The Turks and Caicos Islands are two island groups located in the Caribbean Sea southeast of the Bahamas and north of the island of Hispaniola which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The population is 22,352 and the literacy rate is 98%.
The first inhabitants were Amerindians who arrived from South America. They were followed by the Arawak and Carib tribes. The first Europeans to settle on the islands were salt collectors from Bermuda in 1678. Many British loyalists went to the islands after the American Revolutionary War. In 1799, the British annexed the islands and they became part of the Bahamas. In 1959, they became a separate colony. Turks and Caicos continue to be a British Overseas Territory that is led by a governor who is responsible to the British Crown.
Education is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Youth, Culture and Libary Services and is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 16. 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 examinations) which were 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.
The only post-secondary institution on Turks and Caicos is the Turks and Caicos 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 (CXC) or the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Level) examinations.