The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is located in northeastern South America, bordered by Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela. Guyana is Amerindian for “Land of Falling Waters.” Its population is 751,000 and the literacy rate is 98.8%. Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America.
The area of present day Guyana was first inhabited by Caribs and Arawaks. The Spanish were the first Europeans to explore the area when Antonio de Berreo, the Governor of Trinidad, traveled down the Orinoco River in 1593. The Dutch were the first to establish colonies, the first of which was Essequibo, which was established in 1621. By 1640, slaves were brought in from Dutch colonies. In 1781, due to a war between England and Holland, the Dutch colonies in Guyana were taken by the English. In 1782, the colonies were captured by the French and in 1784 were restored to the Dutch. In 1796, the colonies were taken by the British once again and consolidated into a single colony in 1831 when they became known as British Guiana. In 1833, slavery was abolished, and, in 1838, indentured servants from India arrived to work on plantations. On May 26, 1966, British Guiana gained independence from the United Kingdom and became known as Guyana.
Currently Guyana's Ministry of Education oversees the country's education system.
Education in Guyana is compulsory from ages 5 to 15. Primary school is 6 years (Grades 1-6). At the end of Grade 6, students sit for the Secondary School Entrance Examination which determines which secondary school students will attend.
There are 3 types of secondary schools: community high schools, general secondary schools, and primary schools that may offer secondary education departments. Community high schools are 4 years and offer academic, vocational and occupational programs. At the end of the 4th year, students sit for the Secondary School Proficiency Examination (SSPE) Part II. General secondary schools are 5 years and offer academic programs that prepare students to sit for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate or the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Levels) examinations at the end of the 5th year. General secondary students can continue on to a 2-year program that prepares them to sit for the Caribbean Examinations Council Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Post-secondary education is offered at the University of Guyana (the only university in the country), the Guyana School of Agriculture, the Cyril Potter College of Education, and several schools of nursing. The Guyana School of Agriculture offers 1-2 year certificate and 2-year diploma programs. Admission to these programs requires 3-4 passes (depending on the program of study) on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate or the GCE O-Level examination. The University of Guyana offers 2-year certificate and diploma programs, as well as associate, bachelor, graduate diploma, and masters degrees. Admission to the University of Guyana requires 5-6 passes (depending on the program of study) on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate or the GCE O-Level examination plus sufficient scores on the University of Guyana Entrance Examination (UGEE).
Pre-primary, primary and secondary school teachers are trained at the Cyril Potter College of Education. Admission to the programs requires 4 passes on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate or the GCE O-Levels. Pre-primary and primary teacher training is 2 years, and secondary school teacher training is 3 years. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded the Trained Teacher's Certificate.