Primary Education in Jamaica: From Common Entrance to GSAT to PEP

According to Martin Henry:

“A Norman Manley administration, with Florizel Glasspole as minister of education, introduced the CEE in 1958, which offered an unprecedented 2,000 free places in high schools each year. Prior to the CEE, the majority of high-school students were the fee-paying children of the well-to-do, with only a handful of parish scholarships available through which the bright poor could gain access. The CEE, an entrance examination pure and simple, offered merit-based scholarships to a far larger number of children, revolutionising access to secondary education.

“But the CEE soon hit major snags. While increasing the capacity of existing high schools, about 45 of them from colonial times, the Government did precious little to increase the number of schools. St Thomas, for instance, did not have even one high school before 1960. It soon became obvious that the children of the better off, benefiting from fee-paying private prep school education, were seriously outperforming children in government primary schools for scarce high-school places.

To rectify the problem, the Government of the 1960s, early into Independence, with Edwin Allen as minister of education, introduced the 70:30 ratio in favour of the far more numerous but more weakly performing primary-school students.”

Martin Henry’s ‘Education in Independence’
The Gleaner’s Newspaper Archives