Education in St Kitts and Nevis

Message from the Minister of Education and Information

The Honourable Nigel Carty

The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a twin-island microstate located in the Lesser Antilles (The West Indies) with a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants, a life expectancy of 72 years, a per capita income of 8000 United States Dollars and a literacy rate of 98 percent. It was the first Commonwealth Caribbean country to introduce free universal secondary education when it did so in 1968. At the pre-primary level (Early Childhood Education), 70 percent of the children are enrolled in formal education. A fundamental goal of education as enunciated in the Education Act (2005) is to provide access to high-quality education for all nationals in institutions that foster the spiritual, cultural, moral, intellectual, physical, social and economic development of the individual and the community.

Although there are a number of denominationally-associated private schools, mainly primary, that offer paid tuition, the greatest achievement of the education system in St. Kitts and Nevis is the existence of a network of free public schools that are highly accessible and reasonably well-resourced. Computer labs, libraries and reading clinics are common in our schools. Students are provided free transport to and from school, and receive free text books. Recently, an initiative was undertaken to provide laptop computers to every secondary school student. Students in primary schools are provided with lunch on a daily basis. 

One of the areas of focus is the quality of primary and secondary education. The quality of basic education is impacted by the relatively low percentage (50%) of fully-trained teachers. As a consequence, there are ongoing professional development exercises, clinical supervision, and appraisal for teachers. With a wide disparity in academic achievement between males and females, single sex grouping in a co-educational setting is being investigated with a view to informing educational policy that is geared towards the improvement of the performance of males. With a focus on inclusive education, there is a clear and decisive strategy for the support and further development of special education services. 

The Ministry of Education of St. Kitts and Nevis has recently identified the radical improvement of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a major plank of its development strategy and has devised a medium-term plan for this purpose. The demise of the sugar industry in 2005 coupled with economic decline in recent times, has given rise to increased unemployment among the young adult population. Our TVET strategy is designed to reduce unemployment by developing and honing employable skills and boosting entrepreneurship. At-risk youth are a principal target of the strategy.

St. Kitts and Nevis cannot sustain a full tertiary level educational institution at this time. Students attend universities located within the wider Caribbean region, North America and the United Kingdom, principally. This arrangement has impacted the cost of tertiary education and consequently the number of persons accessing it. Herein lays one of the greatest challenges in the education sector. There is however a growing offshore tertiary education sub-sector consisting of medical universities that provide educational services to students from North America predominantly. The sector is well-regulated and local students have been able to access these schools.