“Educational planning will always be relevant”: Q&A from St. Kitts and Nevis

10 May 2023

Q&A from St. Kitts and Nevis_Neva P

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Children play in front of a school on the Caribbean island of St Kitts.

It’s been nearly a decade since educational planner Neva Pemberton – from St. Kitts and Nevis – trained with IIEP-UNESCO in 2014. Since completing the year-long training, she’s accomplished a lot, shaping educational plans not only in her island nation but across the region. 

In 2017, as the Chief of Education Planning, she spearheaded the development of the five-year national education plan – under the theme Education for all: embracing change, securing the future. In its opening pages, then Minister of Education in Nevis, Vance Amory wrote: “The team of professionals who put this ESP together, led by Dr Neva Pemberton, has made sure that sustainable procedures are in place to monitor and evaluate progress with implementation of the plan.” 

This corresponds well to the ethos of Pemberton. She’s an astute planner who likes to use evidence to back up her bold visions for the future of equitable and inclusive education. Today, she is lending her skills and leadership to the whole region – she is collaborating with IIEP as she helps to develop sector plans in Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines that can foster greater resilience in the face of climate change and natural hazards. 

As part of IIEP’s 60th anniversary, she looks back on her professional development and reflects on the future of educational planning. 

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have seen in the education sector?

At the national level, the first challenge is leveraging available human and financial resources to add value and create efficiencies in education administration. A second challenge is monitoring and paying attention to equity, and thirdly, maintaining effective accountability and support systems, including data management.  

Having the opportunity to now work with and for development partners based in the Caribbean and globally, I see effective coordination of education transformation efforts, and at times, the absorptive capacity of Ministries of Education, as key challenges. 

Q: How has planning helped address these challenges?

An educational planning skillset allows one to ask strategic questions about sector performance and then bring together pertinent data, information, and stakeholders to propose contextually relevant solutions to education issues at the policy and programmatic levels. 

Q: How have you felt more confident in your work because of training with IIEP? 

As a result of my training with IIEP, I am confident that I bring to my work evidence-informed education planning strategies that have proven to be effective in driving education change across my beloved Caribbean region and the wider world.

I also now have the pleasure to work with Anton De Grauwe, IIEP’s former Head of Technical Cooperation, to support the development of sector plans in the Caribbean region. I’ll never forget the exercise we did during the training at IIEP where we had to defend our policy priorities to him in a mock Minister’s presentation. 

Q: IIEP is celebrating 60 years this year. Why do you think planning continues to be relevant in today’s world and what issues will be most important in the years to come?

Educational planning is both the art and science of determining desirable and feasible options for education transformation. As such, educational planning will always be relevant to countries seeking to (re)position its education system as empowering for both the learners it serves as well as the society, culture, and economy it builds. Issues of equity and equality in learning outcomes will become increasingly important if sustainable and inclusive development is to be pursued in earnest.

Discover Dr Neva Pemberton’s favorite IIEP resources

"I regularly apply IIEP guidance documents in my work in education planning and sector development in the Caribbean. Most recently, I have used the GPE/IIEP Guidelines of the Appraisal of Education Sector Plan. Planipolis is another valued resource I use regularly in my work.”


About Dr Neva Pemberton's career

Neva Pemberton has a PhD in International and Comparative Education and has been working in educational planning in the Caribbean for over a decade. She began her career in the region as the Education Planner for the island of Nevis, and then worked as the Chief of Education Planning for the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. She then transitioned to regional work, first as a technical specialist with the Education Development Management Unit of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and more recently as a full-time Consultant Education Specialist with the Caribbean Development Bank. In her profession as a consultant, she has also had the opportunity to support education sector plan development and appraisals across the Caribbean and Pacific regions.