December 14, 2019

OPINION: The SVG education revolution trickery

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By Jolly Green

IMAGE – Supplied

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is an island country located in the Caribbean. It has only been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1979. It is often marked as a developing country known for having a massively high unemployment rate. Unemployment is at least 40%, indeed a gross failure on the part of the ULP government. The salaries and income of workers are some of the lowest in the Caribbean. The average monthly wage is about EC$1,300 [US$482].

 SVG is known more recently as being run by a leftwing political band of international scroungers and UN vote vendors. That is how they earn the state’s income, now hopefully conjoined with the medical marijuana trade.

There is also an illegal black market trade in marijuana that drives underground revenue for many. Worse than that under the ULP watch, SVG has become a trans-shipment location for Columbian cocaine via Venezuela.

In recent years SVG has made some improvements in education. Thanks for that go to the World Bank who committed to achieving six specific education goals:

1/ Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

2/ Ensure that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances, and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free, and compulsory primary education of good quality.

3/ Ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs.

4/ Achieve a 50% improvement in adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equal access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

5/ Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.

6/ Improve all aspects of the quality of education and ensure the excellence of all, so that recognized, and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills.

In 2000, SVG and 188 other countries and their partners adopted the two EFA goals that align with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2 and 3, which refer to universal primary education and gender parity. The World Bank recognizes that achieving these goals requires supporting the full EFA commitment.

The ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement in 2000, signed by SVG and 14 other Caribbean nations, was the framework for cooperation, and the initial basis for the improved education in the Caribbean, that Ralph Gonsalves hijacked as their own and renamed it the Education Revolution.

Effectively programming the European Development Fund (EDF) is a major political, policy and bureaucratic challenge, involving multiple stakeholders, namely the European Commission (EC), the European External Action Service (EEAS), 28 EU member states, the European Parliament, 74 governments from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and domestic accountability actors.

This was not just a World Bank/ SVG project, this was an International Project involving many players, and all the Caribbean adopted it. The difference being only Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP claimed it as their own and described it as a revolution.

Credit for the Education Revolution that has been taking place in SVG since 2001, has been falsely claimed to be a Ralph Gonsalves and ULP initiative, it most certainly is not. The ULP credits itself with allocating more funding for educational programs than the New Democratic Party did when it held power. Of course, more money has been spent on education, that was part of the World Bank overall project; most of the money came from others; nothing was funded by or invented by the ULP. The ULP states that it will continue to make improvements throughout education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including strengthening its STEM programs and developing secondary education. But once again, the STEM program was an EU initiative taken and pretended to be a ULP initiative. 

Regardless of who was in power, those projects were going to happen. Perhaps if the NDP had been administrating this project, there would have been some transparency for the public and obviousness of which organization initiated the projects. Where the funding came from, how and where the money was spent, and who received it. Also, how contractors were selected or given the work to build, rebuild, and refurbish schools. 

Even the Zero Hunger initiative that Gonsalves and the ULP have claimed as their initiative, is not theirs at all. The Zero Hunger initiative was another EU initiative that the ULP and Gonsalves pretended were their own. The EU suggested, even offered the enterprise, and SVG signed up to it. 

https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/case-studies/eu-fao-partnership-help-governments-achieve-zero-hunger-improve-nutrition-and-increase_en

The SVG Ministry of Education reported that the number of primary school-aged children entering the first grade increased by 62.9 percent between 2013 and 2015. 

Both primary school-aged and secondary school-aged youth showed enrollment growth by 22.3 percent in other islands that has been exceeded. In St Lucia, for instance, over 95 percent of Saint Lucia’s children aged three to five attend one of the country’s more than 150 preschools or 33-day care centers.

The increase in education is tremendous and a fantastic achievement, but for goodness sake stop attributing it to Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP, they are quite merely pretenders in the overall matter. They only administered the project; a project initially partially negotiated between the NDP and the World Bank. The ULP just took it, repainted it red, and pretended it was their invention. That is quite simply another of the many lies and disinformation fed to the Vincentian people. The Education Initiative was dressed up in a red shirt to use as a ULP vote catcher and called the Education Revolution.

UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, and the World Bank founded the Education for All (EFA) movement in 1990 in order to improve education almost worldwide, and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2000 the EU offered the Caribbean millions for their education schemes; all the island states took their money over the next few years. 

This program claims many successes in SVG, including the addition and expansion of the community college under the NDP watch. Additionally, there has since been a steady increase in primary school teacher training.

However, there is still much room for progress. For example, there was a 36.4 percent decrease in the number of children who were primary school aged and those who graduated from the last year of primary school between the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 semesters. Furthermore, the country has yet to achieve 100 percent enrollment. One of the most substantial educational rifts is the lack of training of SVG educators. As of 2015, 58 percent of SVG secondary school educators had no teacher training.

Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has room for development, and its odds of success are favorable. It is widely believed that educational success contributes significantly to the overall economic prosperity of the country, improving the country’s employment rate and the standards of life for many citizens. But to date that simply has not been the SVG experience. With education must come job opportunities, the ULP have created none.

The disappointment with SVG has been some of the educational failures; hundreds of children leave school every year unable to read, write, or calculate simple arithmetical equations’. Many children drop out of school and never return. That is what makes a claim by the ULP a revulsion instead of a revolution. 

Others are real achievers because, despite the hurdles that the students have to jump, some have turned out to have more intelligence than their teachers. That must be surprising to some, seeing as Gonsalves claims that Vincentians have been mentally damaged through their ancestors being slaves. I suppose if black Vincentians are told this often enough they will actually believe it. Negativity breeds negativity, being told you are stupid because your ancestors were stupid slaves is surely pretty negative.

What is quite frightening is instead of pointing the school achievers in the direction of the UWI, USA, the UK, and countries where they will get proper and real life-enhancing education and real degrees. Such as are accepted anywhere to take them out into the world as world-class leaders in industry and academics. They are encouraged to go to Cuba, Venezuela, and other such third rate countries, getting third rate degrees and finding after all that only third rate or no employment at all.

Besides the fraudulent ownership of the Education Revolution, there is the fraudulent ownership of SVG’s medical clinics, which was the idea of and funded by the EU. EU/SVG Cooperation 2008-2013 under the 10th EDF, St Vincent and the Grenadines were allocated €7.8 million to assist with the modernization of the public health care sector. While Gonsalves hales the purported help by Cuba a communist leach, he failed to tell us that the European Union-funded the new healthcare clinics. 

So let’s cut the pretense of the education revolution or any other social revolution. But let’s watch most carefully as our school achievers are being influenced by the ULP with achievement bonuses. The ULP have plans for a bill to lower the age of voters to sixteen to be introduced to the house sometime shortly. Like the general bribery of the people with building materials, those young minds may fall into the trap of feeling obligated and vote ULP.

Peter Binose: Has your child’s future been stolen by the ULP?

Read the comments they are more telling than the article.

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2014/03/24/12500-laptops-to-be-donated-to-secondary-school-students-in-svg/

Peter Binose

END

DISCLAMER: The opinion, belief and viewpoint expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinion, belief and viewpoint of iNews Cayman/ieyenews.com or official policies of iNews Cayman/ieyenews.com

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  1. To help non believers

    4.1 European Development Fund – Focal Sectors

    4.1.1 9th EDF € 5 million – Focal Sector: Education Sector Development
    The overall objective of the EC intervention is to support the sustainable development of
    human resources in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, through the provision of learning
    opportunities to all persons in the State so as to equip them with the required values,
    skills, attitude and knowledge necessary for creating and maintaining a productive,
    innovative and harmonious society. Towards this end, 90% (€4.5 million) of the “A
    envelope” is to be allocated to the education sector and, in particular, to the improvement
    of secondary level education and support for sectoral reforms in an effort to assist the
    Government in achieving universal access to comprehensive five year secondary
    education, with 75% enrollment by 2015. This will also be supplemented by funds
    coming from the Stabex instrument.

    As a first step in the preparation of the programme of support to the secondary education
    sector under the 9th EDF, the EC has provided the Government with technical assistance
    for the finalisation of the country’s Education Sector Development Plan 2002-2007. In
    consultation with other interested donors such as the Caribbean Development Bank,
    DFID and the World Bank, the EU will finance in early 2003 a consultancy team to
    prepare more detailed plans for the intervention in the education section. It is expected
    that a financing proposal will be available in late 2003, which will update and expand on
    the specific indicators presented in Annex 1.

    4.1.2 8th EDF NIP € 6.5 million – Focal Sector: Human Resources Development
    The project under the focal sector is the further development of the Integrated
    Community College at the Calliaqua campus. This project is Phase II of an overall
    7
    Community College Development project. Funds were allocated from the 7th EDF
    Regional OECS Tertiary Level Education Project (EUR 558,000) and EUR 1.5 million of
    the 8th EDF allocation for the construction of a Learning Resource Centre at the
    Community College. The Financing Agreement was approved in 2002 and work on the
    project has commenced. The remainder of the 8th EDF funds (€3.6 million) is to be used
    to further upgrade the Community College.

    The tender for the design of the remaining works project, which includes the provision of
    additional classrooms, art/lecture theatre, staff and student recreation facilities,
    multipurpose rooms (computer lab and cafeteria), furniture and equipment, is to be
    funded by the Government of St Vincent and is expected to be undertaken in early 2003.

    6.1 The speeding up of the use of old EDF resources
    Progress has been made in closing down, financially, completed projects. It is intended
    that the resources released from closure of projects under the 6th 7th and 8th EDF, as well
    as the substantial uncommitted balances under the 7th and 8th EDF will be used to further
    fund the education sector, which is the chosen focal sector under the 9th EDF.
    6.2 Setting indicators and targets for measuring results

    The EU intervention under the 9th EDF including the use of uncommitted EDF balances,
    will be focussed on the education sector. A framework for this intervention is set out at
    Annex I, but more precise indicators for this intervention will be elaborated during the
    ongoing process for the preparation of a financing proposal, expected by end-2003.
    The effective implementation of the activities in the focal area of 9th EDF is conditional
    upon the adoption of the Education Sector Strategy Plan as well as on the adoption of the
    relevant action plan and upon respect of the budgetary commitments for the education
    sector. Furthermore, following the enactment of the Strategy Plan, the reduction of dropouts
    ratio from primary schools will be monitored on the basis of reports by the Ministry
    of Education. The Ministry of Education is also expected to report on progress made in
    access to secondary education as reflected in increased enrolment in secondary schooling.

    7. CONCLUSIONS
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines is facing a difficult economic future. Attempts to
    diversify out of the banana sector have had only limited success and the promising
    tourism sector registered a decline in 2001/2. This is increasing an already serious
    poverty situation. The Government’s efforts to avoid a recession and mitigate further loss
    of employment has led to a deterioration in its fiscal position and a rise in public sector
    debt to 72 per cent of GDP at the end of 2002. The Government needs to take action to
    improve its fiscal position and to undertake the structural reforms needed to promote
    private sector-led growth.

    In the context of European Commission financing under the National Indicative
    Programme for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, education has been given a focal role.
    Technical assistance for the finalisation of the country’s education sector development
    plan 2002-2007, was jointly funded by the EC and UK DFID in late 2002. Progress with
    the utilisation of EDF NIP funds has been moderate, with significant delays in the
    preparation of some projects. The design phase of the major 8th EDF project (Community
    College) remains to be launched, although some of the 8th EDF funds have been used to
    supplement work on the same Integrated Community College.

    St Vincent and the Grenadines notably receives four times more funding from STABEX
    and SFA instruments than from EDF National Indicative Programme. While there are
    relatively large amounts of EC aid available for St Vincent and the Grenadines, a
    proportion of this aid remains under utilised due to a limited possibility to identify and
    implement large and fast disbursing projects in a small island developing state. This
    results in delays in drawing down funds and overall disbursement, although progress has
    been made in that sense in 2002. The SFA programmes for 1999-2001, centered largely
    on the rehabilitation of the Windward Highway, are due to get underway with the tender
    for the works contract for Phase 1 being launched in early 2003. SFA 2002 foresees the
    establishment of a social fund for the provision of basic economic and social services to
    the poor.

  2. simply amazing

  3. I just hope that the Vincentian newspapers use this article, its a brilliant expose.

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