4 minute read



The MOE&C engaged in a concerted effort during 1999-2001 to rationalize the educational system in Jamaica and to define more explicitly its role and the role of education in Jamaican society.

The MOE&C defines its mission as "to provide a system which secures quality education and training for all persons in Jamaica and achieves effective integration of educational and cultural resources in order to optimize individual and national development." The mission is further elaborated upon in the seven strategic objectives specified by the MOE&C:

  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 optimize 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 maximize 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 optimize 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 has also set a number of "critical targets" in line with these objectives; among these are the following:

  • Full enrollment of the Early Childhood age cohort ages four and five by the year 2003.
  • Island-wide public education program by August 2001 in support of Early Childhood Care and Early Stimulation for children between birth and age four.
  • Ninety percent attendance by 2005 at the primary level.
  • Teacher/student ratio in the primary schools to be standardized at 1:35 by 2003, and at no greater than 1:30 for grades one and two by 2005.
  • Eighty percent of all primary school completers to demonstrate full literacy by 2003.
  • Five years of secondary education for all students entering grade 7 in 2003 and thereafter.
  • Fifteen percent minimum enrollment in tertiary education by 2005.
  • Provision of basic infrastructure, i.e., chairs, desks, etc., to meet the needs of all students and teachers by 2003.
  • Minimum of one computer linked to the Internet (or with appropriate other software where Internet connection is not possible) in every primary school by the end of 2002.

There appears to be sufficient government resolve and commitment to expect that at least some of these targets will be reached. The government continues to devote the largest share of the budget remaining after debt servicing to education, and recent reports indicate that the primary school computer goal may be reached ahead of schedule.

Debt servicing continues to eat up a larger and larger portion of Jamaica's revenues, and its economy, like most of those in the Caribbean, is fragile. One can only hope that the island is not forced to undergo another round of "economic restructuring" and wide-spread retrenchment like that imposed by the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s and from which the island is only now beginning to recover.


Bailey, Barbara. "Sexist Patterns of Formal and Non-formal Educational Programmes: The Case of Jamaica." In Gender: A Caribbean Multi-Disciplinary Perspective, ed. Elsa Leo- Rhynie, Barbara Bailey, and Christine Barrow, 144-158. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1997.

Hamilton, Marlene, "The Availability and Suitability of Educational Opportunities for Jamaican Female Students: An Historical Overview." In Gender: A Caribbean Multi-Disciplinary Perspective, ed. Elsa Leo-Rhynie, Barbara Bailey, and Christine Barrow, 133-143. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1997.

Miller, Errol, "IMF Related Devastation of Teacher Education in Jamaica," Social and Economic Studies, 41.2 (June 1992): 153-181.

Ministry of Education and Culture, Education: The way Upward, A Green Paper for the Year 2000. Kingston, 1999. Available from http://www.jis.gov.jm.

——. Press Release: "Excerpts from the address delivered by Senator the Honorable Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Education and Culture, at the official 'Renaming Ceremony and Expo 2000 of Comprehensive High Schools'." Kingston, 2000.

——. White Paper I: A path for Jamaica's Education at the start of the new Millennium. Kingston, 2001. Ministry of Finance, Minister's Budget Message to Parliament. Kingston, April 16, 2001.

Morrison, Johnetta Wade, and Milner, Valentine, "Formal Education of Children in Jamaica," Childhood Education, 71.4 (Summer 1995): 194-196.

Sherlock, Philip, and Bennett, Hazel, The Story of the Jamaican People. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998.

UNESCO, The EFA 2000 Assessment Country Reports: Jamaica. Paris, 2000. Available at http://www2. unesco.org.

Whiteman, Burchell, "Education and Training Partnerships, The 1990's Imperatives: Jamaica, The West Indies," Journal of Education Finance, 19.4 (Spring 1994): 94-98.

Wilkins, Julia, and Gamble, Robert J., "An Examination of Gender Differences among Teachers in Jamaican Schools," Multicultural Education, 7.4 (Summer 2000): 18-20.

—Edward H. Matthei and
Linda Miller Matthei

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceJamaica - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education