The Overseas Examinations Commission (OEC) originated from the Cambridge Local Examinations Committee (CLEC), and was founded 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.