The Commonwealth of Dominica is an island located between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. The population is 72,386 and the literacy rate is 94%. English is the official language, but a French patois is also widely-spoken. Most Dominicans are descendants of slaves brought to the island in the 17th century. 3,000 Carib Indians still live on Dominica and are the only population remaining in the Caribbean that are pre-Columbian.
Arawak Indians were the first inhabitants of the island until they were expelled by the Caribs in the 14th century. Christopher Columbus landed on the island in November 1593. Dominica was the last Caribbean island to be colonized by Europeans due to fierce resistance by the Caribs. In 1635, it was claimed by France and, in 1763, became a British possession as a result of the Treaty of Paris.
In 1805, Dominica became a British colony. In the 19th century, it was the first and only British Caribbean island to have a Black-controlled legislature. In 1871, it became part of the Leeward Island Federation and, in 1958, joined the West Indies Federation. In 1967, the West Indies Federation was dissolved, and Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom. Dominica gained independence from the United Kingdom on November 3, 1978.
Primary and Secondary Education
Education in Dominica is overseen by their Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Primary school begins at age 6 and is 6 years long. Secondary school lasts 5 years and, upon completion, students sit for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate examination or the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Levels) examination. Students have the option of continuing on to upper secondary for 2 years to prepare for the General Certificate of Education Advanced (GCE A-Levels) examination.
The only post-secondary institution on the island of Dominica is Dominica State College which was established in 2002 with the merger of Clifton Dupigny Community College, Dominica Teachers Training College, and the Princess Margaret Hospital School of Nursing into one institution. Dominica State College offers 1-year certificate programs and 2-year associate's program. The University of West Indies' School of Continuing Studies offers first-year programs on the island.