In the southeastern Caribbean, amidst a sea of exotic spices, luscious hills, idyllic waters and pristine sand is the enchanting “Spice Isle.” Grenada’s balmy breezes, scenic treasures and historical troves are easily discoverable from the surface. What is not so apparent are the following 10 facts about education in Grenada:
- The nation has a traditional academic pathway for its students: primary, middle, secondary and tertiary. The government requires students to attend school from ages five to 14. According to the latest Grenada Statistical Digest, as of the 2012-2013 school year, there were 105 preschool centers, three special education centers, 56 public primary schools, 19 private primary schools, 21 public secondary schools, three private secondary schools and one training center.
- Primary school lasts for six years. At the end of sixth grade students are required to take a secondary school exam. In 2012, Grenada launched the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) to replace its Common Entrance Examination (CEE).
- Middle school is the first phase of lower secondary education in Grenada and lasts for three years (grades 7-9). Students may earn a school-leaving certificate at the end of their studies if they are reluctant to pursue advanced studies. In 2012, Grenada achieved universal secondary education and established two new schools during the 2012-2013 year.
- The upper secondary school phase lasts for two years. Since Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Examinations Council, students sit for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). Typically, five CSECs are needed for higher levels of study; there are 33 subjects for students to choose from, ranging from arts to sciences. If students obtain this credential (and decide to move forward with their studies) they may take the Caribbean Advanced Placement Exam (CAPE).
- With respect to higher education in Grenada, T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) is the primary tertiary provider. It is the result of an eight-institute merger of teaching, vocational training, medical and agricultural institutions. St. George’s University (SGU) is a private school which offers graduate education in medicine and business. Additionally, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus offers distance learning programs for students.
- Teachers are commonly trained at TAMCC through UWI’s Teacher Education Program. They receive most of their support from the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT). Workshops, regional initiatives and higher education pathways are available for administrators and principals. A major goal is capacity building, in terms of retaining and recruiting leaders and teachers. Support is also a key objective concerning continuing professional development, clearly defined professional standards, early teacher identification programs and outcome-based curricula reforms.
- The 2012-2021 Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) outlines the region’s future educational improvements in its Education Sector Strategy (OESS). Ministries of Education for Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the development of this strategic framework.
- New Life Organization Training Center (NEWLO) is the primary vocational entity in Grenada. In recent years, strides have been made to expand Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to other academic levels through the OESS and other government initiatives. For example, the OESS has a provision to improve and expand TVET experiences for students at the primary level. Moreover, one objective is to generate a qualification framework which could allow students to transition easily between vocational and academic credentials. This requires improved linkages with the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) framework.
- Last year, the Global Partnership for Education earmarked $2 million for a three-year national education sector improvement program for the OECS, which includes Grenada. The money will be used for improving learning outcomes and teacher education.
- The Grenada Statistical Digest presented a projected public expenditure figure for primary and secondary education in 2015-2016: $28 million and $10 million respectively. The system is heavily dependent on public funds.
Although more work is needed to achieve the 2012-2021 OESS goals, progress continues to be made. For example, in July, the 2017 Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA) Conference will be held in Barbados. The event allows educational professionals to discuss governance and reform issues with colleagues from across the region. With added legislative measures, clear goals, strengthened communications and increased investments, education in Grenada is expected to improve.
– JG Federman