The Jamaican High School System, contributed by Tracie Blake
Gaining an education is vital in every person’s life. Outside of preparing one for the working world, or to be able to provide for one’s needs, an education provides us with important life skills, awareness and knowledge, which is very necessary for survival.
All that starts with identifying a career path, and it is at the high school- for the most part, where that first decision is made. There, the student is placed in classes that are aligned to their career direction, although sometimes it is based on results of prior examinations.
The High School our student are placed in is dependent on how well they perform in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), previously the common entrance examinations.
These are broken down into 2 categories namely Traditional and Non-Traditional High Schools. The better performers in the GSAT examinations usually end up in the Traditional highs. Excellent performers are awarded with various scholarships in the highly recognized high schools.
And by the way, there are many scholarships nowadays.
Excellent performance in High Schools also allows students an opportunity to gain scholarships to Colleges and Universities, both locally and abroad.
There is usually a strict dress code for all Jamaican High Schools. That is, all students are required to wear a uniform which is designed (style and material) by the School’s Committee. This custom, by the way, is not just for high schools but is also a requirement as early as kindergarten and all the way up to college; Montego Bay Community College comes to mind.
Typically students enter at age 12 and stay until age 17, but there are some traditional high schools which allows students the opportunity to stay an extra year or two and receive introductory College subjects. These are usually the A’ levels.
Many of our traditional high schools have strong Alumni that play an active role in the schools operations. This includes charity work, sponsorships, compilation of school songs, and of course the planning of reunions.
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