Task Force Report on
Most Honourable Prime Minister
by Dr. Rae Davis, Chairman
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
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”.