22 January 2021
International Day of Education is commemorated annually on 24 January and is a day used to celebrate the role of education in the growth of peace and economic development. This year’s theme is ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’.
In recognition of the day, we introduce you to the education system on-Island and how the system has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we’ll focus on education as a human right.
The Education & Employment Directorate is responsible for providing full time education to all children on St Helena who are of compulsory school age (five years to 16 years). There are four schools on the Island – three primary schools and one secondary school. Pilling Primary School is located in Jamestown, Harford Primary School is located in Longwood, and St Paul’s Primary School is located in the St Paul’s district. Prince Andrew School is the secondary school and is located in the central part of the Island at Francis Plain. The Island’s education provision includes Special Education Needs and Disability provision to ensure that all children are able to access education no matter what their ability or circumstances. This is managed by the Inclusion Service.
In addition to compulsory education, the primary schools also offer non-compulsory Nursery Education for three to four year old children and Prince Andrew School offers a Sixth Form Programme. Students also have an opportunity to apply for a placement on the Scholarship Programme which gives opportunity for students to access higher educational studies. All schools are supported by a Teacher Training Sector which focuses on the professional development and upskilling of all teaching staff.
The Directorate also provides educational opportunities for adults through services provided by the Lifelong Learning Sector. Further education and training is offered through the St Helena Community College (SHCC) and NVQ Centre. An Apprenticeship Programme for 16-18 year olds also exists to support their career choices and development.
The Directorate has a Research Institute which is responsible for the endorsement and monitoring of all research pertaining to St Helena. The Directorate also provides a Public Library Service.
Children on St Helena have been fortunate in that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused minimal disruption to education provision on St Helena. The biggest impact has been in relation to external examinations. The June sitting of last year’s exams (2020) could not take place as normal and teachers had to follow the procedures as directed by the relevant examination boards in order for students learning to be assessed and graded. Whilst procedures for the June sitting of examinations for this year (2021) are yet to be confirmed, the Directorate is currently working in line with last year’s procedures to be prepared with relevant information and evidence once the confirmed procedures are known.
COVID-19 has affected the Scholarship Programme. The cohort of scholarship students who were due to start university studies in September had to delay their start or undertake distance learning studies. It also negatively affected the cohort of scholarship students studying in the UK.
On a positive note, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about more on-line opportunities. Through the support of Sure South Atlantic Ltd, the Directorate has been able to upgrade and expand their provision, including virtual conferences, meetings, examinations, on-line learning and training through video conferencing.
Did you know that education is a human right?
Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration calls for free and compulsory primary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all. This goal has been met on St Helena with all young people up to the age of 16 having free compulsory education and the development of the SHCC.
CEO & Commissioner of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, Catherine Turner, commented:
“Without inclusive fair and quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind. This is true for St Helena too, Saints cannot benefit from the economic growth we hope will come in post COVID-19 world if they are not able to take on the jobs and start the businesses needed.
“The Equality & Human Rights Commission believes that SHG and the people of St Helena should ensure that education and lifelong learning are given the highest priority in the post COVID-19 recovery to form the foundations for the transformation towards a more inclusive, safe and sustainable society.”
#StHelena #EducationDay #AltogetherBetterForChildrenAndYoungPeople
22 January 2021