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Education: Overview

Investment in education is an investment in the future of the citizens of the Caribbean Community as well as the Community. At the CARICOM Secretariat, the Education sub-programme[1] seeks to articulate and harmonise policies and programmes throughout the Community so that the people of the Community can be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes  to enjoy a better quality of life,  contribute to the development of  the Region and to compete in the global environment.


The Community has made significant strides in the post-independence era and in particular, in the past two decades.  All CARICOM Member States, with the exception of Haiti, have achieved universal access to primary education and many are close to achieving universal access to secondary education.  Over this period, there has also been significant development in post-secondary/tertiary education, with the establishment and augmentation of national universities and community colleges as well as the expansion of the University of the West Indies.  This has had a significant effect on the average period of schooling for the population in general (from 4.3 years in 1960 to 10.3 years presently). The regional benchmarking of secondary examinations (CXC) through common assessment is also one of the outstanding achievements in this sector.


The Education sub-programme continues its focus on enhancing systems and developing policies and strategies across the Region.


Areas of Focus

Major areas of focus include:

  • Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  • Child Rights and Child Protection
  • Health and Family Life Education
  • Teaching and Teacher Education: Establishment of National Teaching Councils
  • Development and Implementation of Teaching Standards of Practice
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
  • The Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)
  • The Caribbean Qualification Framework
  • Scholarship Programmes

Major activities for 2015


Despite the education gains made in the Region over the years,  there is still  high unemployment/under-employment (especially among women and the youth[2]/) occurring parallel to skill gaps in sunrise industries; and crime and insecurity. As such, the Region’s decision makers are shifting their attention away from increasing access to education to improving the quality and relevance of education.  The issue is of particular relevance for Caribbean countries seeking to diversify exports by developing the services sectors to decrease reliance on tourism, primary agriculture, and light manufacturing.  There is strong consensus among Caribbean leaders, education sector stakeholders, the private sector, civil society and development agencies, that Caribbean countries should urgently investigate and find appropriate solutions to the underperformance of the Region’s education sector in terms of learning achievement. 


 In 2015, the substantial  work in the education sub-programme surrounds the development of a Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy and Action Plan which was endorsed by the Heads of Government in 2014 and fully resourced by the Caribbean Development Bank


Other Activities include:


  • Development of a coordinated tertiary education system for CARICOM.
  • Development of a strategic framework that facilitates mainstreaming and participation in education, sport, recreation, training and employment.
  • Analysis of participatory mechanisms and best practices in obtaining information from and communicating technologies to vulnerable persons and groups.
  • Provision of more effective services for children at risk, differently-able children, indigenous and other vulnerable groups.
  • Strengthening national and regional mechanisms for the collection, analysis and application of statistical data to allow for the mainstreaming of gender et al.
  • Facilitating access of children 0-8 to screening, referral, assessment and early intervention services.
  • Promoting the development and acceptance of positive social norms and behaviors that support healthy and equitable societies.
  • Implementing the Physical Education Curriculum to help in the fight against the NCDs.
  • Accelerating implementation of prevention interventions addressing drug use and abuse among school-aged children and adolescent boys and girls.
  • Conducting research to inform policy, legislation and programmes to address crime and violence especially against children.
  • Institutionalising  mechanisms to address violence and abuse of children in schools, homes, sports and physical activities and communities.
  • Strengthening educational and training materials for Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management in the Caribbean.
  • Enhancing the learning environment in CARICOM Schools through the expanded use of exploratory and discovery methods.


[1] Education is a sub-programme of the Human Resource Development Programme

[2]/ Youth are the Future: The Imperative of Youth Employment for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean (May 2015), CDB

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