Aruba is located 15 miles off the northwest coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. Aruba, along with Bonaire and Curaçao (also know as the ABC Islands), are part of the Windward Islands group. The Windward Islands were discovered in the 15th century by Spanish explorers, but Arawak Indian settlements in Aruba date back to 1,000 A.D. The Spanish claimed Aruba in 1499. The Dutch West India Company gained control of the islands in the 17th century and they became a colony of the Netherlands. The United Kingdom occupied Aruba twice: from 1799 to 1802 and again from 1805 (during the Napoleonic wars), until the Dutch regained control in 1816. In 1954, the six islands which at that time made up the Netherlands Antilles changed their status from a colony to a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which still maintains responsibility for the national defense of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. Full independence was to have become final in 1996, but was halted at Aruba's request in 1990, and made official by the Netherlands in 1995; with the proviso that independence talks could resume if so decided by the people of Aruba.
Aruba is a small island (75 square miles) with a population of 80,000. Dutch is the first official language and language of instruction, while Papamiento (a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English and Dutch) is the second official language and is spoken by most of the population. Papamiento was recently introduced as the language of instruction in kindergarten and primary school.
Education in Aruba is overseen by the country's Department of Education Aruba.
Primary and Secondary Education
Basisschool (Primary school) is 6 years beginning at age 6. Secondary school has three streams: vocational/professional, general, and pre-university:
Post-secondary education is offered at academies which provide vocational and professional education, and at the University of Aruba, which offers bachelors and MBA degrees.
A Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) is required for admission to the university. Bachelors degrees were 4 years through the 2007-08 academic year, but are now 3 years; this is consistent with the European Bologna process. Masters degrees are 2 years following a bachelors degree.
Primary school teachers are trained at the Teacher Training College on Curaçao and requires a Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO) or a Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) for admission. It is a 4-year program and students are awarded a certificate upon completion. Secondary school teachers are trained in a Bachelor of Education program at the Universiteit van de Nederlandse Antillen (University of the Netherlands Antilles), which is located on the island of Curaçao.