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total: 10,991 sq km
noun: Jamaican(s)

Ethnic groups:
black 92.1%, mixed 6.1%, East Indian 0.8%, other 0.4%, unspecified
0.7% (2011 est.)
English, English patois
Protestant 64.8% (includes Seventh Day Adventist 12.0%, Pentecostal
11.0%, Other Church of God 9.2%, New Testament Church of God 7.2%,
Baptist 6.7%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy
4.5%, Anglican 2.8%, United Church 2.1%, Methodist 1.6%, Revived 1.4%,
Brethren 0.9%, and Moravian 0.7%), Roman Catholic 2.2%, Jehovah's
Witness 1.9%, Rastafarian 1.1%, other 6.5%, none 21. 3%, unspecified 2.3%

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.01% (male 372,158 /female 359,388)
15-24 years: 18.36% (male 261,012 /female 255,223)
25-54 years: 38.03% (male 518,984 /female 550,412)
55-64 years: 8.89% (male 123,769 /female 126,350)
65 years and over: 8.71% (male 115,573 /female 129,221)
Education expenditures
5.4% of GDP (2017)
country comparison to the world: 5 6
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school (2015 est.)
total population: 88.7% (2015 est.)
male: 84% (2015 est.)
female: 93.1% (2015 est.)

Education in Jamaica
The primary grades of this schooling focused heavily on the proverbial three “R’s”—
reading, writing and arithmeticThe education system and its administration were
modeled after the British system;
The Ministry is guided by the philosophy that “Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn,”
Age Ag
Grade Fro e Year Note
Education School/Level Grade From To m To s s

Prim 1 Education is compulsory for

Primary School 6 6
ary 2 ages 6 to 11.

Seco CSEC (Caribbean Secondary

ndar Secondary School 17 5 Education Certificate)
y Examinations

CXC Caribbean Advanced
seco 1
Senior Secondary 2 Placement Examination
ndar 7

Bachelor's 3

Master's 2

Doctorate 3 PhD

Primary Education
The 6 years of primary school education in Jamaica is compulsory and free.
Children receive their instruction in English, and remain there between the
ages of 6 and 12. Schools may be state-owned, or
private preparatory schools.

Secondary Education
The government has embarked on a program to upgrade secondary schools.
This is to meet the needs of an emerging economy that requires more
advanced literacy and mathematics skills. Libraries have been restocked and
computers installed with internet access. Schools are either single-sex or
mixed. Many still favor the British grammar school model. When students
leave secondary school their education ceases to be free.

Vocational Education
The National Training Agency oversees vocational training in Jamaica that is
provided by state vocational training centers and private academies.
Programs tuned to the nation's needs include agriculture, automotive skills,
beauty services, clothing manufacture, commercial skills, information
technology, and building and construction skills.

Tertiary Education
Tertiary education is provided through five universities and a variety of
community and teachers colleges, some state-owned and some privately
funded. A traditional western-based curriculum is followed.

Early Childhood (Preschool) Education

Early Childhood education, also known as Preschool, is a non-compulsory level of
education offered at both public and private institutions to children between the ages of
3-5. In terms of public schooling, Early Childhood education is provided in Infant
Schools and in Infant departments of some of the country’s primary-level
schools. Nursery and Kindergarten departments of Independent Preparatory (private
primary) schools also accept students at age 3.
Independent/Private schools are largely confined to the main urban centers. In addition,
there are a number of community operated Basic schools. These cater to the largest
number of students at the Early Childhood level. Basic schools that meet certain
minimum requirements are eligible for government subsidies and are called Recognized
Basic Schools.
Towards the conclusion of their Early Childhood education, children must sit for a
“Grade One Individual Learning Profile (GOILP),” a battery that ascertains their
capabilities and their ability to master skills and concepts taught at the Early Childhood
level. This helps instructors tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of all students. The
GOILP measures the proficiency level of students in six subtests, namely general
knowledge, number concepts, oral language, reading, writing and drawing, work habits
and classroom behavior.
The Early Childhood Commission, an agency affiliated with the Ministry of Education, is
currently responsible for the regulation and supervision of Basic Schools and the
training of Early Childhood practitioners.
The curriculum in Jamaica’s preschools is much more socially-based than it is
academic. Students are provided instruction in pre-reading and pre-writing, basic
counting, personal hygiene and safety, art and music. Perhaps more importantly,
preschools serve as a setting at which students can hone their cooperativeness, learn
to socialize with others, follow directions and just generally get along with other
classmates. This helps them prepare for their primary education in the year(s) to come.
Primary Education
Primary education in Jamaica spans six years—grades one through six—and serves
children from 6 to 11 years of age. Primary education is offered in Grades 1-6 of
Primary Schools, Primary and Junior High (combination) Schools, and All-Age schools.
It is also offered in Grades 1-6 of Preparatory schools.
In Jamaica, as in most countries, students are admitted to into the primary level of
education at age 6. Primary schools are therefore designated feeder schools for all
secondary schools in the country.
The basic curriculum in primary schools includes the following subjects, with the content
matter becoming more advanced with every passing year: reading, Language Arts
(English), Mathematics, Social Science, Science, Art, Music and Physical Education.
At the conclusion of Grade 6, all primary school students must sit for the Grade Six
Achievement Examination (GSAT)—a requirement for advancing on to secondary
education. Nearly 15 years ago, the GSAT replaced the Common Entrance
Examination, which was phased out in 1999. The GSAT is the primary assessment
instrument that is used by the Ministry of Education to place students into Grade Seven
of Junior High/High School. The test is administered annually during March. The GSAT
is a part of the National Assessment Program, an exam which assesses performance of
students at the Primary school level. Other components of this National Assessment
Program are the Grade One Individual Learning Profile, the Grade Three Diagnostic
Test and the Grade Four Literacy Examination.
Based on the grade a student earns on the GSAT they are placed into High schools or
the Secondary department of All Age and Primary and Junior High Schools. At the All-
Age and Junior High Schools they can continue to Grades 7, 8 or 9, where they are
allowed to sit the Technical Entrance Examination (in grade 8) for entry to Technical
schools, and the Grade Nine Achievement Test (in Grade 9) to other types of High
schools. These will give students another opportunity to gain entrance into the High
school they desire to attend.
Secondary Education

The Secondary or High school system consists of two cycles. The first cycle
commences in Grades 7-9 of All Age, Primary and Junior High schools, and High
schools, including Technical High and Independent/Private High schools. The second
cycle is provided in Grades 10 and 11 of these schools (with the exception of All Age
and Primary and Junior High schools) and in the Agricultural, Technical and Vocational
schools. At the end of Grade 11, students sit for the Caribbean Secondary Education
Certificate (CSEC), with subjects administered by the Caribbean Examinations Councils
(CXC). Some High schools have a continuing education program, provided under the
Career Advancement Program and the Sixth Form/Pre-university program (Grades 12
and 13), where students are prepared for entry into tertiary or higher education
institutions. Students who are in Sixth Form sit for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency
Examination (CAPE) at the end of Grades 12 and 13.
The curriculum at Jamaican secondary schools includes all of the following:

 Language Arts and Literature

 Mathematics—Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, etc.
 Biology
 Chemistry
 Earth Sciences
 Health Sciences
 History—World History and Jamaican History
 Geography
 IT
 Foreign Language(s)
 Art
 Music
 Physical Education

Towards the latter half of their secondary education, students can elect to pursue an
educational track that is more vocational in nature, helping them to learn a skill or trade
through which they can land employment following graduation.
High schools also offer the first opportunity for extra-curricular activities, ranging
anywhere from student government to performance arts to team sports.
Tertiary or Higher Education in Jamaica
Postsecondary and tertiary-level programs in Jamaica are offered by a wide variety of
institutions, including teacher training colleges, community colleges, vocational training
centers and institutes, the Vocational Training Development Institute, schools of
midwifery and nursing (offering three-year program leading to a diploma), the University
of the West Indies (a regional institution), and the University of Technology. Each of
these differs somewhat in history, mission, philosophy, and to a lesser extent, in the
programs they offer and structure.
In the teacher training colleges, a teaching certificate (for primary education) usually
takes roughly two years of study plus an additional year of internship for holders of the
Jamaica School Certificate; programs leading to a teaching certificate/diploma (primary
and secondary education) usually last three years for holders of the Caribbean
Secondary Education Certificate.
Multi-disciplinary community colleges in Jamaica offer pre-university, professional,
commercial, and upper-level vocational training in a variety of fields, as well as
community-oriented courses; most of the programs offered in community colleges lead
to the conferment of diplomas, certificates and associate degrees. Some of the
community colleges have satellite campuses, and they can also offer bachelors and
postgraduate degrees in affiliation with local or foreign universities. Associate degree
programs typically span two years beyond the Caribbean Secondary Education
Certificate (CSEC), administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). They
represent two years of a four-year degree program; in some cases an associate degree
is accepted for admission to a bachelor’s degree program. while in others it is only
considered a first-year credential of a three-year bachelor’s degree program.
At Jamaican universities, bachelor’s degrees normally take three years of study to
complete (five years in the case of medicine and surgery) for holders of GCE A-level
qualifications, and four years for holders of the CSEC. Master’s degree programs
normally require two additional years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree and the
submission of a thesis or a research paper. Doctoral degree programs, although not
very prevalent in the country, generally last three more years (full-time) or five years
(part-time) beyond the master’s degree. Higher certificates and diploma courses are
also available.
Many students may opt to pursue their tertiary studies through off-shore institutions. The
offshore institutions’ main campuses are located outside of Jamaica, but they offer
programs through various departments located in Jamaica.
All tertiary or higher education institutions were established in response to educational
needs at different times and offer not just degrees, but also certificates and diplomas.
The main accreditation body for tertiary institutions and their programs is the University
Council of Jamaica.


Primary education prepares children for Secondary Education and starts at Grade 1 for 6
year olds, to Grade 6 for 12 or 13 year olds.

Today, we have Primary & Junior High Schools that goes up to Grade 9 but there is also All
Age Schools which go up to Grade 6.

Throughout the first 6 years, a series of tests are done in order to assess the children’s
skills and abilities.

 Grade 1 Readiness Test

 Grade 3 Assessment Test in Mathematics and Language Arts
 Grade 4 Literacy Test
 Grade 6 Achievement Test in Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and

The Grade 6 Achievement Test, more popularly known as GSAT, is highly important because
children are placed in High Schools depending on their performance on those exams.

Because of this, students are encouraged to take after class studies to maximize their
learning ability in order to get into a reputable high school.

By that, we mean the traditional ones that are more rated than others. Some of these
Primary education schools in Jamaica operate on a shift basis which entails children going to
school from 7:30 am to 12:15 pm for Shift One. Shift Two typically runs from 12:30 pm to
5:15 pm.

Six graders who are on shift one do their after class studies (private lessons) after their shift
ends while those who are on shift two would do theirs before their shift starts as teachers
do not want to have their students out too late in the evening.
By the way, private lessons attract a fee!

Some of those who do extremely well in the GSAT are rewarded with scholarships and are
therefore placed in the traditional and coveted high schools. Here are some of these
prominent schools, to name a few:

 Mount Alvernia High School (all girls)

 Cornwall College (all boys)
 Montego Bay High School (all girls)
 Herbert Morrison Technical High School (co education)
 Calabar High School
 Munroe High School
 St. Jago High School
 Ardenne High School
 Ruseas High School
 Mannings High
 Immaculate Conception High School

Those who do not get the very high marks are placed in other high schools. These schools,
however are fairly good schools as well and they all have the ultimate goals of teaching the
students well and training them to be exemplary adults in the future.


Students are exposed to a lot more subjects in Secondary education in Jamaica.

For most students, this is where they are introduced, for the first time to a foreign
language. Some preparatory schools (at basic or primary level) introduce their students to
Spanish and also to basic computer training. But Secondary education is the stepping stone
and the foundation to students’ future career and further education.

Foreign subjects include Spanish, French and German. Other subjects are English Language,
English Literature, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Food and Nutrition, Religious
Education, Clothing & Textiles and Art & Craft.

By the time students reach the fourth form, they already have an idea as to what they want
to be in life and as such are grouped according to their career choice and the subjects which
will enable them to achieve their goals.

They are given the option to choose their subjects with the understanding that Mathematics
and English Language are compulsory.

At this level of education in Jamaica, students are now introduced to Chemistry, Physics,
Human & Social Biology and Biology.

Students take two major exams at the end of fifth form:

1. General Certificate Examinations (GCE): This is an examination that originated in
England. This exam is accepted worldwide and students believe that it is more difficult.
2. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC): This was established among the English
Speaking Caribbean Commonwealth Countries and Territories. This exam tends to be
easier to students as they are given the opportunity to do School Based Assessment
(SBA) tests which is sort of an assignment and assists with getting more grades for the

S cho ol S tr uc tu r e
The MoE mission statement professes “every child can learn…every child must learn” and this philosophy

is reflected in the way students move through Jamaica’s educational system. Students have a number of

options when it comes to pursuing alternative pathways into the workforce, especially during the later

years of their education. The country operates on a 6-3-2 model, meaning primary school consists of six

grade levels, while secondary school is separated into two cycles: lower secondary (3 years) and upper

secondary (2 years). Some students may continue on through grades 12 and 13, which prepare them for

entry into the higher education system. A typical academic year runs from September to June.

Early Childhood Ages 3-5 Optional

Primary Grades 1-6 Ages 6-11 Compulsory

Lower Secondary Grades 7-9 Ages 12-17 Optional

Upper Secondary Grades 10-11* Optional

Tertiary Grades 12-13 17+ Optional

*Following grade 11, some high schools offer continuing education programs (grades 12 and 13) through

the Career Advancement Programme and the Sixth Form/Pre-university Programme.

Early Childhood Level

The value of early childhood experiences is central to the Jamaican educational philosophy. The right to

free public education begins as early as age 2 or 3 in Jamaica, and families have both public and private

options at this level.

Primary Level

Primary school spans ages 6 to11 and is compulsory and free. Unique aspects of the Jamaican primary
school system include an increased focus on entrepreneurship and civics as well as technical and

project-based learning initiatives as early as grade 1. For example, students in grades 1-3 practice basic

reading and writing skills during lessons fitting into the theme “Me and My Environment.” The primary

school curriculum is designed to give young Jamaicans opportunities to explore communication

technology, work in groups to solve problems, and develop an interest in caring for the environment and

the world around them (Roofe 2014).

Upon completion of grade 6, Jamaican students take the standardized Grade Six Achievement

Examination (GSAT) to determine admission into high schools. The exam tests in five subject areas:

language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and communication tasks. Beginning in September

2018, the GSAT will be replaced with the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), which will emphasize critical thinking

and the application of knowledge to solve problems. Starting in 2019, this test will also be used to

determine grade 6 students’ placements in secondary education. This test is considered a more

comprehensive method for determining students’ academic and critical thinking skills as it consists of a

performance task test, an ability task test, and a curriculum-based test. Test scores for PEP will be

available for schools each June (Morris 2018).

Secondary Level

High school is also free, but not required. Seventy-four percent of Jamaican students moved on to the

secondary level in 2016 (UNESCO 2016). Divided into two cycles, the secondary level is designed to give

Jamaican students choices between continued academic learning and vocational training. Regardless of

their educational path, career-focused development is an important part of Jamaican students’

educational experience. The Work Experience Programme and the Community Service Programme serve

to promote practical training and volunteerism at this level.

Grade 11 concludes with the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination offered by

the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). Students may be evaluated in 33 subject areas, which

include both general and technical proficiencies. Similar to the system of grading in the United States, the

CXC uses a 6-point grading scale to determine a student’s readiness for entry-level jobs or

postsecondary education. Jamaican students who go on to complete grades 12 and 13 may take the

Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). The CXC administers this exam to students who

wish to further their education at the university level.

Tertiary Level

Jamaica is home to more than 50 institutions of higher education, many of which are founded and

managed by offshore institutions. The University Council of Jamaica is charged with accrediting both

public and private institutions, including cross-border higher education. Tackling issues of access and

equity is a priority for Jamaica in the years ahead. While a complete overhaul of Jamaica’s primary and

secondary school systems over the last several decades has reshaped the country’s social and economic

landscapes, access to higher education remains a hot topic, particularly for students from low

socioeconomic backgrounds (Brissett 2010).

O ppo r tuni ti e s f o r I n t ern a ti o na l E xc ha ng e
The MoE’s strategic plan highlights the importance of increasing participation in tertiary education,

aligning postsecondary programs with employer needs, and improving the quality of teacher education.

To meet these goals, Jamaica has turned to its peers in the United States, Canada, and the United

Kingdom to bring the world to its local campuses and increase international exchange.

Through partnership agreements called “local partner exchanges,” foreign providers (oftentimes from the

United States) supply course content and staff-intensive teaching sessions over the weekend for

intensive in-person sessions, but the bulk of learning is done at the student’s own pace throughout the

week. For example, the Institute of Management Science in Kingston, Florida International University, and

the University of North Florida have collaborated on programs for students wishing to pursue a BA or MA

degree in business administration.

Another option for foreign universities to enter the Jamaican educational arena is through the creation of

branch campuses, a notable example being Nova Southeastern University’s educational center in

Jamaica. Since 1980, Nova has provided in-person lectures and tutorials to students, in addition to

making university resources (such as library access) available in Jamaica (Middlehurst and Woodfield


Traditional academic exchanges are not the only option available to institutions abroad. In partnership

with Florida State University, the University of the West Indies offers a unique opportunity for students at

both universities to develop their intercultural competency skills through the Beyond Borders program, a
short-term exchange focused on cultural immersion. Students take turns hosting each other at their home

institutions for one week. Visits to local museums and historic sites, student activities on campus, and

community service projects give participants special insight into their host culture from a local perspective

that goes beyond traditional study abroad programs.

As Jamaica continues to develop meaningful ways to collaborate with international partners through

distance learning and intercultural exchange programs, this culturally rich Caribbean island will only

become more attractive to prospective international students as well as multinational companies looking

to employ highly-qualified global citizens.


Grade Six Achievement Test

Grade Nine Achievement Test

Junior High School Certificate

Jamaica School Certificate

Secondary School Certificate

Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate

General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level

Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination

General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level



Best practice
Teacher Development

Effective Communication

Attitudes and values

Creative and Performing Arts

TVET and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Methodology

Qualifications. Qualifications for teaching in Jamaica vary, though most positions will
requireteachers to have a Bachelor's degree. The certification process may vary from that of
North America or the UK, though teachers that have a validteaching license will be offered a
more competitive salary.

Required Education Bachelor's Degree in Education or Teaching Certification

Projected Job
6%*(Kindergarten, Elementary School, Middle School and High School Teachers)
Growth (2014-2024)

$51,640*(Kindergarten Teachers), $54,890*(Elementary School Teachers),

Median Salary (2015)
$55,860 *(Middle School Teachers), $57,200 *(High School Teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Elementary School Education

Elementary school teachers educate their students in mathematics, language arts and social
studies. Accordingly, students wanting to become elementary school teachers take courses in how
to teach these subjects. These students also take courses in human development, child psychology,
curriculum design and literacy instruction, all of which prepare them to teach classes to younger
students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, ( predicts a 6% job growth for
kindergarten and elementary school teachers between 2014 and 2024. Additionally, the BLS
reported that the median annual salary for elementary school teachers was $54,890 and $51,640 for
Kindergarten teachers in May, 2015.

Middle and High School Education

Students who plan on teaching at the middle or high school level generally take major-level courses
in the subject they wish to teach, in addition to the required teacher education curriculum. For
example, students wishing to teach economics to high school seniors may major in economics and
education, completing both respective requirements to earn their degree. This helps aspiring middle
and high school teachers develop skills in lesson planning and curriculum assessment in their field
of interest.The BLS reports that the job market for middle school teachers will grow 6% between
2014 and 2024, and 6% for high school teachers. The BLS also reported that the median annual
salary for middle school teachers was $55,860 and $57,200 for high school teachers in May 2015.

All prospective teachers must participate in professional fieldwork, often included in education
degree programs, in which they are assigned to help or teach a class under the supervision of a
licensed teacher. This practice helps students gain real world experience as student teachers,
monitoring classes and meeting with parents.

State Licensure
While licensure may not be necessary for private school teachers, it is required for all public school
teachers. State requirements for teaching licenses vary; however, most include:

 A bachelor's degree
 The completion of a teacher education program
 Supervised teaching experience
 The completion of basic writing and math skills tests