Schooling in Barbados is based on the British education model, but students follow regional curriculums and sit Caribbean-based exams. In addition to the excellent free government schools, there are several private schools, one of which offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
Creating an educated and employable workforce is a priority for the Government of Barbados. Around 20 percent of the annual budget is spent on providing free primary, secondary and tertiary education.
“Schooling in Barbados is based on the British education model, but with Caribbean curriculums and exams”
Primary education in Barbados
Children generally begin their formal primary education at the age of four (under fours can attend daycares and nursery schools). There are 68 government-run and 27 privately-run primary schools.
There are 68 government-run and 27 privately-run primary schools.
Between the ages of 10 and 12, children sit the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE) for admission into one of the island’s secondary schools.
Secondary education in Barbados
Secondary education is provided for children 11-18 years. There are 21 government-run secondary schools, most of which are co-educational and 10 private secondary schools. Students sit the Caribbean Secondary Entrance Certificate (CSEC) exams at the age of 16, administered by the Caribbean Examination Council. This is the equivalent of the British General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs), and students are tested in academic and technical courses.
“Students sit the Caribbean Secondary Entrance Certificate (CSEC) exams at the age of 16.”
Students can continue on in some schools and sit the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Certificate after two years – this is the equivalent of the British General Certificate of Education – Advanced Level (A-Levels).
Tertiary education in Barbados
Barbados has a range of tertiary and training institutions providing school leavers and the workforce with opportunities to continuously upgrade their skills. Barbados is home to a campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), which has partnerships with universities in the United States, Canada, Europe and China. Other government-owned tertiary institutions include The Barbados Community College which offers Associate Degree programmes in academic, vocational and technical areas; The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology which provides students with technical and vocational training to foster a highly trained workforce and the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College which provides training for non-graduate and graduate teachers at both Certificate and Diploma level.
Barbados is home to four offshore medical schools and one teaching and research institution.
Barbados is also home to four offshore medical schools – the American University of Barbados, American University of Integrated Sciences, Bridgetown International University of Medicine and Ross University, and one teaching and research institution – Bellairs Institute.
The Barbados Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training provides an overview of the education system, and a list of public and private primary and secondary schools.