Supporting The Public Sector of Trinidad and Tobago
There are six years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Some 89 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). The Education Act backs the presence of private schools in Trinidad and Tobago. The Act defines a private school as ‘a school provided and maintained by some person or authority other than the government’. The Minister of Education regulates private schools, all of which must be registered.
Tertiary institutions include the St Augustine campus of the regional University of the West Indies, which also has main campuses in Barbados and Jamaica. The University of Trinidad and Tobago was established in 2004.
Public spending on health was three per cent of GDP in 2012. Trinidad and Tobago has four general hospitals, two district hospitals, four specialist hospitals and more than 100 health centres. The private health sector is small and is often managed by physicians. All private hospitals are required to apply for a license to operate. The facilities are governed by the Private Hospitals Act and licensed by the Ministry of Health. The Pan American Health Organisation outlines future strategies to improve health care, including partnering with the private sector. Under the Regional Health Authority structure, health services continue to be free to the general public at the point of use.
There are 8,320 km of roads, 51 per cent paved. There is no railway. Private taxi and mini bus services operate throughout the islands. The Public Transport Service Corporation is the sole operator of the country’s commercial bus service. Port of Spain and Point Lisas are the main ports. There are several private water taxi companies operating from the ports. In 2008 the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (NIDCO) launched a water taxi service linking Port of Spain and San Fernando. Piarco International Airport, 25 km east of Port of Spain, is a major regional centre for passenger and cargo traffic and aviation-related industries. Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport on Tobago can handle wide-bodied intercontinental aircraft. NIDCO plays a crucial role in the development of the country’s transport infrastructure. Its future projects include two high-speed railway lines, the first linking the capital, Port of Spain, to San Fernando in the south, and the second linking Port of Spain with Sangre Grande in the east.