Featuring the Caribbean: Saint Kitts and Nevis aims for quality lifelong education through flexible training

  • 20 July 2017
© SKN Education Media Unit - EMU

With a total population of around 56,000 (2016), the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis – more commonly known as the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN) – is the smallest of all the Caribbean states. The capital, Basseterre, on the larger island of Saint Kitts, is considered the financial centre of the Eastern Caribbean despite also being one of the smallest capital cities in the world: in 2011, only an estimated 13,000 people called it home. The twin-island state gained autonomy from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1967 and gained its independence only in 1983, when it also joined UNESCO.

SKN’s Ministry of Education (MOE) is the main implementing agency of adult learning and education (ALE) in the country. Its policy to ‘provide for all citizens and residents a comprehensive course of quality lifelong education’ is put into action through programmes with a primarily skills-based curriculum. These are delivered in collaboration with various stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Saint Kitts Tourism Authority and Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC).

CFBC in particular delivers an interdisciplinary curriculum that features, for example, computer training for seniors, literacy and numeracy, and baking. Its Adult and Continuing Studies, and Technical Vocational Education and Management Studies divisions enable learners to improve their qualifications, upskill or retrain for a new line of work. Graduates are awarded degrees ranging from undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas to CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations) certificates, which recognize academic, vocational and technical achievement of students in the Caribbean. CAPEs are accepted both regionally and internationally.

The National Skills Training Programme (NSTP), a division of the MOE, coordinates flexible non-formal programmes for local communities. The NSTP supports a number of good ALE programmes, including the People Employment Programme (PEP) and the Skills Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP). PEP is a government initiative designed to create opportunities for unemployed nationals: its curriculum includes not only vocational skills, but also social and entrepreneurship education. Since 2012, over 2,000 people have found employment through the programme. STEP, meanwhile, trains participants according to the needs and gaps of the local market, with a focus on construction and tourism. Since 2013, more than 800 SKN nationals have enrolled in the programme, which is designed to facilitate their integration into the workforce.

At the request of the Government of SKN, UNESCO conducted an Education Policy Review in 2016. It revealed significant progress by the country in improving the quality of its national educational system. The review also shed light on several challenges faced by SKN, such as the lack of coordination between the ministries involved in the provision of education and the need to update the current Education Management Information System (EMIS). More fluent, strategic education planning will help SKN fulfil its vision for quality lifelong education for all.


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