SEATTLE — While most know Barbados as a beautiful vacationing spot, there is much more to the country than just that. Barbados has high standards of living and provides its citizens with an excellent education.
Education in the country is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of five to 16. The education system is made up of three levels: the primary stage (ages three to 11), the secondary stage (ages eleven to sixteen) and the tertiary stage (post-secondary education). The strong education system in the country has resulted in a high literacy level of about 98 percent.
While public schools are the main sector of the education system, there are also private schools and a school that primarily caters to children from the expatriate community (International Baccalaureate School). Other specialized schools include those that attend to blind or mentally challenged students or to pupils with other types of disabilities. As for those who want to advance their education, Barbados offers many options including Barbados Community College, Open Campus of the University of West Indies, the Erdiston Teachers Training College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
Although Barbados has an excellent education system, that contains multiple schools and universities, it is still considered a developing country and “the economic demands of globalization” which it faces mean it must find ways of making the education system and its institutions more cost-efficient. To that effect the Ministry of Education in the country has taken the following steps:
- At the primary level, the Ministry is dedicated to continuing the organization of school facilities by fusing institutions together or closing those that aren’t needed.
- At the secondary level, they are committed to organizing technical and vocational resources and designating certain schools as centers for specific technical or vocational areas.
- Lastly, at the tertiary/post-secondary level, they are looking to expand access to education and streamline present tertiary institutions in order to meet the excess demand of qualified people wishing to gain entry to the level. The Ministry also plans on taking advantage of the growing economic opportunities in the areas of arts, culture and sports (at the secondary level) by developing the Academy of Excellence in Sports and Arts, for talented students.
Curriculum in the country is guided by the reform philosophy outlined in the White Paper on Education Reform, Edutech 200 Master Plan and in the Curriculum Reform 2000 documents. This philosophy emphasizes having the student at the center of the teaching and learning process with lesson observations and conferences involving teachers and principals to evaluate how the curriculum is being received by the students. From the results, they are able to assess progress being made and the effectiveness of the teachings. Furthermore, teachers attend workshops so that they may improve their teaching methods and learn how to provide the best learning environment for their students.
Education in Barbados is at the highest level and the country promises to achieve new accomplishments in education through the revision, implementation and evaluation of its curriculum and school programs.
– Chavez Spicer