Girls’ Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Located in the southern part of the Carribean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island nation with a small population of approximately 110,000 citizens. This country has a rich history, the nation persevered itself and held off colonialization until 1719, and after this was repeatedly taken over by France and Great Britain alike until it gained its independence in 1979.

Education System in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Due to the colonial history of the nation, the education system differs in pre- and post-colonial rule. While the pre-colonial education system was built around the system of the power, the post-colonial education system is based less on “true” education. Education should be about learning about the world, the nation and everything that encompasses it, for the sake of knowledge. The education system in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is based less on this concept and more on the creation of a sense of pride or for the creation of workers for the international market.

Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines differs greatly from other places around the world. Primary education is free, but as students move on to secondary, post-secondary or tertiary school, they must pay fees. Education is also not compulsory, meaning that children are not required to go to school. This is often used as an indicator of pervasive child labor that exists in St. Vincent, and this may affect girls unevenly and be reflected in their representation in schools.

Girls’ Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

In 2017, 138 girls were not in school, compared to 71 boys. Net enrollment rates for pupils were approximately the same, standing at 93 percent for girls compared to 93.9 percent for boys. However, female completion of primary school was about 6 percent lower in 2017 since around 87 percent of girls completed primary school compared to almost 93 percent of boys that achieved the same feat.

Girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines also suffers slightly when examining secondary schooling. While the disparities are not as severe, there is still an almost 2 percent difference in the enrollment of boys and girls in lower secondary school. In this level of education, approximately 3,000 female students and 3,600 male students are enrolled. Interestingly, this is not the case in upper secondary schooling, where there are more female pupils than male pupils, approximately 1,900 girls compared to 1,700 boys. This may be due to the fact that male students have a larger dropout rate when in lower secondary school, 9.4 percent compared to 2.6 percent of girls.

Need for Girls’ Education

After secondary school, there is a large gap in girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in vocational fields, but not, however, in post-secondary (non-tertiary) education. In 2005, there were only 130 female students enrolled in a vocational program, which is almost doubled by the number of male students, 257. In comparison, approximately 1,400 girls were enrolled in post-secondary non-tertiary education, a track that prepares students for tertiary schooling, doubling the approximate 700 boy students enrolled.

It is plain that girls can thrive in educational settings and successfully continue their schooling when given an opportunity. While these gender disparities are not overwhelming, they must be fixed. In order to have the strongest country possible, girls must be able to fully participate in every part of life, and the prioritization of girls’ education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is necessary to do so.

There has been a significant improvement in the educational attainment of girls in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and this is in part due to efforts by the national government in cooperation with UNESCO. There are also various educational suppliers that aim to provide school materials and teaching equipment to teachers and pupils such as Bequia Bookshop, One Percenter, and Nightingale Co, Ltd. Hope is not lost for girls’ education, and although it will require work from all parts of the world, it is already changing and will be improved more comprehensively with the involvement of various organizations and the government.

– Isabella Niemeyer
Photo: Flickr

St. Vincent’sDespite appearing to be a tropical paradise to prospective tourists, St. Vincent’s population faces a harsh economic reality. Its population is currently experiencing a 30 percent unemployment rate while more than 90 percent of the people there don’t have healthcare insurance. The U.S. doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines while conditions fail to improve for those struggling to escape poverty. By reversing these statistics, The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Drug Trafficking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ high unemployment and low health insurance rates are primarily consequences of its economic downturn during the global recession of 2008 (St. Vincent had a 0.6 percent decline in GDP) and its subsequent sluggish recovery. In combination with this, the country has experienced difficult agricultural seasons over the years, particularly due to hurricanes, that have resulted in fluctuating yields with a -3 percent growth in 2015 up to a record 14.5 percent in 2016 then down to 1.7 percent GDP growth in 2017.

This is how drug trafficking gained more ground within St. Vincent’s borders. Faced with uncertain incomes year to year, an increasing number of desperate islanders have sought work growing marijuana, participating in the narcotics trade from Venezuela or both. So much so, that The U.S. State Department’s 2018 International Narcotics Reports claims that “St. Vincent continues to be a primary source for cannabis in the Eastern Caribbean.” Faced with no income or health care, illicit trafficking has become a necessary means for survival.

The drug trade has become a serious foreign policy issue for The United States along its southern border. Drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, not only enter The U.S. through Mexican land routes but now increasingly so through Caribbean countries like St. Vincent. Drug traffickers rely on yachts, “go-fast” boats, fishing vessels and cargo ships for transporting illicit drugs up The Caribbean to The U.S. or Europe.

US  Foreign Aid in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The U.S. Department of State and The U.S. Agency for International Development have both implemented foreign aid projects meant to improve conditions in St. Vincent while simultaneously strengthening U.S. security. This is one example of how The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has embraced a youth-centered strategy that employs the use of programs such as the Skills and Knowledge for Youth Project (SKYE), The Community, Family and Youth Resilience Program (CFYR) and the Liberty Lodge Boys Training Center. All of these U.S. sponsored programs provide funding and training for youth to get an and education and to find employment while also receiving healthcare benefits.

In particular, SKYE provides 2,000 youth in The Caribbean with counseling, employment skills training and rehabilitation services. Similarly, CYFR intends to seek out evidence-based solutions to local issues through community involvement, greater access to employment and a reformed law enforcement system. The Liberty Lodge Boys Training Center, funded and supported by USAID, has recently been re-established in order to ensure that young men will have access to education and employment and be able to provide for their families.

While these programs and initiatives are fairly young, they do have the potential to have a significant impact on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. All utilize local resources with the goal of strengthening local authorities and leaders to become self-sustaining.

Another way that The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines is through a more secure Caribbean. The U.S. Department of State has teamed up with The Department of Defense to build and maintain a stronger government and create more security in The Caribbean. This joint venture between The U.S. and The Caribbean nations is known as The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). The CBSI demonstrates an overlap between U.S. humanitarian and U.S. security policies.

Since 2010, The U.S. has committed $437 million in funding to the CBSI with three significant goals in mind.

  1. Reduce illicit trafficking through programs that focus on counter-narcotics to stemming the flow of illegal arms sales.
  2. Increase public safety and security by improving law enforcement and judicial institutions.
  3. The promotion of social justice through justice reform, anti-corruption reform and increased educational, social and economic opportunities for youth.

The DEA reported seizing 658.18 kg of cocaine and 267 metric tons of marijuana during the first 9 months of 2017 thanks to efforts to upgrade security measures in the area. Furthermore, they have seized $1.3 million in drug proceeds, which is used on programs to further support the country’s efforts to stamp down on drug trafficking. The funding provided by the CBSI has also led to the building and funding of new rehabilitation clinics throughout St. Vincent in order to help reduce drug addiction.

Here, poverty and security have become one in the same. U.S. foreign policy advocates are utilizing security policies and funding to better protect the people in The Caribbean while, at the same time, protecting those at home in The States. Moreover, creating better living conditions for the citizens of St. Vincent, especially the youth, is viewed as a necessity to securing The Caribbean from illicit trafficking within and outside the region.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines precisely because of the fact that it strengthens regional security in the Americas. Initiatives, such as the CBSI and CFYR, demonstrate that foreign aid and poverty reduction are vital tools within U.S. foreign policy. St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be a tiny blip on the map, but with U.S. foreign aid, it could have a substantial impact on the Americas.

– Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Composed of smaller islands in the southern Caribbean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is known for its major sailing destinations and white-sand beaches. However, on Dec. 24, 2013, a heavy tropical storm plagued the islands. Heavy rains, flooding and landslides caused at least eight deaths and massive damage to the country. Declared a level 2 disaster by the government, regional assistance was requested seeing that local resources were limited. That’s when Britain stepped in.

 

Providing Humanitarian Aid

Britain was the first to offer humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Britain provided about $370,000 in early January 2014. In addition to the funds, London provided essential drugs and medical supplies. Water and sanitation equipment were also supplied in an attempt to curb spreading of water-borne diseases. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) supplied the goods on behalf of the U.K.

Also in 2014, the European Commission’s Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) granted €300,000 to bring relief to locations affected by floods. Humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines was granted due to the severe impact left behind by the low-level trough system. A trough refers to an extended time of relatively low atmospheric pressure that can bring clouds, wind shifts and rain.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines have a history of receiving humanitarian aid. In 2010, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) vowed to provide any and all support to the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines following the destruction of a previous storm, Hurricane Tomas. This including engaging a team from the U.N. to direct macro socio-economic disaster impact assessments in the islands.

Updating Infrastructure

Still rebuilding from years of previous hurricanes and troughs, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) offered $33 million to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and nine other islands to finance proper infrastructure projects. The AFD is a chief agency established by the French government. At least 50 percent of the funding will also go toward climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. Other areas to be funded are:

  • Renewable energy
  • Water and sanitation
  • Waste management
  • Updating infrastructure to combat climate change
  • Protection of coasts and rivers

The success of humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines gave the island hope. Every effort counted and the people of these islands knew they weren’t forgotten in their time of need.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
These beautiful rocky islands are home to approximately 109,000 citizens who can benefit from an increase of sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, personally and economically. The Grenadine islands consist of Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau and Union, which form a chain of landmasses leading to Grenada.

Only a portion of the island’s 150 square miles is being utilized, with a large part dedicated to agriculture (25 percent) while the majority is forest (68 percent). Despite much of the land being used for agriculture, it only makes up about 7 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With most of the population centered around the nation’s capital, Kingstown, much of the agriculture comes from small family farms outside of the capital. But two crops, bananas and arrowroot, in particular, have the potential to change the country’s economic condition and future circumstances for the good.

 

Bananas

Despite the recent threat, plans to encourage the farming of bananas have come in the form of the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) for the sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In 2010, BAM was created by the European Union as an initiative to help developing countries export bananas better; of the developing countries, African, Pacific and other Caribbean nations were chosen. Essentially designed to create economic opportunities, competitiveness and diversification of sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the initiative involved EC$18 million to install.

BAM is based on minimizing poverty through strategic investing that increases banana production along with other crops, such as root vegetables. So far, the financial packages have established a food science lab at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College and other infrastructural add-ons that aid in banana production, specifically, such as upgrades to packing facilities.

 

Arrowroot

This root vegetable alone has the potential to significantly reduce the poverty of whoever grows it. The sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is unique for being one of the only producers of the starchy tuber, producing 95 percent of the world’s arrowroot. Arrowroot flour is used in a variety of Caribbean dishes for its starchy texture and gluten-free characteristics, but these are not the only aspects of the root vegetable that make it profitable.

Once ground into flour, arrowroot can be mixed with chemicals like sodium chloride and citric acid to create a dressing for paper, making it extremely water resistant. Print photographers originally used this kind of paper for its water resistance, but the practice became outdated. Since then, arrowroot has made a revival due to the technology boom and the abundant use of printers. The root vegetable is now crucial in the manufacture of carbon-less paper.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Raymond Ryan, said the desire for this form of sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent could get higher with “100,000 pounds of [the] starch per year” acting as the potential. This fact, along with the “growing demand of gluten-free products,” means arrowroot and its starch have a good chance of elevating St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ growing popularity.

 

The Uplifting Effects of Bananas and Arrowroot

Both of these crops have the potential to pull St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the high standards that a global economy demands. However, arrowroot has many profitable niches that bananas have already overblown, indicating that the root vegetable’s potential is arguably greater for the island.

The fact that St. Vincent is the main supplier of arrowroot is an overall positive for the country. Formerly dependent on only bananas, this root offers a second chance at economic growth for sustainable agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

With this kind of agricultural diversity on the horizon, the Caribbean nation can compete on a global economic scale and turn small rural family farms into big agricultural businesses that financially impact their communities as much as their country.

– Toni Paz

Photo: Pixabay

Infrastructure in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesInfrastructure in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been a major focus of the government during the last few years. Given that the island is very susceptible to storms and other natural disasters, most of which are a result of climate change, building resistant infrastructure has become increasingly important. The nation has, however, been very successful in its development, particularly through the assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

By 2012, the CDB had provided around $287 million to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Most of the money was used to finance social and economic infrastructure. The government built disaster-resistant roads, schools and other structures, and invested in community training against natural disasters. These were all necessary projects to protect the nation against disasters that had previously caused massive issues.

Hurricanes and storms often caused damage that impacted the tourist and agricultural industries on the island — the two main ways citizens of the nation sustained themselves. In 2011, the World Bank provided $47 million to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction project. This project helped create disaster-resistant infrastructure for more than 200,000 people and has helped the nation greatly.

Additionally, school infrastructure has been greatly improved over the years. In 2016, teachers from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, among other countries, revealed the poor infrastructure of their school systems. A conference was held by the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) and pushed for a revision of the health and safety, as well as teaching standards, of Caribbean school systems. CUT also called for more climate-resistant facilities, so that weather conditions would not pose such an interruption to the classroom.

Better programs have been implemented, and training for teachers has become more comprehensive. All of this is with the hopes of providing a better education for children on the island and contributing to the overall development of the country. A better education for students in St. Vincent and the Grenadines also means greater economic mobility for them and their families, which has the potential to reduce poverty on the island.

Ultimately, infrastructure in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been improving steadily, but with the rapid progression of climate change, it will need to ensure that structures on the island are sufficient. With aid from organizations like the Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank, the island nation may be able to protect itself from further destruction.

– Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Poverty Rate
The nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is both small and beautiful, made up of 32 islands and landforms in the south Caribbean. It is known mainly as a peaceful island destination: a place to swim, snorkel and enjoy the view. Yet despite this reputation, the country is struggling to support its own population. Even taking into consideration recent economic improvements, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate remains shockingly high: as of 2008, 30.2 percent of the population was living in poverty.

This already disturbing rate is relatively low in comparison to that of 1996, when the rate was even higher, at 37.5 percent. While the country’s GDP has grown steadily since the 1980s, particularly thanks to the construction industry and the “banana boom” of the ’80s, trade access for the country’s most important crop, bananas, has been waning ever since and the national debt has only grown. As of 2009, the debt was roughly 60 percent of the GDP.

This lack of economic activity in addition to trade difficulty has led to high rates of both unemployment and underemployment, with many citizens turning away from traditional employment and to the underground market, such as growing and selling marijuana.

Though the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate has dropped in recent years, many people feel the opposite effect. In 2008, 44.3 percent of citizens polled felt that conditions had worsened compared to previous years, perhaps to due to the rise of food and fuel prices around the same time.

In addition to economic difficulties, the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines suffer from a lack of health coverage. In 2008, only 9.4 percent of the population was covered by health insurance, and coverage is still rare even among the wealthiest in the nation. Teen pregnancy, meanwhile, is extremely common, with half of the country’s women reporting their first pregnancy before the age of 19. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has long had a plan to put a national health insurance program into place, but the plan has experienced countless delays, and as of 2017, the plan has yet to be enacted.

Though the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines poverty rate looks grim, the country intends to take steps to remedy it. First on lawmaker’s minds is diversification and expansion of the economy, which would ensure that the country’s economy would not rely on bananas alone. Other key projects include paying off the national debt, expansion of national infrastructure and developing a health care system. These are no small feats to accomplish, but the country is committed to helping its citizens.

Audrey Palzkill

Common Diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country that has made huge strides in terms of disease reduction and increased sanitation. The nation achieved an all-time high of 98 percent of the population having access to clean water in 2010. This has enormously limited the number of diseases spread by poor water sanitation. With that said, what are the common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

Of diseases common in developing countries, less than 3 percent of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has HIV/AIDS, dengue, tuberculosis or leptospirosis. This is due to impressive programs in the nation, such as the Expanded Program on Immunization, which maintained a rate of 95-98 percent immunization of children under five years old. Another program that helped to achieve these outstanding figures is the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Program, which tested 100 percent of pregnant women for HIV/AIDS, and gave antiretrovirals, free of cost, to those who were positive.

There are very few diseases that can even be considered common in the small island nation. Of communicable diseases, the largest are acute respiratory infection, which had about 29,631 cases between 2006-2010, and the Zika virus, which had around seven cases per week in 2016. While cases of Zika have reduced greatly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it still poses a threat to the population, as there is no known cure for the virus and it can be spread very easily between individuals. Because of this, it is still considered a hazard to the population and those who are traveling there.

Overall, this small island nation has incredibly low disease spread because of its commitment to protecting its citizens at whatever the cost. Because of this, there are very few common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The country sets an excellent example for other developing nations for disease prevention and reduction. Even as the poorest country in the eastern Caribbean, with a number of other issues to deal with as it develops, it has made incredible progress.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Education in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesSt. 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 high unemployment rate. Yet, in recent years SVG has made significant improvements, particularly in education.

Credit is partially due to the Education Revolution that has been taking place in SVG since 2001, when the Unity Labour Party (ULP) gained control of the SVG government. The ULP credits itself with allocating more funding for educational programs than the New Democratic Party did when it held power. 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.

The SVG Ministry of Education also reports 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.

UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank founded the Education for All (EFA) movement in 1990 in order to improve education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This program claims many successes in SVG, including the addition and expansion of the community college. Additionally, there has 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. Though the most substantial educational rift is the lack of training of SVG educators. As of 2015, 58 percent of SVG secondary school educators had no teacher training.

A possible solution to this issue could be mimicking Singapore’s teacher training structure. There, Singapore selects teachers from the top one-third of their secondary school graduating classes and cultivates them towards teaching via internships throughout their high school careers. Teacher salaries are competitive with those of other fields of study, and the training also offers competitive compensation. The teacher development and career path programs in Singapore are equally robust, recognizing potential and encouraging job promotion. Consequently, Singapore is a top performer in math, reading, and science when compared to the rest of the world. Being that much of Singapore’s success has taken place within only the last 50 years, its story brings hope to developing countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, especially when taking into account their similar sizes and histories.

Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has room for development, and its odds of success are favorable. It is widely agreed that educational success contributes greatly to the overall economic success of the country, improving the country’s employment rate and the standards of life for many citizens. Victories such as these appear to be on the horizon for education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the coming years.

Emma Tennyson