Updated: Aug 26, 2021
A mother shares her story of why she left the UK and moved to the Caribbean in the hopes of giving her daughter a better standard of education.
How did your daughter’s experience of primary school in the UK influence your decision to move to Saint Lucia?
My move to Saint Lucia was mainly due to my concern with the UK secondary school standards of teaching more so than the primary schools.
The quality of teaching in Saint Lucia secondary schools is of a much higher standard than that of the UK. They basically teach their students at an A- level standard to prepare them for university.
My daughter would have also been given the opportunity of learning about black history which is hardly taught in the UK. It was important that she understood our history and the trials and tribulations our forefathers endured to enable us to have our freedom today.
Can you tell me a bit about your daughter’s experience in school in Saint Lucia?
Sadly my daughter didn’t like Saint Lucia much and missed her school friends in London. She made friends here but only had one Saint Lucian friend. The others were from other islands and Europe. This may have been because they felt that they were treated as foreigners and hence stuck together.
Regrettably, my daughter encountered some forms of bullying, mainly because she was foreign and I’m sorry to say, because of her skin colour. Lighter skinned black people have preference over darker skinned, as was my daughter.
To say that she would never have been bullied in the UK would be wrong of me as unfortunately bullying happens in every school all over the world. We never experienced racism in the UK and was surprised to see that in Saint Lucia it was quite apparent that if you were of a darker complexion that you were treated in a lesser manner.
Because of my daughter’s strong personality – she was no angel - she would sometimes get into trouble with the teachers who also showed favouritism towards the lighter skinned students.
It came to a point where my daughter felt that she may as well do bad things as she was getting into trouble for things she did not even do or had no involvement with.
She also liked to correct teachers in the classroom or question them when she didn’t quite understand something or disagreed with their statement. They didn’t like that at all.
She was a debater but also a very generous and caring individual. People said that she would have made a great lawyer. Her favourite subjects being Maths, English Literature and Philosophy. Any grade less than an A was not acceptable and she would question where she went wrong so as not to make the same mistake in the future. I believe she would have still been this way whether taught in the UK or Saint Lucia.
Despite the downsides of her experience, she actually wanted to return to the islands and start a school. Can you tell me a bit about her vision and why you think she wanted to create a school in Saint Lucia?
It’s such as shame that my daughter is not alive today as you could have asked her yourself. I can just see her getting excited when answering you. She most probably would have treated this like a project where she would have expected nothing less than an A or distinction.
I can only say that my daughter wanted to make a difference. From what she shared with me, she felt that her school in particular – which was the top performing girls’ school on the island – concentrated more on maths and sciences and didn’t have a wide range of courses on offer, such as architecture, engineering, arts, sports, horse riding, archery and so on.
Mainly doctors and lawyers derived from her school. She wanted to build a school that offered traditional subjects but also to allow students to have greater opportunities to develop their passions and learn other more non-traditional subjects in addition.
Lastly what advice would you give to other families who are considering moving back to the Caribbean but who have fears or concerns about educational options for their children?
I would say that it is natural to have fears and concerns especially when it comes to your children’s welfare and in particular their education but honestly, when it comes to primary school and especially secondary school education, your children will not be short changed.
In fact, they will learn a lot more and have the added experience of adapting to a new culture which will help them in their development – also will be an interesting quality to add on their resumes.
My daughter also learnt how to play the steelpan and her band won both the junior and adult competition the year she left to return to the UK for college. She also was passionate about playing netball, like her late aunt. Her school lost by one point in the Saint Lucia secondary schools championship. Obviously, my daughter being the person she was….believed they were robbed…lol!
When my daughter left Saint Lucia to go to college in the UK, her lecturers were astounded with her coursework and essay writing skills. They had high expectations for her. Before she died, my daughter was accepted into the University of East Anglia. She wanted to pursue degrees in her three favourite subjects, Mathematics, English Literature and Philosophy and it was a challenge to find a university that offered all three that did not conflict.
My grandnieces and nieces were amazed with her personal statement, so much so, that they used it as a foundation to develop their own. My daughter didn’t quite meet her hope of attending Oxford or Cambridge University but she did her best to achieve everything she put her mind to.
I believe the experience she had in Saint Lucia gave her such high ambitions and made her a stronger and a more determined individual.
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