Bermuda is a British overseas territory located in the North Atlantic Ocean about 640 miles northwest of North Carolina. It is made up of 138 islands. The population is 66,163 and the literacy rate is 98%. Bermuda has the world's highest GDP per capita.
Bermuda was discovered by Europeans in the early 1500s. The name of the country comes from the Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez who first saw the island in 1503 or 1509. In 1609, the island was settled by British colonists, led by Admiral Sir George Somers, who were shipwrecked on their way to the colony of Virginia. For a while, the British re-named the country "Somers Island", but it failed to catch on. Bermuda was used by blockade runners of the Confederate States during the Civil War. A referendum on independence from Great Britain was defeated in 1995, but the issue has been brought forward for new discussion.
The first governmental act on education was the Schools Act of 1879. The Education Act of 1949 established the right of free primary education for all students and made education compulsory from ages 7 to 13. In 1969, compulsory education was extended to ages 5 to 16 and made secondary education free as well. In 1985, free education was expanded to age 19 to give students the opportunity to complete their education.
Because of the large number of American ex-patriots living on Bermuda, private schools follow either the American or British educational system, while the government schools follow the British system. The Bermuda Education Act of 1996 established 3 types of schools: aided schools which are partially-funded by the Government, maintained schools which are fully-funded by the Government, and private schools which receive no government funding. Currently, Bermuda's Ministry of Education oversees the country's education system.
Primary school in the American system begins at age 6. Students who successfully complete 12 years of education in American-patterned schools are awarded a high school diploma. Primary school in the British system begins at age 6 and is 6 years. Middle school (M1-3) is three years.
Secondary school (S1-4) is 4 years. Students in British-patterned schools sit for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations at the end of S2. Students sit for the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A-Levels) examination at the end of S4. The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is offered at most secondary schools.
Most secondary school students continue their post-secondary studies in the United States, Canada or Great Britain. Bermuda College is the only post-secondary educational institution on Bermuda. It offers half- to 1-year diploma programs, 1 to 2-year certificate programs, and 2-year associate's degree programs.