Primary school years
With very few exceptions, almost all children (both boys and girls) living in Barbados and in the Eastern Caribbean attend primary school, which is compulsory and is offered free in public schools, under the responsibility of the various Ministries of Education. Though private, fee-paying schools exist, the majority of children attend government/public schools and the trend in most primary schools is that girls outperform boys academically.
Some children, however, do not attend primary school on a regular basis for various reasons and these include the inability of parents/guardians to meet supplementary costs of education such as transport, books, uniforms and lunch money. Other reasons may include the inability of the education system to meet the special needs of the children who are disabled or have learning difficulties, and the inaccessibility of schools for children who live in remote rural/interior areas.
Although primary school enrolment rate is high, staffing issues can sometimes affect the quality of teaching and these include: Relatively low and non-competitive salaries; lack of training and qualifications; ‘ghost teaching' as teachers are involved in other supplementary income activities; high stress levels among teachers; declining social status of and respect for the teachers and high teacher turn over as some of them migrate to North America for more lucrative employment opportunities.
Corporal punishment is still the main form of discipline administered to children in primary schools, although efforts are being made by some governments to introduce other forms of school discipline.