News Release

Breaking Barriers: Helping to Empower Vulnerable Communities Through Education

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Two young girls in school uniform in a classroom have turned around staring at the camera

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated educational disparities among the less fortunate, a transformative initiative is on the horizon. The gap in teaching and learning for the most vulnerable is about to be bridged; thanks to a collaboration backed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Approximately 40 teachers and educators will be trained in the use of a toolkit to be developed by The University of the West Indies (UWI).  Dubbed ‘Effective Pedagogy for Teaching and Learning,’ the 15-week programme is not just about imparting knowledge but represents a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. Alongside enhancing teaching skills, participants will also contribute to the development of a robust cybersecurity apparatus.

The driving force behind this latest endeavour is the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment, with oversight from the Special Education Needs Institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology, and Vocational Training.

“During the pandemic, many students suffered learning loss, and students with special needs were among those who experienced the greatest volume of learning loss. The teacher training component of this project will position teachers to prevent such learning loss in the future. Teachers will learn to do better at more effectively teaching through distributed learning. They will also be trained to keep those children with special needs safe while navigating the online space,” noted Dale St. Juste, Education Officer – Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education.

In highlighting the profound impact of the program, Permanent Secretary Dr. Charmaine Hippolyte Emmanuel stated, "This latest initiative represents a pivotal intervention by the Ministry of Equity and, by extension, the Government of Saint Lucia. We are dedicated to providing support where it's needed most. This initiative is not just about education; it's about breaking barriers, nurturing potential, and ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of knowledge and empowerment.”

Senior Operations Officer and Social Analyst at CDB’s Projects Department, Elbert Ellis, said the Bank welcomed the opportunity to coordinate course implementation across the three Borrowing Member Countries of Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis, as the combined cohort not only enabled cost savings for countries but supported the cross-pollination of thought and good practices across the sub-region, to improve student learning.

“The Bank looks forward to learning how the course fosters inclusion and supports teachers to better reach and engage the students they serve, especially those who have historically, for multiple reasons, been excluded from the education system,” Mr. Ellis said.

Participants will be awarded a certificate from the UWI. Certification will be provided through the mechanisms of the Eastern Caribbean Joint Board of Teacher Education (ECJBTE). Furthermore, the course will be incorporated into the teacher education programs of the ECJBTE, and holders of the current qualification will receive credit in the event they apply to pursue the ECJBTE-regulated Associate Degree in Education. The certification will also count towards professional development for teachers who are holders of the ADE or other teacher education qualifications.

Participating institutions include the Dennery Special Education Centre, Vieux Fort Special Education Centre, the Vision Centre, New Beginnings Transit Home, the Boys Training Centre, and the Upton Gardens Girls Centre