WASHINGTON, Jun 25, CMC – The education sector in two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will benefit from multi-million dollar loans from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB).
The Washington based financial institution said that it is providing a US$20 million loan to Barbados to help the island improve secondary and post-secondary education and ensure that graduates develop skills needed to either pursue further education or enter the labour market.
The IDB said that while Barbados has achieved universal access to primary and secondary schooling, with high completion and negligible dropout rates and outstanding tertiary level enrolment, it still faces challenges in terms of raising the quality of education and preparing its young people for the transition from school to work.
“One key stepping stone on Barbados’ path to a better education is improving literacy and mathematics skills. Therefore, one of the main goals of the four-year program is to help boost the percentage of students passing secondary education completion exams in reading, writing and mathematics from 43 per cent to 50 per cent.”
The IDB said that another key goal is to ensure that at least 900 secondary students complete the A Ganar programme, which has trained more than 6,000 youths aged 16 to 24 in 14 countries since 2005 and combines sports, life skills and market-driven vocational training to improve young people’s employability.
“Evaluations show that 70 per cent of participants obtain formal jobs, continue their education, or start a business within one year of completing the training.
“A Ganar is also expected to help some 300 students over a three-year period gain entry to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP). The programme will target students who have failed the entry examination due to weak academic skills and give them a second chance to access the SJPP, which offers a variety of certificates of one year or less and two-year diploma courses.”
The IDB said additionally, 5,650 unskilled workers will be trained and certified by the Competency-Based Training Fund, which promotes partnerships or alliances between the corporate sector and training institutions in Barbados.
The programme will also help at least 40 young people participate in a newly developed apprenticeship program in a service/white-collar business.
The IDB is also providing US$13.7 million to Suriname to support the government’s plan to strengthen the efficiency and quality of the new basic education system and increase the learning outcomes of students in pre-primary, primary and junior secondary schools.
“Improving the learning outcomes in core subjects of Dutch and mathematics, training all of Suriname’s approximately 5,000 primary school teachers, supporting efforts to streamline the education system, and exploring the use of information and communication technologies in schools will dramatically improve graduates’ ability to access the labour market,” said IDB project team leader Annelle Bellony.
IDB lending will finance the government’s two-phased education programme. The first phase will focus on developing the curriculum framework for the entire basic education system and on increasing learning outcomes of students in grades 1–8.
Additionally, the first phase will also support plans to build teacher housing in the interior of Suriname. The second phase of the project will center on improving learning outcomes in junior secondary grades. The current financing focuses on Phase I, year 1–4 of the programme.
The IDB said that as a result of the programme it is hoped that there would be better learning outcomes and improved Dutch language and mathematics skills, as measured by year-end examinations; lower dropout and repetition rates and higher primary completion and junior secondary enrollment rates.
In addition, under the programme 5,000 teachers will be trained in participatory teaching methodologies; 10 schools will pilot ICTs in education modules; new schools will be built, and fully equipped and existing schools renovated and expanded; and 150 schools will be linked to a student performance tracking system.