This blog sums up a new Regional Overview of the EFA GMR 2015 for the Small Island Developing States. The overview was prepared to feed into the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers taking place this week in the Bahamas.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a group of 39 countries that share the common characteristics of small size, isolation and vulnerability to natural and environmental disasters. Below is brief overview of their Education for All achievements and challenges during the past 15 years:
Among the 24 countries with data in the region the GMR projects that 14 will reach the early childhood care and education goal by 2015. Nine countries are likely to remain far or very far from the target.
Since 1999, numbers enrolled in pre-primary education increased in more than three-quarters of countries with data in the SIDS, notably in the Cook Islands and Tonga, where ratios more than doubled. However, ratios decreased in several countries, including in Guyana, Saint Lucia and Samoa. Despite overall positive trends, in more than half of SIDS, on average fewer than 75% of children were enrolled in pre-primary school, albeit with major variations across countries, ranging from less than 7% in Guinea-Bissau to more than 100% in Cuba, Mauritius and Seychelles.
One major barrier to pre-primary education in the SIDS is cost. Despite government commitment under EFA to expand ECCE ‘especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged’, in at least half of countries in the region, 60% or more of pre-primary education was provided by the private sector. Private enrolment accounts for 100% of pre-primary enrolment in Saint Lucia, Samoa and Tonga.