The Government of Barbados recognizes the importance of schools and education for personal development as well as the development of the nation.
As such, the government commits taxpayer dollars towards the provision of free public education for Barbadian students at the primary and secondary school levels (including the cost of textbooks) as well as certification, diploma and degree programmes at the tertiary and higher education levels.
A Healthy Body, A Healthy Mind
Government funded nursery and primary school children benefit from a low-cost school meals programme that was first established in 1930 to combat poor nutrition rates when children where provided with milk and 2 biscuits. A hot-meals programme was introduced to primary schools in 1963 which continues to this day.
Meeting the Demands of the 21st Century
To meet student needs, the government has placed strong emphasis on the incorporation of technology into the school system. The Education Sector Enhancement Programme (EduTech) was introduced in 2000. EduTech focuses on providing tools and teacher training to schools in an effort to integrate technology into the curriculum.
Literacy in Barbados
Due to the government commitment and lasting efforts in the provision of free quality education for the citizens of Barbados, the country enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the world at an admirable 97 % of the population.
Primary Education in Barbados
Based on the British model, students begin primary education at the age of 3. Between 3 and 7 years of age, children attend nursery classes equipped with trained teachers and volunteers. There are 4 public nursery schools, 71 publically funded primary schools and 30 private primary schools in Barbados. Primary education concludes around the age of 11 when students undertake the Common Entrance Examinations.
Principals, school teachers and auxiliary staff are dedicated to ensuring that all students are well prepared for the Common Entrance Examinations. Top raked students are hailed throughout the island for their dedication to learning and outstanding success on the exams. These students are granted preferential status in the registration selection of the top secondary schools in the country.
Special Needs Education
For special education needs, children may be incorporated in one of 8 primary schools:
— All Saints Primary
— Ellerton Primary
— Charles F. Broome Primary
— St. Matthews Primary
— Eagle Hall Primary
— St. Stephen’s Primary
— Erdiston Primary
— Hilda Skeene Primary
Alternatively there are 2 publically funded schools for children with special needs:
— Irvine Wilson School – caters to children with visual and hearing impairments
— Ann Hill School – designed to meet the needs of the mentally challenged
Privately assisted special needs schools include:
— The Learning Centre
— Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre
— Edna Nicholls Centre
Secondary School Education in Barbados
Upon completion of the 11 – Plus Common Entrance Examinations, students progress into the secondary level. There are 23 public secondary schools, 7 government-assisted private secondary schools in the country.
Students are required to remain in school until the age of 16 when they sit the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examination. Passing the CXS is the equivalent of the GCE – O levels.
Students who decide not to enter into A-levels have the opportunity to enrol with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic where they can earn a tertiary certification or diploma in one of the many vocational programmes. For more information on the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, visit Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
For those that remain, they are expected to sit the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Certificate (A-level) examinations in their final year of high school at around the age of 18.
For students who complete their A-levels, post secondary education facilities include:
— The University of the West Indies (www.uwi.edu)
— Barbados Community College (www.bcc.edu.bb)
— Erdiston Teacher’s Training College (www.erdistoncollege.edu.bb)
— Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity (www.bimap.com.bb)
Author: Brett Callaghan