JAMAKIN ME SMART, Incorporated
Jamaica is an island nation within the Caribbean Sea. Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes, which are grouped into three historic counties, Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey County. It is the third most populous English speaking country in North America, after the United States and Canada. The emancipation of the slaves in Jamaica on August 1, 1838 heralded the establishment of the Jamaican education system for the masses. Prior to emancipation, there were few schools for educating locals. Many sent their children off to England to access quality education.
After emancipation the West Indian Commission granted a sum of money to establish Elementary Schools, now known as “All Age Schools”. Most of these schools were established by the churches. This was the genesis of the modern Jamaican school system. Currently, there are four categories of schooling that exist. Basic school, which is for infants and children at the pre-school stage. Primary school, which is the equivalent of elementary school in the United States. Secondary, which is highschool. And tertiary, which are for those at the college/university level.
Although Jamaica is known to many as a luxurious tourist location, the cost of living is very high and after the primary school level of education there are no forms of public high schooling. All students are required to pay their school fees each term, which can be quite costly. The school supplies available in Jamaica are very limited compared to the United States and are very expensive. Growing up, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend summers in Jamaica visiting my family and growing with my cousins and peers within the community. The older that I became, the more cognizant I was of the disparity that exists in Jamaica. School shopping with my cousins was not like school shopping in the states. School shopping was a much bigger task and only supplies that were absolutely necessary could be purchased, as my aunts and uncles had spent months saving for it. Compared to my school shopping where every year I would purchase in excess; getting notebooks in every color, back packs to match outfits, markers, colored pencils and crayons. I realized around age 17 that there was a big difference and that it was a difference that I wanted to change.