There is no official definition of inclusive education in Grenada. According to a report prepared by UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education in 2007, ‘Grenada’s conceptualization of inclusive education can be seen more as that of “integration” which means the placing of special needs students into the mainstream school with little or no provision of support services which is required for the child to maximize their full potential and be able to make a significant contribution to society.’
Special education needs
The Education Act of 1976 considers special education as a modality of education for children with disabilities but has no explicit definition of special education needs.
According to the Education Act of 1976, the chief education officer must do one of the following:
- Enrol the student in an education programme offered by a public school or assisted private school
- Direct the student to enrol in an educational programme offered by a private school
- Provide a special education for the student
- Permit the student to undertake a home education programme.
UNICEF’s 2017 Situation Analysis of Children in Grenada indicated that in 2013, there were 107 preschool centres, of which 66 were government owned. Among the publicly owned centres, 52% are located in the parishes of Saint George’s and Saint Andrew’s, where 57% of the population resides. At the primary level, there are 76 primary schools owned and operated by the government, the private sector and churches. The latter play a prominent role in the delivery of education in Grenada, and many receive government or private support. At the secondary level, there are 24 public and private secondary schools. However, around 80% of students fail the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and therefore lack the requisite to enter tertiary education.
Grenada has special education institutions for children with special needs. Some of these include the Saint Andrew’s School for Special Education, the Victoria School for Special Education, the Resource Center for the Blind, the School for the Deaf and the Grenada School for Special Education. UNICEF refers to three centres funded primarily by the government serving 119 children with intellectual or mental disabilities.
The 2006–15 Strategic Plan for Educational Enhancement and Development (SPEED II) sought to ensure access to formal education for all eligible children at all levels of education in appropriate delivery centres. It aimed at enhancing support systems for children with special education needs by 2010 to ‘ensure that there is adequate provision for all children with special needs education in mainstream day-care centres, nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools as well as specialized centres for severe learning difficulties (deafness and visual impairment).’
The 1973 Constitution of Grenada does not enshrine the right to education. However, it states that no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner on the grounds of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex.
The Education Act of 1976 was the main legislative framework for the delivery of education services at all levels until the approval of the 2002 Education Act. It established that students have the right to education appropriate to their needs (Art. 14). The chief education officer must provide an educational programme consistent with the requirements of the act for every person of compulsory school age who resides in Grenada. Free tuition at public schools is granted in Article 16.
The SPEED II provided a roadmap for the development of education in Grenada during a 10-year period. It focused on six key areas:
- Access to and participation in education for the whole population
- The quality of education and student achievement
- Education and the world of work, life and citizenship
- Partnership and co-operation
- Management and administration
- Financing education.
One of the key components of the SPEED II was to develop enabling conditions for the full participation of at-risk children and excluded children within the context of gender parity. It sought to reintegrate previously excluded children, truants and dropouts and to provide support for participation to ensure an inclusive system by 2010. It also attempted to ensure access to formal education for all eligible children at all levels of education.
Grenada’s 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy encouraged the development of competitiveness with equity though the promotion of accessible and relevant education and vocational training and the improvement of education for competency-based learning.
Grenada is a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The OECS’s 2012–21 education strategy guides the education directions and priorities of its members and provides a framework for Member States to align their national strategies and plans. The strategy recognizes that there has been significant progress in some OECS States in implementing universal early childhood education and achieving universal primary and secondary education enrolment, but key areas of concern remain. These include the fact that inequality has become more obvious and in some areas the most disadvantaged economically and socially may not be enjoying the benefits of the education system; inadequacies in access at the pre-primary and tertiary levels; and the fact that gender disparities in performance are evident at all levels.
The Situation Analysis of Children in Grenada published by UNICEF in 2017 provides specific recommendations for legal and policy developments to enhance the protection of vulnerable children in Grenada, such as children with disabilities, children of migrant families, adolescent girls and boys and children living in remote areas.
Grenada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014. However, according to UNICEF, it has not yet enacted provisions of the convection and still has no law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.
During a Special Education Conference of Teachers in 2014, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development outlined four key policy initiatives aimed at improving special education in Grenada. These included:
- Promoting a special needs education policy
- Providing appropriate learning tools for delivery of the curriculum, including ICT
- Providing and upgrading facilitates on all special needs institutions
- Providing training for special needs teachers.
The Special Education Desk Programme aimed at ‘pulling slow children out of the regular schools, giving them one-on-one attention, and then reincorporating them into the regular classroom’. In 2014, it counted the participation of 11 schools and focused on providing support, particularly at an early age.
Some special schools and institutions participated in the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment in 2018 and achieved outstanding results. Special schools have provided tailored assistance to students to allow them to achieve their full potential and make use of resources, such as assistive technologies.
The SPEED II recognized that many pupils are failing in the system or being failed by the system, such as boys and special needs students. The plan encouraged access to and participation in education for all children, including children with special education needs. It encouraged mobilizing resources to ‘address children’s social deficiencies to obviate and minimise at-risk realities such as truancy and special needs conditions which can be prevented by early detection and treatment.’
The 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy recognized that ‘disability and poverty are closely linked in a cycle of exclusion and marginalization.’ To promote the welfare of persons with disabilities, the strategy sought to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to have greater access to services such as education and transport and increase benefits under the disability grant. The expansion of special projects for persons with disabilities, aimed at providing skills training, economic empowerment and employment, was also encouraged. At the secondary education level, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy included among its objectives to implement common standards to identify learning disabilities or curriculum deficiencies and take appropriate corrective actions.
According to UNICEF’s Situation Analysis of Children in Grenada, Grenada is one of the few countries in the region to prioritize a small percentage of funding for special education . Nevertheless, the education of children with disabilities remains a serious problem in terms of removing the stigma facing those who are mainstreamed in the public school system. Another major challenge has to do with extending education opportunities to children with disabilities in rural areas who remain out of school.
Grenada ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1990. In the 2012 concluding observations for Grenada, the Committee of the CEDAW expressed its concern for ‘the persistence of structural and other barriers to quality education for girls and young women, including early pregnancy and teenage motherhood and societal attitudes, resulting in a higher drop-out rate for girls in secondary education.’
The 2014–24 Gender Equality Policy and Action Plan prepared by the Ministry of Social Development and Housing was approved by the Cabinet of Grenada on June 2014. The policy includes special measures to address male gender gaps in education as there is a significant higher repetition rate and drop-out rate among boys in primary and secondary schools. Some of the education-related measures included the commitment from the government to promote gender-equal access to education and training programmes, including in non-traditional fields, without regard to gender, class, geography (urban/rural), age and other social factors, and to combat and reduce gender-based violence in public education.
The SPEED II sought to develop enabling conditions for full participation of at-risk and excluded children within the context of gender parity. Its objectives included to have a system in place by 2008 to provide support for the continued education and training of adolescent mothers within the formal system where possible or provide separate accommodation with special support systems where necessary and to provide access to education opportunities and support services for children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
According to the 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, government and non-government agencies have been actively involved in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment: ‘Parity among males and females in education has therefore been achieved and at present, female enrolment at all levels (primary, secondary, and tertiary) exceeds that of males.’ Mainstreaming gender and developing policy interventions to support gender equality are among the objectives of the strategy.
People living in rural or remote areas
The Archipelago of Grenada comprises three main islands, Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and about 600 mostly uninhabited small islets. Grenada is the largest of the three islands and where most of the school services are located; 57% of the population reside in the in the parishes of Saint George’s and Saint Andrew’s.
The 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy considers that delivering high-quality primary education is an important foundation for economic growth. It promoted the incorporation of a school feeding programme at schools across the country to ensure that every child is properly nourished and ready to receive instruction.
In order to encourage access to post-secondary and tertiary education for students from poor households, the strategy encouraged ensuring accessible education at T.A. Marryshow Community College regardless of socio-economic constraints and providing scholarships to economically disadvantaged students based on transparent criteria.
According to UNICEF’s Situation Analysis of Children in Grenada, of all ministries, education received the largest amount of national recurrent and capital budgets in 2012–13 (12.4%) and in 2016 (10%). Despite this high investment in education, poor children are disproportionally disadvantaged, particularly in families with more than one child attending school.
Grenada is one of the more progressive OECS members in terms of the legal framework for child protection. A Juvenile Justice Bill was approved in 2012. According to UNICEF, the newly constructed Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre is a secure facility for the treatment and rehabilitation of boys and girls aged 12–18.
 1.5% of the education budget in 2012–13
The Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information is the highest authority in education. It works towards the creation of a diverse, adequate and comprehensive education system that is organized in accordance with the Education Act. The country has a minister for education, human resource development, religious affairs and information and a minister with responsibility for tertiary education, skills development and education outreach.
The Ministry of Education has several units, including:
- Curriculum Development Department: in charge of curriculum development for primary and secondary schools, monitoring the implementation of the curriculum and training teachers in the application of the curricula and new learning materials.
- Materials Production Unit: works together with curriculum development officers in the production of relevant teaching–learning materials.
- Information Technology Unit: in charge of providing training and support (both technical and pedagogical) in the school computerization programme.
- Project Management Unit: responsible for implementation of the World Bank-financed Basic Education Reform Project and of ensuring the maintenance of all school facilities.
- Student Support Services Unit: provides essential services and student development programmes to help each student achieve their full potential by removing barriers to these services and programmes and ensuring their retention and graduation from one academic stream to another.
Infrastructure and services
The SPEED II promoted the improvement in the quality of the physical infrastructure to improve the quality of teaching and learning at all levels.
The 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy committed to ‘repairing and/or renovating all the nation’s primary schools, including upgrading and equipping schools with proper facilities for teaching and learning in ICT and the sciences to improve structures and facilities.’ At the secondary level, the strategy sought to improve the physical structures and facilities of secondary schools by reviewing and updating those in critical need of repair.
The SPEED II promoted the revision of the curricula for all subsectors to ensure relevance to personal development and national aspirations. It aimed to have a new curricula developed and in place by 2009.
Learning materials and ICT
The SPEED II sought to ensure access to textbooks in core subjects for all students and to make greater use of computer-assisted learning and multimedia resources.
The Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy promoted the use of ICT to facilitate learning and develop technological competencies of learners in the formal and non-formal sectors, through the provision and effective use of computer labs and the introduction to students to ICT as a tool for learning and accessing knowledge.
According to UNICEF’s Situation Analysis of Children in Grenada, the government has struggled with improving the shortage of qualified teachers for decades.
According to the SPEED II, the ‘quality of teaching and learning leaves much to be desired at both primary and secondary level’. One of its objectives was to develop a teacher-centred professional development and support strategy to improve teacher services in the country. To achieve this, SPEED II sought to provide relevant pre-service training and in-service training leading to a fully qualified pre-primary to secondary teaching staff and train graduates for tertiary education. In addition, it sought to establish, define and institutionalize a multilevel career path with a clearly defined promotion policy based on equity and merit.
During the Special Education Conference of Teachers in 2014, the Ministry of Education committed to provide for training for special education teachers. As reported by UNICEF, the Special Education Department offers ‘assessment diagnosis and intervention services in speech and language therapy; clinical psychology for assessment and therapeutic services; educational assessment and intervention; teaching students with moderate to severe mental challenges; and working with visually impaired students.’
The 2014–18 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy included in its objectives to improve the quality of teaching and learning environments by ‘improving Teachers’ Quality Management and Motivation, including exploring ways to enhance remuneration packages and conditions of service for all teachers at all levels’. However, there is no specific measure for teacher training on inclusive education.
The SPEED II promoted the creation of a more effective education management and information system to monitor and evaluate sector performance, particularly in pedagogical areas.