Failing Schools: Or, is it a failed philosophy of Education?

Research Article


  • Paul Andrew Bourne, Statistician Department of Quality Management and Institutional Research, Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica
  • Charlene Lee Sharpe, Associate Vice President Academic Administration, Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica.
  • Meric D. Walker, Executive Secretary East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Mandeville, Jamaica.
  • Ruth Edwards, Administrative Assistant Academic Administration, Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica.


Academic performance, educational paradigm, Jamaica, under-achievement, philosophy of education



The English-Speaking nations in the Caribbean’s educational system were designed from the British colonial educational philosophy. It covers an educational philosophy that dates back centuries to when metaphysics and idealism were the dominant paradigms.  The British had instituted the grammar educational system in which the teacher was the sole repository of knowledge and the students were mere vessels. This was because the dominant philosophy that frames the educational system was metaphysics in which there was an absolute reality or absolute truth.  The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (1991) found that in 1991 65.0% of Jamaicans have at most primary level education, with 94.5% having at most secondary level education. One decade later (2001), the Statistical Institute of Jamaica published that 70% of children in primary and all-age schools were literate. To summarize the contemporary educational dilemma in Jamaica, a national probability cross-sectional study carried out by a group of Caribbean scholars in 2007 found that 32.9% of Jamaicans had at most primary level education and 81.6% with at most secondary education.  Like the general citizenry, the Jamaican Ministry of Education (2013) has joined in the call for the immediate improvement in the academic performance of students in Jamaica, particularly in the area of mathematics because of the substandard performance of pupils. In an article written by Gleaner reporter Graham (2012), he stated that Holy Trinity High School in Kingston had an uphill task to bring the below-par students who entered its gates to the level where they should have been when they left. Teachers at the secondary schools had to be teaching lower-level primary school work because some of the students who entered its grade seven were "not smarter than a seven-year-old". The Principal added that a quarter of the children who entered grade seven at Holy Trinity High School last September were reading at the grade-three level. The reality is, the Jamaican educational system has failed its citizenry and there is no denying that the present-past educational philosophy is ineffective and there must be a fundamental philosophical change with immediacy.

Author Biographies

Meric D. Walker, Executive Secretary, East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Mandeville, Jamaica.

Ruth Edwards, Administrative Assistant, Academic Administration, Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica.

Ruth Edwards, Administrative Assistant, Academic Administration, Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica.




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