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Universal secondary education now in sight

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Thursday, April 10, 2003 – The long standing dream of many parents yearning for the day when the Common Entrance Examinations will no longer be the “sentence death for their children’s future” will soon be realised. The Government of Saint Lucia has successfully negotiated a new loan package with the World Bank for a total of $13.2 million to bring in the reality of universal secondary education.

The project involves the construction of two new secondary schools at Anse La Raye and Gros Islet. Each of these schools will have a capacity of seven hundred students and will reflect the new standards for secondary schools established by the Ministry of Education. Each will have an auditorium or multi purpose hall, canteen, computer lab, learning resource centre, science lab, technical workshop, counselling room and staff room. These developments were announced as Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony delivered his 2003/2004 Budget Address on Tuesday.

Dr. Anthony made it clear that a study undertaken by the Ministry of Education revealed the locations where secondary education was most deficient were in Anse La Raye and Gros Islet. Dennery was another area that the location study showed was in dire need of additional secondary school places. “We have therefore decided that the Grande Riviere Senior Primary School in Dennery will be upgraded to full secondary status. This upgrading will lead to the creation of an additional 280 places. The rehabilitation and upgrading of the Clendon Mason Secondary will also yield 150 additional places and new facilities for that school. A total of 13 existing Secondary Schools will be rehabilitated under this project,” said Dr. Anthony.

Under this Project attention will also be given to teacher development, equipping of schools with specialist equipment and establishing an innovation fund to promote creativity in schools. The curriculum of secondary schools will be revised with the help of the Caribbean Examinations Council to ensure that all students follow a core curriculum. It will include English, Mathematics, Information Technology, a Foreign Language and Integrated Science and will provide subsequent career opportunities in the humanities, the sciences, technical areas and the expressive arts for students of different aptitudes.

The project will also include: a new system of continuous assessment at primary level that will ensure that students are promoted to secondary level when they are academically ready, the provision of support services to secondary students (counselling and other welfare support); the provision of literacy and numeracy support programmes to primary and secondary students; and the establishment of school development plans

Dr. Anthony described these developments as a new chapter in the history of education in Saint Lucia. He indicated “The attainment of universal secondary education is a milestone that signals that a country has reached a particular threshold in its human resource development and its capacity to develop itself.”

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