Education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and is free in all government-maintained schools. English is the official language. Primary education begins at age five and lasts for six years. Secondary education begins at age 11 and consists of two cycles, each of three years' duration. Education is compulsory for children aged 5–14. In 1997, 113 primary schools had 1,540 teachers and enrolled 34,199 pupils. Secondary schools had 1,352 teachers and enrolled 27,970 students that same year. In the year 2000, estimates reported the adult illiteracy rate to stand at 3.9% (males, 4.6%; females, 3.2%).
Post-secondary training is provided by the government primarily through the College of the Bahamas. The College of Bahamas (founded in 1974) provides a two-year/three-year program which leads to an associate degree. It also offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. Other schools of continuing education offering academic and vocational courses include the Bahamas Hotel Training College, the Catholic Continuing Education College of St. Benedicts, and the Industrial Training College. In addition, the Bahamas has been affiliated with the University of the West Indies since 1960.
As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.2% of GDP. An IDB-funded program for the Improvement of Primary and Secondary Education is under way.