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Barbados Education

Barbados is probably the smallest country in the world offering its citizens free state-financed education from primary right up to university level.

The Barbados government spends 20 per cent of its (US) billion dollar annual budget on education. It's therefore no wonder that this 166 square mile island boasts a literacy rate of 97.6% of the population of 274,000.

The re-named Ministry of Education and Human Resources is responsible for educational policy.

The school year is divided into 3 terms. The first begins in the second week of September and ends mid-December. The second term begins the second week of January and ends in the first week of April. The final term begins at the end of April and ends in the first week of July.

Education in Barbados is broken down into four levels:

Nursery covers the ages 3 to 5 years.
Primary spans 5 to 11 years old.
Secondary covers 11 to 16 years and
Tertiary is for post-secondary students and does not have an age limit.

As of January 2008, there were approximately 26,000 students at the primary level, 21,000 at the secondary level and about 13,000 at the tertiary level.

Overall there are 80 institutions in the primary school sector and 22 secondary schools, both public and private.

The public tertiary or post-secondary sector comprises the Erdiston Teachers Training College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), the Barbados Community College (BCC) and the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Come September 2008, it is also expected that the University College of Barbados will be established, to amalgamate and consolidate the programmes of the BCC and the SJPP.

Chief Education Officer Wendy Griffith-Watson says the Barbados government is currently moving to deal a need for 1,800 more nursery education places. Three new nursery schools are planned.

At the primary level, the national curriculum for students covers:

Language Arts
Social Studies
Physical Education
Moral and Religious Education
Visual Arts
Health and Family Life Education and
Conversational Spanish

These subjects aim to give these children a sound foundation of reading, writing and problem-solving skills, to be built on at secondary level.

A child's success is measured through examinations and tests throughout their school years, primarily in English Language (grammar and comprehension) and Mathematics.

Towards the end these primary school years, all children are required to sit the Barbados Common Entrance Examination (also called the 11+ exam). Usually students between the ages of 9 and 12 years old take this test between May and June.

It is an examination in English and Mathematics and students are awarded a place in a secondary school based on the result of their performance.

The national curriculum for secondary students covers:

Agriculture Science
Visual Arts & Theatre Arts
English Language and Literature
Foreign Languages
Health and Family Life
Physical Education
Religious and Moral Education
Social Studies
Technical/Vocational Education
Business Studies
Home Economics
Information Technology

The objective is to give these students the knowledge, skills and attitude for careers, including high levels of literacy, numeracy and oral communication.

The 22 Secondary schools across Barbados are:

Alexandra School
Alleyne School
Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School
Christ Church Foundation School
Coleridge and Parry School
Combermere School,
Deighton Griffith Secondary School
Ellerslie Secondary School
Garrison Secondary School
Grantley Adams Memorial School
Harrison College
Parkinson Memorial Secondary School
Princess Margaret Secondary School
Queen's College
St. George Secondary School
St. James Secondary School
St. Leonard's Boys' Secondary School
St. Lucy Secondary School
Springer Memorial Secondary School for Girls
The Lester Vaughan School
The Lodge School
The St. Michael School.

On completion of secondary education students can expect to hold any or all of the following qualifications and certificates:

Barbados Secondary School Leaving Certificate
Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate
Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations
Cambridge International Examinations O and A Levels
Edexcel International London Examinations O and A Level
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Certificates
Pitman's Qualification and City and Guilds Certificates

Between the ages of 15 and 17 years, secondary school students are expected to write exams set by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), based in Barbados.

In addition to the above, there are several institutions in Barbados that cater to students with special needs.

These include:
1. The Irving Wilson School (for the blind)
2. The Challenor Creative Arts and Training Center
3. The Government Industrial School; and
4. The Edna Nicholls Centre

Source: The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development 2008.


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