The comprehensive high school in Jamaica
Lindsay, Audrey Eloise
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After WWII, as countries of Europe sought to rebuild their economies, many abandoned their elitist secondary school systems in favor of the democratic comprehensive high school model. Yet, even as these countries adopted a model created in the United States, critics at home cried for its demise. While a great deal has been written about the adoption of the comprehensive high school in developed countries, scant attention has been paid to its embrace and sometime rejection by developing states as they sought to replace their secondary systems with a more democratic one.|The study traced the development of the comprehensive high school in a small state, Jamaica. It examined the factors that led to the recognition of the comprehensive school as an appropriate model for the country, the sources of support and opposition to the model, the impact of social and political forces on the policy process, the extent of implementation of the model, and the future possibilities for the model in the Jamaican secondary school system. The roles of actors in the various arenas of policy making were examined. The introduction of the model immediately after the Jamaica's independence from Britain was contrasted with the more recent Reform of Secondary Education (ROSE) initiative.|The decision to break with the tradition of borrowing educational programs from the past and imposing them on current school populations, by instead tailoring the model to the needs of the local situation, appears to have contributed to successful implementation of the comprehensive high school in Jamaica. The findings of the study also revealed that stakeholder inclusion at all stages in the policy process enabled implementation. Further, changes in the political arena led to a spirit of cooperation between political parties in regard to educational policy matters. These factors have resulted in a lower secondary system that is almost fully comprehensive. All indications are that the project being piloted at the upper secondary level will be successful.