Education in Jamaica
|Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture |
|Ministers of Education||Ronald Thwaites|
|Primary||99% (80%attendance rate)|
Education in Jamaica is primarily modeled on the British system.
Early childhood education
Early childhood education includes Basic, Infant and privately operated pre-schools. The age cohort is usually 1 – 6 years. The Government of Jamaica began its support for the development of early childhood education, care and development in 1942. There are 2,595 early childhood institutions. Of these, 183 are not recognized by the government, 401 are day care centers, approximately 100 are infant schools and 5 are special education schools which offer early childhood care. The enrollment rate between 4 and 6 years is 62% - one of the highest rates in the region.
Primary education in Jamaica addresses the basic educational needs of students and prepares them for Secondary Education. It includes children between the ages of 5–11 years. Under the Caribbean Examination Council's  Revised Primary Curriculum, student assessment has changed significantly from what was generally an automatic promotion to secondary school through the former Common Entrance Examination at the end of Grade 6. Since 1999, the National Assessment Program (NAP) has been utilizing a variety of teaching strategies to ensure that learning experiences are more broad based and student centered. NAP adopts an integrated approach from grades 1-3 and a discrete subject area for grades 4-6.
- Grade 1: Readiness Inventory
- Grade 3: Assessment tests in Math and Language Arts
- Grade 4: Literacy Test
- Grade 6: Achievement Test (GSAT): in Math, Language Arts, Social Studies (Civic Studies, Geography and History), Science and Communication Task.
The students make a prioritized list of 5 schools they wish to attend, and based on the results from the GSAT, they are placed at a school from their list. Some schools have a higher cut off score, generally schools with a history of high academic performance.
- Lower School - Forms 1-3 (Ages 10–13 or 14) or grades 7-9.
Students are exposed to a wide range of subjects, including Spanish and French as 2nd languages. Generally, Integrated Science is generally taught until the 3rd form, where students begin taking Physics, Biology and Chemistry as separate subjects. Some schools group students based on their academic achievement the year prior. This can greatly impact what subjects some students might be able to take later on in school, and what teachers they might be assigned to.
- Upper School - Forms 4 & 5 or grades 10-11
In 4th form, students choose anywhere from 6-10 subjects (8 is the standard) that they will sit in the Caribbean Examination Council's O-Level school leaving examinations. Students are free to create their own curricula which must include but cannot be limited to: Mathematics and English Language all others are optional though some schools tend to make at least 1 other compulsory. Most students take at least one foreign language. Other subjects include: History, Geography, Agricultural Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Spanish, French, Accounting, Principles of Business, Information Technology, Religious Education, Technical Drawing, Art, Theater Arts and about 21 others. Generally students are informally classified, or classify themselves as Arts, Sciences, Industrial Arts and Business students, especially if they plan on going to 6th form.
- Grading: Some exams can be taken at either the Basic or General Proficiency levels, the latter being more common. Exams are graded from Grades 1 to 6 (up to 7, if A-Level). 1 is a pass with distinction, 2 a pass with credit. 3 is a satisfactory level pass and 4 and below is either a failure, or a 'basic-level' pass.
- Sixth Form Divided into upper and lower sixth, or grades 12 (lower) and 13 (upper)
Sixth form is an optional, two years long, advanced post secondary program, at the end of which students write the CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams). These are the equivalent of the GCE A-Level examinations which were the standard up until 2003. Some students still choose to sit A-levels if they wish, but in doing so they must still meet CAPE's basic subject requirements/groupings. CAPE and A-level exams are significantly harder than exams sat at the end of high school, and are often thought to be harder than most exams students will ever sit in university. Entry into Sixth Form is extremely competitive, especially in rural and suburban Jamaica, where there are fewer high schools with sixth form, serving larger areas.
Generally, A-Levels or CAPE examinations are required to enter the nation's Universities. One may also qualify after having earned a 3-year diploma from an accredited post-secondary college. The word college usually denotes institutions which do not grant at least a bachelor's degree. Universities are typically the only degree granting institutions; however, many colleges have been creating joint programs with universities, and thus are able to offer some students more than a college diploma. A few universities in the United States have extension programs in various parts of Jamaica. Most of the students who enroll in these part-time programs are working professionals who want to continue their education without having to relocate closer to the nation's Universities.
Tertiary education is offered by the following institutions:
- University of the West Indies at Mona , (a regional institution)
- University of Technology (U-Tech)
Excelsior Community College (EXED)
- Northern Caribbean University (NCU)
- International University of the Caribbean  (IUC)
- University College of The Caribbean (UCC)
- Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (an artistic conservatory)
- College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE)
- G. C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports
- Teacher Training Colleges
- The Mico University' College, Cross Roads, Kingston 
- Shortwood Teachers' College, Shortwood, St. Andrew
- Bethelehem Teachres' College, Malvern, St. Elizabeth
- Moneague Teachers' College, Moneague, St. Ann
- Church Teachers' College, Mandeville, Manchester
- Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, Montego Bay, St. James
- St. Joseph's Teacher's College, St. Andrew
- Catholic College of Mandeville, Mandeville, Manchester
- Saint John's College (school of nursing)
- 14 community colleges
- 1 dental auxiliary school
- 1 Vocational Training Development Institute
- 29 vocational training centres, and
- 6 Human Employment and Resources Training (HEART) vocational training institutions.
Special programs and events
Tourism Education Program
The Jamaica Tourist Bsm is a new subject at all levels from early childhood up to secondary, that is for children from age 4 to 15 years”. This program, recently introduced for the 1999/2000 academic year, works in accordance with the set curriculum, which includes: “Mathematics, Social Studies, Resource and Technology which will carry tourism related materials and concepts”.
The tourism education program has also led the Ministry of Education to edit some of the textbooks to be used in schools, with other texts being developed. With the preparation of the new textbooks comes the training of tourism teachers, with an understanding of “Who is a Tourist, Why People Travel, the Importance of Tourism, Anti Harassment and Culture”. Jamaica has also formed a summer school program, which is a five day workshop for students to gain first hand experience working in the tourism environment.
Field trips to “local” tourist attractions are also included, along with a “one month placement of the top students in hotels and tourism related organizations. Each of the schools selected to participate in this program was invited to send five students from the third and fourth form years”. The group of students selected is accompanied by a teacher and covers the following material: Tourism is our Business; Attitudinal Development; In the Tourist’s shoes; Tourism and the Environment; and Trends in the Industry.
Schools compete scholastically in School's Challenge Quiz and Debating Competitions. In regard to sports, the main Track and Field event is the Boys and Girls School's Championships, for football there are the Manning Cup and DaCosta Cup competitions, for Cricket there is the Grace Shield competition and there are also many Swim Meets held throughout the year.
- Chandana Jayawardena, People, Service and Hospitality: Caribbean Tourism. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2005. p. 124
- Jamaica Ministry of Education website
- Scholarship Jamaica - Online scholarship and bursary resource for Jamaican students