Current education policies do not cater for the poor – Former Minister

Current education policies do not cater for the poor – Former Minister
Arsene James
MP Arsene James
MP Arsene James

Former Education Minister Arsene James has said that the education policies implemented by the current government do not cater for the underprivileged and less fortunate.

James said that during his tenure as minister, he implemented a few programmes that were specifically tailored at addressing the educational needs of the poorer class.

But according to the Micoud South MP, since the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) assumed office in 2011, they quickly moved to cut or change some of these same programmes.

James touched on a number of keys issues, which include the laptop programme for third form students, the $500 subsidy provided to form one students and the Partial Zoning Programme.

The former teacher said that he has nothing against the programme, but believes that it was rushed specifically for political mileage based on a number of factors.

James recalled that the first batch of laptops was procured from Trinidad and Tobago at a high cost. But the government didn’t stick with them, but went to Venezuela and most recently Taiwan.

He said there is no consistency with how the government is going about purchasing these laptops. He suggested that they may be having some cash problems at it relate to this programme.

James further stated that while all the form three students have laptops, their parents are still burdened with buying all their books at every level, which cost some way between $1,000 and $2,000 annually.

“That is what happens when the programme was rushed. When you look at students who live in rural areas, when they get home they cannot use their laptops because there is no Wi-Fi or broadband system in place to accommodate these students. I know it because I live in a rural area,” he explained.

Shifting his attention to the $500 subsidy for form one students, James said while it helps, it would have been better to maintain the programme where underprivileged students receive free books or continue to rent books at $175 per year, pointing out that $500 is not enough to cover much.

The Micoud South MP believes that the Partial Zoning Programme, which was aimed at reducing the transportation subsidy, was also rushed, and students who are receiving the $500 subsidy are now denied transportation.

“So when you look at it at face value, it is good. But when you delve into the various intricacies involving these social programmes, you would find a number of students are disadvantaged, even more as they were at the beginning. These are three areas the labour party said they scored,” he added.


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  1. I'm not sure about the purpose of the laptop initiative. Is it to raise student achievement? To expose students to the World Wide Web? If it's the former, what evidence is there to show whether it's working? Are grades increasing? Is data being collected to make a case for that in the future?

    These laptops are a recurring debt for the government. Every year they have to spend money purchasing these. Can we sustain this? How long can this program realistically last?

    It seems it would have been better to equip and upgrade the existing computer labs that all students will have access to. Students who do not have computers at home can rent laptops for a minimal fee or no fee based on circumstances. Not sure that giving every student a laptop is a good use of scarce resources. Some of these students already have laptops at home. I know this is done for equity but equity does not always mean giving everyone the same things. It means giving everyone what they need. Again, not sure how long this can be sustained.

    On another note, politicians from both parties are always crowing about the percentage of the budget spent on education. How much of this goes towards things other than salaries? How much of it goes towards new programs and initiatives? Professional development for teachers? If we look at our results from our national exams and from CSEC, we are not getting a very good return on the investment made in education. We keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.


  2. For a supposedly educated man you does really talk some nonsense sometimes.What policies you had in place? You should commend the government for giving the children laptops. Most of them never own one and may i tell you the students carry them to school and do their school assignments on the school compound.They love their Kenny Tops.My daughter cherish her Kenny Top. So the rural students enjoy wifi when at school.Criticise constructively.


  3. This guy was a teacher and former Education Minister? Books and computers are only tools for learning, they are useless if there is no desire to learn, that's where teachers come in, they are the ones who create the environment for learning and the ones who stimulate the minds of students; sadly this is not the case with many teachers in our education system. Mr. James should know that bad teachers discriminate against poor students more than any administration, they are the ones kicking students out of class because they have no textbooks or don't have the New edition, in other words they are the ones forcing parents to buy these books because they either want to create an image or they don't like engaging students and need the books to keep them occupied. They are also the ones who discourage children from coming to class with their preferential treatment of the wealthy and children of their friends and then turn around and pass their frustrations on children they deem as poor or sub- human. A good teacher wants every child to be present in class because they know that what ever little they learn makes them a little less ignorant than when they entered. A good teacher treats every child as a human being to ensure that they feel welcomed thus giving them a reason to come to class and feel comfortable to learn. I remember my Geography teacher would never kick any of her students out of class, she would welcome any text book whether it be old edition or an entirely different geography text altogether as long as it had the material she needed for that topic she would approve it and in many cases even reference it or ask the student to read to the class from it, the Spanish teacher on the other hand would send us to the principal's office which we would avoid and spend the time vandalizing school property. So Mr. James you should focus on the teachers instead of the text books and the laptops, they are the ones who need reform, we have too many teachers who are selfish, boorish and ignorant who need guidance and psychotherapy themselves.


  4. st Lucia still remains to have the 5th slowest developing economy in the world which in itself is embarrassing on the government's party. Its funny everything this government has promised us, it's like the complete opposite happened.


  5. I cant understand how the government is involved in laptops. Let the plp buy the laptops of their choice when the student turns up at the vat office with the bill and in uniform gave them the vat and service charge back.
    Then make all books electronic every kid registures online with a credit card and student number and is given a key to unlock books. This would hundreds of dollars. Its done in canada. Think about the 40ft container of wasted books and paper that come into the country. The books online could have small movie clips on how the heart moves or how a cell divides.
    But no we are struck in the 1980s
    If u dont know wot or how to go about this just adopt the canadian education system.

    On another note memorizing is a complete waste or time. Its more important on knowing how to get answers fast via the internet. Plus plp need to learn what to do in real life situations. How to change a car tire. How to operate a screw driver how to save a life with mouth to mouth. How to read a wasco bill. How to save electricty. How to market them selves to get a job and a partner.
    NOT how many furlons in a mile or the periodic table. Not how to add fractions. Not algerbra not old english shakespere not calclus


  6. Saint Lucia is condemned to wallow in poverty, facing increasing sovereign debt, with burdensome increasing interest payments, as our payment profile becomes less attractive, and with no economic activity that can help it erase the unforgivable debt burden naively created by absolute novices in business, finance, management and economics.

    Just look at the evidence, our Ministers of Finance in the last few decades have all been absolute misfits! There are no two ways about this, and not a more honest or charitable way to say say this.

    Structurally, the economy is in a poverty trap. Those who know better, would know this and thus be able to understand the basis for saying this. Others are free to shoot the messenger.

    There is no silver lining in the looming dark cloud that overhangs us, as our clueless leaders catching at virtual straws, either to bolster their political fortunes, or to retain their titles or some, seeking to gain coveted titles, just to repeat what obtains now.

    SJC failed in his last two terms under his stewardship. Chastanet has pledged on gaining the leadership title first time around, in his own words, (And that is quite frightening!) to follow in Compton's footsteps. We can therefore expect just more of the same.

    Kenny is still looking for his chimerical FDI that is fast eluding him .Local investors have already given him a vote of no confidence by taking their new investments abroad. He has communicated in a media interview quite categorically, that he makes no plans, until he wins the government. That is his sense of modern management. Wow! That's inspiring! Tactical and strategic management planners are watching or upon reading this would be drawing interesting conclusions.

    Therefore, do not bother to read even one line of the SLP's next manifesto. It is only designed to catch votes and to win the elections. It has nothing to do with the long-term development of our people by way of correcting any of the structural imbalances as pointed out in the latest IMF report. A smart and responsible administration would be on the air communicating what is doing to put the economy on course to meeting the IMF targets.

    Thsi last statement should serve as a guide to all patriotic and nationalistic Saint Lucians at home and abroad to make a decision to travel home even, to vote decisively for the resuscitation of our home. To take back from our misguided misfits, our God-given home. Our homeland, Saint Lucia.

    We have education with no discernible policy. There is nothing meaningful that is developmental to measure. So we continue to get the platitudes and the blather. Stop giving poor Saint Lucians the sizzle; we want steak, dammit!


    • @Alexander. You are 100% right. I lived 12 years in St. Lucia, I am Dutch, built two houses. Had a good time till I saw it going down the drain. I Live with my wife now in Panama. Piles of houses are for sale by expats in St. Lucia. Prices of food are rediculous, and electricity too.
      Too many civil servants. No future for the next 10 years or more. I feel sad for the Helen of The West. Greetings from the valley of the eternal spring and flowers, Boquete Panama.


    • Also st Lucia still remains to have the 5th slowest developing economy in the world which in itself is embarrassing on the government's party. Its funny everything this government has promised us, it's like the complete opposite happened.


  7. Education will build a nation. Look at Singapore. Part of the education must be focused on sound social behaviour and society. I lived in St. Lucia for 12 years. Mr. James is right. Greetings from Panamá.


  8. Saint Lucia is way behind the curve on education in almost all respects. Just like Bousquet before him, even in retrospect Mr. James is still has an irrational focus on form, rescued to a certain extent, by a concern for reach and delivery. What about content? Where is the concern for content? Why is there no mention of content?

    Are we going to hand over our future and national development to a regional bureaucracy, just to be nice and show that we are a cooperative partner in CARICOM? Or are we going to develop our people from millennials to traditionalists, from the old and the very young?

    We need all shoulders to the wheel. We need to wrest control from the disgusting convoys and relays of party idiots, rampaging opportunists, and marauding MPs voted in continuously by tribal-thinking rabid loyalists. Among them are those with no greater ambition but to blithely remain Saint Lucia's working poor, from cradle to the grave, as hotel maids and bell-hops, or as dependents on political crumbs as are the temporary jobs in STEP.


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