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The New Educational Landscape

The education system of Trinidad and Tobago has evolved into a strong State-Church partnership that is administered through two ministries: - The Ministry of Education, which has the responsibility for early childhood care and education, and primary, secondary and adult education; and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, which has responsibility for the tertiary level (universities, community colleges and teacher training institutions) and post secondary skills development and training.

Senator Hazel Manning, Minister of Education, chats with some of the students of the Rosary Boys' RC School at Charlotte Street, Port of Spain

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago invests a large percentage of the country’s wealth from natural gas, methanol, asphalt and oil to provide free education and related services at the early childhood, primary, secondary and university levels. Universal primary education was achieved in the 1960’s and, universal secondary education in 2000.

In 2002, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago began a national planning exercise designed to lead the country towards developed country status by 2020. The Ministry of Education was given the mandate to prepare young citizens to contribute productively to national development. This has resulted in a massive education reform initiative for a quality child-centred and seamless education system capable of producing innovative and caring citizens sensitive to the need to safeguard the rich diversity of our multi-cultural nation while participating competitively in the global environment.

The Ministry of Education has expanded the school curriculum and is upgrading teachers’ skills, especially in the area of ICTs and school plant in order to effectively deliver to all students the core subject areas that include science, technology education, the visual and performing arts and physical education. There is also a significant increase in the support for student learning through programmes that cater for the physical, emotional and psycho-social needs of all students, especially students with special needs and students of families in difficult circumstances. Teacher training for quality teachers is also a high priority.

The educational landscape of Trinidad and Tobago is now defined by a vibrant research agenda to guide change interventions, a vigorous policy-setting and implementation plan, and key communications strategies of outreach, dialogue and public connect. As improved communication brings staff, partners and stakeholders closer nationally, regional bonds with the Caribbean and Latin American education community are also being strengthened and there is networking at the international level through study tours and missions. International benchmarking reveals that students from Trinidad and Tobago consistently place among the top one hundred students in the World Rank Order of the University of Cambridge and performance at national and regional examinations is steadily improving.

The major undertaking for the near future is legislative reform to ensure that the new features resulting from these efforts are enshrined in law.