Education in Antigua and Barbuda is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years. In order to ensure that all costs related to schooling are covered by the government, there is an education levy on all basic wages in Antigua and Barbuda, with the funds used toward such costs as supplies, transportation, and school infrastructure maintenance. Primary education begins at the age of five years and normally lasts for seven years. Secondary education lasts for five years, with three years of lower secondary, followed by two years of upper secondary. In 2001, there were about 13,000 students enrolled at the primary schools and 5,000 students at the secondary schools. About 1,000 secondary school age students were enrolled in vocational programs. As of 2000 the primary pupil-teacher ratio was an estimated 19 to 1; the ratio for secondary school was about 13:1. The government administers the majority of the schools. In 2003, estimated spending on education was about 3.8% of the GDP. In 2000, about 38% of primary school students were enrolled in private schools.
There currently are three colleges. The University of Health Sciences Antigua, was founded in 1982. It had, in the 1990s, an enrollment of 46 students and 16 teachers. The University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies (Antigua and Barbuda) was founded in 1949 and offers adult education courses, secretarial skills training programs, summer courses for children, and special programs for women. In 1972, the technical and teacher’s training colleges merged and formed the Antigua State College.
The University of the West Indies has campuses in Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica, and it maintains extramural departments in several other islands, including Antigua. Those interested in higher education also enroll at schools in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe and Canada. The adult literacy rate is approximately 89%.
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