Press ReleasesStatements and Declarations








The Seventeenth Meeting of Conference of Heads of Government held in Barbados 1996 had,

Agreed that on the occasion of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, A Special Session should be dedicated to Education and Human Resource Development;

Requested the CARICOM Secretariat to begin preparatory consultations with Ministries of Education, UWI and other relevant organisations and convene a Special Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education (SCME) on Education and Human Resource Development, prior to the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government”

In preparation for this Special Session of the Conference, Member States were invited to conduct national consultations on the matter and to submit their positions for consideration at the regional level. In addition to the consultations held within the education sector, the Ministers responsible of Health and for Children also met to consider the issue of Human Resource Development.

Additionally the Ministers responsible for Women’s Affairs had requested that the Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice should also be submitted for the consideration of the Conference.

The preparatory work for this Special Session the Secretariat and UWI benefitted from the support of regional and international agencies such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

Submitted for the consideration of Heads of Government is a composite document which incorporates the submission and recommendations emanating from the various consultations and contained in the following documents:

    • Creative and Productive Citizens for the Twenty-First Century – a document approved by the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education (SCME) at a Special Meeting held in Barbados in May 1997
    • a Report on Human Resource Development and Science and Technology – prepared by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell
    • a Report from a Special Meeting of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health – held in Barbados in April 1997
    • a submission from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation
      a report from a

Regional Meeting of Ministers with responsibility for Children

      held in Belize in 1996 and a subsequent Meeting held in Jamaica in March 1997
      a policy document:

Towards Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice

      approved in The Bahamas in 1995 by Ministers with responsibility for Women’s Affairs and the

CARICOM Post Beijing Regional Plan of Action to the Year 2000

      subsequently approved by the Ministers in Trinidad and Tobago in 1996

The Conference will be invited to:

note the external and internal factors as well as the prevailing trends within the community which have influenced the dialogue on Human Resource Development;

consider the proposed Vision of the Caribbean and the definition of the Caribbean Person;

also note the development priorities within the Context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy;

also consider and endorse the following strategic interventions –

      (i) Strategies for Survival, Development and Prosperity and Critical Elements for Effecting Change proposed by the SCME;
      ii) the Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice approved by the Ministers with responsibility for Women;
      (iii) The Belize Commitment to Action for the Rights of the child proposed by the Ministers responsible for Children;
      (iv) The Health Promotion Charter and the Proposals for the Management of Human Resources proposed by the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health (CMH);
      (v) The recommendation on Science and Technology;


      the proposed programme of work.

External and Internal Environment and Implications for the Community

Informed by:

Studies Commissioned by CARICOM Secretariat
Analysis of Science and Technology Proposals
Promoting Productive Employment for Poverty Eradication: Issues, Policies and Programmes in the Caribbean
– Grace Strachan, ILO, 1996


The Caribbean Region faces a number of complex challenges to which an urgent response is necessary. In addition to building a capacity to respond to fundamental global changes which have overtaken the Community in spite of the gains in nation building reforms, the Community needs to move swiftly to arrest the deterioration in the social conditions of a significant section of our population. Our capacity to deal with this complex set of challenges will depend on the quality of our people and as a consequence there is need for a shift from an emphasis on the development of physical and financial capital only to the development of human capital. It is in this context that the proposals for human resource development are here set out for consideration.


The fundamental global changes present special challenges for the small states of the Caribbean Community . The growth of large trading blocs in the world threatens to marginalise small island nations while changes in the world economic situation, with a shift to greater liberalisation of trade, have resulted in an increased competitiveness in the market place, a situation to which small economies will have to make strenuous efforts to adjust. Rapid advances in technology and communications and the application of science and technology to research efforts and the productive processes in the developed countries has served to widen the gap between the rich and poorer nations.


Labour Market Trends

Despite some economic and social gains that have been achieved over the years, the Caribbean Region continues to be plagued with unacceptably high levels of unemployment and poverty which accentuate the problems initiated by rapid changes at the global level. Unemployment levels of over 15 per cent have been reported for Barbabos, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago with over 10 per cent in Belize. The burden of the unemployment has fallen particularly on women, youth, the disabled and on some rural and ethnic groups (Strachan, ILO, 1996). While high levels of unemployment are reported, there exists critical shortages of skilled labour in key economic sectors. Lower and middle managers with responsibility for productivity enhancement and technical skills linked to priority areas of industrial development (UNIDO Report prepared for CARICOM, 199.), qualified tourism experts fundamental to the creation and delivery of a competitive quality product as well as other skills for the tourism related services (CTO, 1997) are among the shortages of skills reported.

Social Problems

Several social problems have been observed which have implications for human resource development strategy –

      (i) The weakening of the extended family and community relations with its negative social and economic effects on the household, especially the single parent female headed household;
      (ii) An increase in substance abuse and high incidences of HIV/AIDS among our young people
      (iii) An increase in crime associated with drug trafficking; and also an increase in domestic violence;
      (iv) An increase in levels of poverty particularly in the rural areas.

While presenting Caribbean countries with significant opportunities for economic advancement, the rapid developments in communications have at the same time, exposed the region to cultural penetration. This exposure has contributed to the disruption of those traditional patterns of life which need to be preserved, the erosion of family values, and the promotion of social disintegration and increasing levels of crime and violence.

Performance of the Education System

A World Bank Report indicates that in 1990 the overall average of the 20 -24 age group enrolled in tertiary (non degree) was only 6.1 per cent and 1.7 per cent in higher (university) institutions in the Region. (Note this figure dose not include overseas training). The enrollment levels for tertiary ( non degree) ranged from a high of 14.1 per cent in Barbados to 4.9 per cent in Guyana and Jamaica and 2.4 per cent in St Vincent and the Grenadines. These levels are low in comparison with the enrollment levels of 16 to 66 per cent in Industrial Countries and 36 – 13 per cent in Latin America.

An analysis of the performance of students at the primary and secondary levels indicate some disturbing trends. There is evidence of repetition, drop-outs, absenteeism and truancy which are indicative of the quality of services offered. The performance of students at the primary level is regarded as being below acceptable standards necessary to build an adequate foundation for the required competencies, skills and understandings for science technology and foreign languages; and the transition from primary to secondary is a difficult experience for some pupils. At the secondary level, less than 12 per cent of the candidates pass 5 or more subjects in the CXC while 36 per cent pass no subjects at all . This level of passes is considered to be inadequate to meet the needs of the job market or entry to university education (Craig 1997).

Prevailing Trends

A number of prevailing trends have been observed within the Community which have implications for human resource development planning (Special Meeting of SCME, May 1997). These are:

      (i) persistent difficulties in accelerating and stabilising the rate of growth of employment within the formal sector of the economy;
      (ii) a general low level of entrepreneurship;
      (iii) declining opportunities in the low- skilled, low -waged sector;
      (iv) increase in the

fall out

      especially among the socially and economically disadvantaged;
      (v) increase in number of unemployed youth; and
      (vi) increase in the numbers of displaced workers;
      (vii) increasing deterioration in the quality of inter-personal relationships a resulting from the lack of caring for one another in the schools, in the community, in homes and the workplace.
      (viii) increased opportunities for self-employment within both formal and informal sectors of the economy;
      (ix) increasing opportunities in the higher skill jobs requiring higher technology;
      (x) increase in leisure time;
    (xi) increasing participation of females in the workplace.

These trends need to be addressed so that the Community would either benefit from those which are positive or reverse as quickly as possible those that are detrimental.


The fundamental changes at the global level have created conditions in which economic well-being has become increasingly dependent on the availability of a highly educated and high skilled labour force capable of being retrained to meet changing demands.

An analysis of Science and Technology needs within the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy pointed to the need to master the use of the information technology and to ensure that adequate opportunities are provided for skills development at all levels . Self employment through the development of viable micro-enterprises should be promoted as a means of solving the high levels of unemployment among youth and women.

The analysis also emphasised the importance of increased productivity as a means of achieving the anticipated improvements in the social and economic welfare of Caribbean people. Recommended interventions at the Marco level include:

      (i) the commitment to educational reform and manpower planning in both the public and private sectors;
      (ii) the adoption of a more flexible and less restrictive industrial policies and strategies;
    (iii) the creation of a more co-operative industrial climate;

while the recommended interventions at the micro level include:

      (i) appropriate training;
      (ii) the upgrading of human resources;
      (iii) improved research and development;
      (iv) the introduction of appropriate technology;
      (v) more meaningful worker participation in the productive process.

The Special Session of SCME (May 1997) noted that ultimately, the development of human resources is both cause and effect of economic development and so strategies should ensure opportunities and incentives for all citizens including those with special needs to improve their standard of living and quality of life.


Informed by :

The Regional Cultural Policy
The West Indian Commission Report
The Caribbean Charter for Health Promotion
The Special Meeting of SCME, May 1997


The Caribbean should be seen as that part of the world where the population enjoys a good quality of life with the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health care and employment being all virtually satisfied. The environment should be one which provides clean air and water, unpolluted seas and healthy communities – an environment that has not been destroyed by the development process.


The Ideal Caribbean Person should be someone who among other things :

is imbued with a respect for human life since it is the foundation on which all the other desired values must rest;
is emotionally secure with a high level of self confidence and self esteem;
sees ethnic, religious and other diversity as a source of potential strength and richness;
is aware of the importance of living in harmony with the environment;
has a strong appreciation of family and kinship values, community cohesion, and moral issues including responsibility for and accountability to self and community;
has an informed respect for the cultural heritage;
demonstrates multiple literacies independent and critical thinking, questions the beliefs and practices of past and present and brings this to bear on the innovative application of science and technology to problems solving;
demonstrates a positive work ethic;
values and displays the creative imagination in its various manifestations and nurture its development in the economic and entrepreneurial spheres in all other areas of life;

  • has developed the capacity to create and take advantage of opportunities to control, improve, maintain and promote physical, mental, social and spiritual well being and to contribute to the health and welfare of the community and country
  • nourishes in him/herself and in others, the fullest development of each person’s potential without gender stereotyping and embraces differences and similarities between females and males as a source of mutual strength


Informed By:

Report on Human Resource Development and Science and Technology
Within the Context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy,
Prepared by Dr the Hon Keith C Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada, June 1997.
Report from the Special Meeting of the Conference of Ministers with responsibility for Health, May 1997.
Report from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), May 1997.

While the fundamental global changes serve to define in broad terms the nature of the reform in the education system, the business and industry development priorities as well as the specific needs of the services as determined by national policies will provide directions for the planning, development and delivery of training programmes. Some sectors have already undertaken preliminary steps towards the identification of training needs.

The report on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy has identified several development priorities which can serve to inform human resource development programmes. These include:

      (i) the development of non-traditional agriculture to meet the demands of a growing tourism sector and also to enhance food security at home;
      (ii) the undertaking of primary, secondary or even tertiary processing of commodities previously exported in their raw state (producing greater value added products);
      (iii) the diversification into export services industries ( e.g. tourism, information processing and off-shore financial services) with significant growth potential;
      (iv) the placing of greater emphasis on science and the use of appropriate technology in both the production and distribution of goods and services;
      (v) the restructuring of the incentive regime so as to give greater incentives to businesses that are engaged in the implementation of appropriate technology training initiatives and export oriented activities;
      (vi) the implementation of legislation to safeguard intellectual property rights;
      (vii) the establishment of Marketing Intelligence Networks that would facilitate easy access to marketing information as well as the identification and exploitation of niche markets for the region’s exotic products ad organically grown foods.

The report on Science and Technology within the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy identified a number of opportunities for the development of industry and services including agro-forestry, extractive industries, craft pharmaceutical and cosmetics, tourism and cultural goods. The national and regional capacity to exploit the opportunities available will depend in a large measure on the Science and Technology capability and the quality of human resources. These priorities will serve to inform the training needs and the direction of research.

The consultations of the Health Sector reiterated that the explicitly articulated guidelines of health policy – Primary Health Care and Health Promotion – should be the fundamental basis for both health services and human resource development. These guidelines should also dictate the strategic orientation of health sciences education and training. It has been recommended that a thorough exposure to Public Health during the training of environmental officers at both the basic and generic level s should be among the health training priorities.

The 1995 report of a Commission on the Tourism Sector which was established by the UWI reported on the areas of the Tourism Sector which required attention. These included senior management, executive chiefs, engineers, linguists, cultural ambassadors and research and development.

Relevance and quality of training have been emphasised during all consultations. It is anticipated that the establishment of mechanisms for building partnerships between the training institutions and business, industry and services will ensure that these requirements can be met.


Informed by:

Strategies for Survival and Critical Elements for Effecting Change: Special Meeting of Standing Committee of Ministers with responsibility for Education, Barbados, May 1997


The Strategies for Development and Prosperity and the Critical Elements for Change were approved at the Special Meeting of Standing Committee of Minister responsible for Education held in Barbados in May 1997.

Education is the major mechanism to bring about the necessary transformation in Caribbean Society. However, a mere increase in access to education and training, however, will not guarantee higher productivity, competitiveness and good citizenship. Human resource development strategies must ensure that education and training are not done in the mechanistic manner which was characteristic of past periods. These strategies need to take into account:

      (i) the emerging profile of the workforce needed for competitiveness;
      (ii) the re-organisation of production processes; and
      (iii) the development of abilities, attitudes, skills and technological knowledge necessary for jobs, entrepreneurial development and human well being.

This approach needs to be promoted both within and without the formal system.

Education in the Caribbean must have as its ultimate goal the creation of a democratic Caribbean society which allows for the evolution of the new Caribbean person who is at the centre of his/her development.


The trends observed within the Community suggest certain directions for education and training which will serve to guide the implementation of the a Action Plan:

      (i) A rethinking of the way education is conceptualised, developed and implemented focussing on

value added

      at each level resulting in outcomes that are qualitatively different;
      (ii) A shift from a focus on entry requirements which restrict access, to an emphasis on exit standards, thereby increasing access and promoting equity;
      (iii) The introduction of processes which support the development of graduates who are adaptable, flexible, creative, competent and who have the capacity and willingness to keep on learning;
      (iv) The creation of a learning environment in which the teacher serves as facilitator

with the student taking increasing responsibility for his/her learning

      and being deliberately encouraged to be futuristic in their thinking;
      (v) The introduction of a system which is gender sensitive in its focus and practice to ensure the full participation and development of both sexes;
      (vi) The introduction of a system, sensitive to the special needs of learners, which aims to remove physical, mental and financial barriers and which provides an enabling environment and necessary support to such persons to fully participate and succeed in the system.

The educational experiences being so wide and varied demand partnerships among the various stakeholders. Parents, business, trade unions, community, religious bodies, non-governmental agencies and government will all have to be involved in:

      (i) the provision of educational opportunities for both the formal and non-formal sectors, including opportunities for retraining;
      (ii) the governance and management of systems and institutions;
      (iii) the development of collaboration between institutions in areas such as research, planning and curriculum development; and
      (iv) the financing of education.

To achieve these most important partnerships it is necessary that the following be available:

      (i) definitions for early childhood education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education and tertiary education which are in keeping with international definitions;
      (ii) common education indicators which will be used to monitor progress in the system; and
      (iii) a standardised format of what statistics are collected and how they are collated and analysed.

It is suggested that CARICOM Secretariat take the lead in this and provide relevant drafts within four months of the conclusion of the Special Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education held in Barbados in May 1997.


Consistent with the challenges and the vision outlined in the preceding sections a number of strategic imperatives suggest themselves. The building of creative and productive capacity hinges on four parallel and complimentary educational processes. These are outlined below:

1. Higher and Tertiary Education

First and foremost is the enrollment of at least 15 per cent of the post secondary age cohort in tertiary-level education by the Year 2005. A 15 per cent enrollment in tertiary level education is about double what obtains at present, and represents a formidable challenge. But it is no more than what other middle income countries have already achieved, and if Caribbean countries continue to lag behind the price in terms of inability to complete could be catastrophic.

The imperative is not only to enrol, but also to ensure an output that matches enrolment. Measures of accountability will need to be instituted to realise this. Tertiary-level institutions will have to be strengthened to assume an expanded role and to realise an improved quality of output closely aligned to current and anticipated need and the realities of the Society. New methods of delivery, such as distance education, and a policy which places more emphasis on exit standards rather than on initial entry qualifications will have to be adopted. Quality assurance mechanisms alluded to earlier will be critical to this development.

Enrollment target addresses issues of access and numbers. However, there are other strategic objectives to be pursued in a plan for human resources for the Twenty-First Century in the Caribbean context. Several of these are stated in UWI strategic plan for 1997-2002. These are summarised as follows:

    • the enhancement of the developmental contribution of young people by training particularly in areas of science, technology and international business
    • upgrading and enlarging the capability of the Region’s TLIs and fostering complementarily between their programmes
    • enhancing the links between educational and training institutions and government and business enterprises to ensure the relevance and usefulness of education and training programmes
    • increased support for research which directly or indirectly supports Caribbean development and international competitiveness including research on the education sector itself
    • ensure availability of cadre of citizens adequately equipped with knowledge of Caribbean and the world, with bilingual skills and an appreciation of the contribution of science and technology to contemporary world and sustainable development

The Regional Strategy for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) identified the number of actions aimed at strengthening the role of TVET as a strategy for human resource development. Among the actions identified are:

      (i) expansion of education training opportunities;
      (ii) optimisation of use of available resources;
      (iii) increase in impact of resources allocated for education and training; and
      (iv) consolidation and continued development of TVET.

The rapid changes in technology makes it imperative that Governments put the appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure financial support for TVET institutions.

2. Secondary, Primary and Pre-Primary Education

These new developments in higher and tertiary education will create new imperatives for the entire education system, but particularly for the formal system.

Universal secondary education will have to be a goal to be achieved within the same time-frame. Universal secondary education is a goal in its own right, since the evidence clearly indicates that the countries which have exhibited the fastest and highest levels of economic growth are those which have achieved universal or near universal secondary education. The realisation of the goal of universal secondary education will require, inter alia, new organisational and management structures, the introduction of policies of open schooling, new teaching and learning methods and forms of assessment, and a greater use of technology in education. These developments in secondary education will also have their implications for the primary and pre-primary levels of education, particularly in terms of urgently necessary improvement in efficiency, effectiveness and quality.

While the primary level has been the focus of reform initiatives in many Member States, pre-primary development has only now come into equivalent focus. The recently formulated Regional Action Plan for Early Childhood Education Development arising from the Second Caribbean Conference on Early Childhood Education and Development in April 1997 defines new directions for this level. Research evidence has indicated the crucial importance of Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) to the success of any initiative in human resource development. It is therefore imperative that ECED be urgently addressed.

3. Opportunities for Out-of-School Youth

The introduction of a policy of open schooling will not only contribute to the attainment of universal secondary education within the formal organisational structure, but will also provide the means for addressing the problems of youths who, for one reason or another, are not captured within the formal framework, but continue to represent a grave social and economic problem throughout the Region.

At the same time, adults who did benefit or only partially benefited from programmes of formal education, but who constitute a large proportion of the work force, will be able through this means to advance their education and upgrade their productive skills. Governments and the private sector will need to cooperate closely in finding ways of building a creative and productive workforce, and education at the work place will have to become an acceptable norm.

There is also need to increase the articulation between secondary school and post-secondary training facilities and the mobilisation of out-of-school youth through:

      (a) the collection of data on the occupational and training aspirations of school leavers;
      (b) the use of these data in the formulation of training programmes as well as in the motivation of individual youth to pursue their aspirations through the intervention of youth officers, community workers and training officers.

4. Non-formal: educational process
Parallel and complementary to Standard education

In addition to the standard educational process which leads to certification, there is also the need for educational processes that parallel and complement it. These parallel and complementary processes lead to the building of a strong ethical and value systems as well as and the attainment of an appropriate world view and are as important for Caribbean people as is the need to achieve a competitive edge economically.

These parallel, complementary educational processes serve the goal of culturally enhancing a population that may not be immediately interested in enrollment or certification as well as those going through the standard education process. The programmes are people oriented and include concerns for environment, health education, awareness of science and technology and family values. Given the nature of the topics, the sector must be dynamic, creative and constantly alert to the changes taking place in the Community and the world at large.

Already governments are expending significant budget allocations on these parallel and complementary processes through the Ministries with responsibility for Community Rural and Social Development and Youth. Large sums are also allocated through the NGO Community.

The Caribbean Community needs to recognise the potential contribution of this sector and mobilise the wide range of government and non-governmental resources to ensure that the benefits can be realised. Strategies for ensuring attainment of objectives in this sector will include:

      (i) strengthening of alliances among the various government and non-governmental organisations;
      (ii) packaging of relevant information into a deliverable form;
      (iii) the training of all persons engaged in this sector;
      (iv) a process of continuous review to ensure relevance .

5. Private Sector Involvement

Private firms and institutions are merging as important providers of education and training. They are particularly significant among adult learners and post-secondary school leavers and in the area of in-house training programmes.

Efforts should be made to optimise the contribution of private education and training institutions by:

      (i) strengthening their management and programme delivery capacity;
      (ii) incorporating them within the overall policy framework for education an training and in associations appropriate to their level;
      (iii) official policies and actions directed towards quality assurance and maintenance of standards.


      In order for reform strategies to be effective, certain critical elements must be given attention. These include:
      (i) Life-Long Learning;
      (ii) Culture;
      (iii) The Teaching Force;
      (iv) Application of Technology;
      (v) Certification and Articulation Arrangements;
      (vi) Accountability;
      (vii) Alliances between School and Community;
      (viii) Curriculum Reform;
      (ix) Financing;
      (x) Legal Framework.

1. Life-long Learning

Given the rapid change in information, the factor of the global village, and the rapid change in technology and the general market, it is obvious that formal schooling cannot equip our citizens with an education to maintain them throughout life. Education must therefore be concerned with the prevention of obsolescence in all spheres of life.

As a result of the foregoing there is need for a paradigm shift from education seen as schooling to one of life-long learning. Within the context of learning the following should operate:

    • there should be an emphasis on teaching how to learn, with our school system
    • greater attempts should be made to integrate formal and non-formal education, while at the same time giving more value to adult and continuing education programmes within our systems
    • emphasis should be in the provision of learning opportunities through libraries, specified open learning centres, and the use of distance education methodologies in order to give effect to life long education. Existing school buildings and facilities should be definitely used to facilitate more open access and methodologies
    • accreditation processes should take cognizance of such open learning processes

2. Culture

Culture which plays a critical role in human resource development is the context within which our educational system operates. It is also the means of empowering people to be liberated to their creativity and self development. Understanding and valuing our culture will allow our people to become full, unapologetic, self-confident, creative, sovereign human beings capable of embracing and accessing the wealth in our diversity in ethnicity, language, religion, art and technology.

3. The Teaching Force

Perhaps the most crucial challenge facing the education and training system is the inability to attract and retain appropriately qualified staff. The situation has assumed crisis proportions in many instances and is directly associated with:

      (i) unattractive remuneration and unfavourable conditions of service;
      (ii) low status and lack of recognition for the teaching profession;
      (iii) societal problems affecting conditions in schools and attitudes towards education; and
      (iv) the effect of these problems on the quality of life of teachers and their ability to cope.

These issues need to be addressed with urgency since a quality teaching force is pivotal to the success of any other strategies designed to meet the challenges of the Twenty-First Century.

Of crucial importance is the total framework within which teacher development is planned and organised. Once teachers are recruited, there should be legislation which states that they should not stand before classes for more than three to five years without the appropriate training and the appending qualifications which will certify them as teachers. In addition to this, there should be a system of retraining of teachers and re-certification after an acceptable period of time, for example, a period of five years. Conditions of service, career path, financial incentives and mechanisms for teacher appraisal are all important elements of such a framework. Courses should be offered to those who deliver special programmes, for example, courses in Adult Education.

Policies related to teacher education must target both initial training and the continuing development of the teaching force and take cognisance of the total personal development of persons. Pertinent issues in this regard include, inter alia, training in information technology, use of technology in the teaching/learning situation, orientation to research, and new directions in measurement and evaluation.

4. Application of Technology

The technology age brings with it both new challenges as well as opportunities. One major challenge is the transition to a knowledge-based economic system. The advances in technology and telecommunications however provides opportunities for the ready access to information as well as a means of reaching more persons through distance education programmes.

To grasp these opportunities, the Region would need to pursue, inter alia, the following developments –

(i) the application of computer assisted learning where possible and in any event to serve all primary and secondary schools and the community in general;

(ii) the computer facilities of tertiary institutions should be built or upgraded as a matter of urgency to meet the additional demands on these institutions;

(iii) the Universities in the Region and other TLIs should establish themselves as a single computer network community; and

(iv) the audio-visual and other educational technology capabilities of institutions at all levels of the education system should be expanded or upgraded, as appropriate.
5. Certification and Articulation Arrangements

A major concern which impacts on the efficiency of the education and training system is that of the lack of coordination between levels of the systems and between parallel academic and vocational tracks. The Region needs to establish as a matter of urgency a single coherent system of training and education with clearly defined levels of knowledge and skills, certification and job levels. This would help to create a single professional culture, linking persons who achieve education and training by different modalities. This has important implications for determining equivalency of academic and vocational levels and consequent career possibilities.

6. Accountability

Accountability at all levels of the education system must be seen as an essential requirement for ensuring quality, efficiency and value for money. Accountability in this sense goes beyond the purely financial, and has to include what has commonly come to be described a academic audit. Funding for tertiary institutions need to move away from exclusive dependence on student enrolment as the benchmark to allow for some consideration of quality in the support of programmes.

Critical to the reform strategies foreseen for Caribbean education is the accountability of teachers at all levels of the system in relation to definite responsibilities and the performance of duties. Mobilisation of the support and assistance of the various teachers unions will be essential to achieving this goal.

7. Alliances between School and Community

It is essential that there be urgent and necessary alliance developed between the workplace and the school especially the tertiary level institutions. To this end, much of the curriculum should be market driven whilst paying some attention to skills for national development.

Equally important is the mechanism of involving the readily available resource of parents as partners in the teaching/learning process with the assistance of national bodies where they exist.

The support of the media should be enlisted in the promotion of knowledge about current issues relevant to national development and the inculcation of attitudes/values which are conducive to development.

8. Curriculum Reform

It is acknowledged that there should be general curriculum reform. With particular reference to delivery the curriculum should be delivered in a modular form so that students would have the opportunity to complete courses or components relevant to their interests and needs and at their own pace of development. This approach will facilitate them with greater opportunities for access to the job market and for life-long learning.

9. Financing

The changes warranted in the scope and efficiency of the education and training sector would entail the adoption or strategies which expand the availability of financial resources and maximise the efficiency and effectiveness with which they are used.

Strategies for expanding the availability of financing resources should include:

      (i) larger fiscal contributions from governments;
      (ii) initiation or wider dissemination of measures for cost-sharing on a uniform basis or on a targeted basis;
      (iii) mobilisation of cash and in-kind assistance from foreign governments, agencies and institutions, including multilateral institutions.

Strategies for maximising effectiveness and efficiency of financial resource use should include:

      (i) development or institutional capacity for –
        (a) strategic planning;
        (b) programme budgeting; and
      (c) performance audits and evaluation.

The determination of priorities must be better informed by research and data gathering on the potential or actual impact of educational activities and operations. There is need to prioritise strategically programmes that will prove to have optimal impact on the quality of education services.

10. Legal Framework

An adequate legal framework will be required to reflect the rights and responsibilities of all the stakeholders in the educational systems. Member countries which have not yet done so should amend their legislation to take account of the changes which are imperative.

At the regional level the Harmonisation of Educational Legislation which Ministers have already endorsed should be followed up.


Informed by:

The Seventh Meeting of the Ministers responsible for Women’s Affairs, The Bahamas, 1995;
The Special Meeting of Ministers for Women’s Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago, 1996

The Conference of Heads of Government had requested that special attention be given to the issue of male underachievement. In the consultations, it was acknowledged that this issue required more in depth research before any definitive interventions could be detailed and that the larger issue of gender equality should be addressed.

A Position paper which reviewed available data and research prepared by the UWI Centre for Gender and Development Studies (Bailey, 1997) pointed out that:

      (i) “… although quantitatively, girls have an advantage over boys in education systems in the Caribbean, because of the pattern of participation in the educational process, qualitatively, girls are at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts.”
      (ii) “Data exist which point to the fact that in the market-place males can succeed with fewer years of schooling than can their female counterparts” ( Figueroa & Handa, 1996).
      (iii) “The patterns of Curriculum participation and achievement suggest that girls are leaving the secondary level of the education system without a strong scientific-technical base”

The recommendations in the study include research on gender socialisation and male underachievement.

The contextual frame for examining the problem is set out in the policy document Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice which was approved at the Seventh Meeting of the Ministers with responsibility for Women’s Affairs held in The Bahamas in 1995.

The Mission Statement set out in the Policy document is as follows:

“A policy Statement on Gender Equality and Social Justice offers the Region a framework within which the structures of subordination can be identified and eliminated. These structures, which operate in the public and private spheres, related to educational opportunities, legal/human rights, shared opportunities, work value and rewards, when applied equally, deprive women of a balanced share of the Region’s resources. To reform these systems and practices, based on principles of equality and justice, is to re-invest new energies into the Region’s productive capital and the governance thereof.

The Goal of the Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice is:

“The building of new structures of power sharing at the household, community, national and regional levels where both men and women can participate fully in developing a system of cooperation in decision making, as equal partners in the sustainable development of our societies.”

Gender inequality prevents the Region from mobilising all of our human resources in several ways. It has been observed that skills and jobs that are traditionally female are low-waged and this discourages men from these areas of study and work. The gender stereotyping of jobs also drives both males and females to traditional roles in the workplace which may not correspond to their real interest or potential.

The relationship between human resource development and gender equality may be summed up in the words of the preamble to the Regional Policy:

The process of transforming social relations based on principles of gender equality and social equity requires that women must occupy a position alongside men, in negotiating for, distributing and managing the Region’s material and non-material resources.

One of the principles on which this transformation would rest is that the legal and human rights of women are developmental issues, related to increased output and stability, and are not primarily issues of social welfare.

The CARICOM Post-Beijing Regional Plan of Action to the Year 2000 which was approved at the Special Meeting of Ministers responsible for Women’s Affairs in November 1996 recommends the conduct of participatory research on the impact of gender socialisation, the design of popular education and media productions and the development of modules on gender issues for use in the institutional and in-service training of teachers.

At the Special Meeting of the Ministers responsible for Women’s Affairs held in Trinidad and Tobago in November 1996, the Secretariat was requested to formally submitted the Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice to the Conference of Heads of Government.

The Conference is invited consider and to formally endorse the Regional Policy on Gender Equality and Social Justice; and approve and support the research, training and education interventions to be undertaken within the context of the CARICOM Post Beijing Regional Plan of Action.



Informed by:

Recommendations of the Meetings of Ministers with responsibility
for Children, Belize 1996 and Jamaica 1997.

The well being of Caribbean children and their families has been identified as a key concern and an integral element of any human resource development policy. The formative stage of development spans the period from birth through to eight years with 50 per cent of the intelligence development done by age four (4). It has been demonstrated that interventions made during this phase have a significant positive impact on development in later years. Studies have shown that children who are given the opportunity to go to pre-schools repeat less, tend not to drop-out, do better examinations and remain literate longer as adults.

The Ministers responsible for Children have made commitments to protect our children. In Belize in 1996, Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for Children signed the Belize Commitment to Action for the Rights of the Child. This document includes specific Commitments with respect to Budgeting for an Enabling Environment; Legal and law Enforcement; Family Development and Empowerment in collaborating with NGOs and Communities.

The Belize Commitment also includes a Children’s Resolution reflecting the position of fifty two (52) children who attended the Children’s Forum of the Caribbean Conference on the Rights of the Child.

At the meeting held in Jamaica in 1997, the Ministers identified specific interventions. The Meeting recognised that the agenda for children requires on-going implementation and sustained support, but agreed on priority actions that require immediate attention. These include:


the development of national processes to secure political, administrative and public consensus to shift the development agenda from a welfare orientation to a social development focus, putting children first as an investment in breaking the inter-generational cycles of poverty;


the institutionalisation of a holistic approach to policy development and programme planning which gives primacy to the integration of the delivery of services for children and families;


the development of participatory mechanisms to include not only public sector and civic society, but also children themselves in the process of decision making, programme implementation and evaluation;

      (iv) the continuation of work by government and co-operation partners towards the implementation of the 20/20 Initiative, the cosial investment formula adopted at the 1995 World Summit on Social Development, and the promotion of equity in the allocation of resources so that the needs of poor children and their families are addressed.

While agreeing and recommending that Early Childhood Education and Development should be given urgent attention, the Standing Committee of Ministers with responsibility for Education recognised that the success of this programme will depend on the collaboration and support from other sectors. The Ministers with responsibility for Children have also given their commitment to support the implementation of the Caribbean Plan of Action for Early Childhood Education, Care and Development 1995 – 2002, adopted at the Second Caribbean Conference on Early Childhood Education held in Barbados in 1997.

The Hon. Prime Minister, of Belize will formally present the Belize Commitment to Action for the Rights of the Child signed in Belize in 1996 and the Kingston Accord of 1997.

The Conference of Heads of Government will be invited to approve and support the strategic interventions identified by the Ministers with responsibility for Children.


Informed by:

Decisions of the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health, St Vincent and the Grenadines, 1994.
Decisions of the Special Meeting of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health, Barbados, April 1997.

The success of the Community’s efforts to build creative and productive citizens depends on not only the interventions in education, but also on the health of the population.

Notwithstanding the improvement in the health status of the population, the good health status of the Community is now under serious threat. Not only the adult population, but also the health of children and youth have been increasingly at risk. Major problems include dramatic increases in obesity and risk factors for such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, unprecedented rise in substance abuse, HIV-AIDS, growth in mental health problems such as depression, deaths from suicides, accidents and violence especially in the young.

The health problems observed are related to habits and lifestyles that are inculcated in childhood, consolidated in adolescence and influenced by the physical, socio-economic and cultural environments. These threaten to erode the health gains which the Caribbean people have come to enjoy and to foreshorten and devalue the potential of Caribbean human resources. These problems are already resulting in substantial and unaffordable health costs and can lead to a reduction in the returns on the earlier social investments in education and health.

This recognition of the links between today’s health problems and lifestyles and living conditions led to the development of a Caribbean Charter for Health Promotion. The Charter, which builds on the Primary Health Care Strategy, recognises that multi sectoral interventions are needed for the development of healthy human capital. It calls for the implementation of six strategies:


Healthy Public Policy

      which calls for health and human development considerations to be taken into account in formulating and analysing policies. Critical to the health of children and youth are education policies which will provide for ‘schooling’ that meets the full range of children’s learning and development needs and expanded investment in community based health services geared to children and youth.

Creating Supportive Environments

      required the implementation of public health measures as well as school management practices and programs that will foster and maintain school and community environments that will support and reinforce the practice of health and life skills in young people and staff.

Reorienting Health Services

      must be built into ongoing health sector reform initiatives and include a focus on equity, affordability, efficiency and effectiveness and the responsiveness of services community needs.

Empowering Communities to Achieve Well-Being

      invites the development of linkages and programs which will encourage and enable schools, families, community leaders and NGOs to work together to promote health and quality of life.

Developing Personal Health Skills

      must ensure the provision of health and family life education for young people in and out of schools as well as community members to enable them to acquire the information and skills to make work individually and together to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Building Alliances with the Media

      calls for strategies that will seek to engage their interest in health and social development issues and to strengthen their capacity to place health and human development issues before the public in a balanced and informed way.

The Conference is invited to adopt the Health Promotion Charter as the framework for the development and implementation of health interventions complementary to and supportive of strategic interventions in the education sector.


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