Education in Trinidad and Tobago

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SEATTLE — While known for the Carnival, calypso, soca, chutney and being one of the most bio-diverse nations in the Caribbean, education in Trinidad and Tobago is also what should be known about the country.

The education system is taken very seriously in Trinidad and Tobago and is placed at high priority. Until the twentieth century, education was a right reserved only for the exclusive of society in order to prepare them for study abroad and then hold a political and economic role in society. Education programs were not expanded directly after emancipation: the teacher-training programs started in 1852 followed by the opening of the first public secondary institution in 1925.

The public school program was modeled after the British system which was configured in the twentieth century. The last to benefit from education in Trinidad and Tobago was the East Indian population due to their lower socioeconomic status. However, they eventually became known as one of the most academically motivated groups on the islands.

With the government sponsoring the public schools, as authorized by the Ministry of Education, private denomination institutions were created to teach cultural, religion, and traditional knowledge. Further education evolution included Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Muslim and Hindu institutions that were implemented in the private and public schools. While funding was different, the curriculum remained the same and students who could pass the admission tests attended for free.

The education system is arranged into several levels including primary, secondary, upper secondary and tertiary. The ages range from five to ten at the primary level and 11 to 14 at the secondary. For upper secondary, the grades are from ninth to tenth and tertiary is post-secondary schooling. Upon completing the secondary level and receiving their education certificate, students may remain at school for two more years. This could lead to attaining a Caribbean advanced proficiency certificate and beginning a tertiary education. Trinidad and Tobago also offers undergraduate education for free at approved universities. These include the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the Southern Caribbean.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is also made accessible by soft loans offered through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education’s Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP). HELP was initiated in 2006 and is approved for tertiary-level studies both locally and in the region. In addition to the loans, there are overseas scholarships. The government initiative provides undergraduate students, who achieve a First Class Honours Degree from a local accredited university, with a full government scholarship to pursue up to a PhD anywhere in the world.

The national literacy level increased from 74 to 95 percent while also amplifying the academic and vocational programs. The education program grooms approximately 2,500 students annually to attend U.S. undergraduate and graduate programs. The top fields of study include business, engineering, computer science, graphic art and physical and life sciences.

With education being looked at as a means of upward mobility in the country, there was only so much success to meet the needs of society. Education in Trinidad and Tobago is taking the necessary steps to provide an exceptional education system for the students by providing 55,000 laptops to students and 4,500 to teachers. They are also developing special needs centers with educations psychologists, behavioral psychologists and clinical psychologists to care for the children. The Ministry of Education wants to make the country a progressive, democratic and developed nation, by improving literacy, numeracy and academic performance.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

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Chavez Spicer

Chavez lives in Indianapolis, IN.

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