--distance
from school, lack of an adequate communication network, economic constraints linked to
poverty, and lack of parental motivation. If the data given are incorrect, then the urgent
need for functioning, relevant, and up-to-date data management systems throughout the
Caribbean is reinforced. However, if even just half of this number of young children are
indeed out of school, then other issues are:
How can they be included and brought back into the mainstream?
What possible (negative?) alternatives are these youth pursuing?
To what extent are other social factors impacting on enrolment?
What are the hidden costs of schooling and how can those at risk be
How can universal primary level enrolment be made sustainable?
There is also a need to ensure participation of special children with
special needs in primary education, especially the disabled and the gifted.
Teacher qualifications and training
The teacher input is critical to the successful implementation of any education plan.
Therefore, both academic qualifications and vocation for teaching should be criteria
for recruitment. Poorly qualified teachers with total commitment cannot give students
what they do not themselves have academically or what they do not know how to
impart. A similarly dissonant state will exist with high levels of academic
qualifications and no commitment.
Present world circumstances indicate a need to increase qualifications for trained
teachers beyond a diploma to a professional degree.
Any programme of training should include subject area content as part of the core,
and training in technology, pedagogy, human relations, and social and intellectual
skills such as: to know, to develop, to communicate, to live together.
Institutions should be structured and resourced to manage and make this training
Ongoing professional development.
Use of distance education for pre- and ongoing professional development. The
example of Belize is instructive.
Entry requirements into the teaching profession, therefore, need to be revisited to
improve teacher quality, especially in terms of both academic preparation and
Trained teachers need greater motivation so that they would make higher levels of
input into the teaching/ learning process.
Adequate resources, teaching tools to allow for active learning among students
Compulsory non-contact period
Instruments of teacher appraisal
Ongoing in-school support mechanisms for continuous up-to-date professional
Commensurate with qualifications
Need to have established career paths. Minimum entry requirements for any
teacher, whether ECCE or primary, should be a first degree
The employer should seek to develop medical plans, the cost of which is shared
with the employee.
3. Internal efficiency/student mastery
According to the data, some 15-20% of students annually do not attain minimum
competencies in reading/writing and mathematics. Two country reports indicate the
system-wide tendency to blame children and their families rather than their school
experiences for poor performance. The challenge seems to be for school personnel to
identify weaknesses in students before these escalate.
With respect to male/ female performance in these competency areas, two countries
report GPIs. In one case, the index varies between 1.1 and 1.2. A higher percentage of
females, therefore, reach the competency levels than males. Many other countries
indicate a similar situation in the text of their reports. In the second case, the index is
a constant 1.0: Both sexes perform equally well. In the first case, promotion is
automatic, while in the second, promotion is by achievement only. In spite of the fact
that these are only two cases, is it possible that promotion by achievement may be the
Continuous assessment of students in key areas to determine each individual‟s level
of mastery throughout the cycle at both national and regional levels is seen as vital to
upgrading students’ competencies, reducing repetition, and increasing survival rates.
This practice is already an aim written into many of the region‟s education plans. The
way forward is, therefore, one of implementation of plans for continuous assessment.
A significant proportion of recurrent expenditure is spent on salaries. There is need to
increase levels of financing and/or reallocate financial resources to invest in
important non-salary allocations such as materials and teaching supplies.
Significantly, there are now more female teachers than males in schools. Primary
education should be made more attractive for males in order to provide mentorship
for male students.
Girls continue to perform persistently better than boys.
Poor reading skills and relatively lower performance accounts for higher repetition
rates among boys than girls.
Education is not perceived as the means to upward social and economic mobility,
especially for boys. Dropouts engage primarily in economic activity--paid labour.
The need is to diversify school programmes so that more students will find them
relevant and within their interests and capabilities (multiple intelligences?).
There is need to promote schools as non-violent environments.
Universal, sustained participation in quality primary education.
By 2005, all children of primary school age (boys as well as girls) will be enrolled in
primary school or its equivalent. A cadre of trained field officers, as is used now in
Jamaica, may be necessary to identify and include all children.
By 2005, have curriculum that is relevant and coheres from level to level.
By 2005, nationwide, by district and gender, reduce repetition rate by 5%.
By 2005, increase the percentage of students, males and females, who achieve some
By 2005, develop information resource centres in each school so that information is
readily available to all children.
By 2005, modify/re-orient teacher training programmes to reflect emerging issues in
information, knowledge creation, and technology in education.
By 2005, at least 80% of primary teachers will be professionally trained.
By 2005, the compensation provided teachers is on par with their professional
By 2005, adequate support mechanisms/services would be available to facilitate
teaching and student learning.
By 2005, the school environment would be student and teacher friendly.
By 2005, school management, through curriculum interventions, would deliberately
target non-violence or the promotion of social skills, chief among which is conflict
The major concern is accelerating access and participation to reach universal or near
universal proportions. The issue is a combination of both lack of physical capacity
and the increased demand for secondary education.
Quality of output. The high failure rate and low levels of student achievement do not
seem to reflect the investment in education.
Teaching strategies should include an emphasis/extension of TV/educational
technology (ET) provisions in school.
There also seems to be a need for a broad-based curriculum with a focus on
character building, life skills, survival skills (HFLE).
Information technology must be an area of key focus. Both teachers and students
would need training in technology to meet the demands of the rapidly changing world
3. Enrolment/participation ratios
These have to be accurately determined, especially in the context of low levels of
access in hinterlands and rural communities.
4. Internal efficiency
Automatic promotion as a policy needs to be revisited. Emphasis should be placed
on the attainment of minimum standards by all learners at all grade levels. Focus
should be on intervention, differential instruction, alternative assessment, and
remediation. Attainment of predetermined reading levels and entry level
preparedness should also be areas of concern and focus.
Proposed goals with a target date of 2005
Primary and secondary:
Establish national and regional minimum competency standards for primary
Assess, at national and regional levels, the competency levels of students to determine
the extent of coverage, that is, mastery of curriculum goals and the level of
achievement within the cycles of education.
Based on literacy and occupation imperatives, improve performance levels of
students at secondary level within pre-determined subject variety clusters.
Establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure participation of children, namely,
continuously evaluate school data against demographic data.
By 2001, HFLE programmes, agreed to at the level of CARICOM, should be
implemented for this level.
CARICOM is in the process of developing instruments to measure achievement norms
at the primary level in language arts (including reading) and mathematics. This project
would need to take on board the identified Caribbean-specific needs for the development
of both a set of common regional definitions and instruments for reliable measurement of
Definition of literacy to include various literacies, among them technological
literacy, to meet the demands of the era
Need for common reliable measurement instruments
A need to ensure in-school basic literacy especially among males
Governments‟ recognition of the problem of illiteracy in countries in the region
and its impact on national and regional development.
Proposed goals and targets
The need in all literacy goals is immediate. It is, therefore, recommended that by the
1. Across the region, there will be a common definition of literacy and associated
terms, for example, functional literacy, semi-literate, absolute illiteracy,
2. These definitions will:
a) respect the first language of the individuals
b) be sensitive to the modes of communication of the language.
3. A common regional instrument for measuring literacy at points within and outside
the system will be identified/produced.
4. A programme aimed at enabling individuals to acquire necessary skills in the use
of technology in order to become efficient users of technology in the home,
workplaces, schools, and the wider community should be established.
5. Sensitisation of the governments of the region to the problem of illiteracy in the
region and its impact on the education system and the society at large.
Cross-cutting issues related to basic education
Proposed goals and targets
1. Regional connectivity:
By the year 2015, all students must have access to a current, appropriate, or
emerging Information Communication Technology (ICT) system
All children must have equitable access to computers and other technologies.
2. Online classroom:
Teachers must have access to the tools that will allow them to use ICT as an
integral part of the planning, teaching, and learning processes.
All teachers and teacher trainers should be trained to integrate the use of ICT
within the learning process.
The education system of each country must facilitate collaboration among teacher
training institutions of the region to harmonise the capacities and integrate the use
of ICT within the learning process.
Development of protocols and standards for the production and delivery of ICT in
ensuring quality control and cultural relevance.
3. Global sharing:
Develop collaborative opportunities (e.g., UNESCO‟s Associated Schools‟ Project
(ASP) International Globe project) for teachers and students. Example: lesson
sharing, research, communication.
Facilitate local, regional, and international projects.
4. Administration and management:
Classroom management/ school management/ ministerial management systems, and
communication desk practices of educators.
5. Software--culturally-relevant software:
Locally develop and use culturally-relevant software that students and teachers see as
functional and sustainable.
6. EFA--developing the potential of the individual:
Technological freedom-of-use by students through the availability of instant access to
ready data/information, both in texts and on line.
7. Promote equitable access to ICT.
8. Increase earning potential and opportunities through the acquisition of information
Training in essential skills for adults and out-of-school youth
Governments, community groups, and NGOs designed numerous courses aimed at
developing essential skills and better living for people of all ages. However, aside from
the occasional qualitative individual statement, there is need for sustained and/or
systematic evaluation of these programs to assess their effectiveness.
Proposed goal and target
It is recommended that by 2002, clear criteria and instruments be produced and used
for assessing programme impacts, whether these programmes be in-school or out-of-
Education for adults and out-of-school youth
Adult education denotes the entire body of ongoing learning
processes, formal or otherwise, whereby people regarded as adults
by the society to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich
their knowledge, and improve their technical or professional
qualifications, or turn them in a new direction to meet their own
needs and those of their society. Adult learning encompasses both
formal and continuing education, non-formal learning and the
spectrum of informal and incidental learning available in a
multicultural learning society, where theory- and practice-based
approaches are recognized. (International Conference on Adult
Education, 1997, p. 1)
1. It is recommended, therefore, that the term used should be “adult learning” which is
consistent with the concept of putting the learner as:
the centre of the learning process
taking responsibility for his/her own learning.
2. The outcomes of adult learning contain elements of the CARICOM Heads of
Government “Ideal Caribbean Person,” but with the inclusion of “all Caribbean persons
having a Caribbean commitment.” There is also the need to move to a concept of
“lifelong learning” especially with regards to the out-of-school youth.
3. With an understanding of the scope and concept of adult learning and its linkages to
personal, national, and regional development, policies and strategic action plans have a
logical coherence from early childhood to adulthood.
4. The Ministry of Education co-ordinate activities in adult learning.
5. HFLE programmes be approved and implemented as soon as possible across the wider
population, involving all institutions, for example, media, church, service groups, and so
6. Learners should be educated to understand the importance of making a contribution to
their own learning, but where not financially possible, private sector contributions should
be sought. Through advocacy, these individuals should be thoroughly sensitised to the
benefits of an educated workforce.
Given that governments have been the major partners in financing education and have
commitments to other sectors, the following are recommended:
Identification of indicators of quality education at each level.
Costing of the efforts required to meet these indicators. The cost should be
established for producing the minimum level of achievement at each level for each
Priorities should be established within levels and across levels which should inform
the percentage of the education budget allocated to each level.
A critical issue to be addressed is equality of access. The education policy should
require the determination of the amount of resources needed in each district to enable
each school to offer the same quality of education in terms of quality of teachers,
number of teachers and teaching materials, classroom facilities, and other factors
that would impact on quality education.
Budgets should be prepared based on programme budgeting, that is, budgets
determined by plans and not plans determined by budgets. These plans should be
long-term, medium-term, and short-term. The plans should also set out a long-term
partnership contract in the provision of education involving governments, non-
governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector, and parents.
Special attention should be paid to increasing funding to early childhood education
through government subsidies. These subsidies should be made available to parents
and children with special needs or who are otherwise disadvantaged.
Funding of early childhood education should include a regulatory framework of
setting and monitoring of standards and determination of curriculum.
Having established a total budget, the amount to be provided by government should
be determined. Governments’ contribution to basic education should be no less than
6% of GDP.
The short fall in financing should be made up as follows:
Reduction of expenditure through improved efficiency.
Provisions by partners, for example, NGOs, the private sector, and parents. Special
provisions should be made to ensure that the poor and disadvantaged are not
excluded. The partnership should include monitoring to ensure greater accountability
Adequate resourcing to provide sustained, quality universal basic education by 2015.
Future Challenges to Education
There are many challenges facing education via schooling in the Caribbean in the first
decade of the new century. Some of those identified from the findings of the Caribbean
sub-regional study assessing education during the decade of the 90s are:
1. The need to plan and implement with sustainability as a vital part of the
The Caribbean made gains in enrolment and child participation in school early in the
90s. These gains were not sustained because of probable assumptions about people‟s
expectations about schooling. There were losses/decreases in universalisation gains
made. The lesson emerging from this is the need for vigilance; the need to ensure
sustainability when gains are achieved so that movement can be made to the next rung.
2. The need for increased and maintained quality inputs and throughputs.
The proportions of children who achieved some pre-set norms were, in most cases, 15-
20% lower than the proportion of children completing school. This is indicative of
inefficiencies in the system and, in a way, represents a waste of human resources in terms
of teachers‟ time and students‟ maximisation of their potential. The findings suggest a
correlation between high achievement of norms set and (a) children having some ECCE
experience and the foundation for later learning this fosters, (b) a higher percentage of the
education budget spent on ECCE, (c) lower primary level teacher/student ratios, and (d)
higher proportions of academically and professionally qualified teachers. Clearly,
therefore, the necessary efforts at universalisation will be rendered less meaningful if
these quality aspects of the schooling experience are not addressed.
3. In order for the Caribbean to keep up with current globalisation needs, we
need to develop people who are self-learners, who take responsibility for their
learning and who themselves know how to create knowledge.
To bring children into the 21st century, in a period of knowledge creation, demands
that they learn to take responsibility for their own learning, knowing how and where to
acquire information and, most importantly of all, having that information readily
available, either in libraries or the school‟s resource centres, on-line or otherwise.
Schools must therefore be centres where these are possible. As schools exist now, the
teacher, frequently with little academic qualifications, has to meet the child‟s information
needs. This is frequently impossible.
4. A literate people and a literate society must be an imperative in an information
Illiteracy remains a shadowy, almost unknown factor on the Caribbean education
landscape in the information age. Where it exists, it has been found to be an outcome of
early school curriculum incoherence and automatic promotion patterns. No society can
progress if its people are illiterate, whether it be a minority group or otherwise. Literacy
is, therefore, an imperative both for the people and the society as a whole.
5. Training in essential skills/Continuing education.
Learning through and beyond the academics both for personal development and
sustainability is yet another challenge in Caribbean education. In a world where lifestyle
trends are the major causes of morbidity and death, the need for continuing education in
this area is no longer disputed.
6. Universalisation of basic education.
However it may be defined, this has to be the most important challenge. According to
the data and according to those in the field, those thousands out of school are more a
reality than it is comfortable to believe. The reasons for their non-participation are many
and varied, but chief among them is that schooling costs. The poor, disadvantaged,
disabled; all those at risk of choosing school refusal, whether parent or child, have to be
helped not to make that choice.
7. Data management systems need to be upgraded and made relevant.
Many of the setbacks revealed in the results may have been avoided or quickly
redressed if timely data were available to policy makers, planners, and implementers.
Education systems implementing the universalisation of primary level and “mass”
secondary education are involved in end-of-the 20th and beginning-of-the 21st century
activities. These were only imaginable because the technology to make all aspects of their
functioning possible was also imaginable. Today, both are realities; but for education and
the achievement of its related goals, only a symbiotic possibility.
8. A human development focus to schooling.
Traditionally, in education systems, there has been a direct relationship between the
age group of the student and the level of funding provided to the group. This relationship
can be taken as an indication of the importance given to the particular group. For the very
young (day care and pre-primary), therefore, the funding per child is generally less than
half that provided for the child at the primary level. Similarly, those at the secondary
level receive more than twice as much as that of the child at the primary level. This focus
and this perception of the age group has had as long a history as-row-by-row classroom
seating. However, in the last two decades, there has been a literal explosion of knowledge
on human development, especially within brain research and intellectual functioning.
This research has shown that the foundation for brain potential in an individual is cast
during the years 0-3. Education systems, therefore, need to review the age-related
perspectives they now hold and fortify learning systems for the young, so that each
individual could really maximise potential. Without such a shift in focus, hoped-for
improvements in learning achievements may not be realised.
9. Greater coordination of continuing education efforts aimed at adult literacy,
training in essential skills, and better living.
In general, many activities and programmes were implemented throughout the region
during the decade of the 90s, in an effort to equip the people of the Caribbean with
training in essential skills, education for better living, and other measures to support
education for all. Many of the good intentions that motivated these activities may go to
waste, however, because of a critical need for coordination, coherence, organisation and
structure, and non-duplication.
There should be a clear focus on areas such as social skills, health education, family
life education, adult literacy, and information and communication technology. There is an
imperative need for policy at the government level to bring order and direction to the
efforts being made to improve the lives of the people of the Caribbean. It is only when
such policy is developed that the scarce resources available to the countries of the
subregion will be used in the most effective way for the benefit of Caribbean people.
Early Childhood Care and Development
Assessment of the Situation
In human beings, during the period from birth to three years, brain cells need to be
stimulated in order to trigger their activation. Where, in an individual, this stimulation of
specific brain cells does not occur, these cells are forever lost to the individual,
disallowing any maximisation of possible potential (Caine & Caine, 1995, 1997). The
early years in an individual‟s life are, therefore, the foundation blocks on which much
that is possible later in life is built. It seems a reasonable assumption, then, that
achievement of developmental care for this age group would assume priority as a goal
and a target to be met in all countries, especially for the poor, the disadvantaged, and
Goal and target
To that extent, the first dimension listed in the Goals and Targets in the World
Declaration on Education For All and Framework For Action is a proposal for
“Expansion of early childhood care and developmental activities, including family and
community interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged and disabled children.”
Examples of the Caribbean Response
While there seemed to be no country committee specifically set up to monitor this or
any of the other EFA goals and targets as a follow up to the 1990 World Conference in
Jomtien, Caribbean states set about developing national education plans or special
projects, which generally synchronised with the EFA goals and targets. For example,
with specific reference to early childhood care and education, Jamaica, among the
countries which adopted what Miller (1997) described as a project-driven approach to
education reform, developed two 5-year education plans during the period: 1990-1995
and 1995-2000. According to the country report for Jamaica, these goals were written
into the plans for the two periods:
The Jamaica Five Year Development Plan, 1990–1995 (1991) lists the following
objectives of the Early Childhood Education Development Programme:
The expansion of the early childhood education to cater for children 0–5
Inter-sectoral integration of early childhood services
To institutionalize the use of a standard curriculum in all Infant schools
To improve the quality of Basic School Teachers and the supervision of early
To increase the coverage of early childhood education
To improve the quality of early Childhood Education in public institutions
To improve the nutritional status of students enrolled in early childhood
In the Five Year Education Plan 1995–2000 (1995), the emphasis is on the
maintenance of quality education and care for the age cohort 0–5 through a number of
- Programme administration
- Instructional Supervision
- Teacher Training at various levels
- Provision of appropriate readiness curriculum
- Community and sponsor education and training
- Parent and sponsor education and training
- Provision of grants and subsides towards:
award of recognition of status to schools which meet established
upgrading of school plant
In response to the Caribbean Plan of Action adopted by CARICOM in 1997, Jamaica
developed a National Plan of Action for Early Childhood Care and Development (1997–
2000). This Plan set the following goals for the sector:
Development of an integrated Early Children Education Care and Development
(ECECD) Policy from birth to 5 years to be incorporated into existing policies
in all relevant ministries including Health, Housing, Local Government,
Education and Labour
Development of a plan of Action for financing the ECECD Plan of Action to
include models of cost distribution and mechanisms for investment linked to
poverty eradication initiatives.
Development of a multi-sectoral data collection, monitoring and evaluation
system for Early Childhood linked to policy and planning systems of the
Government of Jamaica.
Development of an integrated workplan between the Ministry of Health and the
Ministry of Education to target poor families with children between birth and
three years for home visiting, day care services and parenting education.
Development of competency-based certification systems for Early Childhood
workers and an accreditation system for training institutions and the provision
of training opportunities for individuals at entry and technician levels of
Strengthening of parent and community awareness, leadership and support for
early childhood and sensitization and involvement of the media.
Source: Jamaica country report, 1999.
Other Caribbean countries such as the Bahamas, Barbados, the countries of the
OECS, and Trinidad and Tobago, in developing comprehensive reform strategies as
their response to change needs in education, operated in a similar manner. The
countries of the OECS incorporated similar goals and targets in their change process,
as is exemplified in the country report of St. Lucia, one of their member states of the
Priority goals and objectives for 1990–2000
For the period 1990-1995 the early childhood education service intended to:
develop and implement curriculum materials for pre-schoolers in various aspects
of discipline and teaching guides for educators/teachers;
train educators in the development and delivery of programmes, including the
development of teaching materials through in-service workshops and seminars;
monitor and evaluate staff performance in centres;
register pre-school centres in conformity with established standards;
provide meals under the school feeding programme;
establish a licensing board;
design and implement programmes for parents to meet a variety of needs;
intensify parent out-reach education programmes;
encourage the private sector to adopt pre-schools;
establish a unified system of education for early childhood educators; and
review the curriculum.
Plans for 1996/1999
The focus for the period was on the following:
improving the quality of existing programmes;
designing alternative programmes where necessary;
improving the skills and competencies of staff through;
(a) on the job training
educate parents in the development needs of the child;
monitor and evaluate staff and activities at the pre-schools;
establish mechanisms to ensure a unified system of early childhood education;
implement an early childhood education programme for facilitators, in
collaboration with the University of the West Indies;
ratify and disseminate a code of Ethics for Early Childhood Educators;
ensure that all pre-schools meet established standards;
encourage the collaborative approach involving the public and private sectors,
parents, local and overseas organizations and agencies in matters relating to early
childhood education, including assistance in cash or kind.
It is clear, therefore, that among Caribbean countries, there was a firm commitment
to the task of working towards the achievement of the international ECCE goal.
Indicators of the level of success can be seen in the level of participation demonstrated
by access and enrolment ratios, and in quality aspects such as financing, pupil/teacher
ratios, teacher qualifications, and curriculum programmes among others. This report is
only concerned with the first three quality aspects.
The Technical Guidelines define Early Childhood Care and Education as:
a term that embraces the full range of purposeful and organized
activities intended to provide for the healthy growth and
developmental needs of children from birth to eight years of age. This
includes activities provided under the supervision of several areas of
state responsibility, such as education, health, nutrition, social welfare,
etc. (UNESCO, 1998, p. 8)
Early childhood care and development in the Caribbean, as separate from organised
custodial care, refers to developmental services for children ranging in age from 6
months to 5 or 6 years. Charles (1999), in a study on ECCE in the Caribbean,
specifically commissioned by UNICEF for the EFA Assessment 2000, reports on
overall provisions (0-5) in four countries and reveals an overall 3% increase (see Table
7). Among the reporting countries for the 0-5 year olds, Barbados shows an increase of
14% and St. Kitts and Nevis, 8%.
Table 7. Gross Enrolment Ratios – Birth to Age 5
BDOS SKN GND JCA TOTAL
1990 Population 18,625 4,731 15,595 428,420 467,371
1990 Enrolment 6,494 249 4,231 182,209 193,183
1990 GER 35 5 27 43 41
1998 Population 18,309 4,190 15,348 401,830 439,770
1998 Enrolment 8,979 534 3,487 182,507 195,573
1998 GER 49 13 23 45 44
Source: Charles, 1999.
Information in the country reports reveals that, in every country, this developmental
component is divided into two parts, each of which is managed separately and,
depending on the country, possibly by different agencies. The first division is generally
referred to as day care; the second, pre-primary schooling.
Day care services
This division is organised to manage developmental care for children aged 6 months
to 3 years. Charles (1999) states that in all countries, with the exception of Jamaica, St.
Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, day care services are managed by a
different Ministry from the one responsible for managing pre-primary services. These
Ministries are usually the ones dealing with social services or health issues. In the case
of Barbados, a specially established Child Care Board has this role. In 1988, Jamaica
enacted legislation to transfer day care services from the Ministry of Health to the
Ministry of Education and Culture and, in 1999, formalised the planned integration
process by creating one comprehensive ECCE programme for children aged 0-5 years,
as set out in the Caribbean Plan of Action for ECCE.
There are very little data in the country reports regarding the exact number of
children aged 0-3 who are receiving day care services. Charles (1999), however,
indicates 1998 GER figures of between 4% and 33% of the appropriate age group in
four reporting countries (see Table 8). The overall GER is 5%; a decrease of 2% from
the 1990 figure. Barbados, with its specially established Child Care Board, had gains of
10% in this division; St. Kitts and Nevis, 8%; and Grenada, 1%. Jamaica, in the year of
its adjustment to the new law, lost 2%.
Table 8. Gross Enrolment Ratios – Day Care Sector
BDOS SKN GND JCA TOTAL
1990 Population 10,834 4,731 9,946 269,440 294,951
1990 Enrolment 2,457 249 300 16,166 19,172
1990 GER 23 5 3 6 7
1998 Population 11,279 4,190 8,628 234,322 258,419
1998 Enrolment 3,669 534 318 8,209 12,730
1998 GER 33 13 4 4 5
Source: Charles, 1999.
Table 9. Gross Enrolment Ratios in Pre-Primary (3-5/6) ECCE Programmes and % of
New Entrants to Primary Grade 1 With ECCE Experience
Age 3-4 3-5 3-4 3–5 3–4 3-5 3-4
Year ANG A&B Aruba Bah. Bar. Belize Ber. B. V. I. Cay. Is. Dom. Gren.
1990 52.7 25* 133.3 78.1 70*
(100) (48.2) (93.8)
1991 61.9 129.9 78.1 61.3
(100) (72.9) (47.5) (99.2)
1992 62.1 100.0 75.4 76.9
(100) (87.7) (56.5)
1993 69.8 100.0 70.4 74.0
(100) (94.2) (86.1)
1994 69.5 100.0 94.7 78.6
(100) (89.9) (58.2) (83.2)
1995 87.8 70.2 24.3 100.0 75.8 76.2
(100) (83.3) (62.0) (84.4)
1996 90.7 68.0 24.0 100.0 68.3 81.1
(100) (91.3) (28.4) (45.9) (84.5)
1997 84.9 68.1 22.9 100.0 73.7 76.7
(100) (89.4) (28.9) (71.6) (89.6)
1998 92.7 76* 26* 100.5 71.4 72.3
GPI range 0.9 – 1.0 0.9–1.1 0.9–1.0 - 1.0–1.1 1.0–1.1
Age 4-5 0–6 3–5 3–5 2-5 3–5 4–5 4–6 3–5 3–5
Year Guy. Haiti J'ca SK & N St. Luc. Mont. NA St. Vin. Sur. T&T T&C
1990 20.7 77.0 50* 83 101 19* 88.6
(88.8) (100) (98.9)
1991 81.9 21.7 77.3 106 93.0
(92.0) (100) (99.1)
1992 92.9 26.0 76.8 110 97.2
(90.1) (100) (99.1)
1993 79.9 31.1 81.4 117 83.6
1994 89.3 37.3 84.2 76.3 95 102 83.3
1995 89.2 44.6 83.5 72.2 98 93.3
1996 93.6 53.6 80.2 83.5 105 93.5 70.7
(91.5) (100) (99.0)
1997 64.3 81.3 76.0 105 95.5 43* 67.5
1998 84.2 79* 77.5 81 104 68.6
1999 78.3 103
GPI range 0.8–1.0 1.1–1.1 1.01–1.03 0.9–1.0 0.9–1.1 0.8–1.1
GER = Gross Enrolment Ratio
Source: EFA country reports, 1999.
Pre-primary schooling - Children aged 3-5/6
Nineteen of the 22 Caribbean countries gave some data in their country reports on
pre-primary schooling, namely, for children aged 3-5/6 (see Table 9). Using data both
from these reports and from Charles (1999), GERs for pre-primary schooling in the
various Caribbean countries give a picture of significant variation in participation at
the beginning, throughout the years, and towards the end of the 1990s. GERs varied
between 133+% and 19% in 1990 and 104% and 26% in 1998. For seven of the
reporting countries, gross enrolment for the age group had already been at, or close to,
100% (viz., > 85%) from the beginning of the decade. According to the data received,
in six of the seven countries, GERs were maintained or increased. Most of the 11
others showed growth to 1994, 1995, and/or 1996. This growth was however followed
by some decline in the second half of the decade. Haiti reported sustained growth in
the participation of its 0-6 year old population throughout the decade (see Table 10
and Figure 1). Table 11 presents data for nine countries which provide a representative
picture of the region, while enrolment trends are presented in Figure2.
It is important to note, from Table 11, that the decline in pre-primary (3–5 year
olds) enrolment infers the non-participation of 48,511 children in those seven
countries. However, in 1997/98, there were over 300,000 children aged 3-5/6 who
were not participating in the process of building a sound foundation for later learning
through ECCE programmes throughout the Caribbean.
Table 10. Participation Rates of 0–6 Year Olds in Haiti, 1990, 1995, & 1997
1990 1990 1990 1995 1995 1995 1997 1997 1997
Population Enrolment GER Population Enrolment GER Population Enrolment GER
571,577 118,360 20.7 630,078 218,007 44.6 651,288 418,561 64.3
Table 11. Caribbean Countries: Gross
Enrolment Ratios – Pre-Primary
Sector (3–5 Year Olds)
Countries 1990 Pop. 1990 1990 1995 Pop. 1995 1995 1997 Pop. 1997 1997
Enrol. GER Enrol. GER Enrol. GER
Bahamas 11,544 11,544 100.0 12,227 12,227 100.0 12,494 12,494 100.0
Barbados 8,032 4,232 52.7 8,025 5,630 70.2 7,855 5,346 68.1
Belize 12,570 3,275 26.1 13,628 3,306 24.3 14,479 3,313 22.9
Bermuda 1,038 1,384 133.3 539 539 100.0 438 438 100.0
Dominica* 4,810 2,119 44.0 3,486 2,641 75.8 3,508 2,584 73.7
Grenada* 5,649 3,931 69.5 4,512 3,438 76.2 4,264 3,271 76.7
Jamaica 154,180 145,791 94.6 160,950 134,458 83.5 173,190_ 140,803 81.3
Neth. Antilles 6,663 7,052 105.8 7,673 7,708 100.5 7,837 8,161 104.1
Suriname 19,151 16,968 88.6 19,656 18,339 93.3 20,187 19,279 95.5
Average 223,637 196,296 87.9 230,696 188,286 81.8 244,252 195,689 80.3
Note. GER: The total number of children enrolled as a percentage of the official school age population.
* 1990 data taken from Charles, 1999.
Figure 1. Trends in participation rates of 0-6 year olds in Haiti, 1990-1997.
Gross Enrolment Ratio
1990 1995 1997
Figure 2. Trends in pre-primary (3-5/6 year olds) enrolment ratios, 1990-1997: Caribbean
countries without Haiti.
Gross Enrolment Ratio
1990 1995 1997
Source: Country reports, 1999.
Another feature of access to pre-primary schooling is the partnership involved in
providing this access. In no case does the state assume total responsibility. More
generally, many schools are started by private initiative, whether that be a religious
denomination or otherwise. In these latter cases, a fee determined by the provider is
charged for the service. Figure 3 gives a breakdown of the variety and type of
initiatives that are reported to exist in the four countries (Charles,1999).
Figure 3. Provision of pre-primary
NGO Other Public
Private 1% 0% 14%
Source: Charles, 1999.
Percentage First Graders with ECCE Experience
The data received from the reporting countries indicate that, by 1998, a sizeable
proportion (> 85%) of the Grade 1 entrants in the Caribbean had received some ECCE
experience. In seven countries, the proportion was either at, or closely approaching,
100%. Increasing numbers of Grade 1 entrants with ECCE experience is a positive
indication that the Caribbean region is moving closer towards the target of achieving the
goal of universalising ECCE access and promoting equity. There are, however, some
In a system in which promotion from one schooling level to the next is largely
automatic and age related, one outcome is the similarity between the enrolment levels
over two or three years for the same cohort of children. Therefore, the proportion of an
age group enrolled in the final year of an ECCE programme, or even over the entire two
years of the programme, should be a predictor of the number expected to be enrolled in
Grade 1 at the primary level, with pre-primary experience. The proportion of the age
group being enrolled in Grade 1 may be somewhat higher since the intake year also
includes those children without ECCE experience, in situations where there was not
100% enrolment at the pre-primary level. As the figures in parentheses in Table 9 show,
the percentages of children entering Grade 1 with ECCE experience have been
increasing, for most Caribbean countries, each year within the decade under review.
Bermuda, however, presents two anomalies. The first is the percentage of Grade 1
students with ECCE experience: At times less than half of the students have ECCE
experience, even though the GER for pre-primary students for up to six years previous
to this was always 100+%. The problem is emphasised when data are unavailable for
the private sector schools. The answer may therefore lie in: (a) the absence of data, (b) a
situation of over- and under-age enrolment or retention, or (c) school refusal at the
primary level. Absence of data probably explains the second anomaly whereby there
were 127.8% of students with ECCE experience in Grade 1 in private schools in 1993.
In the case of Barbados and Guyana (except for 1996), the percentage of first graders
with ECCE experience is always greater than the GER. While no explanation is given
by the countries, this may be: (a) the outcome of what may be called “scattered” pre-
primary attendance; for various reasons, children may attend only when it is possible,
and (b) an indication of the continued belief of parents/guardians in schooling from
level to level.
Gender Parity Index
The ratio between the percentage of registered females to males also varied slightly
by country. In Jamaica, the percentage of females registered each year was always
higher than that of males. In the other countries, the balance swung only very slightly
from year to year.
Table 12. Total Expenditure* on Early Childhood Education, Care and Development in
Caribbean Countries as a % of Education Expenditure 1990, 1994, & 1998.
Year Ang An. Aru Bah Bar Bel Ber BVI C.Is Dom Gda Guy Hti Jca SkN S.L Mon! N.A Sur T&T SvG Tcls
1990 7.04 0.12 1.58 0.85 2 0.08
1994 8.07 11.74 0.13 4.59 0.95 2 0.2
1998 7.60 6.60 0..22 0.18 7.36 0.88 1 0.68 11.6
* Pre-primary education only. ! Volcanic activity has impacted on most provisions since 1996.
Source: Country reports; Charles, 1999.
Total access and high enrolment rates are important aspects of pre-schooling, as is
financing to ensure that adequate resource inputs are provided. Overall, very small
percentages of both national and education financing are being expended on early
childhood care and education in all countries (see Table 12). Annual expenditure ranged
between 0.08-11.74% of total education expenditure. While there were increases in the
total amount of money allocated, except for St Kitts and Nevis, there was very little
increase in the percentage allocations between 1990 and 1997 or 1998. Therefore,
increases in numbers and enrolment ratios of students have not been accompanied by
increases in financial inputs. The expenditure per capita for ECCE has, therefore, been
less in spite of efforts to increase resources to these centres, increase enrolment, and
improve programmes and the levels of teacher preparation.
Table 13. Pupil/Teacher Ratios (ECCE)
BDOS BELIZE DOM SKN GND JCA TOTAL
Stipulated Ratio (pupils/teacher) 12 0 0 10 0 0
Actual Ratio (pupils/teacher) 10 0 0 7 0 0 9
Stipulated Ratio (pupils/teacher) 18 15 15 20 15 30
Actual Ratio (pupils/teacher) 14 16 21 16 20 33 31
Source: Charles, 1999
Linked to resources are such quality aspects as the pupil/teacher ratio. Some
countries have stipulated the acceptable pupil/teacher ratio for both day care and pre-
primary services (see Table 13). According to the findings of Charles (1999), for the
countries where data were obtainable, the pupil/teacher ratio in day care services was
better than stipulated. However, at the pre school level, he found that four of the six
countries which submitted data had higher than stipulated ratios. Additional data from
Suriname and Dominica for pupil/teacher ratios over the decade give an indication of
the serious attempts being made by Caribbean countries to lower their ratios in the
pre-primary sector. For Haiti, at 1:34 in 1997, the task has been mainly uphill.
Figure 4. Trends in pupil/teacher ratios - Dominica and Suriname, 1990-1998.
With respect to ECCE, the service is not evenly distributed throughout the region.
Some countries, as earlier indicated, still make too little provision in light of their own
goals and targets. The situation is generally more critical for children aged 0-3 years.
Disaggregated data by country were not available from the country reports. However,
access levels of between 4-33%, as indicated by Charles (1999), define a situation of
some disparity in provisions among the countries. It also indicates a region that seems
not to have listened to its own clarion call for increased and improved day care services
as a matter of urgency for maximising human potential development.
At the pre-primary level, the enrolment in many countries, if not the Caribbean as a
whole, shows much improvement over the years. Starting in 1990 with an enrolment of
20.7% of 0-6 year olds, and ending in 1997 with 64.3%, Haiti has reduced by more than
half the proportion of its children aged 0-6 who were unable to participate in ECCE at
the beginning of the decade. Other large countries, except for Guyana and Jamaica,
seem to have some difficulty coming as close to their 100% targets as the smaller
countries. This is especially the case for Trinidad and Tobago and Belize. One of the
smaller countries,. Antigua and Barbuda, recalled disruptions in meeting its targets
through the loss of physical infrastructure during hurricanes such as Luis in 1995 and
George in 1998, and in Montserrat, there was the continued presence of an erupting
volcano. Two other aspects of differentiation lie in the pupil/teacher ratios and the
availability of resources and financing across countries. In the case of the latter, the
1998 provision in Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago was very
small. In all these cases, the expenditure on ECCE as a percentage of the total education
budget is less than 1%. St. Lucia‟s country report gives some insight into the related
implications of low funding, in spite of a 92% increase in expenditure as a percentage of
the national budget, namely, from .04% to .05% between 1990 and 1999. The gains in
enrolment in St. Lucia are attributed to “the quality of service rendered, the
competencies of practitioners, curriculum implementation and the appearance of the
physical plant.” The report continues “lack of finance coupled with limited human
resources force the Units’ staff to become exponents of creative educational innovation
in the field, in order to find ways of solving problems strategically.” Barbados, Belize,
St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on the other hand, expend
between 6% and 11%.
Pupil/teacher ratios, both the stipulated and the actual, at the day care and pre-school
levels also vary across the region. Identified stipulated and actual pupil/teacher ratios
were 10:12 and 7:10 respectively for day care; and 15:30 and 14:33 for pre primary.
What seems needed is some indication of what criteria guided the decisions for the
stipulated ratios. Also since teacher-pupil ratios are to some extent one indicator of
system quality, the variations are similarly indicative.
Acceptable levels of teacher academic qualification also varied across the region.
Two countries accepted no less than the B.Ed. as the minimum academic and
professional qualification for teaching at this level. Many other countries, with no
regulations to guide practice, depended on unregulated private operators who hired
teachers with no academic qualifications at all. One familiar comment: “93% of the
teachers have no academic qualifications and about the same amount have no formal
Differentiation also existed in access or accessibility within countries. Children in
urban areas, or districts near to these areas, tended to have more access to ECCE
centres. In the larger countries where the terrain of the interior was also difficult,
existing centres were at times inaccessible, accounting for some scattered attempts at
the ECCE experience for some children.
The work at the Perry Preschool in Michigan and the current work of Caine and
Caine in California (Pool, 1997, p. 11) have confirmed the long-held belief in the
importance of quality experiences in the developing child‟s first five years. Renate
Caine indicates, from their brain research, that neurological pathways critical to later
life are laid down from age 0- 3. “These pathways,” she says, “affect the ways children
interact with formative experiences during later developmental stages. The patterns also
include children‟s beliefs about themselves and their world, which continue into
adulthood.” The findings of Caine and Caine (1997) support earlier findings of
Sylwester (1995), as well as the reported lived experiences of the children who were
taken through the Perry Preschool study. The implications of the research findings are
that, for each child not afforded the type of quality mental stimulation that accredited
programmes in ECCE centres are designed to offer, many more children stand the
chance of never achieving their developmental potential, since so many brain cells
remain unstimulated at the opportune time and, therefore, never bloom.
Although the goal of universalising ECCE has been set, it has not yet been met in
some countries. A country which does not meet this goal handicaps each child who
does not receive ECCE and, therefore, handicaps itself in the medium and long term,
since it is not investing in the area on which the maximisation of its human resource
potential hinges. The goal of universalising ECCE, therefore, has to remain a priority
target. The issue of the quality of the programmes implemented is equally important.
Adult Literacy and Continuing Education
When the United Nations (UN) proclaimed 1990 as International Literacy Year, the
general realisation was that the problem of illiteracy had reached a crisis level in the
world. The situation in the Caribbean region was similar to that in the rest of the world.
Even though international databases tend to show high rates of literacy, there is a
general concern that it does not reflect the reality of the literacy situation. Because of
the widespread nature of primary level schooling, in many instances, countries assumed
that they had a high literacy rate without having relevant data to substantiate it. The lack
of data on literacy rates presents a more serious problem than what has been imagined
thus far. Not all the countries of the Caribbean have conducted literacy surveys. Some
of them depend on census data for information, and where no census has been
conducted, no data are available.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Haiti, Dominica,
Anguilla, and Montserrat, neither literacy surveys nor other major research were
conducted during the 1990-1999 period. Other countries such as Bermuda, St. Kitts and
Nevis, Suriname, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have not reported on literacy in
their country reports. The problem is further compounded by the fact that different
definitions have been used, different terminologies, and different target populations.
Some of the issues that add to the problem are:
1. Definition of terms and modes of determining literacy. Terms used by different
countries with various definitions include: Literate, Semi-Literate, Functional
Literate, Functional Illiterate, Absolute Illiterate, Not Literate, and Peripheral
Literate. Bermuda uses the performance of students in regularly administered
standardised tests to measure functional literacy, while Belize considers those
who have completed the third grade of primary education or beyond as literate. St.
Lucia, on the other hand, uses the following key tied to educational attainment to
Level of Literacy
None, Nursery, Infant
Complete Primary, Incomplete Secondary Functional
Complete Secondary, Tertiary, University Literate
Trinidad & Tobago considers a person possessing limited reading and writing
skills to be Peripherally Literate. In addition, some countries gave their literacy
rate, but did not give their definition of literacy.
2. Language. Many countries in the Caribbean consist of several ethnic groups
which have their own languages. Because of migration, population groups in a
country have mother tongues different from the official language of the country
and, therefore, do not properly speak or understand the official language of the
country. When students do not properly understand the language that is used as
the language of instruction, the probability of them dropping out of school is very
high and, consequently, they may become illiterates. In addition, if the measure of
people‟s literacy is based on their knowledge of the official language when they
have a different language, many of them may be considered illiterate in that
3. Policy and provisions. Generally, there are no policies at the national level in
the Caribbean subregion to deal with the problems of illiteracy in a structured
manner. Programmes range from private/non-governmental (individual/corporate)
to those organisations sponsored by governments. In the majority of cases, NGOs
or other private entities are the ones that have taken the lead in trying to meet this
need, with governments, in some instances, giving subsidies in order to control
The UNDP Human Development Report for 1998 reported that Guyana‟s
literacy rate was 97.7%. Yet, a number of groups have started programmes
designed to help their own members to become literate, such as: (a) NACOSA,
an organisation of Muslim women who work with their religious community to
increase the literacy level of their members; (b) Dayspring, a non-profit
organisation which helps disadvantaged youth reach their potential; (c) On
Wings of Words, a reading programme initiated by the Baha‟i Faith), and (d)
The Guyana Book Foundation, which aims to promote reading skills and to
establish libraries within communities, as well as to train community personnel
to run the libraries. In addition, the Institute of Distance and Continuing
Education, University of Guyana, has a number of programmes for adults and
out-of-school youths. Another creditable project is Parents as Teachers at Home
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda has focused its programmes on the various types of
learners found in the country, an example being the Adult Literacy Programme,
an affiliate of the Caribbean Regional Council for Adult Education (CARCAE)
which delivered two courses in language and mathematics via radio and
While in most countries there is no structured entity that deals with the
literacy issue, in Jamaica, the JAMAL Foundation is a government agency that
has as its mandate the provision of opportunities for the improvement of literacy
among the population 15 years and over, through non-formal adult education
channels. In 1994, a National Literacy Survey was conducted in Jamaica that
came to the conclusion that 75.6% of the population 15 years and over was
literate, with the rate for females being 81.3% compared to 69.4% for males.
The GPI was 1.2.
Belize had to come to grips with the reality that its 90% literacy rate was
not founded on reality. This has led to the establishment of a Literacy Task
Force comprised of government and non-government representatives. The aim is
to develop and implement a national survey and a 5-year programme. The
Literacy Council of Belize (LCB) was set up in 1992 with a director and two to
three staff members, and with financial support from the government and
UNICEF. Four important studies on the literacy situation were done during
1. Adult Literacy Interventions and Programs (1990-1995)
2. Belize Literacy Survey, Toledo District (1994)
3. National Literacy Survey (1996)
4. An Evaluation of the Literacy Council of Belize and Recommendations
Relative to the Future of Adult Literacy Programs in Belize (1997).
The target population of the Belize Literacy Survey was the age group 11-
65 years. The study indicated that the Toledo District suffered from a lower
literacy rate than any of the other districts, with a literacy rate of 54.2% in 1994.
The main findings of the National Literacy Survey of 1996, among other things,
1. The adult literacy rate was 75.1% in 1996.
2. The proportion of adults classified as semi-literate was 17.3% (i.e., had
completed some formal education)
3. For the Belizean-born population, the respective literacy rates for males and
females were 79.3% and 79.6%, indicating no significant differences in
literacy between males and females.
4. For the foreign-born population (mostly Central Americans), the literacy
rates were 52.3% and 50.5% for males and females respectively.
With regard to ethnic groups, the distribution of the literacy rates was as
follows: Creoles (91.3%), Garinagu (89.6), and Mestizos (64%). There is quite a
difference, however, depending on how the literacy rate is determined.
Examination of the 1997 evaluation report reveals that when test results are used
to determine literacy, the literacy rate is much lower (42.5%) than that based on
years of formal education (75.1%).
St. Lucia established an Adult Literacy Unit at the government level. In
the initial phases, it was sponsored by non-governmental entities but it is now
sponsored almost entirely by the government. Currently, there are approximately
22 centres, in each of which classes are led by a school teacher who is assisted
by facilitators. A 1990 survey showed that 54.1% of the sample was measured as
literate; 18.7 % as functionally literate, and 27.2 as not literate. In the15-35 age
group, 30% attained at least a secondary education. There was a higher level of
literacy among females than males. Using the completion of secondary
education and beyond as a baseline for calculating the literacy rate, the data tend
to indicate that the rate of literacy of 15-24 year olds in St. Lucia was
approximately 35.5% during the period 1995-1999.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago has an Adult
Education Division through which it conducts literacy classes at 46 centres
nation-wide, targeted towards the population 16 years and over. In addition to
the work done by the Ministry of Education, organisations such as the Adult
Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) and Moms for Literacy also offer adult
literacy classes. Several studies were done in Trinidad and Tobago, including a
study on reading literacy within the school system between 1989 and 1992, and
studies on adult literacy done in 1994 and 1995. The most recent study was
conducted in 1995 and concluded that 78% of persons 15 years and over were
literate, being able to “read and write with relative ease and having very little
difficulty using such skills to respond appropriately to tasks such as completing
application forms and expressing thoughts in writing after drawing inferences
from labels and short proses” (St. Bernard & Salim, 1995) It was estimated that
8.7% of the population was peripherally literate and 12.6% was illiterate.
According to UNICEF, the adult literacy rate for the Bahamas was 98.2%,
and 98.5% and 98.0% for males and females respectively. Based on these
figures, the GPI is .99, showing that the literacy rate is slightly in favour of the
male population. The growing interest in adult literacy and continuing education
programmes gives the impression that the literacy level of some adults is not
satisfactory. One of the most popular programmes to confront this perceived
problem is “Let‟s Read Bahamas,” which uses the Laubach Technique of “Each
One Teach One.” It is managed by the Ministry of Education, and is designed in
such a way that the tutoring is facilitated in places where those who participate
are most comfortable such as the workplace, religious centres, or even homes.
The Rotary Club and the College of the Bahamas also offer programmes that are
designed to help improve the literacy level of the adult population.
According to UNESCO, the literacy rate in the Cayman Islands was 98%
in 1995. The country itself does not have scientific data to measure its literacy
rate since no questions requesting literacy information was included in census
surveys. The Education Department and the International Reading Association
initiated programmes to address this need where it was present. There is no
official policy on adult literacy in the Cayman Islands, and none of the strategies
in the Education Development Plan, 1995–1999 address this need directly.
The British Virgin Islands
According to the most recent census report in 1990, the BVI has a literacy
rate of 98%. Although there is a lack of empirical data to substantiate it, the
general consensus is that most of the underachievers in the education system are
male. Therefore, it is assumed that the literacy rate is higher among females. The
International Reading Association is actively involved in the BVI with
programmes such as “Reading is Fun” week and radio shows, providing
assistance to those in need, both adults and children.
The Netherlands Antilles
There is not much statistical information on illiteracy in the Netherlands
Antilles. The only information available is based on the last census held in 1992.
The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) uses the amount of completed years of
elementary education to measure literacy, and it defines functional literacy as the
number of persons 15 years and older who have attended and completed a
maximum of 3 years of elementary school. As such, literacy can be defined as
the number of persons who have completed more than 3 years of elementary
school. In 1992, there were 140,238 persons 15 years and older living in the
Netherlands Antilles, of whom 134,063 were literate. The literacy rate was 95.6
in 1992. The GPI shows a value equal to 1 in the Netherlands Antilles.
Therefore, female and male literacy rates are equal. To date, there is no policy in
the area of adult education, but the plan is to incorporate adult education in the
policy area of the Ministry of Education, applicable to both the youth and young
adults. Non-governmental entities working in the area of adult education and
literacy are Pro Alfa and Fundashon Mangusá.
Table 28 gives an indication of the status of literacy in the Caribbean subregion,
based on information from eight countries. Considering that there are various
definitions used, various methods used to measure literacy, and that not all the
countries used the same target population it is difficult to give a Caribbean subregional
assessment of literacy. However, with each country using nationally defined norms,
and for different age bands between 1990–1999, values stated for literacy rates ranged
between 54.1% and 98.2%.
The absence of government policy and funding for adult and literacy education was
one of the major issues identified in all the countries of the region.. NGOs and other non-
governmental entities have taken the lead and governments, in many instances, have
taken a back seat position resulting in a lot of duplication of work on the one hand and
fragmentation on the other hand. It is imperative for governments to enunciate policies so
that the literacy problem can be adequately addressed.
As was very aptly stated in one of the conclusions of the report of the 1996 Literacy
Survey in Belize: “Government policy, whether directly or indirectly, has a very
important impact on the provision of education and the attainment of literacy.
Government‟s education policy directly affects the level of funds and subsidies that go
towards the payment of teachers and the construction and maintenance of educational
facilities. The overall fiscal policy of government can directly affect the level of family
income such that a family may be forced to forego the education of a child in favor or
other needs…. Hence the entire budget exercise of the Ministry of Education must be
made cognizant of the likely impact of any budget policy on education and literacy.”
(1996 report on Literacy Survey in Belize)
Definition of terms
Due to variable definitions of the term literacy, and modes of assessing and
determining who is a literate person, it is difficult to undertake an assessment of literacy
in the Caribbean subregion. It would be beneficial to do a common study of literacy in
the Caribbean where terms would be standardised so that they would mean the same
thing in all countries. It would then be possible to undertake a proper literacy assessment
for the subregion.
In view of the fact that the Caribbean subregion is a multi-lingual community, it is
important to define the language in which literacy is to be measured; is it going to be
measured in the official language of the country, or is it going to be measured in the
native language of the person? This will have to be linked to the definition that is given to
the term literacy. The definition must (a) respect the first language of the individual, and
(b) be sensitive to the modes of communication of the language.
In order to facilitate the subregional literacy assessment, instruments for measuring
literacy at the various school levels (pre-primary, primary, secondary, and adult levels)
should be developed.
The Caribbean subregion needs to come to terms with the needs of the technological
era by recognising that students need to be technologically literate. The goal should be to
enable individuals to acquire the language of technology in the home, workplace, school,
and the wider community.
Considering that most countries have compulsory education, it is important that both
the youth (15-24) and total literacy levels be measured. The former would assess the
impact of formal education on the system; while the latter would assess total literacy of
the country in the 15+ age group.
The absence of policy and funding for adult and literacy education may be an
indication that addressing the problem of illiteracy is not high on the priority list of the
various countries. Countries might consider the need to determine policy for literacy and
adult education, and to allocate funding for addressing the illiteracy problem.
Governmental recognition of literacy problem
Governments do not appear to recognise the severity of the literacy problem in the
various countries of the subregion. They should, therefore, be sensitised, through
research, to the extent of the problem of illiteracy in the subregion and its impact on the
educational system and the society at large.
Each one teach one
Literates to teach illiterates and vice versa, since all have to learn.
Table 28. Literacy Rates among 15+ (and GPI) in Caribbean Countries, 1990-1999
Countries Year Age Literate GPI Functional Absolute
Span Total M F Literacy Literacy
Bahamas 1995 98.2 99.0 98.0
Belize 1996 75.1 17.3 7.6
- Belizean Born 1996 79.5 79.3 79.6 1.0
- Belizean Foreign Born 1996 51.3 52.3 50.2 1.0
British Virgin Islands 1990 98.0
Cayman Islands 1995 98.0
Guyana 1998 97.7
Haiti 1990 > 10 50.0
Haiti 1995 > 10 58.0
Jamaica 1994 > 15 75.6 69.4 81.3 1.2
St. Lucia 1990 15-24 54.1 18.7 27.2
Netherlands Antilles 1992 > 15 95.6 95.7 95.5 1.0
Trinidad & Tobago 1995 > 15 78.0 12.6
Source: Country reports, 1999.
Training in Essential Skills
Training in essential skills targets the expansion of provisions of basic education and
ensures a focus on abilities, attitudes, skills, technological innovations, and personal well-
being required by youth and adults. Programme effectiveness is assessed in terms of
behavioural changes and possible impacts on health, employment, and productivity.
Some of these programmes seek to equip individual learners with practical skills and
know-how, while others aim to empower learners by raising their awareness and
knowledge of their rights and duties as citizens, workers, and parents. All this is done in
the context of empowering young people to become the “Ideal Caribbean Person.”
The “Ideal Caribbean Person,” as defined by the CARICOM Heads of Governments in
1998, should be someone who, among other things:
is imbued with a respect for human life since it is the foundation on which all
the other desired values must rest;
is emotionally secure with a high level of self confidence and self esteem;
sees ethnic, religious, and other diversity as a source of potential strength and
is aware of the importance of living in harmony with the environment;
has a strong appreciation of family and kinship values, community cohesion,
and moral issues including responsibility for, and accountability to, self and
has an informed respect for our cultural heritage;
demonstrates multiple literacy, independent and critical thinking, questions the
beliefs and practices of past and present, and brings this to bear on the innovative
application of science and technology to problem solving;
demonstrates a positive work ethic;
values and displays the creative imagination in its various manifestations, and
nurtures its development in the economic and entrepreneurial spheres in all other
areas of life;
has developed the capacity to create and take advantage of opportunities to
control, improve, maintain, and promote physical mental, social, and spiritual
well- being, and to contribute to the health and welfare of the community and
nourishes in him/herself, and in others, the fullest development of each person‟s
potential without gender stereotyping, and embraces differences and similarities
between females and males as a source of mutual strength.
In addition, the “Ideal Caribbean Person” has a Caribbean commitment and is dedicated
to the concept of lifelong learning.
Although the impact of activities was, for the most part, not reported by countries as
they described their programmes, the following activities were designated for Caribbean
use in order to acquire essential skills in the decade of the 1990s. Of the 22 countries, 11
gave information regarding training in essential skills, education for better living, and
measures to support education for all.
1. Respect the sanctity of life and value human dignity
With respect to this area, several countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, the
Turks and Caicos Islands, and Bermuda found it
convenient to include this component in their social
studies curriculum. In the case of St. Lucia,
however, it was included in the Family Life
Programme. The students got the opportunity to be
actively involved in discussing life values and
human dignity, doing research, taking decisions, and
reporting. In addition, groups, both in and out of
school, were involved in leading discussions that
reportedly had a greater impact on the students. In
Trinidad and Tobago, a good illustration of students
learning to work and live in situations of diversity is
through the implementation of cooperative learning
in 39 secondary schools. Garth is one student who
had such an experience. Garth is 15 years old and is
in his third year at an urban secondary school. He is
also just one of the thousands of students of his age
cohort who are perceived, and perceive themselves,
as low achievers or failures. For the past five weeks
his social studies class has been engaged in
cooperative learning activities. Garth describes his
Garth - Cooperative learning experience
Garth: “At first I did not like this thing Miss called cooperative learning (CL).
They used to quarrel about everything, about who don‟t want to talk, who want
to move, who looking „round. We change when we understand how the group
is supposed to behave. I learn to like CL because it make me understand my
school work. I used to get more things wrong. Now I don‟t because it make me
ask myself more questions.”
Garth: “About the topic! About the answers others give! About why they
right and another not! Girls smile and say „Alright‟ or „Doing good.‟ Boys
say, „Give me a bounce!‟ It had a fella who hardly used to talk, but we help
him to talk by helping him to see that he pulling the group down. I like it now
because you get to talk to people who you did not use to talk to before. Long
time, teachers use to talk a lot and sometimes ask questions. You hardly use to
talk about the work but they used to talk about other things. If you don‟t
understand and you ask teachers, they would explain it to you or the class, but
you would take longer to understand. Now students get a chance to talk about
the work. Now you understand faster and better because you are asking
yourself the questions and the group as well and we help each other to
understand while we talk to each other.”
Source: Jules, 1994.
The Netherlands Antilles reported general programmes aimed at teens and adolescents
being conducted by religious organisations, NGOs,
and scouting organisations. Most of the programmes
dealt indirectly with the aspect being considered,
however, programmes that are directly aimed at
helping people to respect the sanctity of life and
value human dignity were also undertaken. Some of
the programmes that dealt directly with this aspect
were programmes dealing with the prevention of
abuse of women, teenage pregnancy, and
prostitution. None of the programmes presented was
evaluated to measure the impact on the target
Over 1,200 parents were tutored in parenting skills in the SERVOL programme in
Trinidad and Tobago. The Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme
(YTEPP) offers a career enhancement component, which focuses on attitudinal life skills,
and 93% of the graduates of Cycle IV found this component useful. In Trinidad and
Tobago, as well, 32 young persons were trained in the Youth Peer Support Network
System, run by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, in problem-solving techniques,
coping skills, and peer support, while at the same time fostering empowerment.
2. Strengthen democracy and respect human rights
Most of the reporting countries include the aspect of politics and civics in their social
studies curriculum. Students are given the opportunity to demonstrate that they have
mastered the information in a theoretical way. Modules, booklets, and television quiz
programmes are produced on issues relating to democracy and human rights in Trinidad
and Tobago. Students are also given the opportunity for practical applications. Guyana
also gives students this opportunity by allowing them to conduct the school assembly,
and to help in libraries, with agriculture, and with school sanitation, in order to inculcate
leadership and responsibility skills and build confidence. This practical exposure aids in
the internalising of the principles of democracy and human rights. The Netherlands
Antilles uses the election period to conduct social studies projects on politics and
governance. However, since elections do not occur all the time, it is important for this
information to be given to students on an ongoing basis.
One of the most comprehensive programmes is taking place in the Turks and Caicos
Islands, where a pre-vocational education programme was established in 1990. Students
are provided with opportunities to build self-confidence, to practise basic skills, to make
vocational choices, to solve problems, and to work and develop as members of groups as
well as self-reliant individuals.
In Bermuda, the Human Rights Commission, a governmental agency, held workshops
for schools, business firms, and charitable organisations on this issue. St. Lucia
encouraged the public to participate in consultations which encouraged feedback on
educational issues such as textbooks and programmes. As a result, students learned to
exercise self-control and tolerance of each other‟s ways. They also gained knowledge and
expressed their convictions in a disciplined manner. The Youth Parliament and Youth
Government in the Netherlands Antilles is another remarkable example of youth
developing the skills of democracy. The young people are actually able to sit in
Parliament and go through all the parliamentary procedures, for example, debating. In
Trinidad and Tobago, there were 120 participants in the MSYA Model Caricom/Model
United Nations programme for fifth and lower sixth formers, with the theme
“Participation for a Better World.”
3. Promote and maintain stable families
Not much has been done in this area; although it is one of the pillars of a successful
community, country, and the subregion as a whole. The simple inclusion of a section on
family life in the curriculum is not sufficient. There should be opportunities for the
students to be actually involved in group activities and processes where they can gain
practical experience, and learn attitudes and behaviour reflective of stable family life.
Denominational schools, more than others, seem to use the opportunity to teach family
values. The example set by teachers is also very critical in this aspect.
Out-of- school activities
In Barbados, major activities in this area are conducted in parent education, adolescent
parenting programmes, adolescent peer counselling
programmes, and parent training. In these
programmes, pre- and post-test evaluations are used
to measure participants‟ knowledge, attitude, and
behavioural change. The results over a 3-year period
showed a high level of anticipation, serious
commitment to the programme, and a good
knowledge base, with positive attitude and
behaviour change shown by over 90% of the 1,000
parents who benefited from this programme. A
notable programme is the Backyard Training
Programme, specially geared towards parents who
do not attend structured programmes, in which
activities are conducted in individual homes. Results
indicate that interaction between facilitators and
parents help parent to develop their self-esteem and
increase their parenting skills.
The church leads the way in St. Lucia in disseminating knowledge on the family. It
encourages participation at children‟s functions, and organises family sessions to
facilitate interaction between family members. As a result, there is greater appreciation
for the roles that members play in their families, and greater respect towards each other.
Students also learn to appreciate talents and help from others. Approximately 5,000
adolescents in SERVOL programmes in Trinidad and Tobago are offered an Adolescent
Parenting Programme each year to prepare them for their role as parents. All trainees in
the YTEPP programme take the course “Social Life Skills,” which focuses on the family,
familial interactions, and its connection to the community. The National Family Services
Division of the MSCD also conducts lectures/seminars/workshops in schools and in the
4. Adapt healthier physical, mental and emotional lifestyles
While most reporting countries mentioned physical education classes as an activity to
address this aspect, Bermuda went beyond that to also include health education classes on
disease prevention, and nutrition and fitness. Only Antigua and Barbuda concentrated on
students delaying the initiation of their sexual activities and the whole process of refusal
and development of refusal skills. It is important to note that changes took place in terms
of: (a) students being more willing to use contraception, and (b) the improvement of
communication between parents and children. This is probably one area that needs more
attention, especially considering the high percentage of teenage pregnancies in the
Various activities are undertaken to promote a better lifestyle, but very little
information is available on the number of people who benefit from them. In the
Netherlands Antilles, 48 children attended the Lion Quest programme, of whom 25
received certificates. Programmes for after-school care and supervision are attended by
more than 300 children. More than 150 parents are given parenting courses in the
Netherlands Antilles, while on an annual basis, 30 persons are trained to become foster
parents. Several NGOs give structured courses to parents of children 0-4 years old.
Considering the high number of parents who seem unable to adequately supervise their
children, it is very important to have people who are trained to be foster parents who can
help in the care of young people.
SERVOL in Trinidad and Tobago offers a holistic “SPICES” programme (Spiritual,
Physical, Intellectual, Creative, Emotional, and Social) which has been accessed by more
that 40,000 adolescents and 600 pre-school teachers. All YTTEP trainees take the
“Personal and Work Ethic Skills Unit” which aims to promote a positive self-image, thus
encouraging a healthier lifestyle and well-being. The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs
also offers specific skills training in a variety of disciplines. This is being accessed by
more than 27,500 young people.
5. Recognise and affirm gender equality and respect gender differences
These problems may need to be considered as the symptoms of an underlying problem
that is addressed by St. Lucia in terms of activities that increase level of understanding of
gender differences. These activities include observations and feedback on teachers‟
interaction with boys and girls, and workgroups that facilitate the assumption of
leadership roles by both sexes. Trinidad and Tobago holds annual workshops and
professional development conferences that sensitise teachers on gender issues. It also
approves text books which do not perpetuate gender bias.
In St. Lucia, public education reinforces the work of schools, and advocates on gender
issues encourage activities that recognise:
differences between boys and girls;
that such differences and diversities are complementary rather than exclusionary;
therefore, the aim is equality not uniformity;
partnership not superiority;
empowerment of both sexes and not dominance or submission of one sex.
This has led to an increased level of understanding of sex differences which can facilitate
the making of informed decisions, and dispel myths about differences in achievement
6. Value religious and ethnic and cultural diversity
Most countries reported religious instruction as part of their coursework. However,
considering that public schools do not give religious
instruction, Barbados included a module on
“Comparative Religions” in its citizen curriculum,
which focuses on tolerance and respect for all
religions. A visit to various churches in the
community may help students to become
comfortable with various types of worship services.
The work done by the Department of Cultural Affairs in Bermuda is very interesting.
The Department provides workshops for new teachers on the local culture and on various
aspects of the arts. In addition, it sponsors two television programmes and various other
activities for the general public. The impact cannot be assessed, because the programme
was not evaluated. In Trinidad and Tobago, both SERVOL and the YTEPP offer courses
on this component which enhance the individual awareness of a person‟s identity within
the cultural and religious diversity existing in society.
7. Respect their cultural heritage and that of others
In dealing with this aspect, Barbados has focused on getting to know its own culture
better. Bermuda and the Netherlands Antilles, however, also emphasise the culture of
others. Guyana‟s project “Managing Social and Sensitive Issues in the Teaching/Learning
Environment” is helping children to develop tolerance for each other, by helping them to
have a high sense of self-worth. This component is addressed at the primary level through
social studies, language, arts, music, and drama, and at the secondary level through
history, English literature, and music.
Countries provided information on the celebration of their various cultural festivities.
What is lacking, however, is the actual teaching of
the population of the meaning and origin of those
festivities. In Trinidad and Tobago, SERVOL
trainees are encouraged to express themselves
through calypso and steelband. YTEPP‟s “Personal
Skills Unit” promotes respect for students‟ own
cultural heritage and that of others.
8. Lead productive lives and take advantage of economic opportunities
This is an area in which some of the reporting countries focused only on course offerings.
However, some schools in the Turks and Caicos
Islands and Belize, in joint venture with businesses,
have been giving students the opportunity to have
hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and the
work environment. Theory in the classroom is being
combined with hands-on experience in the world of
work. This not only makes the classroom offering
more relevant and interesting, but it also gives the
students work experience while they are still in
school. Graduates of technical and vocational
studies at the secondary level in Trinidad and
Tobago gain employment fairly easily, perhaps
because of the hands-on approach to
A variety of programmes are being offered by various countries such as the Youth
Entrepreneurship Programme in Barbados, the Heart
Trust in Jamaica, the National Training Board in
Bermuda, and the Centre for Employment Training
in Belize. One of the programmes that has had an
impact on more than 3,000 students, with respect to
their literacy, is the “On Wings of Word” reading
programme in Guyana. In Trinidad and Tobago,
5,000 SERVOL trainees annually participate in, and
benefit from, enhancement courses and job training
which prepare them for the world of work. The
YTEPP financial skill module seeks to provide
monetary guidance through budget management,
entrepreneurial development, and marketing
9. Use creativity and technology to sustain personal, social, and economic
Barbados is outstanding in this aspect with its commitment to EduTech2000. Technology
is being used as a tool to: (a) provide better
motivation for both teachers and students; (b) enable
schools to provide better educational management;
(c) assist students in mastering the requisite skills
and competencies of a computerised world; and (d)
enhance the teaching of subject matter of the various
curricula offered in schools.
Several organisations in St. Lucia, Barbados, and the Netherlands Antilles are giving
courses and training programmes in information technology in order to enhance the work
opportunities of the participants. However, no information has been provided on the
outcomes. Approximately 5,000 SERVOL trainees in Trinidad and Tobago are offered
computer literacy programmes at the end of their skill training, while YTEPP‟s
“Communication Skills Unit” promotes expressiveness which fosters creativity.
10. Resolve conflicts peacefully and promote a culture of peace
Four countries reported having conflict resolution courses in their curriculum.
Barbados, however, has also included parents with the help of PAREDOS, an out-of-
school entity. This is very important, considering that conflict resolution skills are usually
learnt at home. The results testify to that effect, in that a 98% increase in attitude and
behaviour change in parents and children has been reported.
In Bermuda, several charitable organisations work with schools on programmes of
peer mediation and conflict resolution. St. Lucia has been very creative in using the
media to undertake public education on conflict resolution in the form of skits, short
stories, and plays. The Netherlands Antilles held a conference on the theme of “Towards
a Culture of Peace,”with the help of UNESCO. However, there has not been much
follow-up to this project. In Trinidad and Tobago, SERVOL offers courses on
understanding and dealing with repressed anger, as well as conflict resolution. The
“Personal Skills,” “Communication Skills,” and “Social Skills” modules address group
interaction skills, negotiation skills, and group interaction skills respectively.
Issues and Recommendations
The countries in the subregion have used the social studies curriculum, for the most
part, to help students acquire skills for essential living. It plays a very important role
since its main purpose is to teach students to be good citizens. Considering that, in many
instances, social studies has to compete with other subjects, it is important that measures
be taken to expand the social studies curriculum, and to give it its rightful place in the
school curriculum. Those teaching social studies have to be trained to help students
acquire the skills that go beyond the reproduction of theories found in a textbook.
Students have to be involved in doing research, taking decisions, and reporting.
Family life education
Countries tended to teach essential skills in the area of family life as part of the social
studies curriculum. However, considering the lasting impact the family has on the
individual, the community, the country, and the region, it is important that family life
education be offered as a separate subject in the school curriculum, so that it can be given
the attention it needs.
Physical education classes, for the most part, have been limited to sporting activities.
However, considering that young people are vulnerable to lifestyle, chronic, and
infectious diseases, it is important that physical education classes be expanded to also
include health and nutrition education, in order to help students prevent disease as they
grow up. In addition, there is need to provide drug prevention education. This could be
done by providing young people with opportunities to build self-confidence, to practise
basic skills, to make vocational choices, to solve problems, and to work and develop as
members of a group as well as self-reliant individuals.
Awareness of the benefits of computer technology for both students and teachers
highlight the need to equip schools with the necessary hardware and software, in order
that both students and teachers can be exposed to the technology. The Internet can be
used to access information on practically every topic. The world of work basically
functions on technology, and students and teachers need to become computer literate and
cognisant of the technology that is available. This requires that individuals be trained in
this area and that they are also willing to continue to educate themselves and be dedicated
Computer education should become a structural part of the school curriculum. Areas
to considered are:
1. Regional connectivity
Students in the Caribbean subregion should have
access to a current and appropriate Information Communication Technology (ICT)
system and other technology.
All children must have equitable access to
computers and other techniques.
2. On Line Classroom
Teachers must have access to the technology that
will allow them to use ICT as an integral part of the planning, teaching, and
All teachers and teacher trainers should be trained
to integrate the use of ICT within the learning process.
The educational system of each country must
facilitate collaboration among teacher training institutions of the region, in order
to harmonise the capacities and integrate the use of ICT within the learning
Development of protocols and standards for the
production and delivery of ICT, ensuring quality control and cultural relevance.
3. Global sharing
Develop collaborative opportunities for teachers
Facilitate local, regional, and international projects.
Data collection and analysis.
Initiate the interlinking of information databases in
schools, ministries, and countries in the region.
Develop protocols and standards for
confidentiality, security, and intellectual property rights. This should be included
in school curriculua across the region.
4. Administration and management
Standard classroom management/school
management/ministerial management systems, and communication desk practices
Even though little evaluation is done and few records are kept by those who provide
adult education programmes, the country reports suggest that there are indications that
the programmes have impacted positively on the communities and individuals, and that
they have contributed to the social and economic development of the countries.
Evaluation and management
There is an urgent need to evaluate the
programmes provided in order to get information on the effects and the impact
they have had on the participants and the community as a whole.
Providers should cooperate with each other to
avoid repetition of efforts and unnecessary duplication.
Adult education should be seen as part of the
lifelong learning process and countries should, therefore, continue to foster the
partnership involving the government, individuals, employers, and NGOs.
In order to reach the majority of those who need
help, churches, schools, community centres, and the workplace should be
promoted as learning centres.
Realising that many of the social problems that countries face originate in the home,
many organisations have been offering parenting programs to help adults to cope better
with their children. Within the context of educating the families, programmes are offered
to give parents the skills they need to be more effective. The increase in single and
teenage parents makes these programmess especially necessary. However, there is need
to expand these programmes, and to include the area of relationship between parents and
between parents and children.
There has been a great effort to equip young people with skills to make them
marketable and to prepare them for the world of work. While most of these programmes
tend to focus on young people who are unemployed, programmes should also be offered
to those who want to upgrade themselves and acquire new skills, especially in the area of
Education for Better Living
Education for better living targets the increased acquisition by individuals and families
of the knowledge, skills, and values required for better living and sound and sustainable
development, made available through all education channels including the mass media,
other forms of modern and traditional communication, and social action, with
effectiveness assessed in terms of behavioural change.
Education has now clearly become a lifelong process, with people learning at any age
and at any place as needs and opportunities arise. Some learning opportunities outside the
formal school are rigorously structured but employ non-formal means of delivering
instruction. Others are relatively unstructured and non-formal but provide meaningful
educational experiences. Some provide certificates of equivalence with formal schooling,
while others do not. Some organise learners into small groups or use individual
teaching/learning situations, while others make use of modern telecommunications and
computing technologies to reach large numbers of learners. The emphasis here is on
using the mass media and modern channels of communication for educational purposes.
Educational activities constituting this component of basic education are often intended
to reinforce and complement formal schooling and out-of-school (non-formal) education
programmes, or to reach the general public.
Progress was noted in the following areas:
1. Use of the electronic and print media for
Educational broadcasting (radio, television)
used in schools
In St. Lucia, the radio is used to air a weekly music programme specially targeted
towards Grades 1-3. In addition, the radio is extensively used to access up-to-date
information on current, local, regional, and international affairs. As a result, students
were motivated and teachers who are not musically inclined were supported. It also
encouraged the students to discriminate between important programmes on the radio. The
television was also used for story-telling and children‟s movies. No information has been
provided on whether the programmes were aired during or after school hours. If the
programmes are aired during school hours, the possibility of reaching the target
population is greater. In Trinidad and Tobago, 15-minute radio broadcasts are produced
for use in primary school distance learning.
Educational broadcasting used in out-of-
In Barbados and St. Lucia, several programmes have been produced and aired in the
areas of family life, youth, and selected subject areas. Some of these programmes have
become the major source of sexual and reproductive health information. The Ministry of
Education in Antigua and Barbuda also produces radio and television programmes aimed
at enhancing the oratorical scientific knowledge, spelling, and general knowledge of the
public, but particularly of the school-age population. This has been a good motivator and
has offered schools the opportunity to highlight students‟ achievements. Various
secondary-level programmes are being broadcasts on television.
Educational broadcasting used to enhance
the skills of teachers in service
Trinidad and Tobago publishes notes that go along with radio broadcast that may be
used as teaching aids. Other than these, there were no reports of programmes to reach this
target group. There is, therefore, the need to formulate programmes to meet these needs.
Educational programmes broadcast for the
In Barbados, there is a joint effort between the Government Information Service and
NGOs which disseminates information on a variety of issues on radio and television,
especially parenting and family life issues. What adds to its value is the fact that it is a
combination of information giving and interaction of the public via the call-in
programmes. This results in more informed citizens leading to more informed decision
Public service announcements through radio
This is one area that is heavily used in the countries of the Caribbean subregion.
Information is being given to the public on a variety of areas, both through radio and
television. The response has been very good and participation high, especially during
community meetings and consultations.
Geographical diffusion of broadcasts,
urban/rural, by region
Due to the size of the majority of the countries, they are not divided into geographical
regions for purposes of radio and/or television broadcasts. For the most part, all
broadcasts reach the entire country. The exception is the Netherlands Antilles where the
stations on the Leeward Islands cannot be received in the Windward Islands and vice
Newspapers and magazines with education
columns, features or supplements
Throughout the islands, various organisations, including government Ministries,
disseminate information through the print media. Some newspapers have regular columns
that include study material for students on selected subjects, or skills and values for better
living are published for the general public. Developments in education are also featured.
Equally noteworthy are the columns featuring activity-based articles in Antigua and
Barbuda aimed at various sectors of the public from pre-school through CXC level
students to adults. There is also the CEE Practice Test provided by each newspaper once
weekly for six months of each year. This has resulted in the public becoming more
informed on a wider range of educational issues. Even though countries use the print
media to give information, there is still a lot of room to disseminate educational
information in a more direct manner via the newspapers.
Libraries, museums, book fairs used activity to
promote and support basic education
The countries have branches of their national libraries in various districts or parishes,
or provide them with mobile library services as in the case of St. Lucia. The value of
reading is promoted via the media. NGOs organise reading festivals and book fairs on the
grounds of several schools. The reading festivals in Barbados attracted more than 15,000
visitors. The book fairs in St. Lucia provided bookstores with opportunities to market
their resources and educate students and teachers on the latest educational materials
available. This has led to an increase in book sales and schools were stimulated to start
their own school libraries and book clubs.
Street theatre and other forms of entertainment
that convey educational messages
Choral groups in Belize make presentations to convey educational messages with
regard to music. In Antigua and Barbuda, theatrical performances are used to share
historical information and improve the value systems of the listeners and viewers. In St.
Lucia, street theatre is used to educate the public on issues such as the proper use of
traffic lights. The humour provides stimulus to learn in an enjoyable way. Heavy use is
made of popular radio stations and personalities by various communities and interest
groups to sensitise young people about HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.
Social mobilization campaigns to increase public
awareness and knowledge, e.g. child vaccination, environmental protection,
A project done in Barbados in the area of family life led to a series of community rap
sessions where “Men talking with Men on Men‟s Issues” were held across the country,
and the response was so overwhelming that a new focus on male issues has developed at
the national level. Other projects lead to contact with more than 3,000 participants on an
annual basis. Other community groups are also being used to disseminate information.
Regular features and public announcements on health-related campaigns are aired on
radio and television, and in newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago. Posters and banners are
produced, and national competitions such as poster design, essay writing, logo design,
and jingles are hosted. In all countries, the government ministries, voluntary
organisations, and private citizens are engaged in public campaigns and conferences to
increase public awareness and knowledge in the areas of gender, health, and educational
2. Official policy and measures for the use of media for educational purposes
There is a commitment on the part of governments to use the media for educational
purposes. This is illustrated in Barbados by the recent establishment of an enhanced and
up-graded Educational Media Resource Centre, adequately equipped with computers and
other hardware and software. Schools are involved and participate by competing in the
development of illustrative displays in selected topics. In addition, the Audio Visual Unit
regularly facilitates the development and implementation of media programmes by
lending equipment to schools and other organisations. Further, the Unit also produces
charts and posters on various health issues. The St. Lucian Government has a policy of
allowing each ministry free air time (a minimum of 30 minutes each week) to publicise
information of interest to the general public. As a result, the public receives timely
information and is better informed about the nation‟s domestic affairs.
Government departments using the media
for basic education
Several government ministries in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago provide, or assist
with the provision of media-based programmes for educational purposes. The media in
St. Lucia facilitates functions such as graduation ceremonies, and school cultural shows
and sporting activities.
Other sponsors of educational programs
Private sector organisations assist with the development, promotion, and use of media
programmes for educational purposes, very often by financing the programmes or
otherwise facilitating their production.
Government regulating and monitoring of
Formal regulations exist but for the most part are not in effect.
Public and private funding for these
Sponsors provide funding for the programmes and awards for winners. Occasionally,
individuals make donations towards educational programmes.
3. Media Quality, Effectiveness, and Outcomes
Education and pedagogical training of
Some pedagogical training in this area is provided at the Barbados Community
College, and in St. Lucia, programme planners receive short-term training in mass
Demand for more broadcast or articles with
Response in this category comes largely from private citizens through “call–in
programmes and from occasional comments in the press.
Issues and Recommendations
While there has been a trend to use the media and technology to provide information
to the schools and to the general public, those who may not have access to that
technology might be excluded. Especially considering the speed at which technology
is developing, it is important to make a deliberate effort to make technology
accessible to everyone, using existing institutions such as libraries, schools, and
There is the need to make more use of newspaper and radio to provide education,
considering that these are the most accessible type of media to the public as well as
the least expensive.
Most of the reporting countries do not have a media in education policy. There is need,
therefore, to develop such policy in order for the media to become a more useful tool
in the dissemination of education. It will also help to regulate programme offerings to
the general public via the media.
Budget allocation should be made for the provision of educational programmes via the
Considering the possibilities of distance education, more opportunities should be
created by institutions of higher education for teachers to upgrade themselves via distance
education, using modern technology such as the Internet.
Measures to Support Education for All
Guidance and counselling
Ministries of Education in St. Lucia and Anguilla provide counselling services for
students. In Barbados, each secondary school has a Guidance Officer as a full-time
member of staff. Primary school teachers have been given an orientation to guidance.
Further, there are provisions for testing all children on entry to public primary schools for
speech and/or hearing so that they can receive assistance at an early stage. Guidance and
counselling is provided on a regular basis for all students in secondary schools between
the ages of 11-16 years. Such activities include individual and group counselling, and
frequently focus on, or relate to, such aspects as personal and social development, Health
and Family Life Education (HFLE), and related matters. Another provision is guidance
and counselling for youngsters who have been suspended from the regular school
programme. Both parents and students acknowledge the effectiveness of the counselling
programme. There is also the Peer Counselling Training programme, with 83 persons
satisfactorily completing the programme each year. St. Lucia provided governmental and
private funding for the training of teachers in counselling and guidance. Trinidad and
Tobago has implemented various services through their Guidance Officers in secondary
schools. More than 65,000 students on the various levels benefit from these services.
School meal service
In most countries, meals are provided daily or three times a week, free of charge or for
a nominal fee. In St. Kitts and Nevis, the government has expanded the school-feeding
programme so that all primary school children can receive a hot lunch. The programme
met the nutritional needs of many children, as is manifested by improved school
attendance; children being more alert and ready to engage in class activities; and fewer
children taking junk food to school. Trinidad and Tobago has provided more than 78,000
students with meals on a weekly basis.
Some transportation is provided for students at the secondary level. It is subsidised by
the government and allows parents and students to have a greater choice of schools they
wish to attend. More than 901,897 seats were purchased for school children and
1,003,240 scholar tickets were used per term in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Jamaica, free textbooks are provided for Grades 1-6 and rented to Grades 7-9. In
Barbados, secondary school students are provided with textbook assistance. In St. Lucia,
parents purchase books on the open market for students attending primary and secondary
schools. Disadvantaged students get assistance from the Ministry of Education. That
strategy forced booksellers to supply books on time and allow most students to begin the
school year with their full quota of books.
In Jamaica, 120 school libraries were established and the book stock was improved in
existing libraries, which has resulted in a book to pupil ratio of 1:3.5. In Guyana, 28
libraries were started and in St. Lucia, pre-school centres set up reading and book
corners. Most schools have resource rooms and school libraries are being developed in
three primary schools in conjunction with these resource rooms. Trinidad and Tobago
provides lending and reference services on a 24-hour basis, and two bookmobile libraries
also make 30 service stops in rural areas on a fortnightly basis. On-site school libraries,
however, need some refurbishing. There is also the provision of training in the use of
resources at schools and nation-wide through the public library, and Internet access at
The Ministry of Education in Barbados is engaged in a rehabilitation programme for
school buildings which is intended to prepare them for participation in the EduTech2000
project. In addition, steps are being taken to ensure that all schools are adequately
provided with sports and recreation facilities, and with other equipment normally
required for use by teachers for classroom instruction. In Anguilla and St. Kitts and
Nevis, primary schools have computers and a range of audio-visual equipment. The
Government of Montserrat and the British Government provide funds for furniture and
materials for the teaching/learning process. In Belize, school equipment is provided for
technical and vocational education. In addition, in St. Lucia, contributions have been
made towards school equipment such as computers, photocopiers, and sewing machines.
However, some countries, mainly independent ones, complain of the shortage of
Parental involvement is encouraged in Barbados and parents have been trained to
serve as teachers‟ aides in primary schools. Parents are also encouraged to become
members of the PTA in the countries of the subregion.
Improved school plant and maximised use of school plant
Major activities have been undertaken to improve the infrastructure of the schools in
St. Lucia. In Guyana, 36 schools were rehabilitated, while in St. Kitts and Nevis,
conditions in most primary schools were improved. Perhaps, the practice of having
parents as teachers‟ aides needs to be replicated and adapted by other countries. The
development of a trainers‟ guide to school improvement planning and the development of
a programme for the training of more than 80 teachers in Trinidad and Tobago are
noteworthy. This has resulted in the approval of school improvement plans from 31
Improved attention to multiple intelligences
St. Lucia reported a discriminated approach to learning at all levels. A great deal of
attention was given to this area, and information was provided on mixed ability groupings
and a variety of approaches to learning. However, an appropriate mix which caters for the
differences among students is yet to be found.
Improved provisions for children with special needs
Jamaica has a programme to design school buildings to cater to the needs of the
disabled, and the Government of St. Lucia heavily subsidises education for challenged
students. Anguilla has specially trained teachers to cater to the needs of challenged
students. As a result, such students have gained entry to secondary schools, via the CEE.
Trinidad and Tobago has developed a Diagnostic/Prescriptive Service consisting of eight
teams of two Guidance Officers and two Special Education Teachers who assist the
districts in identifying students with special needs and providing appropriate remedial
Protection of the child from: abuse, drugs, school violence, and vandalism
Publicity campaigns and radio and television programmes are regularly mounted,
which specifically draw the attention of parents and other adults to the importance of
protecting children from abuse of various kinds. A Drug Education Officer is attached to
the Student Services Section of the Ministry of Education in Barbados, and a preventive
education project was introduced in all schools in the Turks and Caicos Islands. A draft
of new legislation is being prepared in Trinidad and Tobago, and many programmes
aimed at training are organised and run by the National Drug Abuse Prevention
Issues and Recommendations
There is need to provide counselling service to primary school-age students who are
also faced with personal, social, and other problems which affect their learning.
Counselling services could be shared between more than one school depending on the
school size. The examples of some countries such as Barbados which provide
counselling service in their secondary schools might be considered by the other
countries in the subregion.
Countries should continue to provide service like school meals, transportation, and
free textbooks, especially for needy students.
Library services should be made more visible, as in the case of Trinidad and Tobago
where 24-hour services are offered, and mobile libraries are going to the people.
In order to get more support from parents, and considering that education is a joint
venture between the home and the school, parents should be encouraged to take a
more active part in the whole educational process.
Teachers should be trained to help in the process of prevention of the use of drugs and
also to recognise those who have a problem in order to refer them or help them.
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Annex D. Statistical Annex
Table A1. Population Numbers in Caribbean Countries
Antigua & Barbuda 62,246
British Virgin Islands 19,156
Cayman Islands 39,335
Guyana * 705,156
Netherlands Antilles 207,827
St. Kitts & Nevis 42,838
St. Lucia 154,020
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 120,519
Trinidad & Tobago # 1,102,096
Turks & Caicos Islands 16,863
Caribbean Region 13,534,003
Source. U.S. Bureau of the Census. International Data Base, 1998 data.
* Pre-primary and basic education population for 1996.
# Basic education population for 1998.
Table A2. Constant GDP for Selected Caribbean Countries for the Period 1989-1998
(Millions, Local Currency)
1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Anguilla 117.7 126 121.4 130 139.7 149.6 143.4 148.4 162.1 171.1
Antigua and 873.7 893.6 918 925.7 972.8 1032.8 981.7 1041.3 1099.2 1142
Aruba N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Bahamas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Barbados 909 880.9 644.3 791.9 803.9 834.4 856.6 903.6 N/A N/A
Belize 517.4 570.6 588.2 644 672.1 682.2 708.5 716.5 745.2 755.3
British Virgin 112.4 122 124.4 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cuba 27212.6 19008.3 16975.8 15009.9 12776.7 12868.3 13184.5 14216 14572.4 N/A
Dominica 347.8 369.8 377.8 388.1 395.4 403.8 410.3 422.9 431.3 466.2
Dominican 3655.2 34468.4 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Grenada 454 477.8 495.1 500.5 494.4 510.8 526.6 541.7 564.5 597.2
Guyana 3422 3319 3519 3792 4101 4452 4677 5048 5360 5290
Haiti 5240 6904 6848 6108 5845 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jamaica 16459.6 17359.2 17486.9 17748.7 18015.4 18188.7 18324.7 18064 17692.4 17566.2
Montserrat 137.6 157.3 124.4 127.7 131 132.1 122.1 95.9 70.52 68.25
Netherlands N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Puerto Rico 4807.7 4929.8 4972.8 5011.5 5177.8 5308.9 5491.8 5673.6 5852.3 6035.9
St. Kitts and Nevis 349.4 360.3 368.5 379.8 400.4 422.1 436.7 462.4 496.29 504.44
St. Lucia 865 951.08 951.77 1022.36 1033.15 1052.04 1069.85 1084.61 1090.73 1122.05
St. Vincent & 424.7 453 459.32 491.18 499.96 485.42 525.59 531.75 584.42 579.73
Suriname 1406.1 1406.9 1455.9 1540.2 1470.7 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Trinidad and 15894.9 16134.4 16567.3 16294.4 16057.5 16630.3 17263.9 17882.7 18470.5 19059.8
US Virgin Islands N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Table A3. Exchange Rates (Equivalent in US Dollars: End of Period)
1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Anguilla EC $ 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Antigua and Barbuda EC$ 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Aruba Afl. 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790
Bahamas $BS 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000
Barbados $BDS 2.011 2.011 2.011 2.011 2.011 2.011 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000
Belize $BZE 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000
British Virgin Islands $US 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000
Dominica $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Grenada $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Guyana $G 27.250 39.500 111.800 126.000 130.750 142.500 143.400 141.840 143.280 153.280
Haiti Gourde 5.000 5.000 8.240 10.953 12.805 12.947 16.160 15.093 17.311 16.603
Jamaica $J 6.480 8.038 21.493 22.185 32.475 33.370 39.800 35.030 36.590 37.160
Montserrat $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Netherlands Antilles 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790 1.790
St. Lucia $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
St. Kitts and Nevis $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
St. Vincent & $EC 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700 2.700
Suriname . Sf 1.785 1.785 1.785 1.785 1.785 409.500 407.000 401.000 401.000 401.000
Trinidad and Tobago $TT 4.250 4.250 4.250 4.250 5.814 5.933 5.997 6.234 6.300 6.279
Source: IMF International Financial Statistics. FAO Trade Yearbooks and data supplied ECLAC
Table A4. Debt Service Payments (Mill. Local currency) for Select Caribbean
Countries for the Period 1993-1998
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Anguilla 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.3 1.5 …
Antigua & Barbuda 24.6 23.3 38.6 23.5 23.6 …
Bahamas 82.3 95.4 89.1 98.8 114.0 …
Belize (US$M) 335.8 368.0 368.6 439.6 465.4 33.2
Dominica 17.9 19.8 20.1 24.1 29.0 …
Grenada 18.7 18.3 24.7 18.0 12.2 …
Jamaica (US$M) 542.1 536.0 592.6 579.5 511.3 …
Montserrat 1.2 1.4 1.9 1.6 1.8 …
St. Kitts & Nevis 12.8 15.8 16.9 16.8 17.6 …
Saint Lucia 31.7 28.6 30.0 31.7 33.9 …
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 14.4 17.3 17.8 22.0 25.3 …
Trinidad & Tobago 1688.7 2259.5 1759.9 1868.0 2733.3 2557.3
Table A5. External Debt (Mill. US currency) for Caribbean Countries, 1996
Country External Debt
Antigua and Barbuda 240
British Virgin Islands 34.8
Cayman Islands 70
Netherlands Antilles 1,350
St. Lucia 159
St. Kitts and Nevis 56
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 83.6
Trinidad and Tobago 2,800
Turks and Caicos Islands N/A