July 1, 2022

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to host 7th Meeting of OECS Council of Ministers: Education, Feb 17-18, 2022

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By Malika Thompson Communication Specialist, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 — Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will host the Seventh (7th) Meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Council of Ministers: Education (COM:Edu) on February 17th and 18th 2022 under the theme “Education in Extraordinary Times: From Vulnerability to Resilience”. 

The annual meeting of the COM:Edu is a two-day event which enjoys the participation of key Development Partners and provides a platform for Ministers across the OECS region to collectively reflect on issues in education, share on local strategies and innovations to address some of these challenges as well as  collaborate on troubleshooting issues to develop joint approaches, policies and practices in an effort to improve the access to quality education in the region. 

The meeting is usually held face to face. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s 7th COM:Edu will be convened virtually, with the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines delegates meeting face-to-face, in accordance with health protocols. 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Minister for Education and National Reconciliation, the Hon. Mr. Curtis King, in a statement, expressed his country’s commitment to advancing education as part of its focus on achieving the OECS vision 2020-2024. 

“The stage is set, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines stands ready to host this very important exercise. The Council Meeting presents a unique opportunity for us as leaders to reflect on, evaluate and interact with real issues confronting the education system in our region. As incoming Chair, I am looking forward to the series of dialogues and arriving at strategies to realise the OECS vision 2020-2024 of “A better quality of life for the people of the OECS.”

On the agenda for this meeting is: 

  • Reflections : Policy Direction within the Education Sector in the Covid-19 Period;
  • Special COVID-19 Report on Educatio; and  
  • The OECS Declaration for Education, which is a  a major highlight of the meeting and  will guide the development of all future policies, strategies, plans, and programs in Education. 

Amidst the inherent challenges to the education sector being exacerbated by learning losses caused by recurring school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will serve as the feature speaker. Her presentation, fittingly titled: “The Implications for Education and the Effectiveness of Collective Action in Overcoming a Pandemic” will not only address the science behind the pandemic but will also analyse the implications for education and provide recommendations for how we can live with COVID-19 and safely return to face-to-face instruction. 

As was done last year, the 7th OECS Council of Ministers of Education Meeting will again include youth voices. Ms. Serena Dowe, Student, St. Martin Primary School, Dominica will serve as the Youth Feature Speaker, delivering an address entitled: “A Child’s Perspective on Education in Extraordinary Times and Recommendations to Ministers”. Additionally, the OECS Commission facilitated a Youth Debate on Thursday February 10. 2022 to give the youth an active voice in addressing issues in education. Their recommendations from the debate will be presented to the Ministers during the meeting. 

Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, believes that transformation in education is critical to address the vulnerabilities and make the education sector resilient. He stated:

“The global spread of COVID-19 has laid bare our vulnerabilities as a region of small island developing states and exposed the inequities and antiquities in our current educational system. It has reminded us that education in the OECS region is severely hampered by traditional notions that do not suit our present day context. Students need to know that they are being educated for the highly technological world that we live in today and for the constantly changing environment they will have to adapt to in the future.”

JOINING DETAILS

Opening Ceremony 

When: Thursday February 17, 2022

Time: 8.30 a.m. (click here

Editor’s Note

The OECS Education Sector Strategy (OESS) which sets out the priorities for the period 2012 – 2026 determines the focus of regional education approaches and initiatives and contributes to national education initiatives as well. The imperatives and cross-cutting themes of the OESS seek to respond to major evidence-based needs with a view to improving the overall education systems of the OECS and the ultimate aim of increasing student achievement across the OECS. The strategy was endorsed by The Council of Ministers: Education (COME) in 2011.

The COME meeting is typically a two-day face-to-face event that allows for engaging and intense discussions, with participation from Development Partners and other stakeholders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 7th COME meeting is being convened virtually.

A virtual press briefing will be held at the end of the meeting to inform the public of the outcomes and the way forward. 

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