BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – October 27, 2015 – With support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), officials from the Government of Saint Lucia spent the past week learning from Barbados’ approaches to meeting the needs of special education students in its school system.
The Barbados Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation hosted the Saint Lucian delegation for the study tour, which took place October 19-23.
The visit included meetings where officials from Barbados and Saint Lucia discussed their experiences in delivering special education services. In addition, the group made visits to a number of schools across Barbados where students with special educational needs are enrolled.
The tour concluded on Friday, October 23 with Dr., the Hon. Robert Lewis, Minister of Education, Human Resource Development and Labour, Saint Lucia and his delegation making a courtesy call on Dr. Warren Smith, President, CDB.
“We have seen the various arrangements made by the Barbadian Government to accommodate children with special educational needs. There are so many different models being used in Barbados that it allows a parent to look for the best fit for his or her child. That is very important,” said Dr. Lewis of the observations he made during the study tour.
“I want to thank CDB for putting together this programme along with the Ministry of Education of Barbados. [It shows that] there really can be collaboration in the Caribbean. We can use each other when we know that there are lessons to be learned,” he said.
CDB has been a committed partner in helping the Government of Saint Lucia improve the quality of and access to education. In 2008, CDB approved a Basic Education Enhancement Project (BEEP) for Saint Lucia, designed to help enhance the learning environment of students across the island and improve the quality and effectiveness of schools.
Under BEEP, CDB’s support has included construction upgrades, rehabilitation works and the supply of furniture and equipment at Saint Lucia’s primary and secondary schools; capacity-building through leadership, management and teacher training; and curriculum reform. CDB funding for BEEP totaled USD 12 million.
“As part of its mission to provide for the needs of the vulnerable, CDB is dedicated to helping BMCs to provide for the needs of all children, including those requiring special education services,” said Dr. Idamay Denny, Portfolio Manager, Social Sector Division, CDB.
“This study tour is a meaningful exercise in sharing lessons learnt from the Barbados education system and identifying opportunities for improving the quality of education delivered to students with special needs,” she said.
Prior to implementing BEEP, CDB financed an Economic Recovery Project for Saint Lucia in 2003, which included the rehabilitation and upgrading of primary schools, and which accorded with the Government of Saint Lucia’s strategy for education, based on its then Education Sector Development Plan.
While in Barbados, Saint Lucian officials also met with Her Honour Kerryann Ifill, President of the Barbados Senate, who is visually impaired. Her Honour, who assists the Deighton Griffith Secondary School in providing for the needs of a visually impaired student, offered insights on her education experience in the Barbados education system and the nuances of special education services across the Caribbean.
Following the study tour, CDB will continue to actively engage the Government of Saint Lucia with a view to supporting the delivery of quality education services to students with special educational needs.