Education in Barbados

Joined Commonwealth: 1966

Population: 256,000 (2009)

GDP p.c. growth: 2.2% p.a. 1990-2009

UN HDI 2010: world ranking 42

Public spending on education was 6.7% of GDP in 2009. There are 12 years of compulsory education starting at age five. The pupil-teacher ratio for primary is 14:1 and for secondary, 15:1 (2009). Computers are widely available to schools. Some 94% of pupils complete primary school (2007). The school year starts in September.

The University of the West Indies has a campus at Cave Hill, Barbados, as well as in Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Other tertiary institutions include the Barbados Community College, with its Hospitality Institute, Samuel Jackson Prescod Polytechnic and Erdiston College (offering teacher education). There is virtually no illiteracy among people age 15-24.

The Caribbean Examinations Council, established in 1972 by an agreement among 15 English-speaking Commonwealth Caribbean countries and territories, provides examinations and certification at secondary and post-secondary levels. The Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examination is for students at the end of the secondary education cycle; the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations for post-secondary students entering the world of work and for those candidates who wish to continue their further education at the tertiary level. The Council has its headquarters in Barbados and western zone office in Jamaica.

According to the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, Barbados has achieved gender parity at the primary and secondary school levels. In addition to its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and EFA global initiatives, Barbados has also pledged itself to the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

About 38% of the relevant age group is enrolled in tertiary education (2000/2001). The University of the West Indies has a campus at Cave Hill, Barbados, as well as in Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. A UNESCO Chair in Educational Technologies was established in 1999 at the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies. Other tertiary institutions include the Barbados Community College, with its Hospitality Institute, Samuel Jackson Prescod Polytechnic, and Erdiston College (offering teacher education). There is virtually no illiteracy among those aged 15-24.

The National Strategic Plan of Barbados 2005-2025 acknowledges that development of human resources is fundamental to a knowledge-based economy. It states that the key to unlocking the productive potential of Barbadians is a continued revolution in education – from nursery through tertiary level – with the aim of maximising and universalising educational opportunities. The plan encourages allBarbadians to engage in lifelong learning. Government aims to establish the University College of Barbados as the national university, incorporating a number of existing institutions, and has set the target of one university graduate per household by 2025.