BVI News

The system failed our children — Education Minister

Sharie de Castro

Education Minister Sharie de Castro said she believes the territory’s education system has not properly fulfilled its obligation to students, especially school drop-outs.

“The system failed them,” de Castro said while speaking at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Central Tortola.

According to de Castro, some of the children who are seen on the street, or who are in school and are disruptive are displaying behavioural issues as a mask because of academic deficiencies.

The Education Minister posed the scenario of a child who would do everything in their power to get out of a classroom when called upon, simply because of their inability to read.

Students promoted regardless of deficiencies 

In the meantime, the minister suggested that because of the territory’s retention and promotion policies in schools, children are sometimes promoted regardless of these deficiencies. “Every country does it but how do you not just send them up? How do you create the opportunity to fill the learning gap?” de Castro asked.

As an example, the minister proposed asking a child to pass five subjects instead of a more taxing seven subjects.

“The extra hours that would’ve been allotted to those two other subjects, they become extra learning time for the subjects that the children are having issues in,“ she stated.

More funding needed for education

Finding the financial resources to address the problem is also a key metric in resolving the issue, de Castro suggested.

“[These fixes] can’t happen without putting some more funding in education, so there’s a lot of ways we can look at it,” she stated.

“If we really think critically about it, I believe that there’s a lot more we can do to gather the interest of the children who would have dropped out of school, but there are various reasons why they did,” she said.

She continued: “So we can’t put it (blame) on their parents solely. We can’t put it on them solely. We have to put it on the education system, but most importantly, we got to put it on all of us, because we are a part of the Virgin Islands.”

Hold politicians more accountable

Minister de Castro urged residents to find a way to hold politicians more accountable in doing their budgeting.

“The reality is, most people want to see roads fixed, and infrastructure fixed, but they don’t understand that if you don’t put some money in education, you will never get the roads and the infrastructure to be continually fixed because you need children studying engineering and architecture in order to keep fixing those things or to get them fixed in a way that you don’t have to fix it again, but you got to start with education,” she said.

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46 Comments

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  1. Please hush says:

    Our education system was going in the right direction until the ViP got their hands on it. We were top in the OECS for cxc. Where are we now? Why haven’t the results been published? The education system did not fail the children, the VIp did. What have your government done to improve education since 2019? If it wasn’t for the vision of Myron and the NDP to place technology as a major priority we would not have been able to teach our children during the pandemic. Everything that is being done is based on what the NDP left.

    Like 45
    Dislike 6
  2. Jergens says:

    Isn’t this the same person who walked out on her classes and quit in the middle of the school term when she was a teacher. Teaching the children poetry instead of English.

    Like 43
    Dislike 2
  3. Exit says:

    Can we please get an adult with some leadership experience in this job? Education is to important to leave it up to kids who are trying to feel their out. Get her full STEAM out please!

    Like 36
    Dislike 2
  4. hmm says:

    you know why, because there is a lot of councillors and a few teachers at the ESHS not doing anything much why not get them to help the children that are slow learners so that everyone can pass and get promoted. the school could be under the tent but if the students get the right help being under a tree doesn’t even matter.

    Like 14
  5. BS! says:

    She talk a good game and then go right back to fixing nothing. Next!!!

    Like 25
    Dislike 1
  6. Nonsense says:

    Hon. Walwyn had a good thing going as Minister of Education. If he remained, we would’ve had a way better system right now. They made some missteps with shift systems etc. but overall him and his team did a very good job with Education. Sharie sounds good talking but what are her plans to fix the things she is highlighting? More grandstanding again! Education doesn’t just need money, it needs A PLAN and foresight!

    Like 29
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  7. Voters says:

    and you failed us

    Like 24
  8. Roger Burnett says:

    Unfortunately, the school curriculum takes no account of students that are creatively, rather than academically inclined. Furthermore it takes no account of those “gifted” with dyslexia.

    Putting the two together, this means that at least 50% of students that are being short-changed. It is therefore no wonder that we have drop-outs and delinquency.

    Dyslexia Awareness Week begins on Monday and all of those involved with education should be more aware of this “ability”.

    https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/news/dyslexia-awareness-week-2022-2

    Like 12
    Dislike 1
  9. No incentive says:

    to learn in the BVI because the government will take care of each person from cradle to grave even though each person will live in 3rd world poverty for their entire life.

  10. @Please Hush... says:

    Your statement is wrong. Our education system was nothing to be proud of under the NDP. The children were on a shift system since the 2017 hurricane… any government that prioritized education would have had the school fixed within the year and in the interim, from January 2018 the children should have been in full time schooling – no shift system. Even before the storm, the education system may have looked good on paper, but in reality it was pushing out a generation of un-hirable young adults into the territory. Whether it be for lack of basic skills (work etiquette, letter writing, customer service ect.) or complete sense of entitlement … the young people coming out of the high school were often bottom of the list of desirable employees for businesses.

    Like 14
    Dislike 12
  11. Truth says:

    Glad someone said, Education, Tourism, everything seem to have gone down hill since VIP got in.

    Like 21
    Dislike 1
  12. THAT CHILD says:

    MAY HAVE SAT TOO LONG IN THE ROAD , OR SHE MAY HAVE HAD TOO MUCH DRAMA CLASSES 😁

  13. @jergens says:

    I didn’t know he did that. Wow and thats who want to talk to us about education? He got a lot of nerve. And yes, i said “he”

  14. BVI Future says:

    She is Minister of Education.
    She is part of the current government.
    So she is taking responsibility for “failing the children.”
    A country that does not educate its children cannot advance in technology, medicine, education etc. and that country is prone to corruption.

    Like 14
  15. CONCERN says:

    As an example, the minister proposed asking a child to pass five subjects instead of a more taxing seven subjects.

    “The extra hours that would’ve been allotted to those two other subjects, they become extra learning time for the subjects that the children are having issues in,“ she stated.

    YET THE CHILDREN WHO PASSED A FEW CSEC SUBJECTS IN GRADE 11 HAS TO CONTINUE TAKING THESE SAME SUBJECTS TO GAIN CREDITS FOR GRADUATION INSTEAD OF THEM FOCUSING ON THE OTHER (MAIN) SUBJECTS WHICH THEY WILL WRITE FOR CSEC NEXT YEAR.

  16. Check the record says:

    Yes, after the hurricane the children were on a shift system, but in 2018 the BVI had much better results in CXC than most of the other OECS countries

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  17. Yet again says:

    Another episode of tales from the THIRD WORLD TERRITORY. Stay tuned for another episode next week. Don’t get mad but we are indeed a THIRD WORLD TERRITORY. The other Caribbean Countries that is being talked about badly here in the BVI have way better roads and up to date bigger airports. STT is getting ready to expand their airport to accommodate bigger planes. Aren’t you guys ashamed that everyone else is eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner? You guys better get with the times, the protective bubble has been deflated for good.

  18. @@please hush says:

    I believe that you either live in another world or you don’t know what progress looks like. There is no body who I serious about education that can say this it was not much better under the previous government. Nobody.
    Secondly, where the hell you expected the government to put the students after a hurricane. You were asleep during and after the hurricane? Of course they had to go on shift. What else could have been done. This government has been in office nearly 4 years and they are still on shift. Elections was called 18 months or so after the hurricanes.
    Vip had far more time than the NDP to help the recovery and they did nothing. Whatever projects they did were already lined up by the previous government with the funds available.

    We need to stop lying in this place. We lie too much man

    Like 14
  19. Concerned says:

    Bring back Myron. That is all I got to say. Natalio was bad and this young lady is worse. I am so concerned about my children’s future right now. No leadership!

    Like 10
    Dislike 3
  20. PAC says:

    This young lady is a chronic complainer who gets nothing done. She walked out on her students in the middle of the school term and left the English department without a teacher. She couldn’t cope with the school and now she is the minister. We serious about our children?

    Like 17
  21. NB says:

    Well good morning there! Would you like your coffee now?

  22. Jokers.com says:

    I remember seeing Sowande in the cultural center condemning the extra year in school. The VIP make all sort of noise about it instead of building on what was started. Now, they get in and the same extra year is still there after nearly four years. It tells me that they well know it was necessary but was playing politics. If they were soo much against it they should have already taken it out.
    They complained about the shift system after the hurricane and the students been on shift now for most of the 4 years that they are in government.
    Jokers dem is!

    Like 10
    Dislike 1
  23. Mercy Lord says:

    I thought Sowande was bad but it sound like she wuss.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  24. Here is my take says:

    There may be several students, especially, the males who have the dyslexia condition. I found out my nephews were affected and was one of the reasons for their dropping out of high school. Since then both have received their diplomas through their self motivation to succeed and my support. The Ministry of Education, therefore, need to require mandatory testing at primary school and high school levels right away. If the ministry is not forthcoming, parents take your students to the private sector or the USVI for testing.

  25. @please hush says:

    Please read my comment again. I did not say the VIP were better than the NDP… what I said was BOTH the VIP and NDP have done our children a disservice when it comes to the public education system.
    I was here for the hurricane and the entire recovery period. There were options that would have allowed for the children back into full time education from January 2018. The private sector managed it. Why couldn’t the ministry of education? Attitudes like yours, giving praise because one bad team is better than an even worse one is why we have allowed the state of our education system to reach where it has. The amount of money our government generates and the population size – we should have one of the BEST EDUCATION SYSTEMS IN THE WORLD…. not the Caribbean…. THE WORLD. But go ahead… continue to heap praise on those ministers responsible who send their own children to private schools or abroad for school when they have the means to provide all the children of the territory with a world class education.

  26. Hard working citizen says:

    You are the system!!

  27. Uneducated says:

    We are failing our country when Civics and Government are not adequately taught in schools, especially secondary schools. We vote on promises rather than records of success or plans that are supported with possibilities of success. Pipe dreams, broken promises and excuses are all we get, becasue we are firstly uneducated, and secondly misinformed by those we put in power. We need to be educated and we need to hold our government responsible to do that. We cannot allow this to continue. Educate the people so they can make informed decisions, and the right kind of noise. The noose is around our neck, we have no time to waste. Civics and Government need to be taught in our highschools, and for older citizens in special free programs. Why are we afraid of informed and educated voters who are capable of holding our leaders accountable? They also, will make effective leaders as well. It’s a WIN WIN…

  28. Roger Burnett says:

    @ Here is my take…

    I agree.

    Research has show that Afro-Caribbean students have one of the world’s highest percentage of dyslexia – well above 16%.

    However, I see this as a positive rather than a negative. Those with the “ability” of dyslexia are the world’s foremost creative thinkers and doers. Einstein was dyslexic and so was Leonardo da Vinci. Nearer to home, Richard Branson is dyslexic.

    When I try to get this across to Regional Ministers of Education, I am told that they have programs for slow learners. What they don’t understand is that a dyslexic child is not a slow learner, but a different learner.

    At this point in time, the BVI desperately needs creative thinkers and doers.

  29. Young Concerned Virgin Islander says:

    The education system is flawed. In the grand scheme of things how much of the information taught is really retained AND put to efficient use in their day to day? Of the information retained how much of that actually allows them to be efficient at the things they do?

    Our children crave to be taught physical, emotional and other skills, anger management, strong work ethic. And not in that weird overly structured way like Life Skills either, actually emotionally connecting with students and guiding them to the best them they could be. These kids are walking around broken and aimless. It hurts seeing classmates drugged up, begging we only kids. The powers that be are so blinded by their greed for now that they spite their own riches for later.

  30. @ mr Burnett says:

    WELL THEY SAY WE ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN / THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE ,NUFF RESPECT

  31. BVI Spy says:

    I am sorry but the education system has been f’ed up since Black come forward with Head Coach as the main problem back then. Watering down the system and lowering the passing rate just to brag of a 97% pass rate and when students graduate they cannot even read or write properly.

    As for CXC result, they hand-picked the students that would do well hence the high percentage. What would it be if ALL students had to take the tests.

    We reap what we sow!!! We disenfranchise our OWN students to engage and facilitate the importation of labour. Makes no f’ing sense! Each administration had a negative hand in our young peoples’ education just to retain a vote and get re-elected. THEY SHOULD NOT BE PLAYING POLITICS WITH FUTURE GENERATIONS FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH GAIN!! Shame on ALL!

  32. Citizen says:

    Same one. Set of weirdos.

  33. Citizen says:

    I’ve been saying that. Imagine after her poor teacher stint. She is now the Minister of Education. This place got some serious issues.

  34. Road Town Rebel says:

    Students need to step up their A game as well

  35. As you sow… says:

    The BVI, despite having a 20 year run of a GDP of $ 1 billion per year has woefully underinvested in education for decades. With those kinds of assets, no reason why the Territory could not be a regional leader in education, other than the total lack of political will (VIP and NDP), tantamount to essentially abdicating responsibility for the youth. Any wonder so many of them see, disaffected? Lamentably, The BVIs, for all of its desire tobe seen as a sophisticated society and destination for the rich and famous, just does not value education. We still have broken schools, low teacher salaries. We’d rather hire outsiders with vocational skills than train our own, adding to the social tension between belongers and expats. Why?

  36. @ @Please Hush says:

    You are correct. The education system has been in decline for years and Myron reducing the standards so that someone with a grade of 70 could get an ‘A’ didn’t help matters. 70 is a ‘C’ at most. Lowering standards contributes to the problem. It looks good on paper to see that a lot of children have ‘As’ but if the ‘As’ would be mediocre grades in other systems then you know you’re just papering over the problem and shortchanging both the children and the wider society.

  37. Roger Burnett says:

    In response to the commenter that requested the source of my research.

    To begin with, may I suggest you refer to “Dyslexia from a Cultural Perspective” by Asher & Martin Hoyles. The book specifically deals with dyslexia in black communities.

  38. What a joker says:

    You failed your classes in high school. You forget

  39. Ah hah says:

    You leave the system because your HOD had to pull you up for being late , absent without excuses , piling up children work in your back room for weeks before you mark them . Like you forget

    What a ting to say now . Shame on you

  40. Full stream says:

    Look at the CXC results under the most trying of conditions . All the good teachers have left the system …Shame to publish it now

  41. Eagle says:

    Are there any programs in place to help students with the deficiencies? There are a lot of retired teachers out there. Seek them out for advice and get something in place.

  42. @ Eagle says:

    @ Eagle,

    Unfortunately the deficiencies largely relate to the education system, not the students. The curriculum needs to be seriously revised to make it relevant to those students that are creatively rather than academically inclined.

    Posted by Roger Burnett

  43. Linda Smith says:

    Hi there,
    I am so sorry that the BVI is having so much trouble with the educational system. I would love the opportunity to live and work again in the Virgin Islands. At the present time I am semi-retired from teaching ESL,ABE,SBE along with the HSE/GED. I would love the opportunity to set up a program of study so the young people could view a future for themselves.
    Sincerely Linda W. Smith Program Director
    501 Park Street
    Syracuse N.Y.13203

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