St Lucia to host OECS – COME meeting

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — Sustainable education, collaborative policies and practices for the future is the theme for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) 6th Council of Ministers, Education (COME) meeting to be held on Thursday, February 4 and Friday, February 5 2021.

In recent times, technology has become the lifeline of the education system. This has forced OECS countries to accelerate efforts towards transitioning to a distributed learning system. This is one true way to shift the dial within the education system amid the region’s battle with COVID-19 and our reality.

Through its education development management unit, the OECS Commission will bring together ministers for education of its Member States in a collaborative effort to address complex educational issues facing the region and its impact on the Small Island Developing States of the Eastern Caribbean.

Saint Lucia is the designated host country for this year’s meeting. The island’s minister for education, innovation, gender relations and sustainable development, Dr Gale T.C. Rigobert, is fully committed to the continued revolutionizing of the region’s education sector.

“Now more than ever we are being challenged to review old ways of doing things and consider more innovative and sustainable interventions that will prove useful for today; but will have some continuing relevance in the near future. The paradigmatic shift currently taking place in education is critical to setting the stage for a future global political and economic reality; the character of which is still unfolding, and yet we have to respond meaningfully and prepare adequately. That’s no small feat. But together, we can. We will.”

On the agenda for the meeting is:

  • National and regional responses to COVID 19 and its impact on the education system specifically the shift to a distributed learning system; the opportunities presented; and the psychosocial impact on students.
  • Financing mechanisms for education and the implementation of the regional education strategy.
  • Innovation in education, advancing skills development and higher education

A new feature of the OECS Council of Ministers of Education meeting is the inclusion of youth voices.  The OECS facilitated a Youth Forum on Thursday, January 28, 2021, to hear the concerns and recommendations of the education sector’s largest stakeholders. The recommendations will be presented to the ministers during the meeting by a youth representative.

Director-General of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, believes that stronger joint approaches are needed in the education sector to address the challenges, capitalize on the opportunities and innovate the sector.

“As challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it has also presented many opportunities for us to accelerate transformation in many sectors, especially in education. This meeting will be special because it will be a multi-dimensional virtual event that will invite key stakeholders to the dialogue; it will showcase innovations and best practices developed in different Member States; and will focus on solutions to improve our response to schooling in the new normal.”

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