|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
|Antigua and Barbuda|
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PART 11 Analytic Section
2.0 PROGRESS TOWARDS GOALS AND TARGETS
2.1 Early Childhood Education
As stated before, Early Childhood education is a private entity heavily subsidised by Government.. The developmental programme and activities are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Technology. Its main function is to upgrade daycare centres and pre-schools that are established by interested citizens to care for young children and provide learning experiences during early childhood. At first there were sixty-five (65) such centres, to date there are now ninety-nine (99) since five (5) of them were closed recently. They are termed Daycare Centres, Nurseries and Preschools. The Ministry of Health is responsible for eight (8) of these nurseries, churches operate some, the majority is privately owned. Each centre varies in the quality of service offered.
Because Early Childhood Education is seen as a comprehensive ever widening body of knowledge, it is of the view that not only the staff and parents, but also the community should be aware of what goes on in this field, and the work of the centre should be publicized in order to educate the public about this area of Educational Stimulation and Development.
The changing economic circumstances of people in small communities as a result of the worldwide recession bring a great deal of stress on families, parents and children.
In this regard women, who are the nurturers and sustaining force of the family and the children, are the first to be affected by any economic crisis.
The aim of this centre is to help both children and parents develop skills, personalities and motivation towards a strong sense of survival and caring in the face of difficult odds. The idea is not only to stimulate and encourage thinking but to develop innovative approaches toward problem solving and caring. Utilization of existing resources and skills, and harnessing of energies to concentrate on developing these is where the emphasis should be placed. When the child passes the infant stage, parents must learn to share hardships with discretion with their children, so that they may be involved as well as be exposed to how these difficulties are overcome. It is the process of overcoming difficulties and withstanding hardships that build strong character. If children are constantly being protected from certain realities, they will never learn how to fight for themselves, develop endurance, and become strong acceptable caring persons.
2.1.1 Training Programme in the Early Childhood Educational Training Centre
From 1982, continuous programmes in Parent Education were organized with the help of resource persons within the related areas of skill, together with the staff of this Centre.
For two years during that period, with the assistance of the Health Educators within the Ministry of Health, parents were offered sessions in:-
Presently there is a great increase in the number of centres, as a result, Parent Education has become the responsibility of each centre. Supervisors of the centres are encouraged to use members of staff from the Early Childhood Educational Training Centre and other Resource Persons in the community for their Parent Programmes. Parents are educated as to what Child Abuse is. They are referred for counseling to the Collaborative committee for the Promotion of Emotional Health in children (COPE- a child and Family Guidance Programme ), if there is more specialised assistance needed. They are also exposed to films in the area of Child and Family concerns and more so, A Parent Teacher Relationship. This Centre also offers income generation skills to interested parents. Just recently, some of the things made by parents were displayed at the official opening of the Centre in the form of an exhibition. Previously, a Parent Workshop was held annually, we conducted one each term.
These workshops were sponsored financially by UNICEF. Many parents from the various centres have benefitted and are still benefitting from these programmes.
During the workshops, parents assisted in making educational equipment, or learned the different kinds of activities they could perform at home with their children in their leisure time. That should help to build a closer link with parent and child. There were speakers who talked on different topics of interest. Sometimes it took the form of a social, a film show, or discussion on ways of co-operating with the school and teachers.
2.1.2 Training of Early Childhood Education Training Centres Staff When the project started in 1981, there was only one member of staff. A seminar was held once a month for staff members at the various centres. There were special courses offered, eg. making wooden toys such as jig-saw puzzles, blocks and trucks. Other skills taught and developed were the making of charts; setting up of activity corners in the learning environment; how to stimulate language development; making pre-reading games just to name a few.
Biennial summer workshops were held in the past for staff development. By 1990, the staff grew and the need to increase on these courses were urgent, so instead of conducting these workshops biennially they were done annually.
Just recently some of the staff members were exposed to training at the OCOD workshop for seven days, added to this, a resource person conducted math classes with them so that they could become academically qualified. This too was made possible by funding from UNICEF.
22.214.171.124Workshop and In-service Training
Supervisors workshops were held on the third Wednesday of each month. Three (3) of them each term. Nine (9) for an academic year.
On the last Friday of each month teachers were drawn from their respective schools to do what could be termed in-service training. At these workshops teachers were able to learn as well as develop new skills that would enable them to work more effectively in their respective classrooms.
126.96.36.199 Training Programme
There was a course done at the centre on a yearly basis. Supervisors and teachers of both daycare and preschool centres took advantage of that course. About fifty-three (53) such persons were trained for the period 1995 - 1998. The objectives of the course were to:
Government supports ECECD services by providing technical assistance and subsidy.
2.2 Access to Primary Education
As an attempt is made to consider access to Primary Education, it is important to note Governments policy on education.
The Governments Educational Policy is predicated on the philosophy that each child should first be socialised as a human being and only secondly as an economic unit of production. To this end, the Educational System is expected to develop creative/innovative and adaptable men and women in the process, identify, nurture and cultivate as fully as possible each childs capability, aptitude, skill and strength.
This philosophical concept provides the type of springboard for educators and stakeholders to fashion, develop and carve out a system of education, which can adequately help our people to cope with the ever-changing technological demands in our worlds and it shrinks into a global village.
It should be further noted, that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda strongly believes in the development of our human resources. This is key to national development. Therefore compulsory and free education for its young citizens from 5 - 16 years is crucial to their cultural, social and economic well-being.
In the draft Education Policy of 1991 revised in 1994 the Government had this to say on access to education
Government recognises the right of every child regardless of colour, race
or creed to be exposed to educational experiences that are compatible
with his/her aptitude, ability and the needs of the society.
Consequently, Government will ensure that all children be exposed to
twelve (12) years of compulsory schooling which will include basic as
well as secondary education. Compulsory education starts at the
primary level but much encouragement is given for children to be
exposed to Early Childhood Education Programmes.
The visual and creative arts as well as a properly developed sports programme will be cultivated and made an integral part of the education of all children.
2.2.1 Mandatory Attendance
It should be emphasised that Government has a policy that all children of nationals and children of non-nationals who reside here legally are entitled to access to school as long as they are within the compulsory school age 5 -16 years.
To ensure that children attend school, Government has employed several school attendance officers who visit the homes and schools on a regular basis to monitor the attendance of students. These officers report their findings fortnightly to the Chief Education Officer and Education Officers.
Parents and guardians who violate the law are prosecuted in the courts. In cases where delinquencies persist, children are placed into foster care.
See Section 43. Compulsory Education.
2.2.3 Provision of School Places
During the 1950s and early 60s Government embarked on a programme of establishing a school in every village. This led to the building of several schools in the rural areas. As a result of this development pupils were able to attend the primary school nearest to their homes.
This policy worked very well over the years. However, with the decline in birth rate and the movement of nationals from the rural to the urban communities, enrolment in many of these schools declined.
Enrolment in the urban and suburban primary schools is extremely high. The ministry is now addressing this problem by transporting students from the urban areas to the rural areas.
In the 1999 to 2005 Development Plan, the Education Planning Unit will undertake a school mapping exercise to inform educational planners regarding trends in the population movement, so that maximum benefit may be derived from the various schools which are established within the country.
2.2.4 New Thrust in Basic Education
In 1990, at a meeting in Tortola, Ministers of Education from the eight (8) member countries that make up the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) agreed on the need to devise an educational reform agenda that would, whenever possible, address their common educational concerns on a sub-regional rather than a national basis. Areas of concerns highlighted in "Foundation for the Future: OECS Education Reform Strategy" include,
Even though CIDA was willing to fund the project through ECERP, countries also embarked on their own national plans. Most countries recognised the need to improve the quality of the human resource base.
With very limited resources Antigua and Barbuda secured funding from UNICEF to develop the following:
These documents paved the way for the country to make it thrust in the reform process.
2.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement and Measures to Support Education
2.3.1 An Overview
During the period under review (1990 - 1999) a number of programmes have been undertaken to attain the objective of improving the achievement in learning, either directly by the Ministry of Education of Antigua and Barbuda, or by the Ministry of Education working in conjunction with regional or other bodies (e.g. OECS, CARICOM, OCOD) on joint projects.
Not all the programmes that have been instituted are still in place or continue in the form in which they were designed. Some have suffered setbacks or have had to be discontinued for a variety of reasons, all too familiar financial, administrative or otherwise.
A great deal of emphasis has been placed during this time on the training of teachers in order that the body of persons responsible for the delivery of quality education might be equipped with the skills and tools to carry out their mandate. This should then impact positively on the learning of the students.
Even though these programmes exist, and initiatives which have been undertaken can be identified, what has not been so easy to determine has been the degree of improvement brought about by these efforts, since in many cases structured analysis has not been carried out. The review which follows of the performance of students in national examinations, and of the major programmes/initiatives/projects embarked upon, will indicate the direction in which the education system has been moving.
2.3.2 Primary and Post Primary Examinations
The Primary Schools Examination (also referred to as the Common Entrance Exam or the 11 + Exam in other territories) is written by all primary school students at the Grade 6 level to determine the ones who will advance immediately to secondary school. All students who perform at a certain level in this examination are granted entrance to government secondary schools. Students are tested in four subject areas - Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
The Post Primary Examination provides an opportunity for those students who did not do well enough to gain admission to secondary school at age 12, to gain admission at age 15/16 at Form 3 level if they perform satisfactorily at this later examination. Students are examined in five subjects - Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Health Education.
Performance in the Primary School Examination has fluctuated quite a bit over the period, with an overall pass rate as low as 50.5% in 1993, and as high as 61.6% in 1997. [See Appendix 1 for the figures for the years 1989 to 1999.] If we focus on the years 1995 to 1999, however, we will notice that for three of the five years the overall pass rate hovered around the upper mark of 60%, but that there was a significant drop in 1996 to 50 % and in 1999, this year, to 45.5%.
The pattern for the Post Primary Examination 1 [see Appendix 1, also] in terms of fluctuation is very similar, again with significant drops in 1996 and 1999.
There is no clinical data available to account for these figures. However, one possible explanation could lie in the fact that both the 1996 and 1999 exams followed devastating hurricanes at the start of those academic years. Hurricane Luis in September 1995 and Hurricane Georges in 1998 with the subsequent disruption to the school system and the trauma that these events produce e.g. the closing of some schools for long periods, the reliance of the shift system in other schools etc.
The statistics for the primary and post primary exams also point to some general trends.
At the primary level, it will be noticed that:
ii. more females than males pass the examination,
iii. more significantly, the percentage passes is higher among the females than the males: 70.1% to 49.4% in 1995 and 54.2% to 35.3% in 1999.
At the Post Primary Level, however, more males than females wrote the examination, but the performance by the females again outstrips that of the males: 57.3% to 51.8% in 1995 and 29.2% to 23.7% in 1999.
2.3.3 Workshops for Training
As stated earlier, the training of teachers has been a key element in the development of programmes over the years. Each year, twenty teachers, on average, graduate from the Antigua State College after completing a two-year teacher-training course approved by the University of the West Indies. In addition, professional development training workshops were conducted on a regular basis, particularly in the core areas of Language Arts, Mathematics and Science.
The field of Social Studies has not benefitted in the same degree, mainly because of the lack of a coordinator within the administration to give this subject the needed thrust. This training was mainly in service and was carried out throughout the year at workshops organized by the curriculum coordinators for the various disciplines.
The major teacher-training exercise over the years, however, has been the annual summer workshops jointly carried out by the MOE/OCOD/ and A&BUT. The subjects offered range from School Administration for Principals, through Computer Training, Remedial English, Remedial Mathematics to Infant Education and lots in between. In recent years, though, three main areas have been targeted, namely Language Arts, Mathematics, and Assessment and Evaluation with the latter, Assessment and Evaluation, being a major focus of attention since 1996. The pattern of training has also changed, with the summer workshops being followed up by closer monitoring in the classroom (by OCOD and by MOE personnel) of the techniques learned in workshop sessions.
Out of the focuses on Assessment and Evaluation has grown an important offshoot a programme to promote Critical Thinking among students from an early age. Teachers, in workshop sessions identified this as an urgent need. As a result, a handbook of techniques to promote critical thinking was development with the assistance of OCOD. Teachers have been trained, and a pilot project to test the material in the classroom will get under way in the new academic year beginning September 1999. It is felt that this critical thinking is a most important attribute for students to acquire to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
Assistance with training is being given too by DFIDC the British Division for International Development in the Caribbean. Starting in September 1999, this training will be carried out on the levels as follows:
i. Induction Training Course for new and untrained teachers (SUTS)
ii. Upgrading for Senior Assistant Teachers
iii. School Management and Supervision for Primary School Principals and Ministry of Education Officials.
The training of teachers has been a major part of the work of the OERU, especially in the area of Curriculum Development. The MOE, Antigua and Barbuda, continues to collaborate fully with OECS in the development of curricula as part of the process to reform education in the territories.
188.8.131.52.Reading - Several programmes have been instituted to tackle the problem of poor reading performance by students
in our schools Reading Clinics - As early as 1980, Reading Clinics were established in a number of schools. A number
of teachers received specialized training and a withdrawal system was in place to provide assistance to students who
had severe problems with reading.These clinics continued in place till the 1990s and when, as a result of a teacher shortage, some specialized teachers had to be re-integrated into the regular classrooms and two of the clinics were closed.
184.108.40.206 Children With Special Needs
Programs to meet the needs of this group of students present a challenge for most, if not all, states and can be especially problematic for small, developing countries with limited resources. Antigua and Barbudas efforts to come to grips with this situation are summarized in the document entitled The State of Special Needs in Antigua and Barbuda which is attached. [See document # 4].
2.3.5 Board of Education
One of the most significant steps taken by the government of Antigua and Barbuda in the last five years to support education in the state was the introduction in 1994 of the special tax dubbed the Education Levy and the subsequent establishment of the Board of Education to manage the funds generated by the levy. From its first assignment of providing textbooks to all students, the Board has gone on to impact on virtually every facet of education in the state. A review of its activities to date is contained in the handout produced by the Board of Education (1994) itself, copy attached. [See document # 5].
As the demands for quality education increase, and as new imperatives come on stream, the education system must grow and adapt so as to be able to carry out its task of producing citizens capable of negotiating the new challenges that will confront them.
The following, therefore, must be of immediate concern:
2.3.6 Lifelong Education
The quality of Public Education is on the Worlds Agenda, especially since the World Conference on Education for all (WCEFA) in Jomtien in March 1990. In Antigua and Barbuda public education has two dimensions, addressing the youth and adults, with the Adult Education Portfolio occupying a high profile in light of the global swing into competitive training and the need of the next millenium of information technology.
Antigua and Barbuda is aware that the levels of educational attainment of yester year are obsolete to the determination and premise of job creation, maintenance and access. As such, national survival depends on recognising the need to improve on the quality of its adult and continuing education programmes in order to enhance national competitiveness within our ability to keep abreast of scientific and technology advances.
Throughout the period under review, concerted efforts were made to foster
Literacy among the adult population. The fact that there has been marked
increase in programmes and courses and in the number of participants, is an
indication of governments determination to wage war against illiteracy. The programmes range from private/non-governmental (individual/corporate) to those organization and sponsored by the governments. Courses were usually free or for minimal cost.
Adult Education must prepare its constituents to be useful in their life goals
Within the demand needs of the society. Further, education must prepare adults to obtain work and earn a livelihood.
Antigua and Barbuda is cognisant that basic Adult Education will only thrive in
varied forms. In this variation, the primary task is to categorise the learners.
This means that programme relevance, attractiveness and intelligibility, together with skills and sensitivity of the instructors are prime factors in the scheme of things. These factors, Antigua and Barbuda has considered in its Basic Adult Literacy Outreach.
The programmes, academic and technological, were catered to all and sundry; to inhabitants from every stratum of society. The teaching-learning was not only confined to classroom settings but the media was also utilised to disseminate information to the public, prisoners, fishermen, farmers, housewives, domestics, school drop-outs, entrepreneurs etc.
For example the ADULT LITERACY PROGRAMME, an affiliate of the Caribbean Regional Council for Adult Literacy (CARCAE) did two courses via radio and television in language and mathematics.
Golden Words and Living Numbers, a five (5) minute and a fifteen (15) minute exercise respectively, were geared to improve the Language and Mathematical skills of adult.
Golden Words is being aired on two (2) radio stations three (3) days a week. It introduces a word, a phrase, a proverb, a spelling rule or a point of grammar and elaborates on it. Living numbers presented and solved simple Mathematics problems that adults encountered in their daily lives.
In the classroom setting, the Adult Literacy Programme catered to four (4) levels of students. However there are several factors which retarded the progress of this programme. Chief among them was the stigma of illiteracy. Many persons refused to commence or prematurely discontinued. The student body was primarily female, the ratio being 4:1.
220.127.116.11 Gender Affairs
The Womens Desk, Directorate of Gender Affairs throughout the decade has impacted on more than three thousand (3000) of our women in the following adult Education Training Skills:
18.104.22.168 Farmers and Fishermen
The Government is cognizant of the importance of the farmers and fishermen within the developmental process. During the decade, much emphasis was placed on the survival and improvement of these industries. Self-sufficiency is our goal and so, in addition to the many incentives provided, the government has made it mandatory for relevant education to be provided to those groups. There is an equal number of males/females among our farmers, and on an annual basis, more than 90% of them access the training provided in courses which include:
Really, farming is on the increase; a larger variety of crops/animals is being produced and more than ever, young people are being involved in the industry. Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture have indicated the age range of farmers is primarily thirty to forty (30 40) years.
Similarly there have been visible strides in the Fishing Industry. This can be attributed to the efforts the government has made to provide the necessary training, the necessary facilities, the necessary incentives to keep the trade alive. With their modern equipment, fishermen can venture further and stay longer at sea. The ongoing education within the association has resulted in keeping the Industry alive and inviting 800 ratio 5:1.
The courses done by fisherman include:-
The Government throughout the period, has really spent large sums of money on (Agriculture) Farming and Fishing.
Most of our prison population is unskilled. Therefore it is only wisdom to so train those who are incacerated so that when they are sent back into the society, they can utilise pertinent skills which would assist them in leading worthwhile and productive lives. The inmates of Her Majestys Prison were not overlooked.
During the early 90s the focus was skills training - craft, batique, tie-dye, farming etc.
Reading and Writing was emphasized 1994 - 1996. In 1998, Mathematics, English Language, Biology Social Studies and Social Skills were added. The Tutor for the 1998 programme were selected from among the inmates. Of the seventeen (17) students who pursued the courses, they were four (4) females, nine (9) of those students include the four (4) females were successful at the Basic Level. One (1) male student wrote English A and Biology at CXC; he passed Biology.
22.214.171.124 Teen Skills Programme
This programme which was launched in the late 80s was sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and carried through by the Human Resource Development Unit. Its focus was on drop-outs from schools. Its purpose was:
i. to promote the motivation and development of each young person
ii. to encourage the trainees to acquire useful skills to simulate their educational, social and emotional growth
iii. to promote the notion of independence
iv. to equip them for adult life
Specially the programme was establish to develop
The programme was held twice (2) annually with a number of twenty (20) participants at each session. Those trainees who were within the 16-20 years age range, were each given a monthly stipend from the government. This was primarily to cover uniform and transportation costs.
To date, approximately, four hundred (400) young people with a ratio of 1 male to 6 Females have been trained in pertinent skills as required by the job market. They include HairDressing, Bartending, Masonary, and Plumbing. Job attachment, English Language, Mathematics and Social Skills are also part of the programme. 95% of the trainees were still employed and the unit has been receiving favourable comments about them from their employers.
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