The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has launched a multi-million US dollar initiative that will allow citizens in the sub-regional grouping to benefit from a new education programme aimed at creating greater access to quality education for children.
It said that early childhood education, critical to a child’s development, is a key target area in this new initiative under the Programme for Educational Advancement and Relevant Learning (OECS PEARL).
The St Lucia-based ORECS Commission said that the US$10 million OECS PEARL, funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), seeks to increase the quality of teaching and learning in the OECS region, especially in light of the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector.
It is designed by the OECS Commission in collaboration with OECS Ministries of Education and the GPE and will cover four main components, namely enhanced quality and equity of access to early childhood education, enhanced curriculum and assessment, strengthened leadership and management and program management, Institutional strengthening, monitoring and evaluation
OECS Director General, Dr Didacus Jules, speaking at the launch of the programme earlier this month, highlighted the longstanding role of the OECS Commission in facilitating the harmonisation and advancement of education in the region.
“Education in the OECS has benefited from major strides, virtually all of which involve multiple lines of collaboration across member states in matters like education, statistics, curriculum and assessment – including national examinations and teacher training,” Jules said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for a united front and OECS territories have responded by supporting each other through this difficult period, engaging in joint procurement to reduce costs; joint strategy development for the reopening of schools; joint approaches to online learning; and the joint development of instructional content to support distributed learning models.
The OECS PEARL will complement these concerted efforts, and the goals of the OECS Education Sector Strategy (OESS), by providing an intervention that targets pre-primary to primary school learners, with specific attention to early childhood education, special education, and the OECS harmonised primary curriculum.
The OECS Commission will serve as a grant agent to Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines on behalf of the GPE and Jules also noted that the Commission sought and secured GPE support to extend some of the benefits from this program to non-GPE countries in the OECS.
“Working together we are stronger because we are able to do more with less. We are able to go deeper and further, because of the combined expertise and intellectual power that we possess, and we are able to create something that is bigger than the national, richer than the regional, and even challenging the international,” said Jules.
Dominica’s Education Minister, Octavia Alfred, speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries expressed confidence that the programme and the OECS Commission would serve the needs of the region.
“Dominica is proud to have participated in the conceptualisation and design of the OECS PEARL and we remain confident that the program is designed to meet the needs of the people of Dominica and the wider OECS.”
The OECS Commission was an obvious choice to serve as grant agents and we are proud to have contributed to this accomplishment by the Commission – our ultimate partner for education in the OECS,” Alfred said.