26 March, 2007


Guest Editorial: Anguilla’s Failing Education System.
Anyone who is familiar the education systems of the West Indies would agree with me that Anguilla’s is one of the worst. It is a despair to me that we are turning out year after year a bunch of uneducated, indisciplined, unemployable young men. There are a few bright and welcome exceptions, but, they remain exceptions. One of my readers has contributed this essay, which I am happy to publish as a guest editorial:
Caribbean Net News recently carried a good article on the need to focus on child protection for youth at risk. A team came to Anguilla to research the issue of child protection, and assist with the development and implementation of action plans to strengthen the services for children. These people have now come and gone in Anguilla, and we have heard nothing of their conclusions and recommendations.

"Youth at risk" means if we don't deal with them in primary school, we get to deal with
them after they murder shop keepers in Little Dix. Unfortunately, a decision has been taken at the highest level to deal with the symptoms instead of the problems. All claims to the contrary are lies, like transparency at Social Security. Look at what our leaders do, not what they say.

The bright star in this mess is the WISE programme at the Cottage Hospital. Even with the increased budget, it is vastly underfunded, and unable to accommodate the hundreds of young people who need its services.

The Place 2 Be has a truly excellent programme for helping primary school children deal with problems. They, too, come and gone in Anguilla. They trained 15 teachers. An excellent start, but only a beginning. This programme has been put on the same shelf with the constitutional review and the coroner's report on the police officer who drove into the court house.

All what they left behind is a Minister who offers the excuse that he's on a learning curve. A minister of education is not expected to be an expert in educational psychology and the intricacies of classroom techniques, any more than the administrator of the Health Authority has to be a brain surgeon. His job is to listen to the advice of those who have spent a lifetime learning specialised skills, and work with these experts to bring better services to the people. Even a minister who works a four day week should have time to tell the Permanent Secretary, "OK - let's go for it!" What we are lacking is leadership.


  1. Youth at risk, the term alone implies that they have not gone down yet.

    So listen up, put your ear to the ground and pick up the voices off the field.

    So much can be done, if we had more than 2 youth welfare officers With over-time pay. And travel allowances or a government vehicle. If we had truancy officers with a decent salery and more than one. If caring for youth was not mainly left to the Education Department, if Social Development, Social Services, Police and Parents took a more active, PROactive approach.And started to actively think and work together on all levels.

    If we just kept talking with, and listening to, our youth.... And then TAKE their suggestions and act accordingly.
    The Youth and Culture Department
    (a one-man with secretary operation) is coming out with a new Youth Council, lets hear them.

    The Chief Education Officer is working hard to maintain and improve numeracy and literacy at Primary and Secondary, to maintain the Yirtues project.She has the expertise, spiret and heart. Let's give her all the (financial)support she needs.
    The technical studies department of ALHCS is just turning out the first students with a Welsh Board Certificates, they are working real hard raising the bar and improving the image of their department. Lets employ these young ones and pay them fairly.

    Yes, it is up to the minister to listen. think and follow through.
    All eyes on him, he can do it.

    He'll just have to.

  2. The Minister has allocated $700,000 to Carnival but hasn't been able to give the youth welfare officers a petrol allowance because he's on a learning curve? And we're subjected to speeches by Bunton and Victor about how important social development is? These people are an insult to our intelligence.

  3. When you say Anguilla education system is failing, is your information base on facts, statistics, or emotion? Can you define what you mean by failing? How many students are leaving high school with 5 or more subjects compared to five years ago? How many teachers are trained compared to five years ago? How many children are entering pre school who can already read compared to five years ago? How many students have received sports related scholarships? How many young people have their own business as a result of skills training? How many students are competent in Maths, science and English?

    From my brief rsearch it appears Anguilla is doing quite well. More Anguillians have earned a college degree in the last five years than ever before? And this is from an island that does not have a tertiary institution. I must commend those parents and young people who have seen the wisdom of investing in education. Our teachers are doing miracles with our children on limited resources and should be commended. Unfortunately, I cannot blame the Minister of Education, who is one individual for some of the problems we see in education today.

    Quite frankly, if we were to look at the facts and not base our argument on emotion it would be quite clear that only about 25 young people are causing 80% of the youth related crime and problems we see in our community today. Youth who are repeat offenders with the law. We know who they are. Anguilla is a tiny knit society. Please do not allow the deliquent minority to sully our education system that continues to graduate students who can compete at any ivy league university in the USA, Canada or Europe. Please do not allow the deliquent minority to sully those gifted Anguillians who are using their talents to open their own business. I must say the kids today are far more intelligent than my generation. Look around and you will see talented young people doing extra ordinary things with the limited resources we have in our classrooms. I only hope that they use that intelligence to do good and contribute to the society.

    Can government do more? Certainly! Is government wasting money on private festivals for individuals, luxury vehicles and memorializing buildings for politicians? Yes! Do we want more oversight of tax payers money? Absolutely! Is our education system failing? No! Anguilla education system is producing students I am proud of and teachers that continue to amaze me.

    By the way Anguilla, has the highest per capita Ph.Ds in the caribbean. But of course the educated majority likes to cower to the vocal minority on issues of national importance. And sometimes when our leaders promote the view that the best politicians are those who learn about politics on a boat and rum shop and that education means nothing we end up with young people who all want to be politicians .

  4. The last poster has her head burried in the sand. The education system is failing our youth.

    Last year my husband work site took on nearly 20 of them. Most of them had to be fired. The men refused to work with a bunch of ignorant, foul mouthed, uneducated, unteachable vagabonds. All tehy could do was sit about smoking their ganja and showing off their shiny new guns to each other. They are now doing what they know best, selling sex on the beach and breaking in to visitors' apartments.

    The minister and all of them should be ashamed of the whole department. They have to find a way to teach the boys some selfdiscipline and self improvement. I know it is a waste of time, they do not have a clue.

    Any parent of a boy in Anguilla, I am warning you, send the child away for his education if you do not want him to grow up to be a gangster.

  5. I take the warning of the previous poster seriously.
    I am a parent of 2 boys, one will be going to high school next year.
    I most certainly do not want to let my boys grow up to be gangsters.

    Yet, ALHCS has about 200 school leavers every year and I do not see too many
    ignorant, foulmouthed, uneducated, unteachable vagabonds selling sex on the
    beach. Do you?

    Yet, a high school with about 1200 students is bound to have its share of potential bad apples. It's been established that about 10% of students of any high school in the UK are students at risk; we on Anguilla must have at least that much, 120 students.

    'At risk' can mean many things. At risk of dropping out, being sent out (excluded, expelled) of high school is one of the criteria educators uses to define students at risk.

    In 2004 a program started especially to cater to those students at risk who
    have a technical inclination. These students are chosen by staff of ALHCS to participate. The program is based on improving work skills, attitude and self management.
    Just that and all that.

    Visit them and see, dear previous poster, what happens to the vagabonds among our students when they are given a chance to shine.

    The students make a project of their choice and own it when finished. The program provides wood, tools, specialist staff to the students; the students need only to follow a few simple rules.

    Many students' attitudes change fast, the role modelling of staff is quickly picked up. In one or two terms the little vagabond is turned into a young man who will be employable on any work site.

    The program is young, under-budgeted, has a hard time finding funding, but it is working.

    Here. Here in Anguilla.

  6. And i was considering migration, to Anguil.


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