Prisms of Possibility (Jamaica)

Jamaicans have long been concerned about investment in and the equity of the education sector. Yet, contrary to popular belief, the problem is not solely about money. Between 2005 and 2010, public investment in education as a percent of GDP increased from 5.3 to 6.1 percent, more than the average for developed countries (5.2%). Most of Jamaica’s children attend school at least through lower secondary, and the country has a robust assessment system, which incorporates both national and school-based assessment. However, low test scores at all levels of the Jamaican education system suggest that there are gaps in the system that negatively impact the learning outcomes of many students. Poor children are particularly ill-served. Children in prep schools—privately run primary level institutions usually attended by children from upper socio-economic groups —outperform their counterparts in the public school system in all five Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) subjects, sometimes by as much as 30 percentage points. Approximately  90% of the poorest persons have no secondary or post-secondary certification compared with only 56% of the wealthiest.

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