Since independence in 1983, the education system of St. Kitts
and Nevis has emphasized meeting the needs of a developing country,
although this goal had not been fully realized by 1987. Broad
policy objectives included producing trained and educated citizens
capable of managing social and economic progress and unifying the
populations of the two islands. At the same time, the government
was dedicated to recognizing cultural, ethnic, and religious
differences and providing the skills and knowledge needed to
survive in an international environment known for disruptive
domestic social and economic conditions.
The government's education program offered numerous
alternatives. Basic academic preparation through high school was
available in the mid-1980s, but public education also emphasized
vocational and technical programs for students wishing to enter the
work force after graduation. The government also developed "nonformal " programs to provide skills to high school dropouts and the
unemployed. Development of educational facilities in the 1980s was
accomplished with grants from the Organization of American States
(OAS), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the United States
Agency for International Development (AID), and the government of
Education was coordinated at the national level by the Ministry
of Education, Health, and Community Affairs. It had responsibility
for the planning and administration of all public schools from
primary levels through postsecondary instruction. Education was
free and compulsory from ages five to fourteen. In the mid-1980s,
there were more than 30 primary schools, teaching approximately
7,200 students from ages 5 through 12. There was a total of 350
teachers. In 1986 many buildings were renovated, and two new
primary schools were planned, including one for Basseterre.
There were six secondary schools in St. Kitts and Nevis in the
mid-1980s; four were located on the larger island. Total enrollment
was about 4,200 students. There was a teaching staff of 265, which
included both trained and untrained instructors. The renovation of
Sandy Point and Cayon high schools in 1986 included construction of
new laboratories, engineering facilities, and larger classrooms to
accommodate additional vocational programs.
Postsecondary educational opportunities in St. Kitts and Nevis
were available in some fields in the mid-1980s. Although there was
no university on either of the islands, further study could be
undertaken at the Teacher's Training College, Technical College,
Nursing School, or First-Year University Education Programme. Those
who completed the latter program were permitted to enroll as
second-year students at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Scholarship funds from Western Europe and Canada assisted
Kittitian students attending programs at the UWI, as well as at the
College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Kingston, Jamaica.
Scholarships emphasized vocational disciplines such as business
administration, science, and engineering.
The Ministry of Education, Health, and Community Affairs also
offered informal opportunities, such as the Adult Education
Programme and Community Courses workshop. The former provided
academic instruction to individuals who had left the formal
education system prematurely; the latter gave instruction in
various vocational subjects to the general population.
In 1986 the Non-Formal Youth Skills Training Programme was
instituted. Its mission was to teach high school dropouts and other
unemployed youths specific skills in a short period of time to
assist them with finding immediate employment. The three- to eightweek courses in garment making, automobile mechanics, leather
crafts, and other skills were designed and implemented with funding
from the OAS, AID, and the government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Although improvements in the education system were still needed
in the late 1980s, the government had made progress toward meeting
some of the basic needs of the population. The focus on vocational
training at all levels was eventually expected to reduce the high
unemployment rate and improve the country's competitive position
within the region by producing better trained and more highly
Data as of November 1987