|Official Country Name:||Montserrat|
|Region:||Puerto Rico & Lesser Antilles|
The island of Montserrat is a British territory located roughly 27 miles southwest of Antigua. In July of 1995, the Souffriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat became active, prompting widespread evacuation. Many schools were forced to serve as shelters for the island residents who did remain, and classes were not held for nearly six weeks.
The island had been spending roughly 20 percent of its budget on education until the volcanic disaster. In 1998, only 8 percent of the budget was allocated to education. That year, 2 of the 10 nursery schools and 1 of the 3 day care centers resumed operation. Nearly 24 percent of all children from birth to three years old were enrolled in day care schools, and more than 80 percent of all three- to five-year-olds were enrolled at preschools. One of the nine public primary schools and one of the two private schools also reopened. Primary school enrollment was nearly 100 percent.
Montserrat's educational system is based closely on the British model, and the primary language of instruction at all levels is English. Education is free and mandatory for children between the ages of 5 and 16. Primary education lasts for six years. Secondary education begins at age 11 and lasts for four years.
The Montserrat Technical College, founded in 1972 to offer technical and vocational education to secondary school graduates, had been considering upgrading its status to the level of a community college in the mid-1990s. In the wake of the volcanic activity, however, the institution was forced to cease operations in 1997. The island's other tertiary institution—the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies—was able to remain open mainly by focusing on distance education. In the late 1990s, officials continued to work toward reopening schools as islanders began to return to their homes.
UNESCO. The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports: Montserrat. World Education Forum, April 2000. Available from http://www2.unesco.org/.
—AnnaMarie L. Sheldon
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