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What Is The Literacy Rate In Jamaica? This Might Shock You!

what is the level of literacy rate in Jamaica -careers_day_at_jamaican_primary_school_springfield_all_age_students
Answered by Tracie Shortridge || June 5, 2018

Literacy has always been (and will remain) a major achievement for persons (individually) and countries (collectively) across the globe.

As an individual, it is such a proud and beautiful thing to be literate as it provides unlimited potential opportunities. But what exactly does it mean to be literate?

The Meaning Of Literacy

In general, being literate simply means the ability to read and write. How well one reads and writes is another topic altogether though… laugh with me!

But I digress, lets refer back to your question directly and discuss the literacy rate in Jamaica.


We start school at age 2 or 3 with Pre-School. At this stage, we are taught identification, recognition and use of letters, numbers, shapes, colours and the mastery of the cognitive skills of being able to feed ourselves, socialize with other children in our age group and comprehending instructions.

Pre-School’s success is celebrated with a graduation exercise which moves us into kindergarten where we are taught the basic complexities of language arts and mathematical skills.

the literacy rate in jamaica -kids at junction eci

what is the literacy rate in Jamaica - Junction ECI

This is what is seen as the foundation and prelude to Secondary or High School and is dubbed “Primary Education”.

Primary School

Once we have mastered pre-school and kindergarten, we are now ready for Primary School.

With there being varying levels of wealth in Jamaica, parents who can afford it, may opt to send their children to private schools.

But, in general the public schools are available and quite proficient in teaching the knowledge and skills the children need to move forward.

The curriculum is the same in both school categories so whether I attended public school or private school, the education base is primary.

At this stage, we are exposed deeper into reading, writing and arithmetic. Primary School is where our parents push us to really excel because this stage in our education will show how we will be able to progress.

literarcy rate in jamaica

With school enrollment being 96% at this stage of education, ultimately, if we are not literate at this stage, it becomes an uphill battle to become literate and thereby excel by the time we reach High School.

High School

So I have managed to make it through pre-school, primary school and now I am in High School which is dubbed “Secondary Education”.

At this stage of education, it is ascertained whether we are able to forge forward into the world of work and a career. Typically, this stage will have us thinking about whether we are going to become doctors, lawyers, agriculturists, phlebotomists etc.

So, after an average of 96% of enrollments in primary education, we have an average of 88% of students that actually finish and successfully graduate from High School in a state of literacy.

Overall Literacy In Jamaica

The most recent survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) showed that Jamaica’s literacy rate is... an impressive 89% overall.

The male literacy rate came out at 84% and the female at 93%. This puts us second to Italy who is the highest in the world at 99%!

As a Jamaican, I must say, I am extremely proud of where we are in literacy, yes, as a third world country!

But to know that we can rank with the best in the world in literacy, is indeed a pleasurable feat.

Well done Jamaica!

By the way, be sure to also read our articles on the education system in Jamaica and the ranking of Jamaica's best high schools.

Sources Cited:

  • Statistical Institute Of Jamaica -
  • Ministry of Education -
  • The Early Childhood Commission -
  • Unicef -

Comments for What Is The Literacy Rate In Jamaica? This Might Shock You!

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May 19, 2019
by: Anonymous

The article has made an error in reporting Jamaica as second behind Italy in this category. Italy is not even first. And there are several nations ahead, including other Caribbean islands. I'm surprised you have highlighted Jamaica's relatively low figure of 89% as positive.

As well, even with that 89% figure, Jamaicans are barely reading at advanced levels as a collective relatively speaking.

Jun 05, 2018
by: Anonymous

I am impressed! Way to go Jamaica.

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