BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is investing US$20 million in education and youth development in Saint Lucia. On October 3, the bank launched the Saint Lucia education quality improvement project (EQuIP) and the youth empowerment project (YEP).
EQuIP aims to strengthen the island’s education system, through the expansion and rehabilitation of four selected institutions, and overall improvements in educational leadership and instructional effectiveness, including training for teachers, principals and education officers.
“These two projects are designed to holistically address a number of the risk factors for sub-optimal educational outcomes, crime and violence, as well as deviant and anti-social behaviour that are affecting youth in a number of schools and communities across Saint Lucia. Specifically, EQuIP is expected to improve quality, equity, efficiency and effectiveness of the education system, making it responsive to the needs of diverse learners,” said Dr Idamay Denny, portfolio manager, CDB.
EQuIP will place emphasis on enhancing the support provided for children with special educational needs, by assessing the institutional and infrastructural improvements needed to provide quality education and equitable access to this vulnerable group.
“The fundamental reality is such that, when we provide a platform for every child to flourish within their own right, we as a nation succeed. This is the commitment of the Department of Education, and by extension, the government of Saint Lucia,” said Dr Gale Rigobert, minister of education, innovation, gender relations & sustainable development, Saint Lucia.
The other intervention, YEP, aims to support at-risk youth and their families, by expanding access to social services and developing new, targeted programmes.
“YEP will be implemented using an integrated, gender-responsive, social crime prevention approach that addresses some of the major challenges facing youth and families who are most disadvantaged and marginalised. This approach is critical to sustaining project benefits through the provision of multiple opportunities that facilitate social capital building and human capital formation,” Denny said.
The project will focus on mitigating risk factors that can lead to criminal behavior, enhance employability, and support community safety and security. It will include the implementation of community-based programmes that will provide leadership development and training for participants.
Lenard Montoute, acting prime minister and minister for equity, social justice, empowerment, youth development, sports, culture and local government, noted that the government of Saint Lucia is fully supporting both projects.
“Let us now focus our attention on the necessary steps for a successful outcome. I want to underscore the fact that it is time to act. We have real opportunity to empower and enrich the lives of our youth in a very significant way. Let us not waste it,” Montoute said.
CDB provided funding of US$16.2 million for EQuIP, and US$3.7 million for YEP. Both projects meet the bank’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development; as well as its corporate priority of improving the quality of and access to education and training and citizen security.