Antigua and Barbuda is located on the boundary of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as several small islands. The population is 84,522 and the literacy rate is 85.8%.
The Ciboney Amerindians, who date back to 2900 BC, were the first inhabitants of the islands. The Arawaks arrived from Venezuela about 1500 BC. By 1100 AD, most of the Arawaks had left the islands and those that remained were defeated by the Caribs. In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Antigua on his second trip to the West Indies. He named the island Santa Maria de la Antigua who was a saint from Sevilla, Spain. A group of English explorers from St. Kitts established a settlement and founded sugar plantations. African slaves were brought to the islands to work the plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834. In 1981, Antigua and Barbuda was granted independence from England.
Antigua and Barbuda's education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. Education is free and compulsory from ages 5 to 16.
Primary and Secondary Education
Primary school is 7 years beginning at age 5 (including 1 year of kindergarten). Secondary school is 5 years. Prior to the establishment of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) in 1972, at the end of secondary school (Form V), students were assessed using the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Level) which was administered by examination authorities in the United Kingdom. The CXC Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) replaced the GCE O-Level exam. Form VI is two years long and students have the choice of taking the CXC Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) or the GCE Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) exam upon completion.
Post-secondary programs are offered at Antigua Hotel Training Centre, Antigua State College, and The University of the West Indies. Antigua State College offers 1-year Certificate programs, 2-year Associate's degree programs, and 3-year Diplomas in nursing and pharmacy. The University of the West Indies provides continuing education programs on the islands and is in the process of establishing an Open Campus that will provide academic programs through distance education.