School Children on the Way to Classes, Barbados Pocket Guide


The educational system in early Barbados was one that suffered as a result of a serious lack of training and experience on the parts of those involved in the process. Education at the time, was quite unlike the educational system that currently exists on the island today. Back then, the attention was focused more on reading, writing, a bit of arithmetic and a substantial amount of religious education.

Poverty pervaded throughout that time and only the wealthy were in any position to send their children to school. Boys benefited from the school system more than girls did and as a result were the first ones to be sent off to Britain in order to gain any kind of solid education. Despite its early challenges, change started to unfold in the early 19th century as schools run by and for the free coloured came into fruition.

Improved Educational Standards in Barbados

Equal educational opportunities came about in the 20th century that allowed both boys and girls to be on a par with each other academically. Ironically enough, today in Barbados' educational system, girls tend to perform better than boys.

When it comes to spending money on education, the Government of Barbados doesn't hold back in this regard at all. It is estimated that approximately 20% of their annual revenue is spent on education. This figure is quite impressive when compared to what the other Caribbean islands spend throughout the course of any given year.

Built primarily on the principles of the British educational system, it is mandatory for all citizens of Barbados aged four (4) through sixteen (16) to be allowed free access to the educational facilities offered on the island. The educational system in Barbados can be easily broken down into a four-tiered system as follows:-

Nursery level - ages three (3) through five (5) years old
Primary level - ages five (5) through eleven (11) years old
Secondary level - ages eleven (11) through sixteen (16) years old
Tertiary level - caters primarily to post-secondary students with no age limit

The school year in Barbados comprises of 3 school terms and they are as follows:-

1st term - starts the 2nd week of September and ends mid-Dember

2nd term - starts the 2nd week of January and ends in the 1st week of April

3rd term - starts the end of April and ends the 1st week of July

The current educational system in Barbados is one that provides not just quality but equality. The Government of Barbados is responsible for fully institutionalising free education throughout the island. The foundation for such was laid many years ago through charitable contributions from both private individuals and the church. Throughout  primary, secondary and tertiary level education, the educational cost is paid for and so is the cost of textbook provision. School meals are provided at the primary level, there's a textbook loan scheme, free transportation to and from school is provided, a uniform grant is provided, bursaries are available at the secondary level and scholarships and grants are provided at a tertiary level.

As a result of the heavy investments made by previous Governments and the current administration, Barbados boasts a literacy rate of approximately 98%.

Details of the subjects offered throughout the school term and extra-curricular activities within the schools are provided throughout our Barbados Pocket Guide under the individual schools category.


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