Education in Small States

Policies and Priorities

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This publication argues for work by the Commonwealth and others on the particular and distinct challenges of education in small states, and for the need to examine the impact of changing global contexts, to document the changing nature and significance of recent and contemporary education policy priorities, and to advance the case for new and strengthened initiatives for education in small states.

The study will be of direct interest to a wide range of stakeholders involved in educational and social development in small states, to policy-makers, administrators, researchers, students, comparative educationalists, international agency personnel and practitioners at all levels in small states, throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.




To be considered among the frontrunners in the conceptualisation of educational policy and in the delivery of education provision must be music to the ears of policymakers and planners in the small states of the Commonwealth. They have long lived in the shadow of larger states. As recently as two decades ago, some small state analysts felt that, in spite of their numbers, the world community had not yet thought its way through the phenomenon of small states. Indeed, Sir Shridath Ramphal, a former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, believed that for the most part small states were ignored, imposed upon and generally discounted. Vulnerability and openness were the international community’s mantras whenever the circumstances of small states were discussed. Their achievements in fashioning appropriate, workable and affordable responses to the challenges of scale were dismissed by some as making a virtue out of necessity. While it was universally acknowledged that small states have an ecology of their own, the unspoken understanding was that this could not be compared, or at least not favourably, with that of large states. The idea of learning from the South – particularly the small South – was not always palatable or popular.


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