Things to check out for.
1. Are you using servlet 2.4 spec (you can make it out from your dtd/schema reference in your web.xml). For servlet 2.3, EL is ignored by default.
Quick fix- add <%@page isELIgnored = "false"%> in your jsp. Better option is to upgrade your app to 2.4
Change your web.xml to refer to the 2.4 schema
2. Are you using the right jars for JSTL 1.1 (Jakarta Standard Taglibs 1.1.2) ?
3. Are you referring to the jstl 1.1 tld in your jsps. The jar files have the 1.0 and the 1.1 tlds and class files. You should
have this in your jsps.