Wed 19th Jan 2005
The betrayal of education to the poor. The ULP regime's strategy of universal secondary education, without proper primary education, will fail to eradicate illiteracy, and hence poverty. Whilst teachers do their best, 55 per cent of the children in SVG do not receive the full complement of primary education. Universal secondary education is a 'fix after' policy, because many children of the poor do not get to secondary school, and often the ones that do are not skilled enough to cope well in secondary education or to get the maximum benefits from it. The core problem with education in SVG is in primary education, in that, the children of the poor miss out in primary school education mainly for economic reasons. The ULP have stated that they do not have the money to fund compulsory education at the primary school level, because they say 'most of the children who do not attend primary school are children of the poor' and they would not be able to enforce compulsory education at primary schools. Education is a universal right -we shouldn't fail the children of the poor any longer!
Research shows that the early years of education are crucial to the long-term development of a child. In office SVG Green party will significant expand the pre-school infrastructure to create free pre-school places for every child in SVG. The Green Party will upgrade the preschool learning environment, with standards for pre-schools buildings and implement compulsory training for all pre-school teachers. Pre-schools will have a dual function: educating young children and acting as a Creche so more women can have some flexi-time to re-enter the working world or take training courses if they so desire.
Primary and Secondary school
After going through a pre-school, children will be better able to adapt to the learning processes at both primary and secondary school. In government, SVG Green Party will make things easier for parents to get their children to school, whilst parents at the same time try to find time to work and spend time with their children. Children will not have to beg for scholarships here, there and everywhere, just to have the opportunity to get their right to a good standard of education. Scholarships systems for school children are unfair, because there are never enough to go around, therefore most children miss out and are disadvantaged. In government, SVG Green Party will:
work in consultation with parents and teachers, to implement compulsory for both primary and secondary education;
Provide free schools meals, free text books, free uniforms;
Put into operation parent education training to equip parents to be more proactive in the learning process of their children;
Introduce in all primary schools a program of free early examination of children for eyesight, hearing, speech and other factors that may affect a child's ability to learn;
Provide additional tuition to children struggling at primary schools;
Provide more and better equipment to schools including computer laboratories;
Provide careers advice in secondary schools so that children are better able to know what skills they need for specific jobs;
Research a modular system of education, so one can come back in and earn credits and still complete secondary education, if one has had to 'fall out' for ill-health or other reasons;
Improve the learning environmental by reducing the level of ambient noise between classrooms, fencing the schools to make them more secure.
To cater for the increase in children completing secondary school with more qualifications, we will:
Expand the number of courses available;
Make all examinations free;
Provide free text books, free meals and free school uniform;
Free transport to school;
build 2 new six form facilities in Georgetown and Barrouallie.
Education - the driving force of the economy
SVG Green Party genuinely believes that an educated society is a skilled society. We believe that education is the means to eradicating poverty, create employment and reduce crime. Education empowers the individual and society as a whole. Our present education system is inadequate and totally unacceptable. It is the children in poor and low-income families that miss out most and therefore go on to a life of poverty. We will work closely with teachers to radically reform and restructure the education system to facilitate the development of every child to equip them with the skills and knowledge to excel in the modern world. In so doing, this will deal with the social and economic issues that SVG faces and help create a thriving economy.
Long-term disadvantages of not educating people
There are many long-term disadvantages of not educating people, both to society and individuals, such as:
The individual is not empowered to decide his/her destiny;
Foreign investors are reluctant to invest in the country as employees take longer to train;
Adult literacy education would become a full time and expensive 'recovery' process;
The nation is always lagging behind others and never gains economic power.
There is a dictum which says that, if you think education is expensive try ignorance. A country with high levels of illiteracy is always burdened with poverty. Depriving a person to a basic childhood education is tantamount to oppression. It is unfair, and with the potential in SVG's economy to earn revenue, unnecessary too.
Long-term benefits of education
In the 1940s there was informal immigration to Aruba and Curacao. In the 1960s and 1970s there was informal immigration to England, Canada and the USA. This informal export of human capital (labour) helped the SVG economy, especially the construction industry, through remittances. With a more educated, skilled and easily trainable population, we will see an increase in export of human capital and the benefits it brings, such as a large increase in remittances (money sent back from abroad). The SVG Green Party supports the policy of export of qualified human capital. There is a big global demand for formal human capital export. SVG Green Party will improve the present education and training facilities to provide the necessary skills to persons who wish to work abroad, but give also the incentives to return on contractual basis to input their and experience in the economy.
Ivan O'Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA
Leader and Co-founder of SVG Green Party