THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION STORY
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is the government entity responsible for the management and administration of public education in Jamaica. The Ministry of Education was first established in 1953, as the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare. Currently, the MoE carries out the Government of Jamaica’s mandate of ensuring a system which secures quality education and training of all citizens of Jamaica in order to optimise individual and national development.
The MoE provides the avenue for enrichment and upward mobility of our people though education. The organisation is one of Jamaica’s largest public entities and is comprised presently of 11 agencies, six Regional Offices, and a central office with approximately 40 units which fall under 5 divisions. These unite to provide the framework for the efficient functioning of over 1,000 public educational institutions that serves over 100,000 students and over 20,000 teachers. The Ministry of Education is also responsible for two public universities and several community, multidisciplinary and teachers’ colleges.
Core Roles and Functions
The Ministry’s role of effectively managing the education system is accomplished through the execution of functions carried out by its divisions and agencies. Among these functions are:
- Planning, developing, and implementing educational policies and programmes
- Monitoring and evaluating the performance of locally and internationally funded projects and programmes
- Maintaining an efficient system of collecting, collating, analyzing and presenting current and accurate data on quantifiable educational indicators to meet local demand and international standards
- Developing and supporting programmes, services and activities geared towards personal and national development
- Providing guidance in financial management for all educational institutions and affiliated agencies.
To provide strategic leadership and policy direction for quality education for all Jamaicans to maximize their potential, contribute to national development and compete effectively in the global economy.
A customer-centred, performance oriented education system producing globally competitive, socially conscious Jamaican citizens.
The National Shared Vision
Each learner will maximize his/her potential in an enriching learner centred education environment with maximum use of learning technologies supported by committed qualified competent effective and professional educators and staff. The education system will equitable and accessible with full attendance to Grade 11.
Accountability, transparency and performance are the hallmarks of system that is excellent, self sustaining, resourced and welcomes full stakeholder participation.
Every Child Can Learn…Every Child Must Learn.
HISTORY OF THE MoE (TIMELINE)
- The Kandel Report was published which outlined the challenges facing the secondary education system and strategies for its improvement. A ministerial system was not yet developed, but discussions were underway for its establishment
- Honourable Jehoida Augustus McPherson was appointed the first Minister of Education (1945-1949). He was also the first Minister of Labour (1953-1955) in the Bustamante led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration
- A National Plan for Jamaica was introduced to reform the education system. This included universal primary education for children between the ages of 7-11. The Plan also included the expansion of Secondary education and awarding scholarships to persons interested in teaching, to pursue degrees and diplomas in Education
- The University College of the West Indies was established as a college of the University of London, UK. It was granted university status in 1962
- Central Education Authority established to execute the functions of the School Commission and the Board of Education. This allowed education to be managed in a cohesive manner under one body. Honourable Joseph Zachariah Malcolm appointed as Minister of Education
- A Ministry of Education and Social Welfare was officially established in June. Honourable Edwin Leopold Allen appointed as the Minister of Education
- Dr. Ivan Lloyd appointed as Minister of Education
- The Education Advisory Council – a statutory body replaced the Central Education Authority. The Director of Education became the Chief Education Officer. Functions formerly performed by the Authority were later taken over by the Minister of Education
- The Common Entrance Examination was introduced
- Honourable Florizel Augustus Glasspole was appointed Minister of Education
- A law was passed for the Minister to take over the duties of education formerly performed by the Governor. This allowed the Minister to take full responsibility for education by 1957. During that year a Permanent Secretary and an Assistant Chief Education Officer were appointed.
- The Jamaica Institute of Technology was established. It was later renamed College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST). It was granted university status in 1995 and renamed University of Technology, Jamaica
- The word ‘primary’ was substituted for elementary
- Caledonia Junior College was established under the Emergency Teacher Training Scheme to address the shortage of trained teachers
- The 70:30 system was introduced to provide more spaces in public high schools for students coming from primary level schools, as most of the students who were awarded spaces in these schools were from preparatory schools
- A Five-Year Independence Plan was introduced. The plan recommended the establishment of comprehensive high schools. Two pilot schools were established based on this proposal: Trench Town and Frankfield Comprehensive Schools.
- The Education Act, the first post-independence legislation which outlined the statutory and operational aspects of the education system was introduced.
- The Institute Board for Teacher Training, a statutory body was established to certify teachers in the Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica, following an agreement with these countries. It was later renamed the Joint Board of Teacher Education (JBTE).
- The New Deal for Education was introduced to provide school space for every child at the primary level. Forty (40) primary schools with accommodation for 16, 800 students were created.
- Honourable Michael Manley, former Prime Minister of Jamaica introduced “free education” at all levels of the education system
- Honourable Eli Joseph Matalon was appointed Minister of Education.
- JAMAL Foundation was established; it was later renamed Jamaica Foundation for Life Long Learning (JFLL) in 2007
- In-Service Teacher Education Thrust commenced with the aim of improving the academic and professional competence of pre-trained teacher, with a view to provide them with certification as trained teacher over a four-year period
- National Youth Service established
- Honourable Howard Felix Cooke appointed Minister of Education
- Nutrition Products Limited was established
- Four community colleges (Knox, Excelsior, Brown’s Town and Montego Bay) were established. This was based on the recommendations of a committee which examined the effectiveness and costs of sixth form and its articulation between the new secondary schools and traditional high schools
- Rural Education Programme commenced based on the results of the Jamaica Education Sector Survey which analysed Jamaica’s education and training system. Six experimental primary schools, three agricultural schools, a teacher training institute and a programme for community development were established
- Honourable Eric Orlando Bell appointed Minister of Education.
- José Marti High School was officially opened. It was given to Jamaica as a gift from the Cuban government
- The MOE constructs schools in Portmore in response to the increasing population. Bridgeport Infant, Primary and Secondary; and Waterford Infant, Primary and Secondary; and Naggo Head Infant were erected. Five more schools were built the following year.
- Honourable Hugh Small, QC appointed Minister of Education
- Students in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean countries sat subjects offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) for the first time. The subjects later replaced the British GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels as CSEC and CAPE.
- G.C. Foster College officially opened. It was constructed through a grant from the Cuban government
- HEART Trust/NTA was established to ensure that the Jamaican workforce is trained and certified in keeping with international standards.
- The College of Agriculture was established following the closure of the Jamaica School of Agriculture. It was later renamed the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE)
- Dr. Mavis Gwendolyn Gilmour appointed Minister of Education
- School Community Outreach Programme for Education (SCOPE) commenced
- Dr. Neville Gallimore appointed Minister of Education
- University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), Jamaica’s tertiary institution’s accreditation body was established
- Secondary Schools Textbook Programme commenced to provide books for students who were reading below their grade level
- Honourable Carlyle Dunkley appointed Minister of Education
- Honourable Burchell Whiteman appointed Minister of Education.
- The National Council on Education was established to coordinate the appointment of persons to the Boards of public schools, advise the Minister on policy development and implications and assist in the development of educational programmes
- The first phase of the Reform of the Secondary Education Project commenced. Through this project, a common curriculum was introduced for Grades 7-9 of the Secondary education system
- Ministry of Education decentralised its services again with the establishment of six Regional Offices. The Ministry had started this decentralisation programme in 1975, however it was suspended in the 1980s
- Technical and Vocational Rationalisation Project launched
- The Common Entrance Examination was abolished
- Most “Secondary” schools upgraded to Comprehensive High or Technical High Schools.
- The first official sitting of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) commenced
- The different types of Secondary-level schools were abolished under the rationalisation of school types. All ‘Secondary’ schools were now termed ‘High’ schools. All High schools would now use the same curriculum and use books supplied under the National Textbook Programme
- The Council on Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) was established to coordinate the work of community colleges in Jamaica
- The Primary Education Support Project (PESP) commenced
- Honourable Maxine Henry Wilson appointed Minister of Education
- Culture Agents in schools and Master Teachers were appointed
- Early Childhood Commission was established with responsibility for the supervision and regulation of Early Childhood institutions.
- Enhancement of Basic School Project launched
- Task Force on Education Reform established to steer the process of transformation of the education system
- The National Parent Teachers’ Association of Jamaica was established. Mico Teachers’ College upgraded to a university college
- E-Learning Jamaica Project commenced. The Project is a partnership between the Ministries of Education and Energy, Mining and Telecommunications. Through the project, state-of-the-art information and communication technologies will be used to enhance the delivery of the curricula of secondary schools. The project is managed by the E-Learning Jamaica Company Limited which was launched the previous year
- Honourable Andrew Michael Holness appointed Minister of Education
- The Jamaica Teaching Council and National Education Inspectorate were established in keeping with the transformation of the education system
- Grade 1 Individual Learning Profile introduced to replace Grade 1 Readiness Test
- The national sitting of the Grade 4 Literacy and Numeracy Tests commenced
- Career Advancement Programme, a youth career development and education initiative developed by the Ministry of Education and its agency HEART/Trust NTA commenced
- Honourable Andrew Holness, M.P., Minister of Education is selected as the new Prime Minister of Jamaica
- Reverend the Honourable Ronald Thwaites assume responsibility as Minister of Education
THE FIRST MINISTER OF EDUCATION
Jehoida Augustus McPherson, MP, MHR is remembered as the first Minister of Education and the first Minister of Labour. He was born in Bellevue, Westmoreland, January 18, 1900, to Eleazer McPherson, cultivator, and his wife, Matilda. McPherson was educated at Kentucky Elementary School, Westmoreland and Mico College. On June 1, 1934 he married Beryl Maud Clarke, the daughter of Richard Clarke, a schoolmaster.
McPherson entered the House of Representatives for Western St. Thomas in 1944 when he defeated Senator Randolph Burke in the first general election held under adult suffrage in December 1944. He was appointed Jamaica’s first Minister of Education (1945) when he became one of the first five elected members (comprising the nation’s first Ministers in embryo) appointed to the Executive Council – as established by the new constitution.
He also served as Member of the Executive Council (Education) 1945-1949, Advisory Board Jamaica School of Agriculture, School Board St. Thomas 1945-1946, Jamaica Schools’ Commission 1945-1946, House Committee on Agriculture 1944, Jamaica Union of Teachers, Secretary of the Morant Bay Teachers’ Association and Secretary, Seaforth Branch Jamaica Agriculture Society, and Headmaster of several schools including Unity School, Westmoreland; Mount Vernon School, St. Thomas and Seaforth School, St. Thomas. He died in Princess Margaret Hospital, Morant Bay in 1963 at the age of 63.
THE EDUCATION SYSTEM
The structure of education in Jamaican has gone through several stages of development over the years. The former education system was established in an agrarian society, intended to maintain and reinforce a social structure characterised by a small white elite and a largely black labouring class, however it has now evolved into an Industrial and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Age. This has contributed to shaping a system which is dynamic in nature, preparing students who are literate and numerate, realise and explore their full potential, whilst responding to national and global demands.
The Education Act of 1965 further regulated the system “….to meet the needs for greater self-financing capability, a better definition of Jamaica’s educational goals and the expansion of the system to meet both individual and national needs" Thus, four educational levels were defined: Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Further development in the system saw it evolving not only in terms of its structure but also in terms of its management and performance.
Early Childhood Level
Early Childhood education is offered in public and private institutions to children between the ages of 3-5 years of age. In the public sector, Early Childhood education is provided in Infant Schools and Infant departments of some Primary level schools. Nursery and Kindergarten departments of Independent Preparatory (private primary) schools also accept students at age 3. Independent/Private schools are largely confined to the main urban centres. In addition, there are a number of community operated Basic schools. These cater to the largest number of students at the Early Childhood level. Basic schools which meet certain minimum requirements are eligible for government subsidies and are called Recognised Basic Schools. Students at the Early Childhood level sit the Grade One Individual Learning Profile (GOILP) to ascertain their capabilities and mastery of the skills and concepts taught at the Early Childhood level, so that strategies can be developed to advance their learning.
The Early Childhood Commission, an agency of the MoE, is now solely responsible for the regulation and supervision of Basic Schools and the training of Early Childhood practitioners.
Primary education is offered in Grades 1-6 of Primary, Primary and Junior High, and All-Age schools. It is also offered in Grades 1-6 of Preparatory schools. Students are admitted to Primary level educational institutions at age 6. Primary schools are therefore designated feeder schools to all High schools. At the end of Grade 6 students in Primary level schools may sit the Grade Six Achievement Examination (GSAT) in order to gain admission to high schools.
The GSAT replaced the Common Entrance Examination in 1999. It is the assessment instrument that is used by the Ministry of Education to place students in Grade Seven of High Schools. The test is administered annually during March. The GSAT is a part of the National Assessment Programme, which assesses performance of students at the Primary level. Other components of this National Assessment Programme are the Grade One Individual Learning Profile, the Grade Three Diagnostic Test and the Grade Four Literacy Test.
Based on the grades students gain in the test they are placed into High schools or the Secondary department of All Age and Primary and Junior High Schools. At the All Age and Junior High Schools they can continue to Grades 7, 8 or 9, where they are allowed to sit the Technical Entrance Examination (in grade 8) for entry to Technical schools, and the Grade Nine Achievement Test (in Grade 9) to other types of High schools. These will give students another opportunity to gain entrance into the High school they desire to attend.
The Secondary or High school system consists of two cycles. The first cycle commences in Grades 7-9 of All Age, Primary and Junior High schools, and High schools, including Technical High and Independent/Private High schools.
The second cycle is provided in Grades 10 and 11 of these schools (with the exception of All Age and Primary and Junior High schools) and in the Agricultural, Technical and Vocational schools. At the end of Grade 11 students sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, administered by the Caribbean Examinations Councils (CXC). Some High schools have a continuing education programme, provided under the Career Advancement Programme and the Sixth Form/Pre-university programme (Grades 12 and 13) where students are prepared for entry to tertiary institutions. Students who are in Sixth Form sit the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) at the end of Grades 12 and 13.
Tertiary education is offered in a variety of public and private institutions differing in history, mission, philosophy, and to a lesser extent, in programmes and structure. These institutions possess varying degrees of autonomy. These institutions may be further divided into those which are founded and established in Jamaica, and those that are offshore institutions. The offshore institutions main campuses are located outside of Jamaica, but they offer programmes through their campuses, and departments located in Jamaica. All tertiary institutions were established in response to educational needs at different times and offer not only degrees, but certificates and diplomas. The main accreditation body for tertiary institutions and their programmes is the University Council of Jamaica.
STRUCTURE (MoE Organisational Chart)
The Ministry of Education executes the Government’s mandate of ensuring a system which secures quality education and training for all persons in Jamaica in order to optimize individual and national development. As such, the Ministry of Education is the driving force for change, growth and development in education, providing the legislative framework, policies, strategies, plans, and resources to enable institutions, agencies and other bodies to achieve their agreed mandates.
The Ministry is guided by the Philosophy ‘Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn’, the Vision, ‘A customer- centred, performance oriented education system producing globally competitive, socially conscious Jamaican citizens’ and a Mission ‘to provide strategic leadership and policy direction for quality education for all Jamaicans to maximize their potential, contribute to national development and compete effectively in the global economy’, as it pursues its developmental goals for the nation .
The Ministry is headed by the Honourable Minister of Education who has the ultimate policy responsibility and authority for the development of education for the Jamaican citizens. Assisting and reporting directly to the Minister is the Permanent Secretary who is the accountable officer, with responsibility for the daily operations of the Ministry in carrying out its mandate. The Permanent Secretary is supported by a Chief Education Officer (CEO) and several Divisional Heads. The Organisational Chart below outlines the structure of the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education’s executive consists of:
- Honourable Ronald Thwaites, M.P, Minister of Education
- Mrs. Elaine Foster-Allen, Permanent Secretary
- Mrs. Grace McLean, Chief Education Officer