Young students celebrating the Creole Day holiday
Saint Lucia’s education system, based on the British model, has undergone significant changes in the past two decades and now assures that all children receive a progressive quality education to prepare them for the modern workplace or to pursue advanced studies. Currently there are seventy-five (75) primary schools and twenty-four (24) secondary schools on island. Over 95 percent of Saint Lucia’s children aged three to five attend one of the country’s more than 150 preschools or 33 day care centers.
Compulsory education begins at age five. Primary education consists of a three-year Infant programme (grades 1 – 3) followed by four years of Primary instruction (grades 4-7). Some communities have separate Infant and Primary schools while others are together being referred to as Combined schools. At the end of the seventh grade, students take the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) to determine placement for additional compulsory schooling; students choose which secondary school they wish to attend and the CEE scores are used in school assignment with those with higher scores getting preference.
The 1997 Saint Lucia Education Act requires all students to remain in school until 16 years of age; the Universal Secondary School Act (2006/7) assures every student a secondary school placement where they complete five years of basic studies (Forms 1-5). A small percentage who do not fit into a traditional secondary school programme can continue into a three-year Senior Primary Programme or CARE Schools, comparable to Vocational Education in many countries, which focuses on preparing students for future jobs.
Many students continue on at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College which offers two year certificated degrees in a variety of areas. There is also a branch of the University of the West Indies in Saint Lucia which provides for the first two years of a degree program after which students complete their studies at the main campuses in either Jamaica or Barbados.
All Saint Lucia students, including those in tertiary programmes, are required to wear uniforms with each school having a different color and style.