The Bahamas at a Glance
Education and Culture in the BahamasiStockphoto
Both European and Caribbean influences have shaped the Bahamian culture.
The Education System
In the Bahamas, children begin primary education at the age of five. After six years, they move on to secondary education which lasts for another five years. Throughout these five years, kids attend a three-year junior high school course, followed by a two-year senior high school course. While education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16, most kids in the Bahamas also attend some sort of preschool.
After successfully finishing secondary education, students may attend the College of the Bahamas or any other institute which offers postsecondary training. Since the 1960s, the Bahamas have been affiliated with the University of the West Indies, a popular source of higher education for many Bahamians. Public education is provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture and is free of charge. In all government-maintained schools, classes are taught in English.
Issues with Public Education
There are certainly pros and cons to choosing public over private education. After all, public education is freely available to kids of all ages and this system, run by the Ministry of Education and Culture, makes for a literacy rate of 95% among the Bahamian population. Unfortunately, the Bahamas’ mostly public education system has lost much of its quality throughout the last few years. Many have criticized the government’s increasing involvement in education, both in financial and intellectual terms.
This is, of course, not to say that all public schools in the Bahamas lack in quality. The Family Islands in particular offer some good quality secondary education. However, you should make sure to visit different schools in advance, gather information on their educational programs and talk to other expats parents. Only then can you decide if a private or a public school is the better choice for your child.
International Schools in the Bahamas
Although there are quite a few private schools in the Bahamas, the country only has three international schools for expats to choose from:
Whether one of them is the right school for your child is really up to you. Keep in mind, however, that attending one of these schools might require your child to take a long commute.
Culture in the Bahamas
Much of the Bahamas’ culture developed when merging African or Caribbean influences with those of European colonists. Thus, the Change of the Guards is just as much of a tradition in the Bahamas as the so-called Rake and Scrape music. The Change of the Guards is held every second Saturday of the month in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. The ceremony includes drills to the music of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Guards.
Rake and Scrape music, on the other hand, is a tradition which stems from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). TCI immigrants have brought this music to the Bahamas in the 1920s and 1930s. The music quickly spread all across the Bahamas and has become characteristic of Bahamian culture. Rake and Scrape music is characterized by the use of a Carpenter’s saw which is scraped with a nail, knife, or a screwdriver to produce its unique sound.