Entry into secondary education was based on students' performance in a placement examination, the Secondary School Entrance Examination (SSEE) administered to eleven-year-old students. For those students who scored poorly on the SSEE, a continuation of primary education for three years was also available in the so-called senior department of the primary schools, which were also known as all-age schools. Students who completed primary school or all-age school were eligible to continue in secondary school.
There were three kinds of secondary schools to which students who had taken the SSEE could be admitted: the general secondary school, the multilateral school, and the community high school. General secondary schools had a six-year program, with Forms I through VI. (Form VI was the equivalent of the senior year of high school in the United States.) At the end of the secondary program, students could take the Secondary Schools Proficiency Examination for entry into trade school, or examinations at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level or Caribbean Examination Council examinations for university admission.
The multilateral schools, established in 1974, provided five years of education for students ages ten through eighteen. After a basic three-year course, students concentrated on science, technology, agriculture, home economics, or commerce for their final two years of study. The multilateral schools ended at the Form-V level. The final examinations were for the Ordinary Levels of the GCE.
A third type of secondary school was the community high school, open to students over twelve years of age. During the first half of the four-year program, students were taught basic academic skills as well as prevocational subjects. In the final two years, they concentrated on a vocational area, such as agriculture, arts and crafts, industrial arts, or home economics. The program included on-the-job training.
There were fifty-eight general secondary schools and thirty multilateral and thirty community high schools in Guyana in 1983. In 1981 there were 73,700 secondary students in Guyana, an enrollment rate of 57 percent. The teacher-pupil ratio was one to seventeen.
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