Schooling is free of charge and in principle compulsory. The education system is mainly a state concern, but there are also a few private, fee-paying schools, some of which receive state support. The school system is divided into three stages: elementary school six years, continuing school three plus two years and post-secondary level. Twelve years of compulsory schooling prevail from the age of 5-16, but only about half of the pupils go on to the higher level after compulsory school.
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Since 1988, the school system has been subject to restructuring with emphasis on vocational education. There are a few professional colleges and a branch of the University of the West Indies as well as a private university (American University of Antigua) that is linked to the North American university system. According to UNESCO, 99% are literate.
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