A public education system was established on St. Vincent in 1849. Today, the government supports all public schools, providing full funding to those without religious affiliation and partial funding to schools that are affiliated with churches. All schools follow a common curriculum determined by the government.

Primary and secondary education in the country is free, but not compulsory. Public school lasts for seven years. Parents must pay for their children's uniforms, bus fare and books. Textbooks and sports equipment are frequently in short supply. Some schools are overcrowded, with several classes sharing one large room. About 25% of children do not complete their elementary education because they are required to work to help their families. Similarly, although school runs a full day, children sent home for lunch frequently do not return, as they have chores to do.

For many years, education was influenced by the British system. Textbooks and lessons presented a European perspective on history and culture. Standardized exams were set and marked in England. The English language was used exclusively in schools, creating another barrier for students who were more comfortable speaking Vincentian Creole. The curriculum also emphasized academic subjects rather than practical job skills.

Educational reforms have been introduced in recent years. Creole has become accepted in school skits and public speeches, and students study Caribbean history and literature. The curriculum also offers practical courses such as carpentry and agricultural skills.

   Did you know?
Among Vincentian students attending university and college, female students outnumber males almost three to one.
Secondary school offers a five-year program, followed by a more advanced two-year program. Less than one-half of the country's children attend secondary school-an issue of great concern, given the high rate of unemployment among youth. St. Vincent also has a number of private schools that charge tuition fees. The government-assisted School for Children with Special Needs serves students with disabilities.

After high school, students may attend a technical college, a nursing school or a teacher training college affiliated with the University of the West Indies. Vocational training is available through the Department of Public Works, and agricultural training through the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Education also offers adult education classes. Most students who want to pursue a university education and can afford to do so go abroad to study, usually at one of the campuses of the University of the West Indies, or in the United States, Canada, Cuba or Great Britain. Cuban universities offer scholarships to Vincentian students.