Primary & Secondary Education
The Barbados Government pays the cost of education of Barbadian students at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, this includes provision of textbooks. This strong emphasis on education has resulted in a literacy rate estimated at about 98% - one of the highest in the world.
Primary education begins at age 4 and continues until age 11, when students sit the Common Entrance Examination. There are 74 Government primary schools, as well as several privately-run primary schools.
Secondary education is provided for children aged 11 to 18 years. At age 16, students sit the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examinations - the equivalent of GCE O-Levels. At about age 18, those students who continue at school can sit the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Certificate (A-Level) also set by CXC. Most Government secondary schools (of which there are 23) are co-educational. There are also several private secondary schools.
Tertiary education is provided at the following institutions:
Erdiston Teachers' College
This College, opened in 1948, is co-educational and provides training for non-graduate and graduate teachers.
Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic
This Polytechnic provides day and night courses and programmes in fields such as electrical, building and engineering trades, commerce, agriculture and garments.
Barbados Community College
The Barbados Community College provides a range of programmes in academic, vocational and technical areas and offers a number of Associate Degree programmes. Divisions of the college include: fine arts, liberal arts, science, technology, health sciences and hospitality studies.
The University of the West Indies
The University of the West Indies (UWI) comprises three campuses spread across the Caribbean - Cave Hill (Barbados), St. Augustine (Trinidad) and Mona (Jamaica). The University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates in areas such as the humanities, science and technology, computer science, engineering, education, medicine, law and agriculture.
Because of its high educational standards and quality research, the UWI has been able to attract some of the brightest students from the Caribbean and beyond, and it maintains strong partnerships with universities in the U.K., U.S.A, and Canada, including Oxford, John Hopkins and McGill.
University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus)
Barbados offers a number of private schools at both the primary (ages 4-11) and secondary levels (ages 11-16).
|Primary Schools||Secondary Schools|
(Run by Roman Catholic nuns)
Girls Only At This Level
(Run by Roman Catholic nuns)
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs & Culture
Elsie Payne Complex,
Tel: (246) 430-2700
Fax: (246) 436-2411
Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) was established in 1972 by an Agreement among English-speaking Caribbean Commonwealth territories. CXC is responsible for the provision of secondary school-leaving examinations in the region.
Every year, the World Economic Forum releases its Global Competitiveness Report on the state of the world's economies.
The WEF looks at data on areas as varied as the soundness of banks to the sophistication of businesses in each country. It then uses the data to compile a picture of the economy of almost every country on earth.
Countries were ranked according to the "12 pillars of competitiveness," which includes macro-economic environment, infrastructure, health and primary education, and labour market efficiency.
We have drilled down into the schooling data to look at which countries have the best education systems. Neither the US or the UK make the grade in the top 11 (3 countries are tied for 9th, making 11 the clearest cut off point.)
Here are the ones that did make the grade:
=9. Japan: 5.6
Japan is one of the top performing countries for literacy, science, and maths in the OECD group. Students go through six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, and three years of high school before deciding whether they want to go to university. High school is not compulsory but enrolment is close to 98%.
=9. Barbados: 5.9
The Barbados government has invested heavily in education, resulting in a literacy rate of 98%, one of the highest in the world. Primary runs from 4 to 11, with secondary 11 to 18. The majority of schools at both levels are state-owned and run.
=9. New Zealand: 5.6
Primary and secondary education in New Zealand runs from aged 5 to aged 19, with school compulsory between 6 and 16. There are three types of secondary schools in New Zealand: state schools educate approximately 85% of students, state-integrated schools — private schools that have been integrated into the state but keep their special charter — educate 12%, and private schools educate 3%.
8. Estonia: 5.7
Estonia spends around 4% of its GDP on education, according to 2015 figures. The country's 1992 Education Act says that the goals of education are "to create favourable conditions for the development of personality, family and the Estonian nation; to promote the development of ethnic minorities, economic, political and cultural life in Estonia and the preservation of nature in the global economic and cultural context; to teach the values of citizenship; and to set up the prerequisites for creating a tradition of lifelong learning nation-wide."
=6. Ireland: 5.8
The majority of secondary schools in Ireland are privately owned and managed but state-funded, but there are also state comprehensives and vocational schools. However, a recent report shows that Ireland's spending on education fell 15% behind the developed world during the height of the financial crisis, 2008 to 2013, suggesting its education system could suffer in future.
=6. Qatar: 5.8
The BBC reported in 2012 that oil-rich Qatar was "becoming one of the most significant players in the field of education innovation, supporting a raft of projects from grassroots basic literacy through to high-end university research." The country is investing heavily in improving educational standards as part of its Vision 2030 programme to make the country self-sufficient. Government-funded schools offer free education but only to Qatari citizens and most foreign nationals tend to send their children to private schools.
5. Netherlands: 5.9
Dutch children were found to be the happiest in the world in a 2013 Unicef study, leading the way globally educational well-being among others. Schools typically don't give much homework until secondary level and students report little pressure and stress. Schools are divided between faith schools and "neutral" state schools, with only a small number of private schools.
4. Singapore: 6.1
Singapore scores incredibly highly in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, which aim to measure and compare the performance of students across different countries. However, the school system also has a reputation as being a pressure cooker, putting students under a lot of stress at a young age.
=2. Belgium: 6.2
Belgium has four different genres of secondary schools, namely general secondary schools, technical secondary schools, vocational secondary education schools, and art secondary education institutions. The Fulbright Commission in the US, which organises student exchanges with Belgium and Luxembourg says: "Education enjoys high priority, and the largest share of the regional governments’ annual budget in Belgium. Complete systems of public and private schools are available to all children between the ages of 4 and 18, at little or no cost."
=2. Switzerland: 6.2
Just 5% of children attend private schools in Switzerland. Lessons are taught in different languages depending on the region of Switzerland, with German, French or Italian the most common languages of instruction. From secondary onwards students are separated by ability.
1. Finland: 6.7
Finland routinely tops rankings of global education systems and is famous for having no banding systems — all pupils, regardless of ability, are taught in the same classes. As a result, the gap between the weakest and the strongest pupils is the smallest in the world. Finnish schools also give relatively little homework and have only one mandatory test at age 16.
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