Education Systems in North America Part XII: St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SGV), an independent plural Caribbean state, regards education as essential for productivity, order, progress, reduction of poverty, and development of individuals and society. The Department of Education, under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, is responsible for planning, executing and evaluating the educational policy of the state. The government provides full funding to schools without religious affiliation and partial funding to church-affiliated schools. Primary and secondary education is free but not compulsory.

Approximately 60 government primary schools serve over 21,000 students. At the secondary level, about 7,900 students attend 21 different schools. According to the SVG government, approximately 25% of children do not complete elementary school because they are required to work to enhance their family’s income. It is estimated that less than half the nation’s children attend secondary school. The government recognizes this level of attendance as a grave concern and has implemented reforms designed to improve the system, including introducing Creole-language classes. Formerly classes were taught exclusively in English, which marginalized Creole-speaking students. Further, the government is constructing early childhood education centers in all new primary schools to minimize disparities between children entering elementary school.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of the Caribbean Examinations Council, which administers the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) for students completing their secondary school studies. Scoring for this examination is as follows, with the overall grade reflecting the student’s performance on the unit as a whole while the profile grade reflects performance on each module of the unit:

Overall Grades

Profile Grades

Description

I

A

Candidate shows a comprehensive grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.

II

B

Candidate shows a good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.

III

C

Candidate shows a fairly good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and abilities required by the syllabus.

IV

D

Candidate shows a moderate grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.

V

E

Candidate shows a very limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.

VI

F

Candidate shows a very limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies required by the syllabus.

Saint Vincent Technical College uses the following grading scale:

                                           Letter Grade

Points

A

4.0

B+

3.5

B

3.0

C+

2.5

C

2.0

D+

1.5

D

1.0

D-

0.0

 

Students seeking post-secondary education may choose St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College for teaching and nursing degrees, while the islands’ Technical College offers programs in Business Administration, Hospitality, Mechanical Technology and Agriculture, among others. Technical College offerings include Level I (craft: one semester) and Level II (technician: one year). Level III programs, which will run two years, are planned.

Students may also sit for exams offered by institutes of higher education outside SGV, including University of Cambridge and University of London, which offer bachelor’s degrees in law, management, and accounting.