VOLUME 10 No. 2
QUARTER R 1
ii L- ,r
VOL. 10. No. 2
Editorial Comments and Notes 1
THE CIVIL SERVICE OF BRITISH GUIANA
IN THE GENERAL STRIKE OF 1963
B. A. N. Collins .... 3
COMMENTARY: 'CRISIS' IN THE WEST INDIAN
George Beckford 16
DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE GUIDED EDUCATIONAL POLICY
IN THE WEST INDIES. NO. 6
EDUCATION COMMISSION REPORT, TRINIDAD, 1916.
Shirley C. Gordon 19
THE NEGRO SLAVE
Earl Augustus and Walter Rodney 40
(1) Eric Williams, British Historians and the West Indies,
Elsa V. Goveia 48
(ii) Hugh Foot, A Start in Freedom; James Pope-Hennessy,
Verandah, B. A. N. Collins .... 55
BOOK LIST .... .... ... 59
NOTE ON MANUSCRIPTS
MSS. and Communications should be addressed to the Editor. Unsolicited MSS.
which are not accepted for publication will be returned if accompanied by a stamped
Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
Editorial Comment and Notes
THE GENERAL strike in British Guiana in 1963 was something
new to the British Caribbean, a strike directed against government
policy and against the political party in power. One of the features
of the strike was the part played In it by established civil servants.
Bertram Collins who was then in British Guiana as the Resident
Tutor, Department of Extra-Mural Studies, has contributed an account
of the role of the civil servants during the strike and the effect of
their activity on the traditional relations between ministers of state
and civil servants.
We welcome a new contributor to this journal. Our commentary
in this issue is written by George Beckford of the Department of
Economics and his subject is the current concern of banana producers
in Jamaica and the Windwards over their future prospects in the U.K.
We now publish the sixth of the documents which Shirley Gordon
has selected to illuminate official policy on education in the West
Indies, 1835; Vol. 8 No. 4 and Vol. 9 No. 1, the Keenan Report, Trini-
dad, 1869; Vol. 9 No. 3, the Mitchinson Report, Barbados, 1875; Vol.
9 No. 4, Report of the Juvenile Population, Jamaica, 1879; Vol. 10
No. 1, the Lumb Report, Jamaica, 1898.
Two recent graduates of our University have jointly contributed
to an article on Negro Slavery which expresses views that are not new
but which are, we think, not sufficiently known to the general reader.
The books we review concern men who have each made a con-
siderable name for themselves directing public affairs in the West
Indies. We need say nothing to our readers about the Prime Minister
of Trinidad and Tobago; nor about Sir Hugh Foot, except perhaps he
now is called Lord Caradon of St. Cleer. Sir John Pope-Henessy is
somewhat removed from them in time and we should claim also
inferior to them in political skill. Very probably no one could have
sold federation to the Barbadian planters in 1876, so perhaps it does
not matter that the enterprise of federating the Windwards and
Barbados was entrusted to a man who delighted In provoking the
wrath of colonial estate owners.
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
B. A. N. Collins, Dept. of Government, University of the West Indies.
George Beckford, Dept. of Economics, University of the West Indies.
Shirley Gordon, Dept. of Education, University of the West Indies.
Walter Rodney, Postgraduate Student in History, S.O.A.S., University
Earl Augustus, Asst. Master, Emergency Training College, Trinidad.
Elsa Govela, Dept. of History, University of the West Indies.
The Civil Service of British Guiana
in the General Strike of 1963.
THE LONGEST general strike in Commonwealth history began in
British Guiana on April 20, 1963 and lasted 80 days. The strike attract-
ed world-wide attention because of the racial, political and ideological
circumstances which transcended the original industrial dispute. A
most extraordinary feature of the crisis was the part played by the
British Guiana Civil Service. Indeed the experience of the local civil
servants illustrated the whole strike situation, and may prove particu-
larly significant to scholars and practitioners of public administration
In new states.
Older members of the B.G. Civil Service had witnessed, in only eight
years, four changes In the constitution, before the present system of
full internal self-government came into effect on July 18, 1961. 1 As in
other colonies In progress to independence it was to be expected that
the local Civil Service would help make self-government work by offer-
ing to the new ministers their devoted service, their habits of order, of
rationality (In the sense of weighing evidence before action), and of
efficiency (by devising economic means to attain chosen ends). This
qualifying period of self-government was also expected to end shortly
with full independence. But British Guiana's first two years of internal
self-government were marked by two Civil Service strikes, which
occurred during major political and industrial crises. Indeed, the
process of decolonisation as well as the progress of economic develop-
ment were virtually halted by the serious political and social divisions
that affected, among other things, the work of the personnel of the
It was clear from the elections of 1961, and indeed even earlier,
that the country's most serious problem would be political and com-
munal conflict between the East Indian and Negro citizens who make
up much the larger part of the country's population. 2 In general the
former support the People's Progressive Party of the Indian Dr. Jagan,
whose appeal is primarily ideological (the party is extreme left-wing);
but, in effect if not intent, its attraction is a racial one. The P.P.P.
assures economic opportunity and social place to the Indians, who,
though largest in numbers, still retain their historical minority group
sense of oppression and exclusion. The chief opposition party, the
People's National Congress, is distinguished from the P.P.P. not so much
by its programme (also socialist) but by its function as the representa-
tives of the Negroes, most of whom fear Indian domination, and many
of whom had considered themselves natural successors to the British
in power and place. The public services have been until recently
largely staffed by persons drawn from the African and Mixed sections
of the population, the latter section supporting, it would seem, chiefly
the right-wing United Force Party. 3 The extreme consequences of
this situation a P.P.P. government, served by a Civil Service drawn
from largely anti-P.P.P. elements in the society were seen in the
general strike of 1963, when as this paper will describe a large part of
the Civil Service joined in demonstrations against the government.
The first Civil Service strike had been threatened in the middle of
1959. The issue then was "Guianization", specifically the passing-over
for appointment of a Local acting Postmaster General, in favour of
an Englishman transferred from another colonial territory. A solution
to this particular problem was found, and the policy of Guianization
was reaffirmed. Indeed in May 1961 the Government issued a White
Paper, showing that "Guianization" had already proceeded to a remark-
able extent. 4 By the end of August 1961 there were only a handful of
expatriates employed in the public service, many of these being doctors
on contract. Such competition as there was for place was no longer
therefore between citizens and expatriates, but between local men of
different racial extraction. One direct consequence of the 1959 episode,
however, was the decision of the Civil Service Association to become a
Trade Union, and to seek affiliation with the Trade Union Council.
This it did on July 10, 1959.
The second strike threat did materialise. The C.S.A. called its
members out on the afternoon of February 12th, 1962, because of
Government's failure to implement leave and salary recommendations
made by the Guillebaud Commission. At the same time a strike was
called by the T.U.C. against some of the proposals of the controversial
1962 Budget. This first general strike ended abruptly four days later
when arsonists razed the business centre of Georgetown, and an
emergency had to be declared. The Government, bowing to popular
demand, amended its budget proposals. It appeased its Civil Service
by approving the Guillebaud proposals and granting them full pay for
the strike period, against leave due. The Civil Servants had gone on
strike explicitly because of discontent at the decline of their remunera-
tion relative to others in the society (a common enough complaint in
countries, new and old). What was particularly significant in this
episode, however, was that Civil Servants in B.G. had absented them-
selves from duty with Impunity, had set a precedent by receiving pay
for the period, and had demonstrated solidarity with the Trade Union
movement. Furthermore it was also certainly noted, by the T.U.C. and
opposition parties that strike action had all but toppled the elected
These things were remembered by all concerned when the great
general strike came a little over a year after. On Saturday, April 20,
1963, at a very largely attended meeting, members of the Civil Service
Association decided, in overwhelming majority, to obey a strike call
from the T.U.C. The strike was in protest against a Labour Relations
Bill introduced rather abruptly by Dr. Jagan's government which, the
T.U.C. feared, would allow the government to impose the unions of its
choice on workers. 5 The Bill was also viewed by employers as "unwork-
able" and likely to "endanger peaceful industrial relations."6 The
political opposition grasped this casus belli for it demonstrated the
power of anti-P.P.P. elements in the society to bring business, industries,
administration, communications in the capital and in a large part of
the countryside to a virtual halt. It seemed an opportunity to
embarrass, and, as some hoped, to cause the resignation of the govern-
The C.S.A. soon proved to be one of the most determined unions
in the T.U.C. Some of its officers were elected or co-opted into the
executive of the T.U.C. The all-important Relief and Supply Com-
mittee, which handled the finances of the operation, was headed by a
very senior official of the Service, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
One of the chief negotiators bargaining with the government was
another senior officer, the Comptroller of Customs and Excise, a former
Permanent Secretary to the Premier. The Ladies Auxiliary of the
T.U.C. received enthusiastic support from some mistresses at the
government-run high school in Georgetown. The rank and file mem-
bers of the C.S.A. obtained and distributed strike relief, organised
pickets, and brought powerful personal pressure to bear on those who
stayed at work. If it had been feared by blue-collar workers that
Civil Servants would prove faint-hearted comrades-in-arms, they were
soon reassured. The Civil Servants proved most resolute, and at rallies
sang with a will the Trade Union solidarity songs, which they had to
learn for the first time. The real test of their solidarity came a few
days after the call for strike action when the Governor, as head of
state acting on the advice of his Ministers, called upon them to return
to work. He warned in a dramatic broadcast that striking Civil
Servants were faced with dismissal, or with a loss of pensionable service
if re-employed after the strike was over. The Governor said he was
conscious of their distressing conflict of loyalties as trade unionists....
and as servants of the public. But "if a civil servant strikes, he is
thereby incurring a liability to have the arrangement between him and
the government under which he serves, brought to an end." 7 The
Civil Servants did not fear dismissal they were too numerous but
the risk of a "red-line" marking a break in service was a serious matter.
The Association summoned a general meeting for the next morning,
at the start-of-work hour of 8, and refusing to be intimidated mem-
bers decided unanimously that "the strike continues." Indeed, only a
few Civil Servants heeded the broadcast and returned to their offices.
Many of those who stayed at work from the beginning performed
magnificently under great personal pressure. Crash programmes for
importing, rationing and distributing foodstuffs and other necessaries
(some imported from Cuba in Russian ships) had to be instituted;
ingenious ways had to be devised to keep public services going. An
Emergency Commission of senior Civil Servants handled these affairs
at first. Then a Minister was appointed Competent Authority, and a
few senior Civil Servants were empowered to act in his name. The per-
formance of these men, often in the face of violent hostility from
former friends and colleagues, earned them, sometimes, the latter's
very grudging commendation. Essential services were always main-
tained, with the aid of skeleton crews obligingly permitted by the T.U.C.
In some Ministries the working Civil Servants were grossly overworked,
heads of departments doing their own clerical chores. In others, the
staff had only a few routine functions to perform, interrupted, diverted
or threatened by rather active "passive resisters" strikers and their
families who invaded government offices, and often had to be removed
with tear gas.
Who were these Civil Servants who remained at their desks during
eleven weeks of overwork in some instances, and abuse in nearly all
cases? These included the majority of very senior officials, who felt
that they could not leave their posts at a crisis time. The heads of all
communication services remained at their posts, with the responsibility
of safeguarding valuable government property, and maintaining at
least a necessary minimum of services. The Commissioner of Labour
and his Deputy remained to give counsel and to help conduct negotia-
tions between the Government, the strikers and the employers' asso-
ciation. The District Commissioners were sworn in as "Emergency
Commissioners," and performed the duties of the Competent Authority
in their areas. All the Permanent Secretaries remained at work, though
without many of their Principal Assistant Secretaries. Belcw this
level, however, a certain feature was evident. Though there was a good
number of conspicuous exceptions, it could be seen that in general
Indian public servants turned out to work, while non-Indians stayed
out. This conjunction of racial and political attitudes was an outstand-
ing feature of the general strike, and this could be observed in almost
every section of the public service. When for example It was announced
that the Government Training College (whose lecturers are Civil
Servants) was reopening after the Easter holidays with a skeleton staff,
people guessed, correctly as it turned out, that the two teachers who
would appear out of the eleven, would be the two Indian members of
staff. This pattern was repeated with variations in other government
schools. 8 Yet it is important to note that the many Indian strikers
included the Hindu leader who was then President of the C.S.A.
But apart from apparent ethnic solidarity in political attitudes
why did some Civil Servants stay at work, refusing to obey their Asso-
ciation's call, and in many cases resigning altogether from the C.SA. ?
Many viewed the strike as political rather than industrial, and wanted
no part in a political movement. Many felt as did the British Civil
Servants in the British General strike of 1926 that their duty was to
remain at work in order to advise and assist the Ministers of the elected
government; or at least to be in a position to offer that advice, or so
some said. The striking Civil Servants were quick to point out in reply
that quite a number of these loyalists had not failed to strike in 1962
when It was a question of salary that was involved.
One cannot unravel the complex of motives that influenced Civil
Servants in their decision. Certain hypotheses suggest themselves: A
Civil Servant who feels in high favour or who has recently been pro-
moted would be inclined to stay at work. A Civil Servant with a shaky
record may stay at work, in order to be restored to favour, and regain
opportunities of promotion. An office-holder of the C.S.A. would
hardly dare to face the obloquy of his colleagues and go to work. A
Civil Servant, acting temporarily in a high post may be reluctant to
risk not being confirmed In it. Another, dissatisfied with his own lack
of success on the job, is glad to drop it altogether, for a while at least.
The author could give apparent examples of each case. It was evident
that In certain cases political attitudes coloured the outlook of
non-strikers and strikers alike. Certainly ambitious Indian and Negro
officers who felt in sympathy with the government could grasp an
opportunity to act in responsible positions, and prove their capacity
for service to causes they believed in. Prospects seemed good to those
who favoured the things the government favoured.
Apart from the most senior officials, the non-strikers may be pre-
sumed to be those who were generally less disturbed by the prevailing
conditions in the Civil Service. That disturbing conditions existed can
be inferred from the abnormally high turnover of staff in the two
previous years. What were some of these disturbing conditions that
might have influenced the attitudes of strikers?
It would seem that the whole ethos of public service had changed
drastically in the last few years. The Civil Service used to hold high
prestige, and to have a son or daughter in the "Service" was a great
distinction for middle-class Guianese. It offered relatively good pay,
and comparatively high benefits of long leave and pension which no
other employers in the past used to offer to local men. Furthermore
it was, at least in theory, a merit service. For admission and promo-
tion, one's potential proficiency was believed to be the chief factor.
Racial exclusiveness was always much less in evidence than in com-
mercial organizations. In short the Service seemed to offer a high
degree of status and security and chances for social mobility to all.
But now the pay offered by other employers had increased relative to
the Civil Service, and their fringe benefits of leave and pension were
improving while those of the Civil Service, at least as regards long
leave, seemed to be threatened. Furthermore, other employers, accept-
ing the necessity of Guianization, were now offering excellent positions
to all conditions and complexions of Gulanese. 9 Indeed people began
to feel that a better deal was available outside the Service than within.
In any case some found their new government, their present employers,
less congenial than the previous Executive Council which had been the
'Government' in the past.
Some members of the Civil Service, largely middle class in origin
or in anticipation, distrusted the radicalism of the P.P.P. Their attitude
was not in fact anti-working class witness their strike solidarity with
blue-collar workers. But many were not unwilling to protest against
a government whose ideologies and policies they found increasingly
repugnant. The great majority had joined the service in colonial
days, and had been trained to administer laws framed on predominantly
rational and pragmatic grounds. Some became uneasy when called on
to execute policies whose motivation they believed to be racially
partisan or whose raison d'etre seemed chiefly derived from Marxist
Ideology. In this the members of the Civil Service tended to reflect the
anti-government sentiments of the cities. Georgetown and New
Amsterdam, the two largest urban agglomerations, did not return a
single P.P.P. member to the Assembly. The capital, Georgetown, was in
a way a hostile island on which the government found itself located.
The government employed Civil Servants largely drawn from these anti-
government strongholds, but it was found that many of the loyal Civil
Servants had been, at least until recently, country-dwellers. (A
country-dweller in the B.G. Civil Service was more likely to be Indian
than Negro). Accordingly members of the government felt, perhaps
not without some justification, that a fair number of Civil Servants
were unwilling, or incapable of sympathising with or zealously executing
the wishes of the rural-based P.P.P. They tended to favour, inevitably,
those particular Civil Servants whose loyalty seemed more certain; and
this apparent ministerial favouritism, just as Inevitably had had an
The evidence obtained from interviews conducted by the writer
indicates that there had been much cause for protest by Civil Servants
against ministerial attitudes. Some Civil Servants resented the tenor
of some Ministers' speeches. "Not a cent more for the Civil Servants
while people are starving," Dr. Jagan was reported to have said at a
public meeting. Taking a direct interest in the minutiae of administra-
tion, Ministers often permitted the public to approach them directly,
and they often intervened at levels well below the level of policy, to
the exasperation of some Civil Servants. This tendency appears to
spring from two causes. First is the comparatively small scale of
government business in a society of only 600,000. (In Britain, the
model for the Ministerial system, a Minister who ventures too often
below the level of policy would soon be engulfed in detail, and would
not attempt it again). Secondly, in British Guiana, again in contrast
to the Mother Country, the attitude of political adherents remains
dependent familial, and reminiscent of the primary group allegiance
of village days. Rewards for political loyalty are keenly anticipated,
and the Minister is often compelled to intervene on behalf of the
importunate voter who comes to him to seek to have the Civil Servant's
rulings countermanded. 10
Civil Servants also noted that some Ministers seemed more con-
cerned with loyalty than with non-partisan proficiency, preferring to
take advice from or to delegate special duties to those in whom for
personal reasons (one suspected racial and political) they have con-
fidence. Furthermore, the Civil Servants seemed to have lost some
confidence in the Public Service Commission. Some concern was caused
when, contrary to previous practice, a person alleged to be a P.P.P.
member and activist, and a personal friend of the Premier and his
family, was appointed by the Governor on the government's advice, to
be a full-time Commissioner. 11
One felt that the Labour Relations Bill proved a not unwelcome
casus bell. The Bill itself posed no direct danger to the C.S.A. But
when the Bill lapsed, through prorogation of the Legislature, the Civil
Servants now had a new reason for staying away from work. They
alone of the strikers had cause to fear a break in pensionable service.
On the other hand they almost alone in the T.U.C. had the precedent
of "pay during a strike" to invoke. This of course they did, adding in
justification that there would be a vast backlog of work to be dealt
with, without overtime pay.
As negotiations dragged on week after week, it became clear that
any hope that the government would fall or yield was in vain. After
two months, tensions and hardships led to a virtual breakdown in
public respect for law and order, and the government had to call for
the use of British troops. 12 The situation had exacerbated the already
hostile feelings between P.N.C. and P.P.P., between Negroes and Indians,
and led to spectacular and saddening communal strife. Nine people
were killed, over a hundred hurt or rendered homeless in outbreaks of
race riots and arson that now occurred in town and country. Indians
had to follow a self-imposed curfew in towns. Villagers left to seek
shelter in other districts where they were in an ethnic majority. The
Civil Service leaders, like the rest, realized that a new and grave threat
now affected the country race war. They now pressed for quick
settlement of matters of dispute with the government. Prorogation of
the Legislature had already caused the Labour Bill to lapse. Now the
Civil Servants worked resourcefully and vigorously to find some settle-
ment of the strike, they yielded all their demands for pay during the
strike, and the demand which was not serious for "no working in the same
offices as non-strikers." They secured "no red-line" and anti-victimisa-
tion agreements. They helped the T.U.C. to a final settlement on the
Labour Bill. Government promised not to re-introduce the labour
Bill without full consultation with the Trade Unions and employers,
and agreed to set up machinery for this. Then after this agreement
was reported, striking Civil Servants decided to return to work on July
8. As a final gesture the C.S.A. executive rejected the Government's
offer of a hardship loan of two weeks pay. On that Monday the Civil
Servants returned to work after eleven weeks away from their desks.
Some human consequences of the strike were quickly manifest.
Thus, for a while in many ministries and departments officers were
either not on speaking terms, or conducted their business with cold
formality. Some officials declined to take responsibility for decisions
taken by their juniors, when the latter had been in charge of the general
conduct of sub-departments during the strike. Since much of govern-
ment work is of a continuous nature, the consequences of this attitude
could persist for a long time. Some junior officials hardly sought to
disguise their disrespect for seniors who stayed at work. Attitudes of
easy familiarity which had developed among strikers of all grades now
persisted into the office, somewhat damaging that sense of hierarchy
which had hitherto been a fairly marked feature of the B.G. Civil
More serious than these particular attitudes perhaps was the
general loss of morale. In 1962 the Civil Servants had returned to work
victorious and in fine fettle. Now they felt proud but unhappy. Many
were in serious debt; most of these, non-strikers included, were depress-
ed about the future. This loss of morale revealed itself inevitably in a
decline of zeal. People seemed to perform their duties mechanically,
with an eye on the clock. Offices were empty at the stroke of 4. Many
of those conscientious department heads who had remained till night-
fall in the old days now led the tea-time exodus. And all this took
place at the time when the country most needed united efforts to effect
rebuilding and reconciliation. In his speech from the throne a fort-
night after the strike ended, the Governor announced that for lack of
funds aspects of the development programme would have to be
abandoned or postponed. But even if the funds were available, one
could doubt that the will to achieve was strong enough in the Civil
Service to make the country's development plans a speedy success.
Some long-run consequences were also predictable. It would be harder
to fill vacancies in the Public Service since abler Gulanese abroad would
be even less attracted than before to service at home. There would be
more vacancies as senior officers opt to retire at 50, or junior officers
choose to resign at the end of their next long leave while still abroad.
Those to whom the Services still has a high marginal attraction will
tend to remain. But these will be civil servants of all races, who lack
academic or professional qualifications marketable outside of the B.G.
public service the ones for whom there is no particular demand
anywhere else. Certain Indian Civil Servants, now in political favour
and often with useful experience in "acting" in high posts may tend
to remain, thus speeding up the process now commonly referred to
locally as "Indlanlzation in the service."
The Civil Servants were very soon telling each other that some
members of the Government were describing some strikers as security
risks. At the July 8 meeting members of the C.S.A. took due note of
"reports of Ministers in the Government talking about disloyal heads
of departments." The C.S.A. ought not to have been surprised at this.
It was only to be expected that the Government would most approve
of those who stood fast and indeed Dr. Jagan made a special broadcast
expressing his Government's gratitude. He said "I am aware of the
very real risks which those at work ran in continuing to discharge
their duties, despite the threat of personal violence threats, which
in many cases, resulted in actual physical injury. I am also aware
of the great nervous strain they underwent as a result of the continuous
campaign of calumny directed against them, merely because they
insisted on remaining true to the long established code of behaviour
recognized as proper for civil servants. I would like them all to know
that their conduct has been appreciated and noted by my govern-
The Government clearly viewed the striking civil servants as con-
spirators with the T.U.C. and opposition elements in a plot to bring
about the collapse of government authority. Some P.P.P. officials were
not too surprised. They had long distrusted the Civil Service Association,
and their Marxist ideology had warned them that a middle-class
Civil Service could be a counter-revolutionary institution. But they
were bitter and alarmed at the zeal the Civil Servants showed in the
conduct of the strike. Had the Civil Servants taken only a negative
part in the strike just staying home, like the striking bauxite workers
at McKenzie their action could have been taken as merely loyalty to
unionism in a strictly Industrial dispute. But it seemed that the C.S.A.
in taking zealous strike action had forfeited its claims to be regarded
as a body too responsible and respectable for party politics. Accordingly
the Government continued to employ and use U.K. and U.N. specialists
as advisers, or as operating personnel valued for their impartiality as
much as their expertise. The consequence is, of course, a watering-
down of the idea of localisation. The Government is also turning more
to the creation of Public Corporations in order to employ supporters
of loyalty and drive.
Some Civil Servants now feared the end of the ideal of a merit
service in B.G. They noted the trenchant article entitled "Towards a
Political Civil Service," appearing in "Thunder" the official organ of
the P.P.P. in its July 1963 issue. 15 The pseudonymous author critically
examined the decision of the C.S.A. to obey the request for strike action.
He noted that the Civil Service draws its conventions and customs from
England, "A mature and advanced society." But "already in one way
or another, surreptitiously or openly, there is participation in politics
by persons in almost all ranks of the service. How can a (P.P.P.)
Minister feel safe to act on advice of his chief technical adviser when
he has been on a strike the ultimate objective of which was the over-
throw of Ministers and his government? If anything this strike by
civil servants has demonstrated a positive need for a change from the
traditional English system of appointments in the Civil Service." "It
is well worth considering," concludes the author, "to introduce the
spoils system of the U.S.A. or some variant of it... "Ministers and the
elected government will then rest assured that they can count on the
loyalty of the upper bracket of their service. This may be an un-
fortunate step but events dictate the inevitability of a change in our
system." This article signed by Al Haji was believed to be an authorita-
tive expression of party views. Certainly such a vision of the future
can affect the performance of today. Some Civil Servants, depressed
at the likelihood of the end of the sort of careers they had envisaged
on joining, may plunge furiously into political activity to ensure that
they be beneficiaries not victims of a future spoils system.
It Is to be hoped that rulers and the ruled in British Guiana could
profit from this strike experience. There are a number of valuable
lessons which if learnt, would represent some little gain from a strike
which seriously damaged the economy, and left citizens to bear, as well,
the immeasurable costs of social disunity and strife. One lesson is of
particular relevance, others of some Importance to new states, and two
at least are of universal significance to the study of public administra-
The lesson for B.G. is the inherent danger of a too long-drawn-out
period of decolonisation. The strike took place during an apparently
Interminable period of internal self-government, when the ultimate
source of state authority was in dispute. Many strikers expected that
the British Secretary of State for the Colonies would suspend the con-
stitution and expel the government (as his predecessor did ten years
earlier to Dr. Jagan's government over an almost identical Labour Bill).
Things would certainly have been different if B.G. had been already
independent. Either the Government would have been compelled to
guage more accurately the limits of the possible, or the strikers would
have not been sustained by hopes of a "deus ex machine", or by the
real support from outside sources which an independent government
would have been empowered to stop. The upshot of course is a renewed
demand for early independence on the part of the P.P.P. and a grow-
ing lack of enthusiasm for it on the part of sections of the opposition.
Some persons including Civil Servants have instead expressed hopes
for another and longer period of rule by an interim government. 16
Some lessons are of significance to all new states. Most of these
states wish to quicken the process of industrialization and economic
development, and they choose the instrumentality of a greatly increased
state action in economic and social matters. It is important that the
bureaucratic machine should not only be highly organized and tech-
nically competent to carry out policy, as is so often stated in writings
on public administration. This machine must also be so treated or
managed by the politicians as to secure its compliance and support -
else sections of it will go slow, or even go on strike.
Then there is another consideration. In Ghana as in Guiana, the
Civil Service Association is but one union within the T.U.C., but in
Ghana the T.U.C. is in effect and by deliberate design the industrial
wing of the Convention Peoples Party the ruling party. It seems that
in many new states an attempt will certainly be made to get or main-
tain the Trade Union movement under the control of the ruling party.
The reasons for this have been made explicit both in Ghana and
Tanganyika and the trend is noticeable elsewhere. One need not
examine these reasons here. However the B.G. situation showed that
unions can be aware of the attempted takeover, can choose to be
jealous of their independence and what is more, Civil Servants as
members of a trade union movement can be a powerful element in
preventing or frustrating such a take-over. For it is not safe to assume
that Civil Servants, once considered the most conservative of groups,
will forever follow English conventions and attitudes. The experience
of Holland and Italy warn that Civil Servants, once unionized, can
take part strenuously in industrial activity, including that most political
of industrial activities, a general strike. When the C.S.A. in B.G. became
a member of the T.U.C. members realized, or should have, that this
obliged them to obey the call for solidarity, even if this conflicted with
their duty to work with the government in power. Here then is a
lesson for unionists in new states which would make them even more
anxious to enlist Civil Servants. In many new states unions possess
flamboyant leaders, but lack the solid organisation of an effective
internal bureaucracy. This is what the Civil Servants brought to the
T.U.C. in B.G. The handling of money and supplies went very smooth-
ly; the conduct of negotiations was painstaking and resourceful. That
the quality of the technique of collective bargaining was very high,
must be conceded, whatever ones views on the matter under dispute.
The Government found itself in the irritating position of arguing
with its chief advisers on opposite sides of the table. It was in many
ways a rather galling and humiliating position for any government.
This strike situation showed once more that ending of colonial domina-
tion also means the decline of obedience. Previous colonial rulers had
almost mystic authority and prestige. Present nationalist rulers,
having themselves sown the seeds of rebellion and disrespect in their
earlier days, now reap the whirlwind of civil disobedience. The Civil
Service bargainers often treated the Ministers with but the minimum
of deference and respect, demanding guarantees in writing, and refus-
ing to be brow-beaten. Can a government accept a strong independent
Civil Service as one of the checks and balances in the State; or must
it alter Civil Service institutions in order to maintain control? The
B.G. situation poses the problem which new states must face, and
settle each in its own way.
There are no new universal lessons for public administration, but a
reemphasis of two old ones. First is the question of consent B.G.'s
situation showed that effective government depends on a high quantity
of consent, or a great deal of coercive power. Perhaps the fault of
Dr. Jagan's government was that it had the will, and also the legislative
authority to be authoritarian if it wanted, but not the power;
or that it lacked the will to be conciliatory, and the democratic desire
to govern by consent. It had to bear the full brunt of a public reaction
reinforced by a section of the community the Civil Servants, who
are supposed to be the agents of the government itself. The role of an
organised section of the community in checking unpopular government
action is not novel the army does this often in other parts of South
America. But in B.G. which has no regular army yet, the element was
the Civil Service because it was the Civil Service that possessed the
organisation, esprit de corps, and leadership to be in the forefront of a
resistance of the ruled to the rulers.
The other lesson is significant for nations with multi-racial popula-
tions, and perhaps for any nation seriously divided by religion, class or
language barriers. The B.G. situation showed that such cleavages with-
in the community are likely to be reflected within the public administra-
tion. A Civil Service is a very human organisation recording like a
sensitive seismograph the stresses and strains of the society it serves,
and in which its members are also citizens. While the Civil Service Is
under foreign or metropolitan control, as in colonial days, external
rules and values may mitigate the factors in the local situation. But
when the service is localised, or independence comes, (whichever is
earlier) the Civil Service cannot stand apart from the society. It may
not be too much to say that communal strife in B.G. is potentially as
serious as in India in 1947. Indeed "partition" is being seriously
advocated as a remedy, and this of course points, among other things
to two sets of public administrations for this unhappy country.
B. A. N. COLLINS,
Department of Government,
University of the West Indies.
1 The Constitution of 1953 was suspended after 143 days of rule by the People's
Progressive Party. An interim government of nominated legislators was in office
until 1957, when the P.P.P. was returned under a modified version of the 1953 Con-
stitution. The present Constitution came into effect after the elections of August 1961.
2 The Indians and Africans number approximately 48 and 33 per cent respectively of
the population. The next largest group (11%) is described as "mixed". The
remainder of the population is of direct Amerindian, Chinese, Portuguese or other
European descent. Figures in the Colony's 1961 Report are as follows:
East Indians 289,790 Portuguese 7,390
African descent 192,660 Other European 4,760
Mixed 68,420 Amerindians 23,600
Chinese 3,520 Total 590,140
Annual Report of British Guiana 1961, page 26.
3 The leading local Indian historian Dwarka Nath noted that Indians totalled only
10.1% of the Fixed Establishment of the Civil Service on July 1, 1943. The propor-
tion had increased considerably since then, but no official statistics are now kept
of racial origins in the public service. Nevertheless the changes are highly "visible."
Dwarka Nath "A History of Indians in British Guiana," Nelson, 1950.
4 Sessional Paper No. 3/1961 paragraph 9 reads:
"The extent to which this government has vigorously pursued its Guianization policy
over the years can perhaps be best illustrated by reference to the proportion of
senior posts held by non-Guianese. Insofar as the top posts, i.e. Heads and Deputy
Heads of Departments (including Heads of the major sub-departments) are con-
cerned, in 1956 out of a total of 66 such posts, 31 or approximately 47% were filled
by non-Guianese, in 1960 or in the short space of 5 years during which the number
of top posts had risen by more than 26% from 66 to 83 the number of non-
Guianese (14, of whom 2 were on contract and 1 on secondment) holding such
posts had fallen to 17%.
5 Vide T.U.C. Pamphlet "Why the talks broke down." Soon after the Labour Relations
Bill was announced the executive of the C.S.A. had called upon the Premier to defer
legislation in order to allow reasonable time for consultations with the T.U.C. What
the Premier finally accepted, eleven weeks after, was basically the same formula for
consultation previously advanced by the C.S.A. It appears that the efforts made by
the C.S.A. and T.U.C. to avert the crisis had failed chiefly because of the Govern-
ment's earlier uncomprising attitude.
This paper is not, however, concerned with the merits of the bill, or with details of
the negotiations which took place before, during and after the strike.
6 Press Release from the Consultative Association of Guianese Industry Ltd., April 19,
7 Paragraph 95 of the British Guiana General Orders 1957 reads:
"Any officer who absents himself from duty without leave, and without an adequate
excuse, renders himself liable to summary dismissal from the Service."
I As long ago as 1951 a Constitutional Commission had noted that "inter-racial
animosity is beginning to show itself in the Civil Service." Report of the Waddington
Commission 1950-51, Col. No. 228, Par. 122, p. 33.
9 The giant firm of Bookers now pursues a policy of Guianization which attracts senior
10 A notable example is given in V.S. Naipaul's "The Middle Passage" where a villager
asks Dr. Jagan to remedy a licensing ruling. V.S. Naipaul "The Middle Passage"
Andre Deutsch 1963, p. 139.
11 Many Civil Servants noticed that Government did not heed the advice of the Public
Service Investigator E. Mills who wrote that "a suspicion even though it be ill-founded
that appointments are made or promotions arranged under political patronage tends
to destroy the sense of impartiality that must animate a public service." B. Mills
Report of Investigation into the Public Service, 1953. Published by the Government
12 Reinforcements were flown from England to support the Battalion of the Coldstream
Guards based locally. British troops had been stationed since the emergency of
1953, and were called out in the February 1962 disturbances.
13 Reported in Guiana Graphic July 10.
15 Thunder, Vol. 14, No. 6, Page 6.
16 In the period 1953-1957, a nominated Executive Council of moderate politicians and
Civil Servants assisted the Governor in the general administration.
'CRISIS' IN THE WEST INDIAN BANANA INDUSTRY
JAMAICA and the Windward Islands are virtually the only banana
exporters in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Both depend exclusively
on the British market in which they are protected from non-Common-
wealth competition. While Commonwealth bananas enter the United
Kingdom free of duty, other fruit are subject to a duty of 7. 10/- per
ton. But more important is the current restriction on imports of fruit
from dollar sources which limits imports from the low-cost producing
countries of Central and South America to 4,000 tons per annum.
The industry in the Windwards is organised by grower co-operatives
which contract with Geest Industries Ltd. for marketing the fruit. The
administrative superstructure of the Jamaican industry consists of the
All-Island Banana Growers Association, the Banana Industry Insurance
Scheme and the Banana Board the last being a statutory body
which is the sole exporting agent. The Board contracts with Elders &
Fyffes Ltd. (a subsidiary of United Fruit Company) and the Jamaica
Banana Producers Association (a Jamaican enterprise) for marketing
fruit in the United Kingdom. Both companies act as agents of the
Board but Elders & Fyffes handles the bulk of the total.
Historically, Jamaica has been the major source of fruit for the
British market. But a rapid expansion of production in the Windward
Islands in the post-war period has brought them on par with Jamaica.
During the latter part of 1964 Windward supplies to the market exceed-
ed those of Jamaica.
In Jamaica, the change of positions has been interpreted as a
crisis, leading the Banana Board to summon a conference with the
Windward Islands Banana Growers' Association (WINBAN) to discuss
marketing matters. It is significant to note that the marketing firms
involved were invited to take part in the discussions.
Despite press releases to the contrary, it is apparent from the
aftermath that the talks broke down. Soon after the Windwards'
representatives had gone, the Banana Board announced that a crisis
faced the Jamaican industry as a result of intense competition from
the Windward Islands. And to counteract this Jamaica will aim for a
sharp increase in production from the current annual level of just over
150,000 tons to 275,000 tons in 1965. (This figure was later revised to
Several statements and editorials in the daily press have suggested
that every effort should be made to keep Jamaica in its traditional
place. Some have even implicitly deplored the independence of
Jamaica by arguing that colonial status accords to the growers in the
Windward Islands the advantage of a price guarantee financed by the
British Treasury. (This argument is not really valid since in point of
fact the Windwards price assistance scheme is financed jointly by the
growers themselves and the British Treasury.)
The declaration of a crisis and the suggested solution point to
Jamaica's ambivalence and the bankruptcy of its banana bureaucracy.
But more important, these developments clearly expose the vulner-
ability of the West Indian territories when operating as separate units.
It is no secret that the struggle for control of the British market is
really a struggle between two private foreign concerns Elders &
Fyffes and Geest Industries. Thus, by inviting them to participate in
the discussions what the representatives of the Jamaican and Windward
growers did was to convert a private struggle into a matter of public
concern. Needless to say, the presence of these private interests at
the conference table made it inevitable that the talks would fall.
What is perhaps most ironical about Jamaica's stand in these
developments is that the banana growers in that island are now
unwittingly carrying the banner of the United Fruit Company a
complete reversal of their historical position. It is well known that
the history of Jamaican banana production is marked by the struggle
of a banana peasantry to break the stranglehold of United Fruit. Thus
it was that they formed the Jamaica Banana Producers Association in
the 1920's and got Government to organise statutory control of the
industry after World War II. Today the statutory authority seems to
be reversing the course of history to the detriment of, not only
Jamaican, but all West Indian banana growers. For it is clear that
if the proposed expansion were to materialise, the only losers will be
the growers themselves. The market will absorb the proposed increase
In supply only at lower prices than would otherwise obtain; thus the
British consumer will pay less for bananas, the marketing companies
will earn more from the increased volume handled, and only the West
Indian grower stands to lose.
What will be the net effect of expanded volume and lower prices
on growers' incomes? In terms of net revenue, two times three is not
necessarily the same as three times two! Space does not permit
elaboration of the economic consequences of the expansion plan. But
it is sufficient to point out that unless the expansion lowers unit costs
of production more than the resulting fall in price, growers may In
fact be worse off.
The course of action being proposed by the Jamaican banana
bureaucracy is not only a historical contradiction but also a reflection
of a general ambivalence in the policy of present day Jamaica. Today,
in international forums Jamaica's representatives constantly exhort the
more advanced countries to help close the gap between rich and poor
countries, yet little is done to close the gap either within the West
Indies or even inside Jamaica itself. More specifically, they demand
concessions from more advanced countries which compete with
Jamaica, in certain lines, such as textiles and citrus; and at the same
time, they plan to stifle the less advanced West Indian banana
economies. The argument must be consistently applied. The case is
made, for example, that as a highly developed country the United
States should diversify away from light manufacturing such as textiles
in favour of countries like Jamaica. Should it not then be that the
more advanced Jamaica ought to diversify away from primary banana
production in favour of the Windwards?
What these recent developments in the banana industry demon-
strate most clearly, however, are the benefits to be gained from
regional co-operation. In the first place, if Federation had survived,
all West Indian fruit would have been handled by the same marketing
agent, thereby eliminating private market struggles. The present
'crisis' would, therefore, never have been created. Second, and more
important, West Indians could market their own fruit. Jamaica
Banana Producers Association could broaden its share capital base
to include Windward growers and be given the full contract for all
West Indian fruit. With their established market outlets and-increased
chartered shipping, it would be relatively easy. In fact, this company,
in seeking to expand, has been forced to explore (at some cost) such
distant places as Sierra Leone and Cameroon in recent years. In
banana marketing a geographical spread of supply areas is needed
since wind damage is endemic. But Jamaica and the Windwards could
provide them with sufficient spread for the desired expansion.
Such integration as is suggested here need not wait on political
federation. But it does need a completely new perspective by West
Indians in general, and not least the bureaucrats who administer their
affairs. The historical tradition of accepting alien definitions of our
problems and the almost complete dependence on outside solutions are
again reflected in these recent developments in the banana industry.
For what has been suggested in this commentary is that there was in
fact no crisis facing Jamaican growers on account of expansion in the
Windwards. A crisis will, in fact, come if Jamaica's expansion plans
materialise since prices will then fall to unremunerative levels in order
to accommodate the increment in supply. What we will then have is
a crisis in the West Indies created by West Indians (in this case,
Jamaicans) themselves. It has been further suggested that Jamaica's
expansion decision appears to be more a solution for United Fruit's
market control problem than anything else.
Department of Economics.
Documents Which Have Guided
Educational Policy In The West Indies
EDUCATION COMMISSION REPORT, TRINIDAD, 1916.
THE Commissioners appointed by the Governor in June 1914 were
briefed to enquire into (1) Whether the present expenditure on educa-
tion (Primary and Secondary) was excessive in proportion to the colony's
revenue and, if so, how it might best be curtailed; (2) How far the
organization and work of the Education Department was satisfactory;
(3) Whether the scope of the existing Education Ordinances should
not be extended.
With this direction the Commission was inevitably much concerned
with economy. In the previous twenty years the population of Trinidad
had increased from 273,934 people to 359,188; the number of schools
had increased roughly proportionately from 187 to 277. The number of
pupils however had more than doubled, from 13,890 in 1895 to 29,607 in
1915. The problem of the Government was to control the expenditure
on education which has risen from 30,994 In 1895 to 59,464 at an ever
accelerating rate each year.
The Commission was therefore primarily set up to pursue an
essential economy. The effect of their proposals was much more than
this, however. They recommended changes which in fact abolished
the main features of public education in the nineteenth century. The
most far-reaching of these abolitions was the condemnation of the pay-
ment by results system as a method for calculating the payment of
teachers. As a corollary, the role of inspection was redefined as a
profitable educational enterprise; it should be translated from the
hands of clerks and calculators, and educators who could be teachers'
advisers should take their place. Thirdly, it was proposed that
elementary and secondary education should be brought under one
authority instead of two. A director of education should be appointed,
and he should act as chairman of the new education board instead of
the Governor who had hitherto presided.
These were the radical changes proposed. Other proposals were
concerned with the amalgamation of small schools, without losing the
dual system of government and denominational schools now entrenched
in Trinidad; 1 a rationalisation of agricultural education, which had
lost in practice the principles on which it had been established at the
turn of the century; thirdly, reforms in the curricula of secondary
schools and in teacher training were carefully argued.
1 See the Keeman Report Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4., December 1962 for reasons
why the secular system of 1851 -1870 was abandoned in favour of a combination of
government schools and government-assisted denominational schools.
All these proposals were advanced with assertions of the failure of
the former system, not only with arguments for economy. The com-
missioners, officials and unofficial members of the Legislative Council,
with the headmasters of Queen's Royal College and St. Mary's, knew
Trinidad; several were Trinidadians. Their criticisms were levelled
realistically and unemotionally, and their recommendations were a
logical sequel to the deficiencies they revealed. The result is a com-
petent and assured statement, and it has a contemporary ring for the
first time in the long sequence of education reports in the West Indies.
The solutions of the 19th century were found out of date and new ones
were sought. The briefing prevented flights of educational theory:
but the result was eminently well-informed and sensible.
The criterion for considering elementary education was simply
stated as "an attempt to provide free elementary education to such of
the children of the colony as avail themselves of it, due regard being
paid to the religious views of their parents." The free education was
currently offered in 54 government schools and 191 assisted schools.
Half of the assisted schools were Roman Catholic; 62 in Trinidad were
Canadian Mission; and there were 54 Church of England in Trinidad
and Tobago together.
The secondary schools under discussion were Queen's Royal College,
the government institution, St. Mary's College, the Catholic school
affiliated to Queen's Royal College since 1870, Naparima College,
affiliated at the request of the Canadian Mission in 1900, and St.
Joseph's Convent only affiliated a year before the Commission sat. All
the secondary schools affiliated with Queen's Royal College had come
since 1870 under the aegis, though not the close control, of a College
Council which advised on the financial arrangements and the condi-
tions on which each school should be affiliated.
This was the system of schools which the Commission were to dis-
cuss. Most of their findings are reported under the heads of Elementary
Education, Secondary Education and Governing Bodies.
Extracts from the Report.
I. ELEMENTARY EDUCATION.
1. Diversity of religious views must be a factor in the organisation of
education in Trinidad.
- Having regard both to the history of the question and to
the existing condition of public opinion, any system of Educa-
tion, which does not recognize the divergent views on religion
so strongly held in the community, must prove unsatisfactory,
and that this basic principle must be kept continually in mind
if a generally acceptable educational system is to be main-
2. The Dual system of Government and Assisted Schools as practised.
(i) Government Schools conducted by the Wardens
A Government School is an elementary school which is
entirely supported from public funds. In these schools no
religious instruction is given by the school staff, but all
Ministers of Religion are permitted to give instruction in
religious knowledge to members of their own denomination
outside of the hours devoted to secular instruction. Every
Warden is ex officio a Manager of all Government Schools in
his district. It is his duty to visit and inspect such schools,
and he is especially required to test at frequent intervals the
accuracy of the register of school attendance, reports on his
visits being sent monthly to the Colonial Secretary. The
number of these schools in Trinidad is 54: there are none in
(ii) Assisted Schools conducted by Managers.
An Assisted School is an elementary school established by
private persons. All such existing schools have been establish-
ed in connection with some religious body, and in them in-
struction in religious knowledge is given by the school staff
outside of the hours devoted to secular instruction. Managers
of Assisted Schools are required by law to perform the duties
of inspection in respect of schools under their control which
are performed by Wardens in the case of Government Schools.
and all managers of elementary schools are required to certify
the Quarterly Returns forwarded to the Board of Education
by Head Teachers, showing the number of Scholars on the roll,
the Religious Denomination of Scholars, the classification of
Scholars, the Total Attendance, and the Average Attendance
during the Quarter.
(ill) Appointment and payment of Teachers in elementary schools.
The salaries of all teachers in Assisted Schools are paid
by the Government on the same scale as those of Government
School teachers, and those schools established prior to 1902
receive in addition an annual grant for Buildings, Furniture,
and Apparatus. In the case of schools established since that
date all charges on account of Buildings, Furniture, and
Apparatus are defrayed by Managers from other than public
funds. Teachers in Government Schools are appointed by the
Governor; those in Assisted Schools by the Manager subject
to the approval of the Inspector of Schools.
3 The increase in school attendance, the number of schools and the
expenditure of the Education Department make the cost of educa-
tion a constant consideration for the Commission.
Expenditure from public funds on Elementary
Education for the successive quinquennial periods
from 1895 to 1915.
Year Population No. of Schs.
1895 237,934 187
1900 277,651 239
1905 315,696 240
1910 358,641 256
1915 359,188 277
Average of per
daily Education Scholar in
Attendance Dept. Av. Attendance
2. 4. 4
2. 2. 3
1. 17. 3
1. 16. 0
2. 0. 2
We are aware that this Commission was appointed mainly in
the hope that some means would be found of limiting, if not of
reducing, the annual expenditure which is supposed to be excessive,
and for this reason throughout our deliberations the question of
cost has been kept constantly before us.
4. Teachers' salaries are 83% of the expenditure; but they cannot be
cut if even moderate efficiency is to be maintained.
- In Trinidad and Tobago no less than 83% of the total
sum spent annually by the Government on elementary educa-
tion is paid to teachers in the form of salaries and allowances.
It is evident, therefore, that no substantial reduction in
expenditure is possible which does not involve a curtailment
of salaries, and no curtailment of salaries is, we believe,
practicable, if the elementary schools of the colony are to
maintain even a moderate degree of efficiency.
5. The amalgamation of schools is advanced as a method of educa-
(1) The existing costs of Government Schools relative to their size.
Trinidad Government Schools, not including the
two Tranquillity Schools.
No. of Pupils in No. of in average Government Cost
Av. Attendance Schools Attendance Expenditure per head
1,768 9 8
1,915 18 0
4,170 10 9
4,591 7 9
1 15 81
1 16 4f
2 4 2
2 11 5
2 11 5
52 5,716 12,448 6 2
(i1) The cost to the Government of Assisted Schools.
No. of Pupils in No. of in average Government Cost
Av. Attendance Schools Attendance Expenditure per head
Over 300 9 3,231 4,887 8 5 1 10 3
200-300 7 1,580 2,345 12 3 1 9 8
150-200 22 3,816 6,630 6 4 1 14 9
100-150 30 3,515 6,106 3 0 1 14 9
Under 100 119 8,148 14,961 8 9 1 16 9
187 20,290 34,930 18 9
Assisted Schools Tobago.
No. of Pupils in No. of in average Government Cost
Av. Attendance Schools Attendance Expenditure per head
100-150 7 880 1,203 14 7 1 7 41
Under 100 29 2,127 3,599 10 91 1 13 10
36 3,007 4,802 5 41
(iii) Small schools to be avoided by closing existing ones and refus-
ing assistance to new denominational schools of small enrol-
Amalgamation on a large scale is probably not practicable.
but the advisability of it should be kept In view. We suggest
the closing of small and unnecessary Government Schools in
all districts where accommodation for their pupils can be found
in neighboring Assisted Schools. We are also of opinion that
the authorities of Assisted Schools In every district where
school accommodation is in excess of its requirements should
be invited to agree to the closing of any Assisted School which
the Education Department may deem to be unnecessary, the
denomination losing a school in one district receiving where
possible compensation In another. The Board should also take
action by ceasing to recognize any Assisted which does not
fully satisfy the requirements of the law. It should be the
policy of the Board of Education to encourage Assisted Schools
in populous districts where there is room for fair-sized schools
of all denominations, and to establish Government Schools in
newly developed districts where the population for some time
to come is likely to be small, and where the residents do not
all belong to the same religious denomination. Permission to
establish small schools in these last mentioned districts should
not be granted to competing religious denominations.
6. School age should be 5 -14. This would create an economy by a
10% cut in school attendance.
It has been brought to our notice that a revision of the
Rules regulating the age of children in Elementary Schools is
desirable, and after full consideration of this important matter
we are unanimously of opinion that no grant should be paid
by the Government on account of any pupil of an Elementary
School who is below the age of five, or above the age of
If the Rules are amended in accordance with these views,
we are informed by the Acting Inspector of Schools that the
number of children on the roll of Elementary Schools in
Trinidad would be reduced by about ten per cent. The change,
therefore, besides being desirable on other grounds, would
effect an appreciable saving in the amount at present paid to
Head Teachers as Attendance Grant and Bonus.
7. Radical changes in the payment of Teachers recommended
(i) Criticism of attendance grants as redundant, and of bonuses
for proficiency in the teaching of single subjects as over-
structured for the purposes of a basic general education.
Under the present system a Head Teacher receives in
addition to a fixed salary an Attendance Grant, and a Bonus:
and also a grant when special subjects are taught. As the
amount of Bonus depends on the number of pupils, a special
Attendance Grant seems unnecessary, but it is to the method
of calculating the amount of Bonus that we particularly object,
and which we think should be changed. We learn that the
Bonus paid for "Proficiency of Pupils" which means proficiency
in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, English, Geography, and Drill,
varies from 8d. to 4d. on each pupil examined. Proficiency
in these subjects is all that an ordinary boy can hope to
acquire at an elementary school, and the school in which these
subjects are well taught may safely be set down as "efficient."
In our view the amount of Bonus paid for successful teaching
should depend almost entirely on the teaching of the subjects
we have named, but we find that the present Code reckons
"Object Lessons" as equally important for Bonus-earning
purposes, and "singing by note" as only little less so.
(ii) The high bonuses paid for the teaching of agriculture are not
justified in practice.
On further examining the scale of bonuses we find that a
Head Teacher earns a sum varying from 2/6 to 10d. on "every
boy examined in standards" for teaching Agriculture and
Nature. We are aware that the bonus for Agriculture is paid
on a smaller number of pupils than that for proficiency of
pupils, nevertheless, the fact remains that for teaching Agri-
culture in the manner described later in this Report to only
part of his boys, not one of whom Is likely to become either
an agricultural labourer, a cane-farmer, or a peasant proprietor,
the present Code enables the head teacher of an elementary
school in Port-of-Spain to earn very nearly three times the
maximum he can earn for the proficiency of his whole school
in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, English, Geography and
Drill. Elsewhere in this Report we have expressed our views
on school gardens and the teaching of Agriculture, and need
only say here that the amount of Bonus offered by the Code
for teaching In elementary schools what Is described as Agri-
culture is out of all proportion to the effort required to earn
it, and to the practical results obtained.
(Hi) Schools should be graded by the inspectors on defined criteria
for "a perfect school"; needlework is the only subject to be
taken individually in such a grading.
The grading of schools should be done by the Inspectors,
who should take into account everything necessary for a per-
fect school. We suggest the following heads:-
(i) The condition of school furniture and grounds;
(ii) The care of Books, Maps, Registers and Records;
(v) The quality of the work in school.
Organisation includes the proper arrangement of scholars
in classes or standards, and attempts by teachers to keep
children in the same class or standard for too long a period
would result in loss of marks. A certain number of marks
should be assigned to each head and the percentage of the
whole number obtained by any school would determine its
grade. The number of grades might be three or even four,
and no grant should be paid to any school which failed to
secure a fixed minimum percentage of marks. The only extra
subject need be sewing, and the grant for this should in mixed
schools be paid to the Assistant Mistress who gives the in-
(iv) The payment of bonuses on results in subjects should end.
An efficient grant for the class of school after grading should
This method of calculating the amount to be paid annual-
ly to Head Teachers of Elementary Schools seems to take into
account everything that makes for efficiency in a school, and
has the merit of simplicity. It should be one of the first
duties of the Head of a re-organized Education Department to
draw up for the approval of the Board of Education a Scheme
for the grading of elementary schools on the lines we have
indicated. If approved and introduced it would be for him
to see that the work of all schools was judged by the same
standards, and that Inspectors had a uniform system of mark-
ing. The present system of payment of bonuses at the end of
the school year should be discontinued. The amount payable
monthly to every Head Teacher should include in addition to
his salary the minimum monthly allowance payable to his
class of school, and the balance should be paid to him as soon
as practicable after the end of the year.
(v) Salaries of Assistant Teachers are too low.
We have received complaints that the salaries of Assistant
Teachers are too low. These complaints seem well founded,
and if, as we hope and believe, our recommendations result in
a reduction of expenditure, we trust that the case of Assistant
Teachers will receive sympathetic consideration. The salaries
paid at present to pupil teachers seem to call for no change.
8. Inspectors, Examinations and Inspection.
(i) Inspector of Schools has been confined to his office and the
examination to determine bonuses has been done by Assistant
During recent years the Inspector of Schools has been
occupied almost exclusively with office work. He has practical-
ly taken no part whatever in the examination of schools, and
in the performance of his duties seems to have had little
opportunity of making use of any expert knowledge in educa-
tional matters he may have acquired before his appointment.
All school examinations are held by the Assistant Inspectors.
Their reports are the only sources available to the Govern-
ment for information with regard to the schools, and on the
results of their examinations large sums are paid annually to
teachers as bonus additions to salaries. The inspection work
is done by them, and the efficiency of the elementary schools
of the colony is almost entirely in their hands, and depends
on the manner in which they choose to perform their
(ii) The Assistant Inspectors are nearly all clerks and not qualified
by training for their posts.
It is obvious that qualifications of a special kind are re-
quired for the proper discharge of the duties attached to the
post of Assistant Inspector. Yet almost without exception
these posts have been filled by the appointment of clerks,
either from the Education Office itself, or from some other
Government office, who had no special training for the post.
We do not wish to reflect on the zeal and Industry of either
present or former holders of these posts; but it is to be
remembered that a really efficient Assistant Inspector is a
product of training, and is not self-made.
(ill) The importance and expense of elementary education requires
that Assistant Inspectors should be qualified in education and
should be paid adequate salaries and allowances.
We are of opinion that in future only such persons as
possess undoubted qualifications for the post should be
appointed Assistant Inspectors of Schools. The teaching in
the elementary schools must always under any system be
subject to the influence of these officers, and on the efficiency
of the schools the future welfare of the colony in a great
measure depends. The cost of elementary education absorbs
about one-sixteenth of the total revenue of the colony, and
it seems sound policy that the working of a system entailing
such a large public expenditure should be placed in competent
hands. We feel that it is false economy to underpay officers
whose work is so responsible, and we recommend an addition
to present salaries in the case of future appointments. We
are also of opinion that the performance of his duties as
Assistant Inspector would be facilitated by the use of a motor
car and that he should not be paid a fixed travelling allowance
and should be required to live in his district.
(iv) Inspection has not resulted in improved methods of teaching;
the Assistant Inspector should be advising and criticising
teachers to this end.
An Assistant Inspector of Schools should not be expected
merely to register results often obtained in a haphazard
manner. He should help the teacher by advice and criticism,
and should see that the methods of every teacher in his dis-
trict did not differ materially from his own. We are not
satisfied that attempts that may have been made in the past
to improve the teaching in elementary schools were parti-
cularly successful. It has been brought to our notice that
certain faults of method are repeated year after year, which
under an efficient system of inspection would have been
brought to the notice of teachers by the Inspectors, and would
have been corrected long ago.
(v) The defects of the annual examination system to determine
the proficiency bonuses to schools.
The former system which prevails here requires the formal
examination annually of each child in an elementary school
who has made a certain number of attendances during the
The number of passes in the various subjects determines
the award of the examiner, and on the nature of this award
depends the amount of that part of the annual contribution
of the government which is given for proficiency of pupils.
This system is objected to on many grounds. It is said to
encourage cram, and not to encourage the teacher to develop
the intelligence of the children. Under it a teacher's Income
varies considerably and must depend on the merits of the
work of individual children as tested by examination.
(vi) Inspection and the grading of schools is recommended in
place of the examination system.
We recommend that inspection of elementary schools such
as we have outlined should take the place of the present
system of annual examination coupled with visits of inspec-
tion. The schools should be graded by the Inspector in respect
of their efficiency as Very Good, Good, and Fair, and a grant
varying in amount with the class of the school should take
the place of the present bonus, and should be paid on account
of every pupil in average attendance.
9. Agricultural Education.
(i) Existing provision.
"Agriculture," by which is intended nature study and
practical school gardening, was included in the curriculum of
elementary schools in 1900. A garden very greatly varying in
size is now attached to most schools both in town and country.
and is cultivated by the boys under the supervision of the
head teacher. Plants are also occasionally grown in boxes
and pots. To encourage school gardening shows are held
annually at certain centres, and substantial prizes are offered
for competition. Since 1909 two Agricultural Instructors have
been attached to the Education Department, each of whom
receives a salary of 150 and a travelling allowance of 85 a
year. The colony is divided into two districts, and it is part
of the duty of each officer to visit the various schools of his
district, and to give instruction in practical agriculture. What
are known as Object Lessons are also given to the standards
in all schools. These being for the most part lessons taken
from Blackie's Tropical Readers either on plant life, or soils,
or the cultivation of crops, are closely connected with agri-
culture. At most schools the children are also encouraged to
make collections of insects, minerals and plants. The scheme
of agricultural instruction was a good one and at the time of
its introduction high hopes were entertained that the study
of agriculture in the elementary schools would be of great
advantage to the colony, and liberal financial assistance was
provided to make it a success.
(ii) Disappointing results are due to poor deployment of the agri-
cultural instructors, who have paid few visits to schools.
Very disappointing results have hitherto been achieved,
and in our opinion this comparative failure is entirely due to
lax administration. From the evidence of the Senior Agricul-
tural Instructor we gathered that he has been allowed to take
what seems to us an entirely erroneous view of his duties. He
has given lectures on agriculture, entomology, petrology and
geology to teachers and pupil teachers, but neither he nor the
Junior Agricultural Instructor appears to have given, except
very occasionally, practical instruction to school boys in school
gardens. On their rare visits to schools they seem to have
spent the short time at their disposal in "inspecting" the
garden, and chatting with the head teacher. The Senior In-
structor stated in evidence that his travelling allowance was
insufficient, and that the sum allowed monthly was always
exhausted after eleven days. For this reason he seems to
have been unemployed for considerable periods.
(iii) Many school gardens are only cultivated in ways which will
earn the high bonuses for agriculture; most school gardens
are too small.
This part of the Instructor's evidence seems to call for
two comments. We do not understand why two Agricultural
Instructors were employed when there was only sufficient
travelling allowance for one; nor do we see why an officer
whose duties took him to San Fernando once a week was not
given the San Fernando district, and required to live in it.
The Inspector of Schools had it in his power by simply Issuing
an order to save this $14, and thereby almost to double this
School Gardens in different parts of the colony have been
visited by various members of the Commission. A small
minority were found to be well kept, others showed signs of
former cultivation, many were wholly uncared for. When
such gardens as these last can exist it is obvious that the
supervision by the Agricultural Instrictors cannot have been
effective. In the past it has been much too easy to gain bonus-
carrying awards for agriculture, and head teachers would be
less than human had they not taken advantage of the fact.
In his evidence the Senior Instructor stated that the bonus
was the force which maintained interest in school gardens,
and that if the examiners were strict, agriculture would pass
out of the curriculum. He also mentioned a case in Tobago
where in the short space of six weeks a garden was transform-
ed from a state of abandonment to a condition which
necessitated the award of the highest mark. When the maxi-
mum bonus can be earned so easily, head teachers have no
inducement to do more than prepare the garden for inspec-
tion by the Assistant Inspector on the day of the annual
examination of the school. And this, we believe, is what has
been done by some head teachers.
Most school gardens are much too small for the purpose
for which they are intended, probably owing to the fact that
the amount of the award depends only on the number of boys
examined in standards, and not on the size of the garden, or
the amount of work done in it.
(iv) Existing agricultural education is therefore a sham; and con-
siderable re-organisation is recommended, with the substitu-
tion of nature study and elementary science in town schools,
and an insistence on adequate school gardens and properly
trained teachers if a country school is to be rated first class.
The impression left on our minds by the evidence given
before us and from what we have seen ourselves, is that agri-
cultural education in this colony as it exists today is little
better than a sham; and that it is both inefficient and costly,
and that a thorough re-organization is necessary.
We recommend that nature study and elementary science
- should be taught In the standards of all schools. In
town schools practical gardening should not as a rule be
attempted beyond box and pot culture, and the school grounds
should be utilized merely for demonstrations, and the provi-
sion of material for object lessons. - -
We also recommend that every country school should
have a garden, not less than one-eight of an acre, in which
practical school gardening should be taught, on lines to be
approved in advance by the Director of Education. There
should be no special bonus for school gardening but no country
school which did not possess a suitable and properly equipped
school garden and a qualified teacher for it, should be graded
by the Education Department as a first class school however
satisfactory its work in other respects might be. Every teacher
of school gardening should have attended a course of practical
Instruction and have been passed as qualified by some com-
petent authority; when he is not the head teacher he should
receive a personal allowance.
10. Training Schools.
(i) The deficiencies of the five training schools with a total of
41 students between them.
Not the least unsatisfactory feature of the present system
of elementary education in the colony is the condition of the
existing Training Schools for Teachers. It is hardly necessary
to enlarge upon the necessity of training teachers for their
duties before placing them at work in schools, and that this
necessity is fully recognized by the government is evident from
the fact that the sum annually voted for the purpose exceeds
2,000. Whether a return commensurate with the expenditure
is obtained is more than doubtful. - -
In the Training Schools the students are practically in-
structed by one person only, the Principal. The fact that all
the teaching is done by one person is a serious disadvantage,
and it is hardly surprising that the standard reached is
(ii) It is useless, because of religious differences, to recommend the
combining of resources in the two colleges at Tranquillity.
In an ideal system there would be two Training Schools,
one for men, the other for women. Both would be residential,
and there would be a combined staff of really efficient in-
structors. Buildings admirably suited for the purpose, already
exist in the Tranquillity Boys' and Girls' Schools. But owing
to the religious differences that exist in the Colony, we feel
that it would be useless to advocate the establishment of
central institutions, and we are driven to propose an alter-
(Hi) It is recommended that men's training schools be closed and
the ex-pupil teachers be sent to secondary schools for general
education, and the class of their certificates be geared to the
Cambridge Local Examinations.
We are unanimously of opinion that as soon as practicable
the existing Training Colleges for men should be closed, and
that ex-pupil teachers should receive their two years training
for the certificate examination at some recognized secondary
school. If our suggestion is adopted every candidate for a
certificate will in future receive instruction from those persons
in the colony most competent to give it, and the government
will have the assurance that the best possible means of acquir-
1 Two undenominational training schools at Tranquillity, one for men and one for
women, supported by public funds and three denominational colleges Nelson St.
R.C. for men, Pembroke St. R.C. for women and the Canadian Presbyterian training
school in San Fernando.
ing sufficient knowledge to enable the future teacher to per-
form his duties was being placed at his disposal. We are of
opinion that the Instruction given to such pupils should be
confined at first to the subjects of a revised Teacher's Syllabus.
but that the standard required for a certificate should be
gradually raised, and that eventually no teacher should receive
a third-class certificate who had not passed the Cambridge
Junior Local Examination in Arithmetic, English, History, Geo-
graphy, Mathematics, and Physical Geography; and that a
second class certificate should be granted only to such teachers
as had passed the Senior Examination in the same subjects,
except Physical Geography.
We understand that the authorities of the secondary
schools are willing to admit these special pupils. During their
training they would be attached to those forms of the school
doing the work of the certificate examination, and no change
in the existing curriculum of any school would be necessary.
(iv) Additional courses in agricultural science, school management
and the practice of teaching should be arranged for them.
In addition they should attend a course in Agriculture
Science including practical work; arrangements for the latter
at the Botanic Gardens could doubtless be made. Such a
course would be much more thorough and complete than is
possible at present. All teachers under instruction at a
secondary school should also be required to devote a certain
portion of each week to practice in teaching under the super-
vision of the Head Teacher of some elementary school selected
by the Chief Educational Authority. They should also receive
instruction from an Inspector of Schools on School Manage-
ment and the Practice of Teaching, and they should be made
thoroughly familiar with the provisions of the Ordinance
affecting Elementary Schools.
(v) The merits of the scheme are that religious difficulties are
obviated and that the association of elementary school with
secondary education will raise their standards, and might also
encourage their fellows to enter the profession.
The scheme we have outlined has the great merit that no
religious difficulty can possibly arise under it. Roman
Catholics would naturally go to St. Mary's College, other
denominations would join the Queen's Royal College, while
Presbyterians and East Indians would have the opportunity
of entering Naparima College. It also provides that persons
in training for teaching in elementary schools shall receive
the most efficient and thorough preparation for their respons-
ible duties that the colony can supply, and that as pupils of a
secondary school they shall have opportunities of associating
on equal terms with a wider class than is possible at a train-
ing college. A similar scheme might be extended to Women
Teachers if a Government secondary school for Girls is ever
established in Port-of-Spain - .
We are also of opinion that pupils of Secondary Schools,
who are not students in training, but who have passed the
necessary qualifying examinations should be encouraged to
offer themselves as Teachers of Elementary Schools. Every
year a certain number of young men nearly twenty years of
age, who have just missed winning scholarships, leave school
in Port-of-Spain. They have received the best education the
colony can give, and possess sufficient knowledge to enable
them to pass the examinations for the degrees of B.A. held
by the University of London. They are generally of excellent
character, and after suitable training would probably develop
into exceptionally successful teachers.
II. SECONDARY EDUCATION.
1. The uniform curriculum in all secondary schools is regarded as
efficiently conducted but the emphasis on classical studies is not
best suited to the needs of Trinidad.
The curriculum in secular subjects is the same in all
Secondary Schools. The upper forms are entered for the
Cambridge Senior and Junior Local Examinations, and the
lower forms are examined annually in December by examiners
appointed by the Cambridge University Examinations
The results of these annual examinations afford abundant
evidence that for many years past the work of the secondary
schools of the colony has reached a high standard of efficiency.
More than four hundred boys attend the two schools in Port-
of-Spain, all of whom are receiving a sound general education,
admirably adapted as a preparation for a professional career.
This education is undoubtedly good of its kind, but we doubt
whether it is an education of the kind best suited to the needs
of this Colony. Its chief defects are the great importance
attached to Classical studies, and the almost total neglect of
2 The secondary schools should prepare some boys for the university
and a professional career, but the main object should be to prepare
the majority for official, commercial and agricultural pursuits; to
this end a modern subjects and science alternative should be pro-
vided for the senior forms. 2
Although It is desirable that for every boy in Trinidad
there should exist the means of obtaining in the colony such
an education as would form an adequate preparation for the
university or for a professional career, yet the main object
of the secondary schools should be to fit their pupils for
careers, either official, mercantile, or agricultural, in the
In the past this object seems to have been lost sight of.
Every pupil of a secondary school should in our opinion be
taught the rudiments of Latin, but after fourteen or fifteen
years of age all boys not intended for professions should devote
themselves chiefly to English, Modern Languages, Mathematics,
and Science; and such subjects as Book-keeping, Shorthand,
and Typewriting might well be included in the curriculum.
We suggest that the boys of the upper forms of all secondary
schools should belong to one of two sides, to a Classical side
comprising the relatively small number of boys intended for
professions, or to a Modern or Science side comprising the
majority of the boys at the school. Some of the work, such
as English and Modern Languages, would of course be common
to both sides, but the chief work of boys on the modern side
would be Mathematics and Science, while that of boys in the
classical side would remain as it is.
3 Modern Studies, Mathematics or Natural Sciences should also be
alternative studies to classics in the annual competition for Trinidad
Scholarships in future; subsidiary subjects from each should be
taken with the main subject to prevent over-specialisation.
If the Oxford and Cambridge Higher Certificate Exam-
ination is retained as the scholarship examination after 1917,
candidates for scholarships after that year will be expected
to shew a thorough knowledge of one of the following groups
of subjects:- Classical Studies, Modern Studies, Mathematics,
Natural Science and, in addition, to satisfy the examiners in at
least one and in not more than three subsidiary subjects out-
side the range of their principal studies, the standard to be
attained in subsidiary subjects being lower than in the group.
The necessity for taking up subsidiary subjects will prevent
undue specialization. - -
4. There is no reason why the lower forms in all secondary schools
should do uniform work.
There seems no reason why the pupils of the lower forms
of all secondary schools should be obliged to do exactly the
same work. A curriculum which is suitable for the boys of
Queen's Royal College and St. Mary's College is not necessarily
suitable for the boys of Naparima College, who are mostly East
Indians, or for the girls of St. Joseph's Convent, and we recom-
mend that the Principals of these Schools should be allowed
to arrange their own work subject to the approval of the
Education Board to which reference is subsequently made in
5. Agricultural science should be taught as a branch of liberal educa-
tion in Trinidad; for the few who need it as a technical subject
scholarships should be provided to study at the Department of
In view of the importance of Agriculture in the Colony we
are of opinion that the principles of Agricultural Science
should be taught as far as possible to all boys in Secondary
Schools, as part of a liberal education without regard to their
future occupation in life. This can be done without over-
crowding the curriculum by taking up nature study in the
lower forms and giving an agricultural bias to the general
science instruction on the modern side. A school garden and
demonstration plots might be maintained in order that this
branch of practical work can be conducted under the super-
vision of their own master, on the school premises, for the
reasons on which stress is laid in the case of the Laboratory.
We are of opinion that no attempt should be made in the
Secondary Schools to teach agriculture as a technical subject.
This should, in the present position of education affairs in the
Colony, be left to the Department of Agriculture which has
the necessary facilities in the way of estates, experimental
stations and the Government Farm for practical work under
estate conditions. Steps should however be taken to provide
means for boys of 16 or over who have shown an aptitude for
science and are desirous of adopting practical agriculture as a
career to become cadets of the Department of Agriculture.
To this end we recommend that at least three leaving exhibi-
tions of 30 per annum each be offered annually amongst the
secondary schools, tenable under proper provision as to satis-
factory progress for two years.
6. The existing provision for the higher education of non-Catholic
girls is quite inadequate.
St. Joseph's Convent is the only school for girls affiliated
to the Queen's Royal College. It is a highly successful institu-
tion controlled by the Order of St. Joseph, and is doing, and
for many years has done, excellent work in the colony.
Classes for the higher education of girls also exist in con-
nection with the Practising School for Girls, Tranquillity.
These classes were started in 1911 at the request of Mrs. Bowen,
then Principal of the Practising School, who pointed out the
urgent need that existed in the colony of some means of giving
higher education to non-Catholic girls. A higher class for the
preparation of girls for the Cambridge Local Examinations
was accordingly formed In connection with her own school,
and placed in charge of a mistress who received as salary the
fees paid by pupils. The numbers grew, and at the present
time four mistresses are employed whose salaries are paid
from public funds, the fees being paid into the Public Treasury.
These classes are, and always have been, almost entirely
self-supporting, the expenditure on salaries and examination
expenses being about equal to the amount received in fees.
They undoubtedly, though somewhat inadequately, supply
a great want. They are handicapped by insufficient accom-
modation, and also by the impossibility of obtaining the
services of an efficient staff in return for the very moderate
salaries offered. Forming part of an elementary school, their
position is irregular, and if permitted to exist at all, we are
of opinion that their work should be limited to what was
originally intended. That is, the classes should consist of
girls sufficiently advanced in their studies to enable them to
prepare for the Cambridge Local Examinations, and they
should not complete with the Practising School itself for quite
young girls as pupils.
In this connection we desire to express the opinion that it
is not creditable to a colony of the importance of Trinidad
and Tobago that so little has hitherto been done in it by the
government for the higher education of girls.
7 Savings effected by reducing of Trinidad Scholarships for univer-
sities abroad should be applied to exhibitions at secondary schools.
We recommend that part of the saving to be effecetd by
the reduction in the number of scholarships be expended on
the establishment of junior and senior exhibitions tenable at
the Queen's Royal College or an affiliated School. Six junior
exhibitions of 10 per annum might be offered for competition
annually to candidates under thirteen years of age, and should
be tenable till the age of sixteen. Four senior exhibitions of
the annual value of 15, tenable till the age of nineteen, might
be awarded to those pupils of a recognized secondary school
who gained the highest places in the first class of the Cam-
bridge Junior Local Examination. The amount needed annual-
ly for this purpose would be 420.
The establishment of these exhibitions would remedy a
great defect of the existing educational system, which only
provides the means of enabling pupils of elementary schools
to gain free admission to a secondary school.
The competition for all scholarships and exhibitions should
in our opinion be open to girls as well as to boys.
III. ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATION.
3. Two independent bodies separately administer elementary and
The existing Education System consists of two branches
under independent management, dealing respectively with
Secondary and Elementary Education.
Ordinance No. 13 of 1909 enacts that the Queen's Royal
College, the College established by the Government in Port-
of-Spain for the promotion of Secondary Education, shall be
under the management of the College Council, a body con-
sisting of the Governor and twelve persons nominated by him.
Under the Ordinance the College Council has also power to
deal with applications from other schools in the colony for
affiliation to the Queen's Royal College. In addition, it has
under its control the award of the exhibitions tenable at a
University or other Educational Institution outside the colony
offered annually for competition by the government and it
appoints examiners to conduct the annual examination of the
Queen's Royal College and affiliated schools, on the results of
which the amount of capitation fees paid to the latter by the
government depends - -
Elementary Education is under the control of a Board of
Education consisting of the Governor and fourteen persons
nominated by him, a fixed proportion of whom must be per-
sons who profess the Roman Catholic religion. The executive
officer of this Board is the Inspector of Schools, the head of
that branch of the Education Department which deals with
2. The educational system as a whole should now be administered by
an Education Board; it is recommended that the chairman should
be the head of the Education Department instead of the Governor.
There is no apparent reason why the educational system
of the colony should not be governed by one authority, while
inconvenience has undoubtedly been caused in the past by the
present system of divided control, and we are unanimously of
opinion that the existing College Council and the existing
Board of Education might with advantage be replaced by one
body to be known as the Education Board. Its constitution
should be very much the same as that of the present Board of
Education, that Is, its members should as far as possible repre-
sent the different religious denominations of the colony. The
Board should have the control of Secondary Education in all
matters relating to affiliation, curriculum, examinations, and
the award of scholarships and exhibitions. In all other
matters both the Queen's Royal College and the schools
affiliated to it should be permitted to manage their own affairs,
with the result that the relations of the Board with all
recognized secondary schools would be on exactly the same
footing, except that in the case of the Queen's Royal College
a special committee of the Board might be appointed to deal
with matters of discipline.
Over elementary education the Board should have the
control which is now exercised by the existing Board of
As it is desirable that the Governor should be concerned
as little as possible in the discussion of matters which are
either matters of ordinary routine, or matters regarding which
the final decision will rest with him, we do not think he should
preside over the meetings of the Board. There seems to be
distinct advantage in placing at the head of the new Body
the person who from his position would be most familiar with
the educational needs of the colony, and we recommend,
though not unanimously, that the head of the Education
Department should be ex-officlo Chairman of the Education
3 It is recommended that the head of the Education Department
should be a well-qualified Director of Education with defined duties
in the administration of secondary schools and in the improvement
and standardisation of elementary education.
We are of opinion that the head of the Education Depart-
ment should in future be entitled Director of Education, and
that he should be placed at the head of the educational system
of the colony. He should be a graduate in honours of some
University in the British Empire, and it is desirable that he
should have an intimate acquaintance with the details both
of secondary and elementary education.
All correspondence with regard to the annual examination
of the Queen's Royal College and the affiliated schools, and
the award of exhibitions, should be dealt with by him, and
in this way the Principal of the Queen's Royal College would
be relieved of duties which have grown to be burdensome in
amount, and, which at all times would be more fittingly dis-
charged by an official not identified with the interests of a
We recommend that the head of the Education Depart-
ment should be relieved of a great part of the office work now
performed by the Inspector of Schools, should pay frequent
visits to schools in all parts of the colony, and should keep
himself in touch with teachers and their methods of teaching.
His most important duty should undoubtedly be the super-
vision of the work of the Assistant Inspectors, and he should
take care that the quality of the work in the different districts
of the colony should as nearly as possible be judged by the
He should, without going into further particulars, devote
himself almost entirely to organization and inspection.
The Education Commission Report of 1916 makes sober reading, but
in fact it probably initiated as much change in the conduct of education
as any educational measure in twentieth century Trinidad.
The administrative machinery was changed to create one education
authority under a Director of Education; there was criticism of the
powers of this official, but the measure was accepted as a means of
creating an efficient education system.
Payment by results was abandoned as a system and the inspectorate
was strengthened. For a time students in training were sent to second-
ary schools as recommended; but, for a variety of reasons, the educa-
tional and social gulf between elementary and secondary education was
not easily bridged. The opening of the Government Training College
in 1926 ended the experiment of training elementary school teachers
during a secondary education.
The attempts to modernise the secondary school curriculum were
less far reaching. In particular the resistance to agricultural educa-
It was the change in the administrative machinery and the new
approach to elementary education therefore that were most effectively
launched by the Report. Assisted by the few years of relative prosperity
after the First World War the Government were able to raise the status
of elementary education, and of its teachers, well beyond the depressed
standards inherited from the 19th Century.
SHIRLEY C. GORDON,
Department of Education,
University of the West Indies.
The Negro Slave
ESSENTIALLY the task of the historian is to safeguard tribal
memories. However, this is a task where personal biases inevitably
bring about distortion. In the case of the West Indies, this distortion
is particularly marked. Our history has been written in large measure
by men who set out to do it violence. Persons like Carlyle, Trollope,
Froude have written West Indian history with the sole aim of
peddling their conception of the innate racial Inferiority of the negro.
Others appear in the guise of apologists for the slavery system and for
colonialism. The negro has no past, they say; at least, the African
past constituted a serious handicap, and hence the best thing to do
was to disregard it wherever possible. It is on the basis of ignorance,
of historical amnesia that certain myths are perpetuated. We shall
attempt to explode some of these falsehoods starting our quest in Africa.
One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that the slaves were
brought from conditions of utter barbarity. In fact, the social organ-
ization among these peoples the Akan-Ashanti of the Gold Coast,
the Dahomeans, the Yoruba of Western Nigeria, 1 and the Bini of
Eastern Nigeria was very complex. The economic system provided
for a substantial surplus over the needs of subsistence and a class
structure was erected on this economic basis to encourage the disciplined
behaviour which marked every phase of life. There was a pattern of
corporate labour under responsible direction and the distributive pro-
cesses were perfectly organised, prices being set on the basis of supply
and demand with due consideration to the cost of transporting goods
to market. 2 Far from being a justification for slavery, barbarism was
a direct result of the slave-trade. The slave-trade broke up tribal life
and millions of de-tribalised Africans were let loose upon one another.
Apart from the continued destruction of the physical assets of the
country such as crops, herds, villages and towns, the constant threat
of slave raids and wars produced a chronic state of uncertainty and
fear in which it was pointless to expend more than the minimum
amount of energy on life's goods. Cannibalism spread: tribes had to
supply slaves or be sold as slaves. Of the greatness and glory of the
Benin, the Dahomey and the Ashanti all that survived was the self-
destructive lust of their rulers for power and human booty. This leads
us on to the second myth that the negroes were in fact already enslaved
in Africa. Indeed, domestic slavery did prevail in many of the king-
doms of West Africa; but it was not analogous to what the slaves were
to encounter in the Americas. The domestic slave was for the most
part a member of his owner's household, an individual with recognized
social rights, who could on occasion inherit property, and who could
not be sold at the caprice of this master. This is far more comparable
to European serfdom (still extant up to the middle of the 19th century
in Europe), and indeed C. L. R. James maintains that "it was on a
peasantry in many respects superior to the serfs in large areas of
Europe that the slave trade fell." Under the domestic slave system
individuals could be enslaved in punishment for a civil or criminal
offense. They could sell or pledge their kin or even themselves in pay-
ment of or as surety for a debt. They could be enslaved as the result
of capture in inter-tribal wars. However, the several instances that
are given of slavery arising from captivity in war, delinquency and
debt are inadequate to account for so regular an abundant a supply.
Casual contributions of this kind could scarcely furnish an annual out-
put of 70,000. Except in those parts of West Africa affected by the
Arab slave-trade across the Sahara, the deliberate capture of slaves for
export was an element introduced by the European slave traders.
The personnel of slaves exported is categorised by some writers
(cf. the writings of DuTetre and Labat) as prisoners and criminals.
This does not allow of the inference that only the poorer stock of
Africa was enslaved. The debtors and criminals were an abitrarily
constituted class, and, no more than in Europe or any where else can
their debts or crimes be ascribed to an inherent tendency to depravity.
In any case the dominant modes of enslavement were warfare and
kidnapping which are non-selective. Evidence both in Africa and the
West Indies indicates that the members of the upperstrata of African
society were present among the slaves. In Africa the record shows
that individuals of royal birth were enslaved as a result of dynastic
wars. In the West Indies the widespread character of organised revolts
indicates that among the Africans there must have been leaders able
to take command when opportunity offered. Toussaint L'Ouverture's
grand-father was a petty chieftain in Africa, while Christophe was of
similar stock. Then too a large number of religious leaders must have
been sent out to the West Indies. Bryan Edwards noted that "the
professors of Obi (obeah) are and always were natives of Africa and
none other; and they have brought the science with them from thence
to Jamaica, where it is so universally practised that we believe that
there are few of the large estates possessing native Africans which do
not have one or more of them." Commenting on the failure of all
attempts to stamp out obeah, he added "either this sect like others in
the world has flourished under persecution; or fresh supplies are
annually introduced from the African seminars." It may be noted in
passing that the possibility of descent from a chief or any such per-
sonage as far as any individual Afro-American is concerned is very
slim, and this pedigree claim by some negroes is merely a defensive
make-weight. What needs to be emphasised is that royal lineage is
not necessary; that the average slave possessed no less dignity than
characterises any other human being.
The first slur on the character of the negro was that he was
naturally of a childlike character, and adjusted easily to the most
unsatisfactory social conditions, which he accepted readily and even
happily, in contrast to the American Indian, who preferred extinction
to slavery. Contrary to the reports about negro docility the revolts
at the port of embarcation and on board ship were incessant; so that
the slaves had to be chained right hand to right leg, left hand to left
leg and attached in rows to long iron bars. 3 The slaves undertook
vast hunger strikes, undid their chains and hurled themselves on the
crew in futile attempts at insurrection. With regard to the conduct
of the slaves on ship one authority, Falconbridge, in his "Account of
the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa" states "As very few of the
negroes can so far brook the loss of their liberty and the hardships
they endure as to bear them with any degree of patience they are ever
upon the watch to take advantage of the least negligence in their
oppressors. Insurrections are frequently the consequence; which are
seldom suppressed without much bloodshed. Sometimes these are
successful and the whole ship's company is cut off. They are like-
wise always ready to seize every opportunity for committing some act
of desperation to free themselves from their miserable state; and not-
withstanding the restraints under which they are laid they often
succeed." It is surprising that the conception of the compliant African
ever developed. The restlessness of the slaves caused revolt to be
endemic in the New World, and one of the constants of slave society
was the planters' fear of slave rebellion. As early as 1522 revolts were
taking place in the New World well before the slave trade to the colonies
became a significant operation and they continued until the eve of
emancipation. Further the large number of escapes contradicts the
theory of docile acceptance of slave status. Prominent examples of
escapes were those of the Bush negroes of Guiana and the Maroons of
Jamaica and Santo Domingo; while even in Barbados which did not
provide mountain and forest refuge, the slaves continually escaped.
There are two further considerations affecting this point, Firstly, it
would seem that the negroes differed in temperament according to
the area from which they came. The Coromantees were supposedly the
most intractable and the Eboes the most timid and despondent.
Secondly, quite often the negro showed outward signs of accommodation,
while biding his time until he could make an effective protest.
Slave rebellions have already been mentioned as the most obvious
form of protest against slavery. Added to this and to the high in-
cidence of escape were numerous cases of suicide and infanticide. The
reaction of the slaves to their subjection, however, was not always
overt. As far as his labour was concerned, the negro contrived to give
a minimum; laziness was reduced to a fine art. That the negro work-
ed as hard as he did was due to constant surveillance. One can see the
frustration in Mrs. Carmichael's statement that "employment is their
abhorrence, idleness their delight; and I have come to this conclusion
'to overwork the negro slave is impossible'." 4 Other well-known tech-
niques were the constant mis-application and waste of labour, the
calculated misuse and destruction of implements, and malingering.
Again Mrs. Carmichael complains "the negroes are fond of quackery;
they have more imaginary diseases than any set of people I ever was
amongst." It is easy to see how this wilful sabotage was adduced as
evidence of the laziness and irresponsibility of the African; but it Is
significant that when permitted to attain worthwhile goals such as the
purchase of their own freedom they worked well without supervision.
Moreover, the amount of energy employed in the cultivation of their
own plots makes nonsense of any theory of congenital laziness.
We have so far been concerned with discussing the myth of negro
compliance, but let this not be construed as asserting a counter-myth
of negro heroics. The reaction to slavery was not uniform. There were
many who compromised themselves, as will be shown later; but for the
present it will be sufficient to assert that the range of variation in
human temperament, to be found in any people, existed in the negro
population. Slavery as a system was not calculated to bring out the
best in those who fell under its sway whether they be owner or slave.
Inevitably the system had a debasing effect on character. Give the
negro slave authority and he often became a fearful tyrant. It is
important to note, for example, that most of the drivers and the head
gang-men were themselves slaves. It is a curious psychological
phenomenon that some members of oppressed peoples display more
sympathy towards the oppressors than to their oppressed fellows. In
the West Indies one is faced with the baffling examples of maroons
helping to put down negro rebellions (Jamaica 1865), and of Amer-
indians of Guiana, themselves exploited by the whites, helping to re-
capture runaway slaves. On the plantations there were some of this
breed. There was a small privileged class, the fore-men of gangs,
coach-men, cooks, butlers, maids, nurses and other house servants,
who, permeated with the vices of their masters and mistresses, despised
the slaves in the fields. Yet, in spite of all this, many worthwhile
traits were preserved and demonstrated. Apart from the few excep-
tions mentioned above, the slave displayed great sympathy for those in
a similar position. The negroes were strongly attached to those com-
panions who came with them on the same ship from Africa. The term
'ship-mate' was understood among them as signifying a primary rela-
tionship. One authority on the negro slave in the United States of
America writes "the negroes are scrupulous on one point; they make
common cause as servants in concealing their faults from their owners.
Inquiry elicits no information; no one feels at liberty to disclose the
transgressor." It stands to reason that without mutual aid slave life
would have been intolerable. It is a fallacy that the negroes had no
values to pass on to their children. Outstanding among their values
was an adherence to polite behaviour. This applied not only to their
conduct towards the whites (which could be dismissed as a survival
technique); but had a solid foundation in the mores of the negroes
themselves. Linked with this was their consideration for the aged
which was commented on by many of the planters themselves.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of negro behaviour on the
plantation was his ambivalence. The planter expected him to be a
dumb beast; the negro knew this and acted the part well. The majority
of the slaves adopted an attitude of wooden stupidity before their
masters. If a negro were asked even an indifferent question, he seldom
gave a prompt reply, but pretending not to understand what was said,
forced a repetition of the question so that he could have time to con-
sider not what was the true answer but what was the most expedient
one to give. Those who took the trouble to observe the slave away
from his master were astonished at the dual personality of the slave.
Comments one contemporary (white) who gained the confidence of
the slaves "one has to hear with what warmth and what volubility and
at the same time with what precision of ideas and accuracy of judgment,
this creature, heavy and taciturn all day, now squatting before his fire,
tells stories, talks, gesticulates, argues, passes opinions, approves and
condemns both his master and those who surround him." Du Tertre,
the French authority on 17th century slave conditions, complains that
the slaves were very fond of mocking others, particularly the French
colonists. They would laugh and talk about anything reprehensible
that their masters did; they would invent nicknames which were really
appropriate and which stuck. While this banter might have offended
the delicate sensibilities of this Dominican friar, it must be regarded
as one of the most commendable traits in the negro character. A sense
of humour is a gem at any time and even more so under the exacting
conditions of slavery. The fact that the negro slave could laugh at
himself, his master, and those who surrounded him stands high to
No other aspect of West Indian slave history is more bedevilled by
partisan "scholarship" than the treatment of the slave. To place the
problem in its proper perspective one must realise that the planter
was interested firstly in his personal safety and secondly in exacting
maximum profits out of the system. These two values sometimes con-
flicted. To cow the slaves into the necessary docility and acceptance
necessitated a regime of calculated brutality, and it is this which
explains the unusual spectacle of property-owners apparently careless
of preserving their property. The tortures and the bestialities of
slavery shall not be outlined; but it is our contention that these
practices were not merely isolated incidents the extravagances of a
few half-crazed colonists as some professional white-washers have
insisted, but part of a general and deliberate policy based on the motto
"With a hand of iron alone can the negro be kept in subjection." Since
slavery existed in the West Indies for almost three centuries it would
clearly be unhistorical to treat it as completely static, and the evidence
is that the treatment of the slaves was milder towards the end of the
period. Thus 5 Hodgson, writing at the time of emancipation, though
emphasising the harshness of the treatment of the slaves pointed out
that torture had long been discontinued. One is faced here not with
the harshness as opposed to mildness but with degrees of harshness.
The slave laws give some indication of the lot of the negroes. As was
to be expected, the slave possessed at first absolutely no legal rights,
and the severity of the laws did indeed reflect the treatment of the
slaves. However, as the practice of slavery became milder, these laws
were seldom amended. Defender of slavery as he was, Bryan Edwards
wrote "I am afraid that the sense of decorum alone affords but a futile
restraint against the corrupt passions and infirmities of our nature,
the harshness of avarice, the pride of power, the sallies of anger, and
the thirst of revenge." While the relations between master and slave
might be governed by custom in ways favourable to the slave, the laws
could not be amended to make the master actionable when he offends
against custom. One mistake made by the abolitionists was that of
quoting the old laws as truly representative of existing conditions. This
discrepancy between formal laws and what actually happened worked
both ways. The French "Code Noir" was an enlightened piece of legisla-
tion for its day (1685), but there is a darkness beyond which no light
can penetrate, and the French West Indian planters lived in this dark-
ness. Returning to the British West Indies it is to be noted also that
the change effected by the passing of the amelioration laws in the 19th
century was more apparent than real.
Apart from the physical violence to which he was exposed the
negro from infancy was also subjected to every species of outrage and
mortification most likely to break his spirit. The normal form of
address was hostile and contemptuous. At times the negro was
maliciously deprived even of recreational pleasures which had nothing
to do with his work; often the depravity of the owners even ran to
castration. Race prejudice was also emphasised in order to demoralise
the negro. In the earliest days of West Indian colonisatlon whites
were to be seen beside blacks in the field, but this was soon deemed
dangerous, and colour as the most obvious sign of differentiation was
identified with status in a way that suggested that slave labour was
the natural role of the blacks and overlordship that of the whites. It
is significant that in Haiti in the 18th century and in the southern
states of America in the 19th century, the distinction between a white
man and a black man was most fundamental to those whites in the
lowest social and economic positions as the sole basis for their superi-
ority complex. To maintain the gulf between white and black it was
necessary to keep the slave in mental darkness. "The safety of the
whites demands that we keep the negroes in most profound ignorance,"
said the planters; and thus the slaves were denied even the rudiments
of education. It was a remarkable "tour de force" the master first
set out to ensure that the negro never rose above a certain level, and
then justified their treatment of the negro by claiming he was barbarous
and half-human. "Men in a savage life have no incentive to emula-
tion; persuasion is lost on such men, and compulsion to a certain degree
is humanity and charity." The attempt to keep the negroes illiterate
is best seen in its connection with Christian proselytising. The planters
were opposed to any religious instruction being given to the slave, and
even when the church in the West Indies insisted that by christianising
the slaves they would make them better slaves the planters refused
to countenance the modicum which was a pre-requisite for religious
instruction. The case of the Codrington plantations in Barbados was
a very interesting and illuminating one. Its owners, the Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, found themselves in
the ambivalent position of being slave owners and missionaries. Not
surprisingly their efforts to improve the slaves were extremely luke-
warm, and even so their directives issued from London stood small
chance of implementation by the attorneys in the island.
We were at pains to point out the physical rigours of slavery only
because some apologists have tried to deny this. Actually the psycho-
logical subjection was the more important feature, together with the
fact that slavery is a static social system. It is this which makes the
comparison between the conditions of the slave and those of the in-
dustrial worker completely pointless.
The deliberate attempt to deprive the negro even of the basic tools
of learning was not entirely successful. Apart from the fact that some
of the slaves were literate (Mandlngoes) the very system of bondage
impelled some of them to achieve the same articulation as their masters.
Many of the freed slaves (before total emancipation) both black and
mulatto soon rose to the cultural level of their masters. The best
example of this was seen in Santo Domingo, where free men of any
colour could visit France and thus the mulattoes in particular were an
articulate community long before the French Revolution. A few of the
negroes attained a remarkable level of sophistication. In 1789 an
anonymous negro, ex-slave in the southern part of America published
a protest against slavery entitled "Negro Slavery, by Othello: a Free
Negro" in which he wrote "When the united colonies revolted from
Great Britain, they did it on this principle 'that all men are by nature
and of right ought to be free.' After a long, successful and glorious
struggle for liberty, during which they manifested the firmest attach-
ment to the rights of mankind, can they so soon forget the principles
that govern their determination? The importation of slaves into
America ought to be a subject of the deepest regret to every benevolent
and thinking mind. And one of the great defects in the federal system
is the liberty it allows on this head. Venerable in everything else it is
injudicious here and it is much to be deplored that a system of so much
political perfection should be stained with anything that does an
outrage to human nature." In 1794 a negro ex-slave from Santo
Domingo was addressing the Convention in Paris and pledging the
negroes to the cause of the Revolution. Apart from these isolated in-
dividuals, negroes on the whole were comparatively well informed.
Referring once more to Santo Domingo it is noted by several authorities
that the slaves had a vague idea of the notions prevalent in France at
the time of the Revolution, and were determined to apply the principles
to their own situation. In the British West Indies before emancipation
the negroes were aware of the great debate in England about their
future, and daily awaited the proclamation of their freedom. There
may well be more outstanding individuals in our slave history as well
as more instances where the negro rose above his circumstances, but a
new order of scholarship is required to unearth these. Every advanced
country has interpreted its history to reinforce its national pride. In
the West Indies one is almost tempted to say that we have no history,
no nation and no pride. The lack of national heroes is a striking
example of this sad state of affairs. Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh, Morgan
- slave traders and bloody adventurers are the heroes of West Indian
history as presently written. The significance of a hero is that he
allows for a sense of self-identification. It is difficult to conceive
Indians and Negroes in this part of the world achieving any sense of
self-identification with their former masters. Of course not only the
winner of a Victoria Cross is a hero, but also the "Unknown Soldier"
and in West Indian history the anonymous negro slave and the anony-
mous indentured labourer can serve as Unknown Soldiers as sources
of inspiration towards progress and towards social regional unity.
1 Oliver, R. and Fage, J. D. A Short History of Africa Penguin 1962.
2 Herskovits, M. The Myth of the Negro Past, Boston: Beacon Press, 1958.
3 James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins, New York: 1938.
4 Carmichael, A. C. Domestic Manes and social condition of the while, coloured, and
negro population of the West Indes, London: Whittacker, Treacher and Co., 1838.
5 Hodgson, S. J. Truths from the West Indes London: W. Ball, 1838.
NEW SHIBBOLETHS FOR OLD
Williams, Eric. "British Historians and the West Indies",
Trinidad, P. N. M. Publishing Co., Ltd. 1964. $2.00
DR. ERIC WILLIAMS has justly come to be regarded as one of the
prodigies of the contemporary West Indies. Ever since he first publish-
ed his masterly Capitalism and Slavery, he has been easily the most
influential writer on West Indian history to emerge from the West
Indies during the present century. At first, this influence was most
strongly felt among the intellectual elite of the region. But, with Dr.
Williams' lectures in the "University of Woodford Square" and his
successful political leadership of the People's National Movement in
Trinidad, he became the only West Indian historian to possess both a
distinguished academic record and a genuinely popular following willing
to give their eager attention to whether he has to say. This unique
achievement appears all the more remarkable because it has been
combined with years of devoted work as party leader and head of the
government of Trinidad and Tobago. Only extraordinary energy and
commitment could have enabled Dr. Williams to continue, as he has
done, to produce substantial historical works in his chosen field at a
time when he was the Prime Minister of a country moving from colonial
status to independence. Dr. Williams has persevered in both tasks out
of a conviction that intellectual and political liberation are com-
plementary aspects of a new nation's development.
I fully share his belief; but, for this very reason, I find his present
book disappointing and even somewhat irresponsible. Admittedly, it
is surprising that it still manages to be, like the curate's egg, good in
parts. For it is a work of more than twelve chapters on a serious
subject, and it was written in the space of two weeks. Not even Dr.
Williams' phenomenal intellectual vitality can enable him to write a
satisfactory book of that length and scope in that time. His analysis of
British historical interpretation as related to the West Indies seems to
be intended as a scholarly discourse addressed primarily but not
exclusively to a popular audience, and the author's expressed purpose
in writing it was to educate his compatriots in their past history and
indicate to the larger world the unique antecedents of the people of
the West Indies. (p. v). Judged by these standards, however, the
book is just not good enough either for the people or for the students
of the West Indies who are likely to read it. There is no doubt that
Dr. Williams' name alone can and will sell whatever he chooses to
write. But, since this is so, I venture to hope that he will in future
choose to write no more books like the one now under review. It is a
piece of work that is quite unworthy of the brilliant reputation which
still enables his publishers to describe him as "the acknowledged
authority" in the field of West Indian history.
The whole book which he has written gives the impression of being
basically misconceived. Apparently, it is meant to be an objective
study of its subject: British Historians and the West Indies. But the
relation between Its title and its actual content is loose to the point of
arbitrariness. Dr. Williams discusses at much length the views of
British historians of Britain and the British Empire, but, except for
Carlyle and Froude, he devotes relatively little attention to those
British writers who have actually concerned themselves with the history
of the West Indies. Thus, Bishop Stubbs, E. A. Freeman, John Richard
Green, Lord Macaulay and Lord Acton figure prominently in his nine-
teenth century section, though none of them seems to have shown any
interest in the West Indies; while there is no mention of such nine-
teenth century British writers as Thomas Coke, Thomas Southey, R.
Montgomery Martin and John Davy, who all published historical studies
particularly devoted to the West Indies. Similarly, the imperial
historians, J. R. Seeley, H. E. Egerton, Sir Reginald Coupland and G. R.
Mellor, chiefly occupy Dr. Williams' attention for the twentieth cen-
tury; while the British historians who have written about the West
Indies in this period are almost completely ignored, and even the work
of Lord Olivier, W. L. Burn and Richard Pares, whose names appear
on the cover of the book, is either discussed quite cursorily or not at
all. These last omissions appear especially striking because Dr.
Williams devotes three chapters to the subject of the "Jamaica
Rebellion," yet never analyses Lord Olivier's major contribution to its
interpretation; and he does not mention Burn's most important book,
Emancipation and Apprenticeship in the British West Indies; nor does
he include so much as a reference to Pares' great work on West Indian
economic history in his chapter on British Historical Writing and the
West Indies after World War II, which is almost completely taken up
with discussions of Mellor's work, and, even more surprisingly, of the
writings of the American, Frank Tannenbaum.
It is this chapter, in fact, which gives what appears to be the deci-
sive clue to the much more valuable study which Dr. Williams could
have written if he had more carefully considered what he was about.
For the one theme which does give his book real internal coherence is
the obvious relevance of the books discussed, not to his ostensible
subject, but to the spiritual autobiography of Dr. Williams' own in-
tellectual development into "a rebel against the British historical tradi-
tion which Oxford has done so much to develop." (p. 164) This brief
description of himself may serve to emphasise more sharply that the
real subject of the book, obscured by its title, is Dr. Williams' own
reaction against the racialism and moral self-righteousness which he
has found to be integral parts of the traditional interpretation of
British and imperial history. In my opinion, it is this hidden theme
which will give its lasting value to the work. But, though research
students will no doubt unearth its significance, the misleading form
under which it is presented as a learned discussion of a different sub-
ject can hardly fall to confuse the understanding of the popular reader.
It would have been much more relevant and genuinely enlightening
for us all if Dr. Williams had abandoned the scholarly mask and given
us an honest account of his own struggle to liberate himself from "the
inferior status to which these writings sought to condemn" him and
Instead, he has produced a book which gives the most unfortunate
impression that historians who only write about the West Indies are
less Interesting and worthwhile subjects of study than those who write
about Britain and the British Empire. This would be bad enough if it
were only implied by his rather disconcerting choice of writers to be
discussed in a historiographical work of the kind that he has under-
taken to write. But Dr. Williams does not suggest this conclusion by
implication only. In his very first chapter, there is a flat statement of
this astonishing view when he writes: "Did any great historians defend
the slavery cause? The two pro-slavery historians are Edward Long
and Bryan Edwards. Long wrote a history of Jamaica and Edwards a
history of the British Colonies in the West Indies. In other words,
where Smith and Clarkson dealt with matters of world .historical
importance, their opponents were unable to treat this subject from any
broad point of view of the history of imperialism or colonies." (p. 9).
In spite of all Dr. Williams' protestations about the need for cultivating
a West Indian inspiration, in spite even of his own authorship of a
History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago, can the ordinary reader
of this judgment really be expected to draw from it any other con-
clusion than that a West Indian subject-matter is somehow worthless?
Dr. Williams cannot have it both ways. If he ignores or devalues
writers because they write about the West Indies rather than about
other subjects, then he is perpetuating the very attitudes of mind
which have in the past led to the neglect of West Indian studies which
he himself constantly condemns.
The combination of omissions and hasty dogmatism which mars
his present book will not remedy the unhappy conditions which have
for so long retarded the development of our understanding of "the
unique antecedents of the people of the West Indies." Indeed, it may
well have the effect of making them worse. For Dr. Williams and every-
one else knows that his opinions carry great weight in this part of the
world. Many of his readers will think that works on the West Indies
are not worth mentioning if Dr. Williams does not mention them, even
though these works could be read with much profit by the general
public if they were made aware of their existence; and, in addition, Dr.
Williams is very likely to be believed when he suggests that works such
as those of Edward Long and Bryan Edwards are not worth reading or
reprinting. These are positive disservices to the advancement of West
Cheap paperback editions of Long and Edwards are urgently need-
ed, and not only for "specialists" in West Indian History. It is many
years now since I thoroughly analysed the views of these two writers
in my Study on the Historiography of the British West Indies to the
End of the Nineteenth Century, and my discussion in that work must
make it obvious that I am aware of their sectional and racial biases.
But my opinion is still now, as it was then, that they are indispensable
reading for anyone who wants to understand the West Indian society
of the past and the West Indian inheritance of the present. It is
essential for West Indians to grasp in all its complexity the nature
of the influence which slavery has exercised over their history. But
they will not be able to do this until they can see the white colonists,
the free people of colour and the Negro slaves as joint participants in
a human situation which shaped all their lives. Reading Long and
Edwards can certainly help to develop an understanding of the basic
pressures inherent in this situation, and it is one of the best cures I
can think of for the bigoted view that we can only learn from a writer
who belongs to our "side" on any question. Any attentive reader of
their works is likely to find both their differences and their resemblances
I have already written elsewhere that Eward Long's encyclopedic
survey of Jamaica seems to me to be "one of the truly great achieve-
ments in the writing of West Indian history." With its acid polemical
style and its vigorous criticism of the colonial establishment both
qualities that are very reminiscent of Eric Williams himself it would
be well worth preserving even if it did not also contain its notorious
attack on the capacity of Negroes. But, with this revealing addition,
it can justly be described as "one of the most interesting social docu-
ments left to posterity by any single historian of the British West
Indies." 1 Surely, this is a book which every West Indian should have
the chance of reading and judging for himself.
As for Bryan Edwards, he is his own best defence, and I have only
to quote him to prove it. In Edwards' work, the description of the
Negroes which Dr. Williams has included on p. 10 is preceded by an
account of the original differences of character and custom among the
"tribes" brought to the West Indies from Africa. According to Edwards,
these differences tended to disappear in time, so that, in his own words.
"Of the miserable people thus condemned to perpetual exile and
servitude, though born in various and widely-separated countries, it is
not easy to discriminate the peculiar manners and native propensities.
The similar and uniform system of life to which they are all reduced;
the few opportunities and little encouragement that are given them
for mental improvement; are circumstances that necessarily induce a
predominant and prevailing cast of character and disposition." 2 Even a
modern social scientist could hardly say more; and, in fact, this sociolo-
gical insight, of which many more instances can easily be found in
Edwards' work, is all the more valuable and carries a greater weight of con-
viction to those who take the trouble to read him precisely because he is
a writer who also tried to defend the slave system but was forced by his own
honesty to admit that it could not be defended unconditionally. Dr.
Williams, however, indicates nothing of this in his short and scathing
discussion, and his readers will be the poorer for this failure to under-
stand that taking the side of slavery does not make an historian auto-
matically contemptible as a source for the study of West Indian History.
But, even if we accept the highly questionable argument that Long
and Edwards are to be dismissed because they did not take "a certain
side" on the slavery issue, what is to be said of Dr. Williams' curt dis-
missal of Malachi Postlethwayt? When Dr. Williams asks "Who has
ever heard of Postlethwayt?" (p. 9), he seems to be quite unconscious
of the fact that, by his own standards, Postlethwayt too merits our
attention, since he was definitely on the side of the angels. For, more
than twenty years before Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations appeared,
Postlethwayt was already criticising the slave trade on economic
grounds and arguing that Negro slaves might be replaced by free
Europeans in the work of colonial agriculture. His view, repeated over
and over again in his Dictionary, was that the slave trade with Africa
should be abandoned because "while the slaving trade with these people
continues to be the great object of the Europeans, it will ever spirit up
wars and hostilities among the negro princes and chiefs, for the sake of
making captives of each other for sale. This, therefore, will ever
obstruct the civilising of these people, and extending of the trade into
the bowels of Africa, which, by the contrary means, might be easily
practicable."3 When Dr. Williams asserts that this is a writer who
has been deservedly by-passed by history, it becomes necessary to
make the point that Postlethwayt also needs reprinting, so that
authors who set out to write about him may check whether he does
in fact say what they think he said.
The first chapter, in which these untenable judgments follow each
other with an amazing regularity and authority, is probably the worst
in the book. But it has competitors in other parts of the text which
confirm the initial evidence that Dr. Williams no longer has the time
necessary for the systematic critical investigation of sources which
must be undertaken before a detailed historical work on any subject
can be written. This should surprise no one, and least of all Dr.
Williams himself who must know how much slow and scrupulous
research has to go into any historical study which is to be reliably
documented and interpreted. Dr. Williams' fellow-scholars in the field
of West Indian studies, who are mostly on the staff of the University
of the West Indies, can and do produce basic analytical studies of this
kind. That, after all, is part of their job as University teachers. But
Dr. Williams cannot do everything, and so he probably does not read
much of their work either. As a result, the intellectual isolation which
has plagued him since he was a rebellious undergraduate at Oxford
continues to make itself felt in his work, and he still writes like a man
who finds himself the only voice crying out in the wilderness of an
alien and hostile historical tradition.
But I have good news for Dr. Williams there are now quite a
lot of people who speak much the same language, and the rebellion
no longer stands where it did. What seemed revolutionary in the
Oxford of the 1930's was already orthodox at the U.C.W.I. in the 1950's
and will certainly by now have penetrated large numbers of schools all
over the West Indies; and, in case he should want to look at some of
the evidence for this claim, he can easily find it by reading the dis-
cussions of William Sewell's book which are to be found in my
Historiography and in George Cumper's excellent article on 4Labour
Demand and Supply in the Jamaican Sugar Industry, both of
which were written in the early 1950's or by checking the substan-
tial extracts from Sewell's work which have been made available to
schoolchildren as well as undergraduates through the paperback
Sources of West Indian History edited by Roy Augier and Shirley
Gordon. Dr. Williams is no longer quite alone in his struggle to re-
educate the West Indian people and others about the facts of their
history. There are now other labourers in that vineyard.
In these circumstances, I cannot help thinking that it is a most
unnecessary and damaging waste for Dr. Williams to spend his very
limited time doing badly the kind of detailed monographic work which
can be and is being done already by other scholars with competent
professional qualifications. And the alternative to more embarrassing
"four minute" books like the present is certainly not silence. It is a
rational division of labour which will enable Dr. Williams to spend
whatever time he can spare from his many heavy duties on writing
really thoughtful and creative essays in West Indian History, like
Richard Pares' Merchants and Planters or the more ambitious and
famous Cuban Counterpoint of Fernando Ortiz. This is work that only
the scholar of mature experience can hope to do well, for it depends
upon distilling into a relatively small compass the generalisations of a
lifetime of learning. As far as I know, Dr. Williams is the only West
Indian historian still practising his craft who has behind him thirty
years' knowledge of his chosen field. What we need is access to this
knowledge, and since Dr. Williams is no longer an academic teacher,
he can only pass it on by writing it down and publishing it. What we
need therefore is a series of studies which will sum up for us the con-
clusions of his life and work as a pioneer In the professional study of
West Indian History.
To start with, perhaps we could have his reflection on the role of
those critics of slavery to whom he has dedicated this book. Such a
work might be a pamphlet rather than a book, like Dr. Williams'
valuable Negro in the Caribbean. Its most important requirements
have nothing to do with length and everything to do with quality. It
should be very carefully thought out, honest, and serious; and it should
make no claims about its own value which cannot self-evidently be
fulfilled. It would take, of course, some time to plan. But it need
not take an excessively long time to write; and it could be a tremendous
contribution to our discipline perhaps most of all in stimulating
further research. Certainly, I should expect it to be a more worthy
and effective instrument of general education, which is essentially based
on the enlivening flow of ideas between interested minds and not on
intellectual condescension. Whether in education or in history, good
intentions are not enough, and the road to hell is paved with authorita-
tive half-truths. No one is ever educated or liberated from the past
by being taught how easy it is to substitute new shibboleths for old.
EISA V. GOVEIA,
Department of History,
University of the West Indies.
1 Goveia, Elsa V. A study on the Historiography of the British West Indies to the end
of the Nineteenth Century, Mexico: Instituto Panamericano de Geografia e Historia
2 Edwards, Bryan The History cvil and commercial of the British colonies In the West
Indies, London: 1801 edition Vol. II, p. 68.
3 Postlethwayt, Malachi The Universal Dictonary of trade and commerce, London:
1751-55 Vol. I, p. 25.
4 Cumper, George "Labour Demand and Supply in the Jamaica Sugar Industry,"
Social and Economic Studies Vol. II, 4 (March 1954), pp. 37-86.
Pope Hennessy, Sir John, Verandah-Some Episodes in Crown
Colonies, 1867- 1889, Allen and Unwin, 1964, pp. 313.
Foot, Sir Hugh. A Start in Freedom, Lond., Hodder & Stoughton, 1964,
pp. 256; 30/-.
BRITAIN had by 1867 settled on a certain general policy for the
administration of her scattered possessions. Each colony had to live on
its own resources, and keep itself in good financial order sufficient at
least to pay for its defence and to meet the emoluments of its British
officials. The duty of these officers was to maintain British prestige,
justice and security without troubling unnecessarily to change what-
ever social and political patterns prevailed. Thus racial discrimination,
like economic backwardness, wherever encountered, was presumed In
Victorian laissez-faire terms to lie in the natural order of things. The
governor popular with the Colonial Office was one who fully accepted
this general policy, raised sufficient taxes, peacefully preserved the
status quo, and refrained from agitating the "subject races" with ex-
pectations beyond their fit stations in life. When some extra-ordinary
governor showed reformist zeal, his transfer or his resignation would
The haphazard patronage method by which such senior officials
were selected occasionally threw up governors whose temperaments
were quite unsuited to the current colonial policy. Such was the case
of John Pope-Hennessy, who over a period of 22 years was the stormy
petrel of colonial administration. He had been a very young Irish Tory
M.P. whose debating in the House of Commons caught the attention of
Disraeli. At 33 he was compensated for the loss of his seat by being
appointed Governor of the insalubrious island Labuan. The frustrated
politician took vigorous charge of this Far-Eastern colony, and with
self-righteous zeal proceeded to shake up the administration of the
society, to the delight of the natives and to the consternation of the
handful of local whites, who did not expect to see coloured people in
politics or high in the public services, or for that matter at Government
Pope-Hennessy proceeded to act in the same way when posted to
the West African Settlements (now Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria).
Indeed he went so far as to recommend, in 1872, a West African Univer-
sity to train local men-a proposal which officials at the Colonial Office
viewed with listless scepticism. Next he served in the Bahamas where
in an unusually tranquil interlude, he won local praise for "being an
indefatigable worker for the good of all classes in the colony." Of course
he again quarrelled with his British subordinates, and upset local white
society by levying taxes on luxuries Instead of on the Negroes' food.
His apparent success as Governor of the Bahamas brought promotion
to Barbados. There, the situation of an enterprising reform-minded
Irish Governor trying to manage an archaic constitution in one of the
most hide-bound and most English of colonies led quickly to disaster.
When Pope-Hennessy tried to engineer a confederation between Bar-
bados and some other islands in the Leewards and Windwards, the
stubborn and narrow oligarchs of Barbados furiously resisted. The
eventual "Federation Riots" were a consequence of a characteristic
policy which, again, alienated the whites and agitated the blacks. The
Governor had to be transferred for "political reasons", this time to
Hong Kong, for which post he left carrying in his dispatch box a
laudatory address signed by 5,000 Barbadian Negroes. As Governor of
Hong Kong "he treated the Chinese as partners", wrote a local historian,
and "largely because of this he was hated by the Europeans". He sus-
pended public flogging, changed his Colonial Secretary seven times in
five years, and diverted society with a family scandal. The Colonial
Office soon thought best to transfer him. The last territory committed
to his care was Mauritius. To this day he is remembered there as "le
Gouverneur des Pauvres", the first to take a positive interest in the
plight of the poor of African or Asian stock, and the first to persuade a
reluctant Secretary of the Colonies to grant an elective franchise. Again
he was to be accused of fomenting unrest-the unrest of growth and
change-to the profound alarm of those who desired to see things
remain as they were. He was suspended from duty, but later grudgingly
His grandson, James Pope-Hennessy, tells his story in a remarkable
study of the panorama of colonial life entitled Verandah. It is no
dutiful monument of filial pride. Pope-Hennessy and his wife are
described warts and all, and the author is more patient than his hero
with the points of view of the officials, at Whitehall or in the colonies,
with whom the Governor constantly clashed. A great amount of en-
tertaining material is organized and presented-the author obviously
relishes verandah lore-so that fascinating fragments of the imperial
past are vividly recreated for the reader. The book can be enjoyed as
much by those who are intrigued by the failings of human character
in the tropics, as by those who more solemnly seek to understand the
outworkings of Britain's colonial policy.
For either kind of reader an excellent companion book would be
Governor Hugh Foot's A Start in Freedom. Also extremely readable,
full of anecdote and quotation, not seldom from himself, this book
reveals a power of narrative as effective, in its own way, as James Pope-
Hennessy's more professional touch. Sir Hugh Foot's book is an auto-
biographical form, however, and therefore is much more reticent and
modest about its subject's private and personal life. However, by way
of explanation of his own choice of career and his enthusiasm for
foreign peoples, he tells us a good deal about his father and brothers,
whose political careers he sought to avoid, but whose religious and
liberal principles guided him at every stage of his life.
His story covers the period of the end of Empire. By the time Hugh
Foot first became a Governor, in 1951, he had become a species set for
extinction. Britain's colonial policy had been borne along by winds of
change into one of first providing development and welfare, then of
granting an independence which could bring both the rewards of free-
dom and free association-or in Sir Hugh Foot's phrase, "the chance
to walk the plank into a sea of troubles". But yet when he was recruited
by Sir Ralph Furse, Patronage Secretary at the Colonial Office, some-
thing of the nineteenth century view of Empire still persisted. Young
Mr. Foot was chosen for colonial service precisely because as a Univer-
sity man he did not appear to be a too-clever "unsuitable first", but a
Cambridge athlete and debater of character and courage, the type of
muscular Christian thought most suitable for governing Empire with
firmness and justice. He served first in Arabia, as a cadet in Palestine,
later as Assistant British Resident in Trans-Jordan, and got to know
and love the Arabs. In addition to gaining invaluable experience of
men and affairs, he learned to appreciate the ill consequences of "pre-
varications and procrastinations of policy", in this case the British
policy toward the Zionists. After war service as a political lieutenant
colonel in various parts of the Mediterranean came the first opportunity
to deputise as Governor of Cyprus, for whose rancorous peoples he soon
developed an understanding affection. Psychologists say that one cannot
help liking the persons one serves faithfully and well. This perhaps
explains his liking for Greek and Turk, for Sir Hugh Foot stood out
among his colleagues as the type of pro-consul who viewed his position
as the opportunity to be "a friend and servant". He was roused to
homicidal fury, he admits, when teasing English visitors suggested that
a Colonial governor existed to look after strictly British interests.
Then came service as Chief Secretary in Jamaica and Nigeria. By
this time Britain's policy was one of creative abdication and Sir Hugh
Foot was its ideal agent. He seized the initiative in proposing constitu-
tional changes, encouraged local leaders to take on the responsibilities
of self-government, and enormously increased the morale of the public
service by facilitating the promotion of local men to the highest grades.
In Jamaica, his first Governorship, he laboured for the West Indian
Federation which the local politicians were then demanding. Charac-
teristically he does not fear to risk his esteem in Jamaica by describing
the disgust he felt on Jamaica's Independence night, when he saw a
jubilant populace rejoicing at the fall of Federation. "Jamaica has
chosen a selfish second best. It was a victory for reaction".
In his most important chapter he describes in detail his second
stay in Cyprus, the difficult negotiations with Greece and Turkey and
with the enigmatic Archbishop Makarios, his discussions with Prime
Minister Macmillan ("wheel in the idealist", the latter would say in
summoning Sir Hugh) and the final settlement which hopefully created
the republic of Cyprus. But he says little about the cold courage he
displayed in going about Nicosia on foot, instead of in his predecessor's
armoured car. 2
By this time (1959) there were few first class governorships left,
so Mr. Macmillan appointed him to be a representative at the United
Nations with the personal rank of Ambassador, and with the duty of
presenting Britain's case when Colonial matters came up for discussion.
This allowed Sir Hugh Foot opportunities for vigorous debate with
Russian critics of Empire, and for explaining the attitudes of the new
Afro-Asian ex-colonies to his own Foreign Office. But soon, as in Pope-
Hennessy's case, his career as a public servant overseas came to an end,
when his temperament and principles caused him to clash with
Whitehall. Once more a too-fervent belief in racial equality on the
part of the pro-consul abroad ran counter to policies of expediency
at home. Sir Hugh Foot resigned his post over the issue of African
voting-rights in Southern Rhodesia, and though he writes with great
care not to betray official confidences, the final section of his book
turns out to be a scathing commentary on the views of certain Con-
servative Cabinet Members, notably Mr. Butler and Lord Home.
It is not hard to draw parallels between the temperaments and
policies of the two governors. Both enjoyed the trappings of office, both
clashed with superiors over the interests of their charges, though, as
far as we. can know, Sir Hugh Foot got on better with his British sub-
ordinates. In the background of both careers were long suffering Sec-
retaries of the Colonies, and their Permanent Under-Secretaries, forced
to rebuke and then ratify the actions of their impetuous agents. Both
fought for penal reform, and were distressed by capital punishment.
Both sought to promote persons of colour to posts of responsibility in
the colonial hierarchies, and strove to broaden the elective franchise,
often at a rate ahead of the opinion of prominent local people. Their
careers illustrate the role of the personal element in history and,
particularly, the importance of the quality of the guardians to the
happiness of the governed.
Perhaps the key to their record as Governors lay in the fact that,
to use brother Michael Foot's words, each "grasped the point about our
convulsive commonwealth. One man is as good as another. Each has
an equal right to control his own destiny".
After retirement from colonial service Pope-Hennessy had hoped
to enter the House of Lords to serve as a spokesman for, or perhaps
even as a shaper of policy in colonial affairs. Perhaps the course of
Empire would then have proceeded a little differently. But he died,
aged 57, a sturdy constitution succumbing at last to the years of life in
the nineteenth century tropics. There are reports that Sir Hugh Foot, still
full at 56 of what he calls "physical exuberance" may have that further
opportunity, if there are changes in Downing Street, to thus participate
in the next decade of world-building.
B. A. N. COLLINS