8 Facts About Education in the Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, born out of colonization and slavery, consists of many different cultures today. This cultural diversity represents the torn history that the Virgin Islands experienced centuries ago with the arrival of European explorers such as Christopher Columbus. The peoples of the U.S. Virgin Islands reflect the many cultures of the West African, Danish, Spanish, Irish and German people. Here are 8 facts about education in the Virgin Islands.

8 Facts About Education in The Virgin Islands

  1. The Virgin Islands education system provides public and private education to all residents from preschool to college. The U.S. Virgin Islands Public University has over 43 degree programs for students to excel in. Additionally, the education system focuses on preparing citizens for employment.
  2. The territory spends 7.5 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP) on education. The Virgin Islands care strongly about supplying their citizens with the education necessary to make an impact on the world.
  3. The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States. Because of this, it receives federal entitlements as well as beneficial educational programs, including Head Start, nutrition programs and Upward Bound.
  4. The program Upward Bound provides fundamental support for students to succeed in high school and prepare for college. This program serves lower-income and first-generation students, whose families may have a difficult time helping them prepare for college, as they never attended and/or completed college themselves.
  5. A project known as From Farm to School communicates with local farmers to bring students in public schools locally grown, fresh produce. From Farm to School has supported school gardens to enrich students’ learning and promote healthy eating habits. At this time, From Farm to School has constructed school gardens in 50 percent of public schools across the Virgin Islands.
  6. The Virgin Islands must comply with the education law which states equal learning opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities. A court case in 2007 – Nadine Jones v. the Government of the Virgin Islands – changed the way the Department of Education operated forever. Nadine Jones, a student with a disability was not receiving free and required services to aid in her learning. As a result of this case, the Department of Education was required to conform more closely to the educational law of the U.S. They have to provide free public schools to all students and be inclusive to students like Nadine Jones.
  7. Schools in the Virgin Islands such as Charlotte Amalie High School are still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes from over a year and a half ago. Students and teachers are still struggling after hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged their school facilities. Consequently, this makes daily school life difficult to thrive in. Students are often forced to eat in crowded hallways due to overpopulated schools and destroyed cafeterias.
  8. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided over $1.4 billion for reparations after the two hurricanes struck. Approximately $874 million went to emergy work, including debris removal, while the rest is designated for combating the damage to the education system. FEMA’s support has allowed for the reconstruction of many school facilities that were destroyed by storms.

These 8 facts about education in the Virgin Islands help illuminate the successes of education initiatives as well as some recent struggles caused by natural disasters.  The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory that cares deeply about its education system, however, and strong efforts in the aftermath of the hurricanes are helping get students back on track to a high-quality education.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

SriLanka_education_quality TSEP

The government of Sri Lanka launched Transforming School Education Project (TSEP) in 2012 to run through 2016. According to News Line, the objective of TSEP is enhanced access and quality of primary and secondary education. The project addresses the country’s underfunded education, wide ranged regional disparities and limited focus on key skills that students need to compete in today’s global economy.

“IDA has provided financing for the education sector in Sri Lanka over a long period of time to improve the quality of human capital through effective education and skills development,” The World Bank said of their contribution. “This $100 million project is the fifth education project in Sri Lanka.”

Strategies used to achieve school enrollment and attendance included health and nutrition programs to provide meals for children in poor communities and the building of sanitation facilities. In addition, special education programs were implemented for students who required alternative forms of education.

TSEP contributed to a spike in students reaching grade 11 up from 82 percent in 2011 to 85 percent in 2016. Of 3.2 million students, 52 percent were female.

School-based management and teacher development improved student learning and strengthened academic performance. One reform established a system for conducting national assessments of learning outcomes in order to better reflect modern international trends in curriculum practice. TSEP seeks to orient Sri Lanka’s education system to the world of work by focusing on subjects like English, IT, science, mathematics, commerce and management, as well as improving current curricula.

According to the World Bank, Sri Lanka has 4 million school children but only 215,000 teachers and around 10,000 schools. Only 7.3 percent of the government budget was invested in education in 2014.

By backing TSEP, The World Bank is supporting the Sri Lanka government’s development initiative Program for School Improvement. School officials are expected to be joined by local communities in the management and administration of schools, as greater responsibility and power will be delegated to them.

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr