Prospective students crowd outside of the full conference room at The Moorings on Monday evening, waiting to register for the newly launched Virgin Islands High School Certificate Programme. (Photo: CONOR KING DEVITT)

More than 150 people across the territory registered for the new online Virgin Islands High School Certificate Programme this week.

The opportunity serves as a rough equivalent to the United States’ GED programme, offering anyone interested a chance to achieve a certificate comparable to a high school diploma, according to Education and Culture Minister Myron Walwyn.

“While the alternative secondary education programme commonly called ‘the night school’ still exists, we thought from the evidence before us that we needed a programme that could meet our students where they are and provide a pathway to getting their high school certificate in a shorter timespan than the two or three years that night school requires,” Mr. Walwyn (R-at large) said during a registration launch at The Moorings on Monday.

This pathway, the minister explained, is a good opportunity for disciplined learners who can study independently. Students who need a more structured curriculum should still enroll in night school, he said.

Five subjects

The High School Certificate Programme covers five subjects: math, English, science, social studies and life skills.

Prospective students register in an online “learning hub” to study for the programme’s examinations, which can be taken on a flexible schedule, according to Mr. Walwyn.

Students must pass exams in the first four subjects as well as completing a “life skills portfolio,” according to Dr. Lavern Chalwell-Brewley, deputy chief education officer.

High-achieving participants have the potential to earn their certificates free of cost: Registration doesn’t cost anything, the online learning hub is free for one year, and the first sitting of each exam also won’t cost anything, according to Dr. Chalwell-Brewley, who outlined the programme at The Moorings on Monday night.

For those who don’t pass an exam on their first try, however, exam re-sits will cost $40 each. The online learning hub will also cost $60 a year after the first year, and students who haven’t finished their certificates after three years will need to reregister at a yet-to-be-announced cost, the deputy chief education officer explained.

“The programme is self-paced, meaning that you will set up your study timetable based on your activities,” she said. “Tutors will definitely be available to assist you with any challenges you may have.”

The math, science and social studies exams will be 50 multiple choice questions each, and the English test will be 30 multiple choice questions and a writing component, Dr. Chalwell-Brewley added. Students will be able to take exams as early as February.

The programme is also being offered to inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, according to Mr. Walwyn.