Education in Jamaica

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Jamaica is an underdeveloped country, not only in regards to poverty, and poor living standards, but also in regards to its education system. It is up to the youth of Jamaica to make a difference for Jamaica, but they need a proper education in order to do so.

The main purpose of the Jamaican education system is to prepare students for the work field and to provide educational opportunities related to jobs. An educational system was not even available to most Jamaicans until the early 1970’s. At this time, most schools were conducted mainly by Christian Churches. In the 1980’s, secondary level education was only available to white children. Primary schools were very limited. There were 232 private schools, but only the wealthy citizens of Jamaica could afford to send their children to private schools. “The enrollment in private schools was 41,000 students, less than 7% of public school enrollment. In 1943, less than 1% of blacks, and only 9% of mixed races went to secondary school. ”1 In 1944, the start of early self-government in Jamaica, allowed for increased funding. The government constructed a number of primary and 50 junior secondary schools (grades 7 to 9). The main goal of a primary school education was to provide the graduates with efficient literacy.

“In the 1980’s, only 11 % of government funds were going to education.”2 It has been said that these funds should have been spent on community colleges. In Jamaica, students need all the help they can get in finding, and being qualified for decent employment. The primary education system provides six years of education from age six. When students are 12 years old, they must be selected by the National Assement Programme in order to continue with secondary education. High Schools provide a maximum of seven years of education. After high school, students receive the Caribbean Examinations Council Secondary Education Certificate.

The “HEART” (i.e. human employment and resource training program) provided training and employment for unemployed youths finishing school. There are now HEART academies which specialize in training for agriculture, hotel, secretarial, commercial services, postal and telegraph operations, industrial production and cosmetology. This program gives students a chance to become prepared from a job that could provide them with a good future.

A way to improve some aspects of the Jamaican education system would be to increase funding. Because it may not be possible to receive additional funding from the Jamaican government, it may be possible for other richer countries to provide help to finance the construction of schools, for school supplies etc, and possible to hire more teachers. It may also be possible to send Canadian or American teachers to Jamaica to teach in schools temporarily or possibly even permanently. I think that the Jamaican education system has somewhat of a base already, but some help in going further with its education system. Students such as ourselves, could possibly even start organizations that could send people to Jamaican to construct schools. Another way to receive funding for the Jamaican education system would be to encourage technology companies to invest money into the education system. They would then receive in return potential educated employers. Jamaica is associated with the University of West Indies (UWI) which has campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. There is only one Jamaican national university which is The University of Technology, Jamaica Utech. If there were more colleges and offering a wider variety of courses, students would not have to sacrifice all their hard work because they was no college or university available to them in a job field that they wished to pursue. There are other Universities in the island which offer other courses such as psychology and theology, biological science and business, but these courses are only offered in private institutions. A wider variety of courses must be offered in public institutions because many students would not be able to afford to attend a private institution.

Another huge impact on the education system is the teaching standards. In Jamaica, teachers training colleges is usually based on completion of grade 11 (post –CESEC). These teachers are trained to teach mainly in primary and the new secondary schools. They are trained for only approximately three years. These standards are comparable to the teaching standards in Canada, but the Jamaican teachers don’t have any technology training, therefore, they cannot use computers to help teach in the classroom. This is definitely something that would improve the students education. Business should be encouraged to donate computers to schools. I’m sure that there is a lot that we could to do to help this developing country, but we have to start now in order to start building better and brighter futures for the youth of Jamaica.

1 http://www.1upinfo.caribbean-islands/caaribbean-islands25.html
2 Ibid.
A Krista de la Rama, Joshua Liu, and Lauren Wood Production | 2002-2003
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