Characteristics of music education programs in public schools of Jamaica
The purpose of this study was to assess the characteristics of music education in Jamaican public schools and to investigate possible inequalities in access to music education programs based on school level, school locale, and school enrollment. A questionnaire, gathering information on a broad range of educational factors related to the music programs and music teachers was sent to the 977 public schools in the country. Of the 320 schools that replied, 105 offered music programs. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 25 selected music teachers from schools with music programs. Schools were classified as elementary or secondary, rural or urban, and small or large. Music programs existed in approximately a third of public schools in Jamaica, mainly in secondary, urban, and large schools. Teachers in these groups were predominantly male and music specialists, while teachers in elementary, rural, and small schools were mainly classroom teachers, female, and had been teaching for significantly longer than their counterparts. Approximately 10% of teachers providing music instruction reported not having any formal training in music. Secondary, urban, and large schools had more choral programs and entered a higher number of pieces in competitions than their counterparts. Music examinations of the Caribbean Examination Council were done in only a few secondary schools and most students were successful. Respondents generally considered resources and facilities for music programs inadequate, and viewed colleagues, administration and parents as being supportive of music programs, but considered the national government to be unsupportive. Most teachers had not encountered students with disabilities in their music classes. This study is timely within the context of current initiatives in education in the country such as the Reform of Secondary Education program and the report by the Task Force on Educational Reform in Education. It is hoped that deficiencies will be addressed to continue the long tradition of a vibrant music culture in Jamaica, and to ensure access to high quality music programs for every child.