Jamaica on a Mission: Educational Policies and Student Outcomes in a "Post-Colonial" Attempt to Use School Reform to Advance National Development
By: Hazel Elizabeth Reid
Published: 5/20/2015
Uploaded: 03/12/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, 2015 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Historical Dissertations
Tags: educational policies, Jamaica, National Development, Post Colonial, school reform, Student Outcomes

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Description/Abstract: This dissertation presents results from my study of the extent to which Jamaica, a typical “post-colonial” nation in the Caribbean, achieved its 1962 “independence mission” to use school reform to advance multiple levels of national development. The study focuses on the Government’s attempt, in the context of major social changes, to use the school reform to overcome widespread under-development problems inherited from three centuries of British colonial exploitation (1655-1962). The school reform policies projected the goal to use education to remold the colonized people into empowered citizens, who would develop the skills needed to build a democratic society and a viable nation. The purpose of the study is to investigate the extent to which the government and student recipients of the educational provisions fulfilled their designated reciprocal obligations.

At the core of the research question is a complex of social and economic underdevelopment problems: popular “independence” aspirations for opportunities to thrive, the government’s “mission” to implement school reform, the policies of reciprocal obligation, Jamaica’s collaboration with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), and the influences of global agencies.

I applied mixed-method strategies grounded in anthropological perspectives. The study was done in three phases: a pilot (1984), the principal study (1986-1989), and an Epilogue covering events between 1990 and 2012. The main study was conducted in three urban, co-educational high schools in Jamaica over a total of 16 months between 1984 and 1989. My goal was to understand the outcomes of the school reform primarily from the perspectives of students. The largest sample size was approximately 400 students. The analysis explores relationships between policy-derived educational objectives, and student outcomes, to determine extents of dissonance or consonance in the goal-outcome relationships.

The findings indicate that Jamaica’s post-colonial attempt to use school reform to advance development resulted in some signs of consonance between policies and outcomes, but more significantly, in major trends toward dissonance. In my search for understanding of dissonance or consonance between the observed policies and outcomes, I identified intervening variables that influenced the students and the school reform from local to global dimensions. The most critical mediator, consistent with reports in the supporting literature, was access to school-support resources. The findings support the central argument in the study that any attempt to use school reform to overcome serious socio-economic problems, unless there are fundamental changes in the contextual social, economic and values systems, the results will show dominant trends toward dissonance between policies and outcomes.

The data for the Epilogue were collected at points between 1990 and 2012, the 50th Anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. The Epilogue focuses on major shifts in Jamaica’s educational policies under the influence of neo-globalization, and on long-range school reform outcomes from the perspectives of graduates of Jamaican high schools who were immigrants in metropolitan nations.