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Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands


Grenada's education system was deficient in meeting the basic needs of the country in the 1980s. Although literacy was estimated at nearly 90 percent, much of the population was only marginally literate and had little hope of becoming proficient at reading.

In 1981, the last year for which statistics were available in 1987, education was free and compulsory from ages six to fourteen, and most students completed a primary education. There were 68 primary schools with a total enrollment of approximately 22,100 students; the majority did not continue on to a secondary-school program. The secondary-school program for the same year included 20 schools and 6,250 students. Students took a middle-level examination at age sixteen to determine their eligibility for the final two years of preparatory work for university entrance. Few, however, actually completed these two years.

Grenada had only three institutions beyond the secondary level for technical or academic training of its citizens: the Institute for Further Education, the Teacher Training College, and the Technical and Vocational Institute. The St. George's Medical School, although administered in Grenada, existed to serve foreign medical students, most of whom came from the United States.

Although Grenada maintained a basic educational infrastructure, it was not producing workers with the vocational and administrative skills required of a developing economy. Notably deficient was training in electricity, electronics, plumbing, welding, construction, and other technical skills. A World Bank (see Glossary) development project to upgrade vocational training to help meet Grenada's long-term vocational needs was being reviewed in the spring of 1987.

Education reform was a pillar of the development platform of the PRG. Beginning in 1979, Bishop initiated programs designed to reorganize the entire curriculum and move it away from the British model. The overall plan envisioned the development of a nationwide education system that would meet the vague goal of addressing the "particular needs" of the society. This goal, however, was never explicitly defined, and education reform never became the rousing success claimed by the PRG.

Although the PRG strove to retrain primary-school and secondary-school teachers, little was accomplished because of the burden placed on teachers, who were asked both to instruct students and to attend PRG seminars. In addition, many teachers eventually became alienated and dropped out of the programs because of the programs' strong political overtones.

Perhaps the PRG's most successful attempts at education reform were the volunteer programs designed to improve rural literacy levels and repair community schools. Observers have suggested that rural literacy did improve and that stronger community ties were forged because of the pride generated through rebuilding local schools with volunteer labor. The overall education reform program, however, was not considered successful. Nevertheless, the publicity generated by education reform did contribute to the PRG's popularity.

Developments in primary and secondary education since the fall of the PRG in October 1983 were similarly minimal. Data and analyses of the post-PRG education system were not readily available, but a return to the British school system model was effected in 1984.

Data as of November 1987