Barbados Education & Educational System

In Barbados, the Educational system was based on the committed efforts and greatly appreciated endowments of private individuals and the humanitarian interest of the church. Other financial contributions were made by the British Government starting back in 1835, through an annual grant to the West Indies Colonies for the education of the former slaves.

One individual stands out when you speak of education in Barbados and that person would be Errol Walton Barrow, P.C., Q.C. In 1962 he was instrumental in the democratisation and the fight against segregation in the education system; he was also instrumental in giving free education to all levels of society and free school meals on an improved nutritional basis.

This tiny island with very little resources has the second-highest literacy rate in the world, and continues to out-perform many developed First-world countries with its impressive educational system, and a culture which embraces education as a form of nationalism.

Barbados' success is due to 6.9% of the gross national product spent on education, which equals to 1/5 the national budget. Because of this substantial spending students can enjoy free; education, healthcare, school meals and cheap bus fares (some years free). Strict discipline and high expectations of students also has its roll in the success.

The Government of Barbados provides an Educational system which offers free education & text books (Text Book Loan Scheme) to Barbadian Students at (3) levels; Primary, Secondary and Tertiary as well as Special Needs Programs. This system has led to a high literacy rate of approx. 97.6%, with 98% of High School students graduating annually and 53% moving on to college.

In Barbados education is compulsory for children between 5 to 16 years of age.

The Ministry of Education implemented the Education Sector Enhancement Programme (EDUTECH) into the primary schools to upgrade and retool the schools and teachers, while introducing Curriculum Reform and merging Information Technology with everyday teaching.

Barbados is known to have one of the best Educational Systems in the world and has led among developing nations on the United Nations Human Development Index.

The Barbados School year is divided into 3 terms.
 Term 1: starts second week of September - Ends mid-December.
 Term 2: starts second week of January - Ends in the first week of April.
 Term 3: starts last week of April - Ends in the first week of July.


Types of Primary & Secondary Schools in Barbados - (3) Groups:
  1. Government owned - (School's expenditure is covered by the Ministry of Education)
  2. Government Assisted Private (secondary only) - (Receive grants from Government for salaries of part teaching staff, and specialised subjects as well as Bursaries for those who need assistance)
  3. Independent/Private - (Non-assisted by Government)

Total Enrolment: approx. 60,000 students per annum
Barbados' Educational System is divided into (4) school levels:
 Nursery Schools - ages 3 to 4 years.
 Primary Schools - ages 4 to 11 years
 Secondary Schools - ages 11 to 16 years (to 18 years for A-Level exams)
 Tertiary Education (post secondary) - no age limit.

Nursery Schools consist of students (children 3 - 4 years of age)

Primary Schools consist of students (children 4 - 11 years of age)
Includes: Infants (4 - 7 years) and juniors (7 - 11 years)
No. of Government Primary Schools: (71) (some co-educational)
No. of Private Primary Schools: (28) (some co-educational)

Total Enrolment: 28,000 students (2009)
Total Teachers:

At eleven plus the local Common Entrance Examination (AKA 11+ Exam) is taken which determines entry into the secondary level. It is usually taken between May & June in the subjects Mathematics and English.

Curriculum for Primary Schools:
The objective is to instill skills for problem solving as well as reading and writing.


Secondary Schools provide education for children (11 - 18 years)
No. of Government Secondary Schools: (23) (21 Co-educational - 2 Single Sex)
No. of Private Secondary Schools (11 - 18 years): (20 registered) (some co-educational)
Includes: (7) Government assisted Private Schools and (2) Government assisted Special Needs Schools.

Total Enrolment: 22,000 students (2009)
Total Teachers:

At age 16 or during the fourth and fifth years the Caribbean Examination Council Examinations (CXC) are taken in various compulsory subjects and others of choice. This exam is equivalent to the GCE O-Level exam.

At 18 years of age students with enough CXC's can go on to take their A-Level exams. This is the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Certificate which is also by CXC.

Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) was established in 1972 and is responsible for providing school-leaving exams in the Caribbean to (16) territories.

Curriculum for Secondary Schools:
The objective is to instill knowledge, skills and attitudes for future jobs and careers.


Tertiary Institutions (Government):

Total Enrolment: over 11,500 + students (2009)
Total Teachers:

Useful Links

For more information on Education in Barbados contact:
 The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development
 (Formerly the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs & Sports)
 Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Rd,
 Barbados, W.I
 Tel: (246) 430-2700 / 430 2753
 Fax: (246) 436-2411
 Email:  Website:

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