The British Virgin Islands are a group of more than 50 islands and cays in the Caribbean Sea east of Puerto Rico. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. The population is 24,004 and the literacy rate is 97.8%.
The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawak Indians from South America. They were followed by the Caribs in the 15th century. The first permanent European settlement on the islands was established by the Dutch on the island of Tortola in 1648. The British captured Tortola in 1672 and then annexed Anegada and Virgin Gorda a few years later. For a while, the islands were administered as a part of St. Kitts and Nevis, but became a separate colony in 1960. The British Virgin Islands continues to be a British Overseas Territory that is led by a governor who is responsible to the Crown of Great Britain.
The British Virgin Islands' education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affais, Fisheries and Agriculture.
Primary school is 6 years and begins at age 6. No credential is awarded upon completion of primary school.
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) upon completion.
The only post-secondary institution on the British Virgin Islands is H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. It was established in 1990 as the British Virgin Islands Community College. It offers one and two-year certificate programs and two-year associate's degree programs. Admission requires 3-4 passes on the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate or the GCE O-Level.