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Fri 18th Jun 2021

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ULP regime’s school-to-prison pipeline

The ULP regime’s education system is in shambles and is failing many Vincentian children. Greater support is needed for our children and education should be totally free – books, uniforms, everything.

A parent told the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, that our children, especially boys, are not making enough progress at primary school to enable them to have a smooth transition to secondary school.

When her son left primary school, his education level was not adequate enough for him to cope with the school work at the secondary school. He was not given enough support at secondary school and ended up falling further and further behind as he struggled at school. Eventually, he dropped out of secondary school at a very young age and got into trouble and ended up in the ULP regime’s hallmark project, the jail in North Leeward.

The failure by the ULP regime in not making education free or providing our children with a world-class education system, means many children do not get a good education. The ULP regime has not created an education revolution, but instead, they have created a school-to-prison pipeline.

Many children who do not complete their school education and are simply ended up in jail. They leave school with no education, cannot get a job, end up in trouble, then find themselves in jail for lengthy sentences. All this could be avoided if the ULP regime treated our children as if their lives actually mattered.

The ULP regime has failed to invest adequately in our children’s education. About four years ago, a school in West Kingstown was closed, because it was infested with rats. In that same year, the secondary school in New Prospect was closed, because the computer lab’s roof caved in. It had been taken over by woodlice. Many other schools are badly in need of repair.

More educational support is needed for children in preschool and primary school. Just as a house needs a secure foundation before you build the walls and put on the roof, the foundation of our children’s education in preschool and primary school must be good for them to make progress at secondary school.

For many children in SVG, school is a pathway to incarceration, not opportunity. The ULP regime’s school-to-prison pipeline begins in deep social and economic inequalities, and is an illustration of the shortcomings of schooling in our country and the gap between the rich and the poor.

Our education system needs to be modernised and rethought to make it responsive to the needs of all students. Education must be a route to liberation, not incarceration. Jailing our children, rather than educating them properly, is a long-term problem for our country. It leads to higher crime rates, higher unemployment rates and lower national productivity.

Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, believes that our children, especially boys, need better educational support to help them progress at primary school and enable them to have a smooth transition to secondary school, and avoid falling into a life of crime and destitution. They are not bad children, just failed children – failed by this ULP government.

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