Children who complete their education in Jamaica are often ahead of the American School System. The curriculum is so advanced that when an average primary school student from Jamaica enters high school in America, they are often ahead of the class. An average child in Jamaica will complete high school education between the ages of 15-16 years, since the average Jamaicans is admitted to high school at age ten.
After emancipation the West Indian Commission granted a sum of money to establish Elementary Schools, now known as All Age Schools. Most of these schools were established by the churches. This was the genesis of the modern Jamaican school system.
Early childhood – Basic, Infant and privately operated pre- school, age cohort 2 – 5 years. However, children who are potty trained early is allowed to enter the basic school program before age two. The basic school system in Jamaica is heavily geared towards early education, it is not a typical daycare environment.
Primary – Publicly and privately (Preparatory) owned schools, ages 5 – 12 years. The Caribbean based exam (GSAT) is administered to students from age 10-12, if successful students are able to graduate and attend the secondary school of their choice. Therefore a large percentage of students actually enter the secondary school level at age 10.
Secondary (High) – Publicly and privately owned. Ages 10 – 18 years. The high schools in Jamaica may be either single-sex or co-educational institutions, and many schools follow the traditional English grammar school model used throughout the British West Indies. Due to a large percentage of students entering secondary school at age 10, the average age that students graduate from High School in Jamaica is age 16. However, the student can opt to re-enter high school (sixth form) and complete an additional two years of college level classes, commonly referred to as advanced level (A Level) courses.
Tertiary – Community Colleges, Teachers’ Colleges with The Mico Teachers' College (now The MICO University College) being the oldest founded in 1836,The Shortwood Teachers' College (which was once an all-female teacher training institution), Vocational Training Centres, Colleges and Universities – Publicly and privately owned. There are five local universities namely: The University of the West Indies (Mona Campus); the University of Technology, Jamaica formerly The College of Art Science and Technology (CAST); the Northern Caribbean University formerly West Indies College; the University College of The Caribbean and the International University of the Caribbean. Typical student will enter college at 17-18 years. Bachelor degrees in the arts, social or natural sciences average 3 years, therefore a typical full time college student would complete a degree by age 20-21.
There are many community and teacher training colleges. Education is free from basic to primary level. There are also opportunities for those who cannot afford further education in the vocational arena through the Human Employment and Resource Training-National Training Agency (HEART Trust-NTA) programme and through an extensive scholarship network for the various universities.
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh greeted by school children in Jamaica in 1953 Jamaica was still a British colony when the Queen visited in 1953.
The emancipation of the slaves heralded in the establishment of the Jamaican education system for the masses. Prior to emancipation there were few schools for educating locals. Many sent their children off to England to access quality