Joint workshop validates UNESCO education policy review in St Kitts and Nevis

A two-day workshop to discuss and validate a UNESCO Education Policy Review took place in St Kitts on 28 and 29 October.

The workshop was jointly organized by the UNESCO Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems and Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN) Ministry of Education to validate the UNESCO Education Policy Review and to identify relevant policy actions to inform the development of the Ministry’s Education Sector Plan.

The preliminary results of the review were presented by Director of the UNESCO division, Mr. David Atchoarena and program specialist Mrs. Megumi Watanabe, who led the team of international experts that carried out the review jointly with a national team. At the Government’s request, the review covered four policy domains: 1) academic staff policy, 2) curriculum, 3) teaching and learning environments in primary and lower secondary education, and 4) governance, planning and management, funding and M&E policies. The selection of these policy domains aligns with the renewed emphasis placed on quality and equity by the international agenda for education 2030.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education (MOE), Mr Shawn Richards said that the MOE had worked closely with UNESCO to acquire the technical expertise to conduct an external policy review which will guide the development of a medium-term education sector strategy. He said this would facilitate improved strategic planning in the SKN Federation. He added: “Through effective planning, the Ministry of Education will also be better able to meaningfully contribute to national sustainable development goals and global education commitments to which St. Kitts and Nevis adheres.”

Mr Atchoarena said that SKN education had experienced major improvements over the past decades. “Yet, in a crucial moment for both social and economic development, the system is in need of reform. The country must seriously reflect on what kind of teaching and learning process would suit its development needs and align the most important pieces, i.e. teachers and curriculum, with this renewed vision of learning. In so doing, St. Kitts and Nevis will have to face, as well, the need to modernize its education administration,” he said.

Dr Neva Pemberton, Education Planner in Nevis and National Coordinator for the UNESCO Policy Review said: “Since 2009, education provision in the Federation has been guided by the policy priorities and strategies outlined in the White Paper on Education Development and Policy.

“While implementation of the plan has contributed to quality improvements in the system, especially at the early childhood level and has led to critical investments in technical and vocational training for example, full implementation of the plan has proved difficult.”

The UNESCO Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems is promoting education policy reviews among Member States during the ongoing biennium. The reviews serve as an independent international assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the educational development of a country, and as a set of carefully designed policy recommendations based on successful international experiences. In addition to St. Kitts and Nevis, UNESCO has carried out these reviews in Albania, Guatemala, Malaysia, Peru, Thailand (jointly with the OECD), and Zambia, and is currently planning their expansion to other countries during the next biennium.