Early childhood education is concerned with the development of children up to age five. The institutions involved are day care centres, basic and infant schools and infant departments in primary and all-age schools. A community-based sponsoring body manages basic schools, and the Government’s contribution is in the form of a subsidy – salary, nutrition and class material.
Primary education is offered to children in grades one to six of primary and all-age schools. The educational offering at the primary level lays the foundation for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values for total development and continuing education. It is expected that each student within this age group should be equipped with the following characteristic by the end of grade six:
Literacy and numeracy by global standards
Competence in pre-requisite knowledge and skills to access secondary education.
Possession of a caring attitude towards self, others and things.
There are 346 primary, 356 all-age and 90 primary and junior high schools providing for approximately 302,057 students.
The secondary education programme is concerned with educating students from grades seven to 13 in high and comprehensive schools. This level of education is also offered in grades seven to nine of all-age schools and junior high schools. This is regarded as the first cycle of secondary education.
Secondary education is aimed at producing graduates with adequate training to qualify them to admission to tertiary institutions or for gainful employment. The focus of the programme is to improve the quality, efficiency and relevance of the curricula. The main performance indicator at the secondary level for the quality of graduates is the level of success in external examinations at GCE `O’ and ‘A’ levels (British), and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).
There are 59 high schools with a student enrolment of 73,506, financed mainly by the Government of Jamaica. These schools offer mainly academic subjects although some offer a limited number of vocational subjects. Access to these schools is gained mainly on the basis of performance in the National Assessment Examination.
There are 75 comprehensive high schools. Access to these schools is gained from neighbouring feeder schools or through the National Assessment Examination. The curriculum is a mixture of academic and vocational training and students sit the same external examinations as those in traditional high schools.
Tertiary education is offered in the following Government-funded institutions:
The University of the West Indies
The University of Technology
Six Teacher Training Colleges
Seven Multi-disciplinary colleges
The College of Agriculture, Science and Education
Edna Manley College of Visual and Performance Arts
Tertiary education provides the opportunity for the acquisition of the knowledge and skills required for professional competence in various fields of endeavour. Assistance to students includes the provision of scholarships, boarding grants and tuition fees.
Multi-disciplinary colleges provide a broad programme of continuing education to satisfy individual, as well as the manpower, needs of the society. The colleges now offer preliminary university and teacher training courses. The institutions falling within this grouping are EXED, Brown’s Town, Knox, Portmore, Montego Bay, Moneague and Bethlehem Community Colleges.
The University Council of Jamaica functions as an accreditation, awards and academic development body for degree, diploma and certificate programmes, proposed and developed at approved tertiary institutions. The organisations aims to:
encourage foreign institutions and local counterparts to apply for registration and subsequent accreditation of programmes
design and establish an academic transfer system to facilitate mobility of students between tertiary institutions
determine equivalence of qualification
maintain contacts with quality assurance bodies worldwide and International Advisory Groups (IAG)
Technical/ Vocational education is offered to students at grades seven to eleven, in the areas of art and craft, agriculture, business, home economics and industrial arts.
This area provides students with the skills, knowledge and attitude which qualify them for job employment or entry into tertiary institutions. In addition to the schools identified under this programme, Technical/Vocational education is offered in some high and comprehensive high schools.
Presently, there are 14 technical high schools, catering to 16, 219 students