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Cluny Sister obtains doctorate, hopes to impact OECS education policies

Wednesday, November 12, 2019 marked a memorable day for Sr Rose Leon SJC and the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny of the Province of the West Indies.

Sr Rose successfully completed her doctoral thesis and obtained her doctorate in Educational Sciences at the Université des Antilles (University of the French West Indies and Guiana) in Martinique.

Sr Rose began her career in Education as a teacher in her homeland, St Lucia. She is currently a Retreat Director and the Principal of St John’s Academy, the only Catholic secondary school in Portsmouth, Dominica.

Sr Rose’s PhD thesis was titled ‘A Comparative Study of the Pre-Elementary Education Systems in the OECS countries of St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Martinique: Educational Policies, Linguistic and Cultural Issues’.

The study entailed five years of field research in the three islands and surveys of stakeholders: parents of students, teachers, administrative officials, political leaders etc.

A report from Sr Annetta Alexander SJC said that Sr Rose’s thesis required first, a study of the history of pre-elementary education from ages three to six years old and a reflection of the current function in relation to the requirements defined by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“She finally evaluated the results obtained and compared them with each other to determine what recommendations were possible,” Sr Annetta said.

“Hopefully the results of the thesis are not doomed to end up in the archives of the university but will help political decision makers better understand the ‘ins and outs’ of the question and take into account the recommendations proposed by Sr Rose.”

Sr Annetta said that Sr Rose’s work is “even more remarkable” and “proved to be a real feat” since “it was written in a language which is not her mother-tongue”. Sr Rose has also done extensive research in educational anthropology within the OECS.

“Congratulations Dr Sr Rose Leon, PhD. We knew you had it in you. You are certainly a great example….” Sr Annetta said.

Born August 30, 1971 into a humble devout Catholic family, Sr Rose Leon was educated at the Derniere Riviere Combined School and received her secondary schooling at the Dennery Junior Secondary School and the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School.

After an encounter with some religious sisters at the age of nine, she developed a desire to consecrate her life to God. At 12 years old, she started attending vocations retreats organised by the archdiocese and religious congregations. She felt called to the religious life with the Cluny Sisters. Sr Rose pronounced her first vows in the Congregation on August 30, 1997 in Trinidad, and her final vows in 2006 in St Lucia.

A qualified teacher prior to her entry into the congregation, Sr Rose continued her ministry in Education soon after profession, and was sent to teach at the Laborie Girls’ Primary School in the south of St Lucia and later at the St Aloysius RC Boys’ Primary School in Castries.

Possessing a keen mind and intuition, and having completed some courses in spirituality, French and in the field of education, Sr Rose was encouraged to pursue a degree in her area of interest, French.

However, she decided to follow some of the education courses and later became a full-time student in both disciplines. Consequently, she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Literature (French) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Sciences.

Sr Rose was encouraged to continue her studies at the Master’s level at the same university where she registered to pursue two degrees simultaneously over a period of two years, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Modern Literature and a Master’s Degree in Educational Sciences.

Performing at the top of the class in many of her courses, she was then asked to read for her PhD in Educational Sciences. This enabled her to use her expertise in both fields of study.

Sr Rose hopes to establish a relationship between pre-elementary education and tertiary education but also to impact policies in education within the OECS. It is for this reason that, while pursuing her Master’s degree, she successfully completed a course with Harvard University in Educational Policy Analysis and Research in Comparative Perspective.