Saint Lucia
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Key Issues under Focus for Education Sector

A smiling Minister Shawn Edward
Education Minister, Shawn Edward

AT a recent media briefing, Minister for Education and Sustainable Development Shawn Edward spoke on some key issues pertinent to the overall developmental thrust for the education sector in the country.

The minister noted that measures are being put in place to better manage security issues at schools. In that context, he said, former Police Commissioner Ausbert Regis has been contracted to undertake the task of providing adequate security procedures for the island’s academic institutions.

Edward said that school security has always been a troubling issue for successive administrations, and the efforts are not concentrated on “any one geographic pocket” but plans are geared to spread the security measures across the island’s school structures.

He explained that Regis has been working alongside the authorities to help school administrators and policy makers bolster security at the schools.

“It goes beyond securing just the school plant but we have to take into consideration the safety of teachers, principals, ancillary staff and students during the normal operating hours of school,” said Edward.

He said several meetings are being convened and Regis has been meeting with school principals, district education officers and other personnel and soon “I’ll be getting a comprehensive report, which speaks to some of the specific measures we need to implement to further bolster the arrangements that we have”.

Edward says it is a “very dynamic situation” and in some instances, the authorities have had to complement the provision of security personnel at some schools and “we have had to work very closely with the police to ensure that they provide cover for our own security personnel at schools.”

On another issue, the minster spoke concerning the status of students at the Sports Academy; where the emphasis is on meshing the academics with sporting talent for progression into prospective professional careers.

Though not quite able to provide a complete assessment of the matter, Edward said, “it’s a work in progress and there are different yard sticks you can use to measure the extent to which we have been able to reap some of the benefits that were originally conceived when we embarked on that particular program.”

He stated that other than looking to harness the talents of the students, “there is also the component of behaviour modification …and character building.  And generally, when you we look at the performances of some of the students who are currently enrolled at the Sports Academy, I feel the coaches and administrators at that institution have done a good job in terms of the output of some of the students which are enrolled.”

He referred to the likes of Saint Lucian and Windward Islands dashing young batter Theo Edward, who scored a record four consecutive centuries at the past Winlott Windward Islands Under-15 Cricket Tournament, held here. Notably, Saint Lucian and West Indies young female all-rounder Zadia James is also a product of the Sports Academy.

Taking a positive outlook at the operations within the institution, thus far, Edward said, “what is being imparted at the Sports Academy will have in one way or another impacted this young man that he was able to go out there and give such a good account of himself and take Saint Lucia to victory in that particular championship.”