Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a group of islands which are a part of the Lesser Antilles island chain in the Caribbean Sea north of Trinidad and Tobago. The population is 118,432 and the literacy rate is 96%. English is the official language of government and the language of instruction. Many people also speak a dialect called Vincentian Creole which is used at home and other social situations.
The islands were first inhabited by the Ciboney which were a hunter-gatherer tribe that was eventually displaced by the Arawaks. In the late 13th century, the Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs who resisted colonization much longer than other islands in the Caribbean. In 1635, slaves from Africa arrived on the islands after escaping from a sinking Dutch ship. The Africans merged with the Caribs, and adopted their language. They became known as the “Black Caribs”. The children of the Black Caribs and Caribs became known as “Yellow Caribs” and many of them migrated to Belize and Honduras.
During most of the 18th century, the islands were disputed by the French and the British. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ceded St. Vincent to the British. In 1877, St. Vincent became a British Crown Colony. Until 1959, it was part of the Windward Islands Federation, and, from 1959 to 1962, it was part of the West Indies Federation. On October 2, 1979, St. Vincent was granted independence from the United Kingdom.
Currently, the country's education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Reconciliation and Ecclesiastical Affairs.
Primary school is 6 years beginning at age 6. No credential is issued upon completion of primary school. After completion of primary school, students sit for the Common Entrance Examination to determine their placement in secondary 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) or the GCE Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) exam upon completion.
Technical/vocational programs are offered at the Saint Vincent and Grenadines (SVG) Technical College. The Level II (Craft) Certificate is a one-year program that requires 3 passes, including English, on the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). The Level III (Technician) Certificate is a 2-year program that requires 5 passes (including English) on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificate, or a Level II (Craft) Certificate, or passes in a related field on the Certificate of Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Other post-secondary programs are offered by the University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College is the process of being established.