Statistics from the Ministry of Education have revealed the low number of students actually sitting the two core subjects, mathematics and English, after completing five years in public secondary schools.
Over the last five years, an estimated 350,000 Jamaican candidates have been registered for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.
However, only 111,436 of these students were entered for CSEC math, while 128,704 sat the English exam between 2009 and 2013 from public secondary schools.
The data also showed that only 40 per cent of this number entering mathematics attained grades one to three, with the highest number of passes, 9,661, being recorded this year.
Students who sat the English exams are faring better. Sixty two per cent of those sitting the exams over the last five years have earned a passing grade. In 2010, the highest number of students passed English - 17,214.
However, on close examination, the data exposed an alarming picture of how badly Jamaican students are performing in the foundation subjects. Only 13 per cent of the estimated 350,000 registered to sit the exams over the last five years have a passing grade in mathematics compared to a relatively better figure of 23 per cent in English.
This means that only 44,325 pupils have acquired a passing grade in mathematics and 79,890 have passed English from the public school system in the last five years.