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Improved cooperation and mutual understanding of education systems in the Caribbean

The Interreg ELAN project launched by the Académie de Martinique in April 2019 is a promising opportunity for students and education staff to improve their understanding of the French education system and those of the English-speaking Caribbean, and to increase opportunities for student exchanges and institutional cooperation.

Since its launch, the project is being implemented at a steady pace, and recently celebrated its 1st anniversary. Its many achievements thus far, were highlighted in its annual Newsletter.

This year the project has sought to increase exchanges and mutual awareness in the field of education by publicizing study programs through an interactive regional map on study and training programs created by The Territorial Collectivity of Martinique with the assistance of Campus France (both active partners of the Elan program), as well as through information campaigns. A virtual regional fair has also been planned, and is scheduled to be hosted in December by Campus France, which is the national agency for the promotion of French higher education and research abroad. The agency also monitors the entire ELAN scholarship scheme for students from the region wishing to gain access to French Higher Education.

Efforts were also made at the beginning of the year, to improve mutual understanding of education systems, during a 3-day workshop which was held in Martinique for the Focal points from the English-speaking countries of the OECS. The purpose of the workshop was to provide a better understanding of the ELAN Project and to be able to proceed with implementation through an action plan elaborated for and by the Focal Points, based on the needs of their respective countries.

This workshop was indeed an excellent occasion for the ELAN team to improve their understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the different territories in the education sector.

The exchanges were enrichening as Focal Points visited different institutions on the island including:

  • Primary schools where they observed how English is being taught as a foreign language through Early Childhood & English pilot projects, English language assistants & monitored transition between Primary and Secondary school);
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Visit of the Nursery School of Schoelcher (Maternelle de l’Anse Madame), one of the participating schools in the Parcours Anglais +, an academic initiative meant to reinforce English learning at Early Childhood level

  • The INSPE (L’Institut National Supérieur du Professorat et de l’Education), the teacher training institution in Martinique where they discovered opportunities for French teachers of the OECS to improve their French and teaching skills through activities like that of the “Printemps des Poètes”;
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Meeting at INSPE Martinique, the School of Education   

The visit also took place during FORMEO, the Bi-Annual Career Fair in Martinique. As such the Focal points were able to gain a better understanding of the wide range of education and training opportunities that exist on island and that are accessible to students from the English-speaking Caribbean. They discovered various avenues for cooperation in the areas of Hospitalities, Environment, Visual Communication.

It was also an opportunity to meet and exchange with the students from the OECS who were studying in Martinique as well as those who were selected to participate in the ELAN immersion program at the University of the Antilles.

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Exchanges between the Focal points of the OECS, the selected participants of the Elan Immersion program and their French Teacher at the University of the Antilles

These exchanges have definitely improved mutual understanding and will facilitate education cooperation between French and English-speaking islands. It has also made participants aware of the large number of opportunities provided by ELAN in the education sector and the need to implement the project in the different countries of the cooperation zone.