15 Things to Know About School in Jamaica

In the Jamaican school system, there are distinct differences in everything from terminology to the length of summer vacation. Before attending school in Jamaica, individuals should familiarize themselves with those differences prior to the first day to ensure a smooth transition.

1. The Jamaican academic year runs from Sept.-July, with some local variations. The Education Regulations in Jamaica mandates a minimum of 195 days of school instruction.

2. Primary school is mandatory beginning at age 6. Students typically complete primary school at the age of 12.

3. Primary education is free and so are textbooks.

4. The curriculum in Jamaican textbooks represent the cultural and historical development of Jamaica and Jamaican children.

5. Class instruction is in English.

6. Students in Jamaica wear school uniforms.

7. Until Jamaica’s independence, the school year mirrored that of Great Britain.

8. Secondary education comes with costs for learning materials, registration, exam fees and school maintenance. There is a book rental program available.

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9. Secondary school is divided into two cycles. The first cycle encompasses grades 7 and 8. The second cycle is grades 9 to 11. A third cycle for grades 12 and 13 is for students that want to pursue higher education.

10. Summer vacation lasts about 8 weeks.

11. There are 3 terms within the school year – autumn, spring and summer. Each term is divided into half terms. The autumn term is from early Sept. to mid-Dec. with the half term falling in late Oct. The spring term runs from early Jan. to Easter, with the half term mark falling in mid-Feb.

12. Major Exams grading is based on proficiency, performed on a scale of 1 to 6, and up to a 7 for A-level work.

13. School begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 2-2:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

14. Daily homework is common, even in Grade 1.

15. Children age 4-18 years old that have a physical, mental or intellectual disability receive special education services at government-run and government-aided schools. Vocational training is provided for those with disabilities by private organizations and NGOs.

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