Task Force Report on

Educational Reform






Presented to the

Most Honourable Prime Minister

by Dr. Rae Davis, Chairman

September 2004



Executive Summary


In February 2004, the Most Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica appointed a

14-member Task Force on Educational Reform to prepare and present an action

plan consistent with a vision for the creation of a world-class education system

which will generate the human capital and produce the skills necessary for

Jamaican citizens to compete in the global economy.


This document is the Report of the Task Force and addresses:


·        2010 performance targets

·        The state of education in Jamaica

·        The contextual framework for transforming education

·        Key issues affecting the realisation of the vision for education and recommendations to address these issues

·        Short, Medium and Long Term Action Plans

·        The financial investment required to implement the recommendations

and to achieve the vision.


Performance Targets for Education

One early outcome of our review process was the determination of performance

targets for education in light of the recently articulated and validated “Shared

National Vision for Education.” These targets were developed in a collaborative

process between the National Task Force on Educational Reform and the

Transformation of Education Steering Team. There is no one recommendation in

this report that will achieve any one of these targets; rather it is the synergy of

focused implementation of all of these recommendations that will achieve

success. Table 1 outlines the objectives, measures and targets to be achieved

by the year 2015.



Table 1. Performance Targets for Educationalre 2010 Target





To attain high levels of educational outcomes

Percent of students achieving mastery in all 4 areas of Grade 1 Readiness Inventory


Percent of students achieving mastery at Grade 4 Literacy Test


National mean score at GSAT for each subject


Percent of cohort attaining Grade 1-3 in 5 subjects including English and Mathematics


To have learners realising their potential

Percent of primary schools providing at least 4 co-curricula activities


Percent of secondary schools providing at least 8 co-curricula activities


Percent of students in at least 2 co-curricular activities (1 of which must be community service)




The State of Education in Jamaica

The education system caters to approximately 800,000 students in public and

private institutions at the early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Over 22,000 teachers are employed in 1,000 public institutions. Only 20% of

teachers are trained university graduates. The Government currently spends over $30 billion on education, with households estimated to spend an additional $19 billion.


Despite high enrolment rates, significant curriculum reform and other efforts,

performance at all levels of the system has been well below target as measured

by student scores on national and regional assessments and performance in

relation to the critical minimum targets set out in the White Paper of February




The Contextual Framework for Transforming Education

The mandate given to the Task Force by the Most Honourable Prime Minister

comes at a time of convergence of a number of compelling factors:


1. In October 2003, members of the House of Representatives unanimously

committed to a significant increase in the allocation of public funds to

education over the next 5 years.


2. The 2015 Social Policy articulates a vision for Jamaica in 2015 which sees:

A prosperous and dynamic Jamaica which upholds the fulfilment of

human rights, dignity for all persons, and builds continual social

progress based on shared values and principles of partnerships.

Minds are transformed and extraordinary results are produced in this

the most caring and secure country in the Americas, where

individuals fulfil their potential, are in control of their destiny, take

responsibility for their lives and work always for the larger good”.

The Key Outcome Goal for Education is “an education which facilitates lifelong learning and acquisition of social and life skills for all”


3. The recent conclusion of a 4-month process of islandwide consultations to

develop, articulate and validate the National Shared Vision for Education

in Jamaica. “Each learner will maximise 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 be equitable and accessible with

full attendance to Grade 11. Accountability, transparency and

performance are the hallmarks of a system that is excellent,

self-sustaining and resourced and welcomes full stakeholder

participation. The system produces full literacy and

numeracy, a globally competitive, quality workforce and a

disciplined, culturally aware and ethical Jamaican citizenry”.


4. The ambitious and aggressive education transformation plans set and being

implemented globally and in particular by many of Jamaica’s trading partners.



Key Issues and Recommendations

We, the Task Force, examined the Key Issues affecting the achievement of the

National Shared Vision for Education under four broad headings, and made

recommendations for implementation in the short, medium and long term:


1. Governance and Management of the Education System

2. Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Support

3. Full Stakeholder Participation in the Education System

4. Finance



Governance and Management of the Education System

We believe that accountability for performance is a fundamental issue at all

levels of the system. We are therefore recommending a new model for

governance where students are at the centre of the system and every institution

is focused on, and held accountable for, serving the students. This will require,

among other things, a restructuring of the Ministry of Education Youth and

Culture to become a policy ministry, which is in keeping with the general thrust of

the Public Sector Modernisation Programme.


School leaders and managers will have the responsibility for how institutions are

managed. They will also be held accountable for students’ achievements

through a performance-based management system. It is important that proper

support and controls be provided to the institutions and we are recommending

that this be done through the Regional Education Authorities and a National

Education Quality Assurance Authority. As much as possible, these “new”

institutions should build on existing institutions in the education system.

Over 22,000 teachers delivering the national curricula at the primary and

secondary levels support the public education system. We have addressed and

made recommendations for the type of leadership teachers require; at their

schools, changes to their terms and conditions of service, in particular, how

vacation leave is structured, their ongoing professional development through a

licensing regime, and a performance-based management system. Most

importantly, we recommend that all teachers should have a first degree.



Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Support

We have addressed a plethora of issues in curriculum, teaching and learning

support – curriculum, teachers, school capacity and state, health and nutrition,

special needs (both the gifted and challenged). However, we believe that the

most pressing issue is the chronic underachievement of the system in terms of

the large number of students performing well below their grade level. We are

recommending an immediate national remediation programme with the objective

of bringing all students up to their age appropriate grade level in the shortest

possible time. A key component over the long term is to extend the length of the

schooling experience from 11 to 13 years (Kindergarten to Grade 12).


Anti-social and violent behaviour is a social phenomenon, which has permeated

all sectors of society, and the school is no exception. To address this serious

issue in schools we recommend a citizenship education programme - which will

focus on values and attitudes, character education, patriotism and service -

greater support at the school level in terms of social workers, parental

involvement and co-curricular activities and improvements in the physical



Much effort, largely supported by external donor funding, has been expended on

curriculum development at the primary and secondary levels, with a new

curriculum currently being developed for the early childhood level. It is important

that these efforts are expedited and that all support in terms of training and

materials be given.


The system of national and regional assessment has the potential to track and

evaluate students’ learning from Grade 1 through to Grade 13. However, results

seem to be used mainly for placement. We are recommending a rationalisation

of these assessments for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Also, we believe

that parents must get detailed reports on their children’s’ performance at every

stage, and to this end, we recommend a standardised transferable record of

student achievement as well as the reporting of national assessment results

directly to them.


To ensure universal access to education, schools must be located relative to the

population distribution, the school bus service should be expanded Islandwide

and private investment in education must be encouraged.


School capacity and the state of the physical plant require rationalisation,

upgrading and expansion to internationally accepted standards with the needs of

learners at the core.


Students’ learning is compromised if their health and nutritional needs are not

met. Nutritional support and health care must be provided directly to students in

need and this can best be done through alliances with other ministries of



The extent of special needs children – both gifted and challenged – is not known

and so the first step is to embark on a “child find”. Both the gifted and challenged

require special treatment, and so teachers, instructional material and other

support must be provided.



Full Stakeholder Participation in the Education System

While it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the provision of a quality education

for all citizens, we recognise that there is a network of stakeholders who play

various important roles in the delivery of education. We examined and made

recommendations for much greater involvement of parents and the students

themselves. Critical considerations here are the sharing of information about

children’s performance and their parents’ involvement in decision-making.




The 2004-05 Government’s Education budget is $30.2 billion. This is

supplemented by other Government expenditure such as deferred financing for

school building and funding from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) as

well as the CHASE Fund. There is substantial private investment in education

from households and institutions, particularly the Church.


Based on the recommendations to achieve the National Shared Vision for

Education in Jamaica, an additional $219 billion is required over the next 10

years (an increase of 73% or approximately $22 billion increase per year), of

which $58.7 billion is for capital and $160.6 billion is for expenditure.


The substantial increase in resources required cannot be provided solely by the

State. Other stakeholders, particularly students, parents and private bodies such

as churches, must supplement the increase in the state’s budgetary allocation.

There is a growing view that investment in education is most efficiently allocated

using students as the focus rather than institutions. It is to this end that the Task

Force is recommending that Government fund students to a fixed amount at

whatever school they choose while providing the policy and quality support to

ensure proper operation and accountability for performance at all institutions.




We are recommending the immediate appointment of a Transformation Team for

a period of 3 years to lead the restructuring and transformation of the education

sector. This team will be a dedicated group of professionals working full time at

implementing the changes, while the schools, Ministry and other institutions

continue to provide critical service.




The Task Force, after much deliberation, is convinced that these recommendations if implemented within the time frames specified in the Action

Plans, will result in the level of transformation needed for Jamaica to produce “a

globally competitive, quality workforce and a disciplined, culturally aware and

ethical Jamaican citizenry”.