Trinidad and Tobago
Education in Trinidad and Tobago is free and compulsory between ages 5 and 16. Trinidad and Tobago is considered one of the most educated countries in the World with a literacy rate exceeding 98% . This exceptionally high literacy rate can be attributed, in part, to free tuition from Kindergarten (Pre-School) to University. In addition, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, via the Ministry of Education provides free transport, books and meals to students of primary and secondary age.
The education system in Trinidad and Tobago mirrors the British education system. Children generally start Pre-School at the early age of 3 years. This level of tuition is not mandatory but most Trinbagonians start their children's schooling at this stage as children are expected to have basic reading and writing skills when they commence primary school. Students proceed to a primary school at the age of five. Seven years are spent in primary school. During the final year of primary school, students prepare for and sit the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) which determines the secondary school the child is to attend. For most children and parents, this is a very stressful period.
Students attend secondary school for a minimum of five years,their first major exam is the CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations, which is done in the third year of this system. The last major and final exam of the system which is done on the fifth year of school is (CXC)Caribbean Examinations Council,which is therefore the equivalent of the British GCE O levels. Children with satisfactory grades may opt to continue high school for a further two year period, leading to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), the equivalent of GCE A levels. Both CSEC and CAPE examinations are held by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
Public Primary and Secondary education is free for all, although private and religious schooling is available for a fee. Tertiary education is also free for all, however, up to the level of the Bachelors degrees for all students of the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT), the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) and certain other local accredited institutions. Government also currently subsidises some Masters programmes. Both the Government and the private sector also provide financial assistance in the form of academic scholarships to gifted or needy students for study at local, regional or international universities.