Jamaican Schools, by C. Holness
Jamaica prides itself in its educational system which has made great strides in the past several decades.
This to offer the island's young people a comprehensive learning programme that will strengthen and challenge their various thinking processes and prepare them for further training or joining the workforce.
The school system used in Jamaica is modelled after that of the United Kingdom and it is considered to be one of the best in the Caribbean.
It consists of compulsory education, namely Primary School and High School, as well as optional learning experiences such as Early Childhood Education and tertiary or skill-training programmes.
Each level of instruction does its part in providing children with the building blocks of knowledge needed to function strongly in an academic sense in today's society.
Although attending a Kindergarten, Preschool, or Basic School programme is not mandatory, it is highly recommended as it is important to their rudimentary learning and social development.
There are more than 2000 schools throughout the island which offer early childhood education for children between the ages of one and six.
It is here that children can begin to understand the world they live in, as concepts such as letters, numbers, colours, shapes, and topics like nature, pets, and weather are also introduced.
Its also a great opportunity for them to meet other children their own age and form their first friendships.
Children in Jamaica typically enter Primary School at the age of 5 or 6 where they will continue to explore the concepts initially introduced in Kindergarten at a more in-depth level.
Attendance in Primary School is considered compulsory, and children will continue to receive their education in this setting until the age of 11 or 12 when they complete the sixth grade.
The curriculum covers basic subject areas like maths, science, English, geography, and social sciences. It is during these years that certain assessment tests are administered to pupils in order to measure their progress.
In grade four, children are given a literacy and numeracy test and in sixth grade, the GSAT is written to evaluate their academic achievement in all major subject areas; the results from this important test will determine which high school the child will be placed in.
Beginning in the seventh grade students in the Jamaican schooling system move on to Secondary School also known as High School.
Here they will continue to advance in their learning, studying in further depth key subjects and also being exposed to some new subjects for the first time such as a foreign language.
High schools are typically divided into “Lower School” which includes all students in Forms 1-3 or Grades 7-9, and “Upper School” which consists of students in Forms 4 and 5 or Grades 10 and 11.
Students in the lower three grades will learn either French or Spanish and beginning in Grade 9, they will also begin to study science in separate modules of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Classes are often made up of students who perform at a similar academic level to each other.
In Grade 10 and 11, students select their own course electives from a wider range of subjects, with standards such as Maths and English being compulsory. At this stage students will also choose a more specific stream of study and concentrate on related coursework.
An optional “Sixth Form” which is equivalent to Grades 12 and 13, is also available in some schools to the students who have passed at least five subjects and have earned their CSEC, at the end of this two-year, university-prep programme, students may sit the A-Level CAPE examination. See High Schools In Jamaica
Upon graduation from Secondary School, students who have passed the CAPE examination with good results may apply to any of Jamaica's respected universities.
The most recognized and renowned tertiary institutions in the island are the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University, and University College of the Caribbean.
These respected schools offer a wide selection of professional programmes of study. Community colleges which do not grant degrees, offer diploma programmes in a variety of disciplines and provide successful graduates with another tertiary education option.
There are also a number of teacher's colleges throughout the island which prepare students for a career in education, and several skills training institute.
The most well-known of these being HEART (Human Employment and Resource Training) which provides hands-on learning and eventual certification in the skilled trades, hospitality, fashion, manufacturing, automotive repair, and others. See Colleges In Jamaica
So despite the economic challenges, Jamaican schools, and the wider education system in Jamaica has solid ground.
It is therefore no surprise that many international students (and colleges alike) desire to gain the Jamaican experience.
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