On September 15, the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) launched an initiative to boost education in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The initiative, aptly named, RISE Caribbean – The Caribbean Education Support Research Initiative is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through a grant of US $ 3.6 million, with contributions from counterpart of 3 US dollars from the campus.
The initiative aims to address the paucity of educational research data in the region that can be used to inform educational planning, policy and practice. To further address this shortage, a key aspect of RISE Caribbean is the establishment of the Caribbean Educational Research Center (CERC) at the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the Cave Hill Campus. The Center will have offices in the old Mutuality building in Bridgetown.
CERC, in partnership with the University of South Florida and the Eastern Caribbean Joint Teacher Education Council, will investigate issues affecting education in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. One of the main pillars of CERC is to provide the education sector with research data to support planning, policy development and practice. Evidence-based decisions are expected to contribute to improved educational outcomes for elementary and secondary students across the region.
Discuss the RISE Caribbean initiative, Professor Landis noted: “High-quality data and research are the bedrock of good decision-making. The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, is very pleased to partner with USAID to undertake the necessary research in the OECS to inform educational policy and planning for the benefit of primary and secondary schools in the region.
Commenting at the launch, US Ambassador to Barbados, Eastern Caribbean and OECS, Linda Taglialatela said, “RISE Caribbean focuses on basic education themes and builds on the work that the United States has supported under the Early Learners program, teaching and providing materials to improve literacy in the OECS region. The Ambassador added that she looks forward to seeing how the results of the project will help “position countries to increase access to quality education that is safe, relevant and that promotes the social well-being of vulnerable young people. “.
Minister of Education of Barbados, the Hon. Santia Bradshaw said at the launch, “We are extremely grateful for the funding grant from USAID and the University of the West Indies for the research initiative supporting education in the Caribbean. This means a step in the right direction as we move towards a data-driven education reform system. She went on to note that “in fact, the research being conducted has the potential to positively impact the lives of approximately 1,500 education leaders, 10,000 teachers and 200,000 students.”
Other guest speakers included Dr Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission, and Professor Kiki Caruson, Acting Vice President, University of South Florida (USF) World, which is a partner institution of the initiative. Other education actors in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados also participated virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.