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Policy Direction for the Future

  1. Emphasis will be on improving quality, efficiency and equity.
  2. Education For All will mean full enrolment from early childhood education (0-16 years) to Grade 11. It could also require initiatives to foster greater participation of the private sector in the provision of full secondary education.
  3. Efforts to increase accountability at all levels (principals, teachers, and education officers) will be emphasised.
  4. Increased use of the media and technology - for example,
  1. an education channel on cable TV licenses has been mandated by
  2. law and steps will have to be taken to enforce this requirement
  3. public education radio, Internet access for all schools over the next 2 years (each school is to get 1 computer and Internet access and 2 teachers are to be trained in each school).
  1. Future plans will depend on the ability of the Government of Jamaica to foster growth in the economy. Efforts will have to be made to improve our capabilities in policy formulation and planning and the strengthening of the capabilities of the regional offices in education statistics (data collection, analysis). The use of information technology will improve management and supervision and use of student assessment data to improve the teaching/learning process and accountability.
  2. Teachers
  3. The Ministry of Education & Culture hopes to reduce the employment of untrained teachers and increase the level of qualifications of practicing teachers, aiming for a higher proportion of teachers to be university graduates. The use of distance education technology will be used to facilitate this process especially the upgrading teachers in rural communities.

  4. Male underachievement

This is a real problem and policies and strategies will have to be formulated to address this problem. The University of the West Indies (Mona) is undertaking a major study, funded by the Canadian Development Bank, (CDB) to identify problems, summarize earlier research and recommend educational strategies for dealing with this issue.

The Ministry of Education & Culture has presented Green Paper 2000 (August 4, 1999) which represents a commitment of the Government of Jamaica to engage its people in the strongest possible partnership for development through education and training.

The partnership is based on the recognition that it is the return on investment in the building of human and social capital that represents our best hope for economic growth and social peace, the major requirements for an improved and sustainable quality of life in Jamaica.

The Green Paper 2000 states that …

"We recognise that the world environment in which we operate now and henceforward is one which will challenge our creativity as we seek to create new knowledge, new products and new markets. It is clear that the competition in trade, the free movement of skills, the ease of information transfer, the reliance on information and ideas for increased productivity and economic growth all require a population much better educated and trained than now exists.

Education must be not only better but different.

The policies and programmes are based on the belief that

each of our children can learn and all of our children must

sound early educational foundations and the nurturing of values which foster personal growth and social responsibility represent a major imperative for adult society

learning is a lifelong necessity

our country has a historical record of success in co-operative initiatives, community and national partnerships, and effective schooling which can support new directions for improved structures and sustainable improvements in the education and training sector

the present global environment at the onset of the new millennium creates opportunities and makes demands for a society which actively develops a creative thinker-worker with the attitudes, skills and knowledge to be a controller of his environment not a victim of it.

Our view is that in the pursuit of progress through partnerships, there are certain frameworks within which we should operate:

  1. A charter of educational rights and responsibilities which conveys what the nation undertakes to provide for its citizens.
  2. A partnership agreement between all stakeholders at the national and community level.
  3. A contract arrangement at the institutional level between the principal constituent groups operating within the institution
  4. A set of laws and regulations which protect the rights of all parties and which also provide for efficient management of the education and training system
  5. A mechanism for ensuring that policies in force are understood and accepted by the widest possible cross-section of the people, and particularly those who are most affected by them
  6. A national information infrastructure which provides equitable access to communication facilities to empower Jamaicans through information, access to government services, cultural reinforcement and lifelong learning opportunities.

We believe that these frameworks are necessary if we are to unite the country around this most critically important thrust towards individual empowerment, social cohesion and economic growth.

The Charter

We believe that the Charter should contain the following Articles:

The state has the responsibility to ensure that all its citizens have access to an absolute minimum of six years of formal education at the primary level.

The state also undertakes to support Early Childhood Education of children between the ages of four and six years by providing curriculum  direction and recurrent financial support to facilitate appropriate learning.

Every child who is born within Jamaica or acquires Jamaican nationality and citizenship has a right of access to opportunity for his/her education to the level and extent possible within the resources of the family, the community and the state.

Parents are under an obligation to make such provision as may be necessary to support the education of their children at least to the point where they have completed 11 years of formal education or up to the age of 17 years, whichever comes later.

No child should be deprived of formal education up to the end of secondary education purely on the basis of economic deprivation.

The quality of the content of the education offered to our young citizens, its delivery and the environment in which it is provided will be of the highest possible standard, which the country can afford.

Basic education will incorporate and be enriched by the creative use of appropriate technologies, including Information and Communication Technology

The education of our citizens will prepare them for functioning in a globalized environment and a highly interdependent world. In doing this it will also reinforce pride in ourselves as a people and promote knowledge of and respect for our proudest traditions, our institutions and an awareness of the sanctity of human life.

The Partnership Agreement

We believe that although the Government of the day has the legal authority, the right to determine policy and the overall administrative responsibility for the education and training programme at any given time, it must exercise its authority in a spirit and real context of partnership with

The Parliamentary Opposition

The Church

The Parent Constituency

The Private Sector broadly defined

Civil Society represented by established National Organisations

Within this partnership agreement, the National Council on Education, which is made up of representatives from these entities, will continue to be the

vehicle through which the widest possible input is sought and obtained to inform policy advice and monitor policy implementation.

The Government through the Cabinet and its Sub-committees will ensure that in both policy and practice, there is collaboration for effectiveness and efficiency across its different Ministries and agencies.

Boards of Management of public educational institutions as the agents of the Ministry of Education represent a critical interface between the State and the school community. As such, they will apply the rigorous adherence to prescribed regulations, the careful observance of national policies, and the sensitive responsiveness to the needs of their institutions and clients, which are expected of good managers in a vibrant democracy.

At the community level, the agreed community organisation which co-ordinates community development will be specifically engaged in supporting and monitoring the programmes of the sector.

The Minister of Education and the Chief Operating Officers of the Central Ministry will establish and use appropriate structures and schedules for direct communication with stakeholders at community and regional level."

The Green Paper 2000 continues to outline recommendations for Laws and Regulations and states that the Education Regulations will reflect the following:

Provision for non-teaching professionals in the system to strengthen our capacity for student care and development

Obligation of Education Officers to ensure that School Boards are regularly and appropriately informed about assessments of school performance, Principal performance, teacher performance.

Provision for ongoing professional development for teachers and the obligations of teachers to be involved

The minimum number of school days annually to be 195

Provision for teachers’ leave and holidays to take into account the learning cycle for students and the special needs of students and teachers

Protection of teachers from unfair dismissal. and students from unfair exclusion

The Paper also states the intention of the Ministry of Education & Culture as it aims to have the population well informed about major National Policies in the following statement:

"We believe that systems generally work best when they are governed by policies which are understood, which are agreed to and receive the support of those who are affected by them.

It will be our intention to rely heavily on public information and public communication in our efforts to make the education and training a truly national effort and to make the best use of all the talents and energies available to the nation.

The system will be performance-driven and results-oriented.

In this paper, we set out the present Mission Statement of the Ministry of Education & Culture and the seven strategic objectives, which currently drive the national corporate plan for the Ministry.

Additionally, critical targets are identified.

Finally, we set out a number of major policy proposals, which we believe will facilitate the meeting of our objectives and the attainment of our targets.

The Mission Statement of the Ministry of Education & Culture, Jamaica:

"To provide a system which secures quality education for all persons in Jamaica and achieves effective integration of educational and cultural resources in order to optimise individual and national development"

The Strategic Objectives:

    1. To devise and support initiatives striving towards literacy for all in order to extend personal opportunities and contribute to national development.
    2. To secure teaching and learning opportunities that will optimise access, equity and relevance throughout the education system.
    3. To support student achievement and improve institutional performance in order to ensure that national targets are met.
    4. To maximise opportunities throughout the Ministry’s purview that promote cultural development, awareness and self-esteem for individuals, communities and the nation as a whole.
    5. To devise and implement systems of accountability and performance management in order to improve performance and win public confidence and trust.
    6. To optimise the effectiveness and efficiency of staff in all aspects of the service in order to ensure continuous improvement in performance.
    7. To enhance student learning by the greater use of information and communication technology as preparation for life in the national and global communities."

The Ministry of Education & Culture also outlines some Critical Minimum Targets:

  1. 3% annual improvement in primary school attendance between 1999 and 2002.
  2. 55% of all students who were enrolled in Primary grade 1 in September 1997 to demonstrate full mastery in literacy at the grade 6 level in August 2002.
  3. 35% of the same group to demonstrate near mastery or full mastery by the year 2004
  4. 5% average annual increase in high school enrolment between the year 2000 and the year 2003
  5. 2% annual reduction in the number of schools needing major repairs between the year 2000 and the year 2010
  6. 2% annual improvement in the number of students passing English and Mathematics in the Secondary Examination Certificate (CXC) in relation to the total grade 11 cohort
  7. 1% annual increase in the age cohort advancing to tertiary education between the year 2000 and the year 2005
  8. 5% annual improvement in school performance as measured by panel inspection reports
  9. Staff:student ratio in the Primary Schools to be standardised at 1:35 by the year 2004
  10. Census data for all institutions to be collated and available by December 31 each year for the school year beginning in September of that year
  11. Minimum of 1 computer per school, linked to Internet or otherwise provided with Encyclopaedia and other learning software by December 31 2001
  12. Full enrolment of the Early Childhood age cohort –ages 4 and 5 – by the year 2004
  13. Island wide public education programme by August 20001 in support of Early Childhood Care and Early Stimulation for children between birth and age 4."

The Green Paper 2000 also addresses some considerations underlying present Policies:

    1. Continuous assessment of students at the primary level is designed to facilitate student learning, and is not designed to divide students along pass/fail lines.
    2. High school education is provided to all students of high school age and is not designed only for the academically most gifted.
    3. The presence and use of culture agents in schools constitute both a strong support for learning and a reinforcement of self-esteem.
    4. Special needs children are provided for either in special schools or in regular schools. Mainstreaming where possible is preferred and offers advantages to both the general school population and the special needs child.
    5. Although targets are expressed in terms of percentages, the underlying national philosophy is that each child must be
    6. assisted to maximise his talents and abilities, and acquire the highest level of skills and knowledge of which he is capable.

      "Each child can learn and every child must"

    7. Each child has a contribution to make to the learning of other children, and every child has a special intelligence and a special area of motivation which teacher, parent and other adults have an obligation to discover and build upon.
    8. The school will plan its entire programme to meet the needs of the students, and should not exclude challenging students as the solution to educational problems.
    9. The school, the community, the Ministry of Education and Culture and other state agencies will collaborate in dealing with behaviour disorders and seriously disruptive conduct.
    10. The country’s commitment to the education and training of its people will always be seen as a sound investment in the building of social capital even if the products of the system migrate to metropolitan or other countries. In the present world environment, it is neither possible nor desirable to escape this kind of investment.

The Green Paper 2000 also addresses some major policy positions in force or proposed and suggests the following:

1. Automatic promotion of students in the primary schools is not allowed beyond the grade 4 level. Remediation in reading must take place to ensure that students in grades 5 and 6 are reading at an appropriate level.

  1. Principals and teachers are required to prepare, provide and use the required data as something which both contributes to performance management and to facilitating national policy development, planning and operations.
  2. Schools are financed on a per capita basis at the primary level and on the basis of their approved establishments at the secondary and tertiary levels.
    1. Fees are not chargeable at the primary level
    2. Fees have to be approved by the Ministry of Education & Culture at the other levels
  3. The Ministry of Education & Culture provides free textbooks at the Primary level and operates a National Textbook Rental Scheme at the secondary level, which all students can access by the payment of a textbook access fee.
  4. Each institution is required to formulate and to operate a development plan, in which annual targets are set, matched to resources, demand and potential. Approved fund-raising is encouraged only in relation to the achievement of specific educational targets, for which the Board and the institution take full responsibility.
  5. As of September 2001, new Principals and Principals in new posts will be engaged on contracts, which will be performance related.
    1. Other Principals may choose to become contract officers
  6. As of September 2002, new Vice Principals and Vice Principals in new posts will be engaged on contracts, which will be performance-related.
    1. As of September 2002, other Vice Principals may choose to become contract officers.
  1. As of September 2003, all Principals and Vice-Principals will be required to be contract officers.
  2. As of September 2003, an incentive fund will be used to support schools, which demonstrate excellence in terms of organisation and enterprise as well as educational performance.
  3. Access to information about student performance is the right and responsibility of parents.
  4. The Ministry of Education and Culture will as from the year 2003 publish relevant information about school performance.

In summarising, the Ministry of Education & Culture states:

"We believe that Jamaica can deal with its economic and social challenges if we unite around progressive strategies for change, optimise our investment in education, training, cultural development and the nurturing of wholesome values and positive attitudes.

This can be accomplished by a united effort centred around our schools as the focal point of intellectual and social growth and development. But the school, as a physical and social entity, is only the centre. The home, the community, the various governmental and civic organisations have a most important part to play.

Each of us needs to feel ourselves accountable to the others, to the nation as a whole, particularly to our young, and certainly to the generations yet to come. We owe it to ourselves and to the future to start the new century and the new millennium with a firm resolve to advance the welfare of our country and the human race by building Jamaica into a place and a people, which become the envy of the world.

This Green Paper invites you to build Jamaica through education, with efficiency, with effectiveness but also with heart and with spirit. We can do it together."

Ministry of Education & Culture

August 4, 1999


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