History

Institute of Jamaica
Institute of Jamaica: Date Tree Hall, 1886, courtesy NLJ

Jamaican students first sat Cambridge Examinations in Jamaica on 17 December 1882 under the auspices of the Governors of the Institute of Jamaica. Boys wrote their examinations at the Collegiate School and girls at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ). The Overseas Examinations Commission began as a voluntary organization in November 10, 1887 to conduct Cambridge Examinations for 47 candidates which was regarded as a large number back in 1887.

The OEC originated from the Cambridge Local Examinations Committee (CLEC), which was founded in that year as the Jamaican agent of the British-based University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). As an agent of Cambridge, CLEC undertook the responsibility to ensure that schools that sat the Cambridge examinations were of a standard acceptable to Cambridge.

The Hon. Dr James Phillippo was the first Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica and he initiated the effort to introduce Cambridge Examinations in Jamaica. He was also the first Chairman of the Cambridge Local Examinations Committee (CLEC), which was established in 1887. The Secretary/Librarian of the IOJ, Mr H. Priest, was appointed and served as Secretary to the new Committee until 1889.