EDUCATION IN JAMAICA
Even if smoking weed is as legal as having dreadlocks, it does not mean that the quality of education in Jamaica is not a primary concern of its government.
Admittedly, education in Jamaica was not a common thing in the past. The education system was not something that Jamaicans know of until the 70’s. Most Christian churches are the first ones who have made attempts to bring improve its existence. There was scarcity of schools especially those that cater to those beyond the primary level. There were also curriculum that was for the elite and this has deepened the class divisions in the society. The governments’ primary schools and the private secondary schools have served as the dual system of education in Jamaica. This fact has prevented the majority of the population to achieve an education beyond literacy. Thus around 1943, less than 1% of blacks and about 9% of the other races in Jamaica were able to attend secondary school.
In 1953, education in Jamaica was given more attention due to the establishment of the Ministry of Education. The government formulated education policies and emphasized the educational priorities. With the government’s objective of providing sufficient number of primary schools and junior secondary schools, it seemed that education in Jamaica was at its turning point. However, even until the 70’s, there is still very little chance for students to continue schooling after their primary level.
Education in Jamaica underwent major changes in 1972. There was a greater opportunity during the implementation of the universally free secondary education in Jamaica. Even if the inadequate funding may have caused the quality of education in Jamaica to go down, it still gave people access to secondary schools, and the poor locals who cannot afford to go the tuition have been given the chance to attend school.
The 80’s brought in a multifaceted type of system of education in Jamaica. And even if locals are not made to pay tuition in public schools, some families do not send their kids to these schools because they cannot provide for the costs of the books, uniforms, food, and transportation for their children. Jamaica also has its share of colleges and universities, but most of these cater to a small number of Jamaican students.
Education in Jamaica is an ongoing construction site. The Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL) has been striving hard to wipe out illiteracy since the 70’s. Its efforts were proven to have been rewarded by the fact that more than a 100,000 students have signed up in its classes all over the island in the recent years. The success of this organization is through the combined efforts of professionals and volunteers, which helped attained 75.4% literacy in Jamaica.