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Table of Contents
VOL. 18 NO. 3 SEPTEMBER 1972
Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
7. Reappraising the Sixth Form Idea
23. Educational Planning in a Developing Society The Case of British
34. A Functional Role of Teachers' Organizations in Barbados
43. Libraries and Librarianship in the Commonwealth Caribbean
51. West Indian Higher Education The Story of Codrington College
George C. Simmons
73. Teaching Literature in a Dialect/Standard Situation
77. The Development of Library Service in the West Indies through
inter-library co-operation Alma Jordan
78. Society, Schools and Progress in the West Indies John J. Figueroa
80. New Ships, An Anthology of West Indian Poems, ed. D.G. Wilson.
Talk of the Tamarinds, An Anthology of Poetry, ed. A.N. Forde
82. Publications of the Department
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
R.M. Nettleford, Director of Extra-Mural Studies (Editor)
Lloyd Braithwaite, Pro-Vice Chancellor, U.W.I., St. Augustine, Trinidad.
Sidney Martin, Pro-Vice Chancellor, U.W.I., Cave Hill, Barbados.
Roy Augier, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Mona, Jamaica.
J.J. Figueroa, Professor, Faculty of Education, U.W.I., Mona, Jamaica.
G.A. Alleyne, Professor, Medical Research Council, U.W.I., Mona.
Lloyd Coke, Department of Botany, U.W.I., Mona.
Patricia Williams, Department of Extra-Mural Studies, U.W.I., Mona,
Jamaica. (Assoc. Editor).
All correspondence should be addressed to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommended subjects which
they would like to see discussed in CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY Articles of
Caribbean relevancy will be gratefully received.
United Kingdom 1 (Sterling) + Postage
(a) Jamaica $2.00 (J.)
(b) Eastern Caribbean $5.00 (E.C.)
U.S.A. and other countries $4.00 (U.S.) + Postage
Subscription orders may be forwarded to the Editor or to the Resident
Tutor at University Centre in any West Indian Territory served by this
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
ERROL MILLER Principal Mico Training College formerly Lecturer in
Department of Education, University of the West Indies (Mona).
NORMAN ASHCRAFT Department of Anthropology, Adelphi University,
LEONARD SHOREY Extra Mural Tutor, Barbados, (Senior Lecturer)
University of the West Indies.
ALMA JORDAN Chief Librarian, University of the West Indies (St. Augustine).
GEORGE C. SIMMONS Professor & Chairman, Department of Social &
Humanistic Foundations of Education, State University of New York,
Brockport, New York.
NORMA SEGRE Resident Tutor, Jamaica (Eastern).
ANDREW SALKEY West Indian novelist, editor and broadcaster, based
in London, England.
SYBIL JAMES Lecturer, Church Teachers' College, Mandeville.
This issue of CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY is addressing itself to some, if all
too few, aspects of education in the English-speaking Caribbean. Future issues
must of necessity address themselves to other vital areas of West Indian Education
in order to stimulate discussion in a field in which the University of the West
Indies must play a vital role. What the Faure Report on Education* says of
traditional education in many countries may be said to be still true of education
as it is conceived by many today in the West Indies. To many West Indian
educators and educational planners the purpose of education has been exclusively
to "transmit values, knowledge and skills which the adult world recommend
to, or forced on, young people, in order to incorporate them in" societies not of
their making. Moreover, the entrenchment of education within particular social
classes and age groups, the fragmentation of the process into independent levels
or streams and the failure to ensure "constant exchange of ideas between man
and his social environment" as well as to "offer everyone the opportunities of the
learning society," are features common enough to West Indian and wider
Dr. Errol Miller's article on the Sixth Form idea not only bares the bones of
one of the educational sacred cows of the colonial heritage but offers suggestions
for remedying the evils of the system which has nurtured it. With limited
money-and-skill resources and rationed time in which to make ameliorative
measures effective, the need is crucial for purposive planning which will
rationalise skills and services around to rapid educational development. The article
on educational planning with special reference to the British Honduran experience
attempts to make this point. Then there are the agents and agencies concerned
with the development process in education which are many and wide-ranging.
Teachers and teachers' organizations readily suggest themselves. These are seen
in Dr, Shorey's article as participating in a greater and more far-reaching process
of life-long learning rather than being locked into a traditional system of
unrelated segments of pre-school, school, and post-school.
Yet another agent in the educational process is the library; and so the growth
of libraries and the profession of librarianship receive attention from Dr. Jordan
* Learning to Be (Report of study undertaken by the International Commission on the
Development of Education, presided over by Edgar Faure) UNESCO Harrap Paris
who emphasises the importance of an institution in a region whose inhabitants
have either been deprived of books for far too long or are yet to master fully
the techniques of their use and application.
One of the many early West Indian institutions that sought to achieve such
mastery was Codrington College in Barbados whose affiliation with Durham
College, England, produced many of the early planners and executants in West
Indian educational development, and anticipated for Caribbean Higher Education
a structural pattern which characterized the later establishment of the University
College of the West Indies.
With the social and political developments of the past thirty years it is now
clear that new vision and realistic re-assessment must inform all educational
activities so as to help the West Indian to "control not only natural and
productive forces, but social forces too, and in so doing acquire mastery over
himself, his choices and actions." CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY will again
address itself to these vital issues of Caribbean life in future publications.
REAPPRAISING THE SIXTH FORM IDEA
The Sixth Form in Jamaican High Schools has been and still is the mechanism
by which students are prepared for the Cambridge General Certificate of
Education at Advanced Level, 'A' level. (Prior to 1964 it was the Cambridge
Higher School Certificate, H.S.C.). The 'A' level/H.S.C. has been the educational
goal and the sixth form the institutional means of achieving that goal. These
examinations have been the primary and overriding purpose of sixth form
education ever since they were introduced in 1918.
The sixth form like many other aspects of the Jamaican educational system
was borrowed from Britain during the colonial period. In this respect Jamaica is
in no way peculiar because the British were very generous in lending their
educational institutions to their colonies. Sixth form is therefore a well known
educational institution in almost all parts of the British Commonwealth.
The point to be noted here is that the sixth form idea has been preserved
virtually unchanged since its introduction 54 years ago. However, over this same
period significant changes have taken place in other spheres. There have been
changes in educational outlook and in the educational provision. The University
of the West Indies, U.W.I. has come into existence and has been firmly
established as an institution of higher learning. There has been change in the
structure of the educational system. Of greater significance has been the
fundamental change in the political status of the society. This has led to a sense
of national identity and the formulation of national goals. The society has
moved away from an existence justified by its relationship to the 'Mother
Country' to an existence as a society in its own right, seeking its own ends,
justified by its own predilections. It is only natural, therefore, that ideas
borrowed in the colonial past will of necessity be re-evaluated and re-appraised
in order to establish their validity in the new context and their potential in
relationship to the new goals of the society.
While this re-evaluation is inevitable it is happening slowly. As one would
expect the first candidates are those ideas and institutions which are currently
giving unsatisfactory service. The sixth form falls into this category.
The intention of the present writer is to undertake a thorough re-evaluation
of the sixth form idea within the context of the Jamaican society and
educational system. Reference must of necessity be made to the public debate
which has been taking place over the last two or so years. Hopefully the scope of
the debate will be extended and ways will be pointed to by which this expressed
concern can be transformed into meaningful educational reform.
There appears to be five separate but interrelated assumptions that have been
implicit in the sixth form idea as it has been understood and practiced in
Firstly, sixth form exists to prepare students for an external examination.
Reference has already been made to this point, however, it is so fundamental to
any understanding of the nature of sixth form education that it is not possible to
over-emphasise this relationship. It is not unfair to say that within the context of
the Jamaican education system, the conceptualization of the external
examination, 'A' level, and sixth form has been analogous to the relationship
between thirst and water. That is, it is inherently necessary for the proper
functioning of the society for some of its members to reach the educational
standards set by those external examinations and that sixth form is the natural
way of satisfying this need.
This has meant that sixth form education has been controlled almost
exclusively by the curriculum designed by the University of Cambridge Overseas
Examination Syndicate. While Cambridge has always exercised benevolent
control, in that it has allowed local participation in curriculum decisions and in
some operational areas, it has always retained sovereignty. Although enlightened
citizens and educators have always exhorted teachers to depart from the
Cambridge syllabus in order to widen the students' appreciation, the pressures
and prerogatives of the examinations have always fostered a strict observance
and adherence. It is reasonable to say that sixth form education is effectively
controlled by an agency external to the education system in particular and to
the society in general.
Secondly, sixth form has always been primarily for the academic elite who
intend to go to university. High School education in Jamaica has always been for
an elite. At the present about ten percent of the respective age cohorts receive
this type of education. The percentage doing so was much less in the past. Sixth
form is designed for the elite of this privileged ten percent. The whole selection
process for sixth form ensures this. While students of modest educational
achievements have been tolerated in sixth form from time to time, they have
never been encouraged to enter it.
Not only is it for an academic elite but especially for those who intend to go
to university. In this respect sixth form represents the culmination of the main
purposes of high school education, namely to produce students for the
university. So close is the relationship between sixth form and the university
that entry requirements for the university are written in terms of 'A' level
Also many financial schemes for helping students to defray the cost of
university education are also linked to students' performance in the 'A' level
examinations. The sixth form idea has never included considerations for students
who are not 'university bound.'
Prior to 1948 sixth form education led to British universities. Thus it
represented the highest level of academic education available in the educational
system. Since the establishment of U.W.I. the trend has been for sixth form to
produce students mainly for that institution.
Thirdly, sixth form education has meant specialization in a few academic
subjects. In the earlier days subject specialization was restricted to Classics, Arts
or Sciences. Today the trichotomy has been replaced by the Arts/Science
dichotomy with the decline of interest in the Classics. The whole idea is for
students to choose two, three, or four subjects according to their aptitudes,
interests and vocational ambitions and to undertake an introductory yet
comprehensive study of these subjects which hopefully will give them a
thorough appreciation of the subjects, develop characteristics of thought
desirous of university undergraduates, and provide the foundation upon which
further study of these subjects at the university can be based. Put another way,
sixth form education involves a comprehensive introduction to Mathematics,
Physics and Chemistry or English Literature, French and Spanish along with
study for a General Paper which is designed to test skills in the manipulation of
the English Language along with enlightened general knowledge. This is to a very
great extent engages the energies of the sixth former for the two-year duration
of the course.
Fourthly, Sixth form is a part of the high school. Here one is pointing to the
dual nature of sixth form. It is physically located at the secondary level yet the
content of the education given is completely oriented to and concerned with the
University. The sixth form marks the beginning of university education much
more than it does the end of high schooling. That sixth form is terminal to high
school education is purely incidental. As a result the university degree
programme for successful sixth former is only of three years duration instead of
four. Because of this sixth form has acquired a prestigious position in the high
school and the University has structured its programme on the assumption that
its students will have completed sixth form.
Fifthly, Sixth former should participate in the government of the school,
this has been the most important non-examination aspect of sixth form. Its
members should play an important role in the leadership of the student body of
the school. In many high schools positions such as Head Boy and/or Head Girl
are limited exclusively to sixth former. Also the expectation is that most of the
prefects, monitors, leaders in sports, clubs, and societies should come from the
sixth form. It is expected that by being so involved the sixth former should not
only help to socialize the young students in the ways of the school, help relieve
teachers of some of the more routine matters, but also that this should help
them to mature and to develop certain qualities of character essential to their
own personal growth and eventually to the leadership positions they will occupy
Criticisms of present Assumptions.
In the current debate on sixth form almost all these implicit assumptions have
been seriously questioned and criticized. It is probably appropriate to report, at
this stage, such aspects of the public debate which are relevant.
I. Substantial questions have been raised with respect to the fact that 'A'
levels are external examinations run by the University of Cambridge Overseas
Examination Syndicate. Should Jamaica continue to give an agency external to
the society and the educational system effective control and power to determine
the nature and content of sixth form education? If sixth form education should
prepare students for university work which in our situation means work at
U.W.I. how can the University of Cambridge be given the franchise to prepare
students for entry to U.W.I.? While Jamaica was a colony this situation did not
represent an untenable state of affairs but as an independent state these
questions cannot be avoided. While Cambridge's enlightened approach has
already been referred to, and U.W.I. personnel do set examination papers and
help supervise practical examinations in certain subjects, this does not change
the fact of external control and it only hastens the question of why Jamaica has
not assumed control over this aspect of its educational system.
The matter of a Caribbean examination body, and more recently a Jamaican
body, has been raised but tangible proposals have not been made for definite and
positive action in the near future. But even here further questions must be asked.
Should a Caribbean 'A' level replace the Cambridge 'A' level? Is this not taking
imitation to a ludicrous extreme merely by changing the labels but leaving the
structure basically intact?
The two essential considerations that arise here are: With what should
Cambridge 'A' level be replaced, and how will the school system be integrated
with the university? This has to be accomplished by meaningful education
reform and not simply by imitation and name changes.
2. Sixth form has also been severely criticized of its narrow academic
curriculum and its University orientation.
The argument is that because of the traditional preoccupation of sixth form
with a small elite those academically able students desirous of university
education it does not cater for those students who are not so inclined or those
whose career ambitions do not require university education.
From this point of view sixth form should be the terminal step for secondary
schooling which will assist the students in making their next stop, rather than
being the first step of university education. The High School should not only
function to provide students for the university. Its students enter the world of
work directly and also into other educational institutions. Sixth form should
therefore have a diversified programme which will cater to the differing
ambitions of and prospects available to students. University education is only one
of the several ambitions of and prospects available to high school students. Sixth
form, therefore, should not cater for any specific group but for all students in
the high school.
A change in sixth form away from preparing students solely for university
also means a diversification of the curriculum of the sixth form to include not
only academic subjects, but also technical, commercial and other subjects of a
distinct vocational nature.
This view of sixth form reflects a change in outlook in the way in which the
high school is conceptualized in terms of its role in the community. It represents
a shift in outlook that is more consistent with the present status and
circumstances of the nation than what sixth form and high schooling have
traditionally meant in this society.
3. The fact that sixth form is part of the secondary system has also come
under close scrutiny and questioning. The arguments made have pointed to the
fact that because of the high status position that sixth form enjoys within the
high school, it has a deleterious effect on the rest of the high school.
The best teachers, equipment, and facilities are reserved for sixth form work.
Because of the nature of sixth form work more time is scheduled on the
timetable for teaching subjects in the sixth form than for teaching those same
subjects at the other levels. Hence the best teachers, equipment, and facilities are
engaged for longer periods of time for sixth form work than at any other level in
the school. When one takes into consideration the meagre financial resources of
the high schools, the shortage of teachers, the inadequacies of their facilities and
equipment, then it is possible to appreciate the fact that sixth form work does
detract significantly from the quality of the work done at other levels of the
Bearing in mind these arguments together with the current inefficiency of
sixth form in producing "good 'A' level results," it has been argued that the high
schools should be relieved of sixth forms. It is argued that if sixth forms were
abolished this would constitute a great boon for the rest of the high school.
Concern for Efficiency
Much of the discussion of sixth form has come about because of concern for
its efficiency both from the point of view of the quality of the students'
performance in 'A' levels and also the number of students enrolled at this level in
comparison with certain manpower requirements of the economy at the present
time and in the foreseeable future. It is this concern that has led to the
questioning of the implicit and fundamental assumptions of the institution of
'A' level performance has been disappointingly poor. There is little evidence
of any appreciable decline in performance of the last decade or so. What appears
to be the case is that of a continued low-level performance over a fairly long
period of time. The cause of this is not known and is open for much speculation.
The consequence, however, is clearly discernable. The pool of people that
qualify for university is very small compared to the numbers needed. U.W.I., for
example, accepts all the Jamaican students with 'A' level qualification who apply
for entry. (The vast majority of those with 'A' level qualification apply to go to
university). After having accepted all who qualify with 'A' level, U.W.I. still has
places for more students. When it is considered that U.W.I. can take only about
two percent of the relevant age cohort then it is possible to appreciate the
magnitude of the problem. This shortage at intake, of course, has implications
for the number of graduates three years later and for the various occupations
which need people of this level of competence.
Seeing that many students who fail 'A' levels persist and subsequently enter
university and graduate, the inefficiency of sixth form has the consequence of
prolonging the time it takes to turn out graduates. Whereas under the current
structure it takes five years to obtain a Bachelor's degree after the end of high
school proper, '0' levels, on account of the inefficiency of sixth form it is taking
many students six years.
Those concerned with the economic and financial aspects of education point
to the fact that the 1,600 odd students in sixth form are scattered over 39
schools with an average of 40 students per school. The replication of so many
small sixth forms throughout the island represents a very uneconomical and
wasteful proposition. Such a situation may be tolerable within the context of a
wealthy educational system. However, within the context of a relatively poor
one it represents a luxury that the society cannot afford.
As has been pointed out already, many high schools are in great financial
straits, consequently this question of the economic viability of the current
organisation of sixth form in the education system becomes of crucial
Grant-aided and Government-owned high schools receive the following
financial considerations for having sixth forms:
I. They are staffed on a staff pupil ratio of 1:18 or 1:17 instead of 1:20
which is the ratio for schools without sixth forms.
2. They receive a class material grant at a higher rate than for the rest of
the school. This grant is $1 per student per year for the non-science
subjects, $2 per student per year for Physics and Botany and $4 per
student per year for Chemistry and Zoology.
It should be noted that the formula by which schools receive Government's
aid is based on per capital cost with respect to teachers' salaries, administration
and class materials. The higher rates for class materials and the lower
teacher/pupil ratio are the means by which the schools obtain the extra funds
for financing sixth forms.
There is little doubt that these special considerations given to schools with
sixth forms are quite inadequate to cover the cost of running the sixth forms.
While schools do try to provide adequate facilities and equipment for sixth form
work the majority fails to realise its desires in this direction.
When all of these factors are taken together it is not hard to see why there is
currently a search for a more economically viable arrangement for education at
sixth form level.
As a result of the consideration of the efficiency of sixth form as currently
operated and the re-evaluation of the assumptions implicit in the sixth form
idea, the consensus both within the educational community and in the public at
large has been that it is untenable to continue it in the traditional manner. Many
practical and positive suggestions have been made with respect to the ways in
which it could be reformed and remodelled or conversely new structures by
which it could be replaced. While some of these proposals have been
implemented in a few places, others are still being discussed. An attempt will be
made here to review the various proposals concerning new directions and to
comment briefly on them.
Firstly, there are two proposals which have actually been implemented which
constitute a departure from the traditional pattern and which in a certain
measure have the effect of diversifying sixth form education.
Wolmer's Girls' School has introduced a commercial option into their Sixth
form. Girls in the commercial Sixth undertake a one-year programme designed
to train them for careers as secretaries, stenographers, book-keeping clerks etc.
The course consists of a study of the various commercial subjects. In order to
enter the programme students must enjoy some success at '0' levels. While this
development introduces a vocational aspect to sixth form work, the danger is
that it could well become the option for girls who are too young to leave school
but who are not deemed able to handle the academic work in the traditional
Excelsior School has introduced a teacher training project in its sixth form. In
this project students in the course of the regular school day, join their other
colleagues in the regular curriculum and prepare themselves to sit two 'A' level
In an afternoon programme between 2 and 4.30 p.m. they receive special
teacher training courses. Hopefully, at the end of the sixth form they will both
qualify with two 'A' levels and also be equipped to teach one or both of these
subjects. While this programme like the former introduces a vocational element
in sixth form, it draws its students from the same academic elite that would have
entered sixth form in any case. One should note, however, that this project has
enormous significance in the field of teacher education.
Secondly, there has been a proposal that is concerned with retaining sixth
form as a part of the high school while at the same time integrating it with
U.W.I. This proposal is to abolish the existing two-year sixth form leading to the
Cambridge GCE 'A' level and replace it with a one-year sixth with a U.W.I.
determined curriculum which would be integrated with its degree programme.
Essentially this would mean that U.W.I. would have a four-year degree
programme; the first year of which would be done in high school and actually
form part of the matriculation requirements of the university.
Knox College obtained the necessary approval from U.W.I. to test the
feasibility of the idea by having its students reading Chemistry in 1971 do the
N I course in Chemistry instead of the Cambridge 'A' level programme. Other
schools are examining this option.
While this option seeks to integrate the high schools with U.W.I. and obtain
an economy in the time it takes students to do a degree, it still conceives of sixth
form only in terms of the academic elite that are desirous of university
Thirdly, there have been two proposals to abolish sixth forms in high schools
altogether; (a) to establish sixth form colleges and (b) to send students directly
to University after '0' levels. (a) The idea of sixth form colleges has been
mooted for some time now as an answer to the problems of economy and
efficiency in organising education at this level.
This concept was developed in the United Kingdom and was quite likely
influenced by the Junior College idea in the United States and Canada. The idea
is that all sixth former would attend two or three colleges strategically located
in different parts of the island. Proponents of this idea contend that it would
provide real opportunity for diversity of sixth form work to include
consideration for students not intending to go to university and who intend to
go directly into the world of work. Also that it would be possible to integrate
the work of the colleges with that of U.W.I. for those students intending to go to
The five Roman Catholic High Schools in the Corporate area, St. George's,
Holy Childhood, Immaculate Conception, Alpha Academy and Campion have
agreed to pool their sixth forms and to develop a sixth form College at Campion,
beginning September, 1971.
(b) The former Minister of Finance, Hon. Edward Seaga, has proposed that
sixth form be abolished altogether and that students be admitted to U.W.I.
directly after '0' level to pursue a four-year Bachelor's degree programme. This
would mean that the relationship between high school and university would be
similar to the North American pattern. The proposal has been formally put as an
official request of the Jamaican Government to U.W.I. and is currently under
consideration. Because of the regional character of the University, the
implementation of this new idea depends on approval and agreement on the part
of the other member territories. The fact that the Government of Trinidad has
expressed great reservation about this proposal could result in its
non-acceptance. At present the proposal is still under study by the relevant
In the favour of both these ideas are considerations of economy and
efficiency. Either of these proposals would result in a conservation of resources
in providing education for students currently catered for by sixth form. Because
of this increase, they would no doubt enable larger numbers of students to
qualify in a shorter time for university degrees.
The sixth form college proposal additionally provides for a greater integration
of the school system with the world of work and also a longer period of
maturing before students enter University.
Arguments against both of these ideas are that they would result in a
devaluation of the status of the high school and remove from it the highest level
of academic work which does provide stimulation for teachers and which they
cannot get at the other levels of the high schools. It is claimed that this would
lead to disenchantment with teaching in high school among member teachers
currently in the school.
High schools also argue that the removal of sixth forms will mean a loss of
student leadership and a loss of opportunity to help build character among these
students. This has attracted the counter argument which states that there is no
reason why the leadership role now played by sixth former could not be played
by fourth and fifth former. Also that it is a desirable thing to start such
character building at an earlier stage than sixth form.
In looking at the prospects of entry to University immediately after 'O' levels
it has been stated that those who enter would be too immature intellectually and
emotionally to fully benefit from the university experience and that this might
well lead to some untoward consequences. It has also been argued that the
university teachers are not equipped to deal with students of this level of
intellectual unsophistication and that this would lead to high failure rates among
students in the first year or two of the degree programme.
One argument against the College idea is that it will lead to a further
fragmentation of education of adolescents. The introduction of junior secondary
education for the 12-15 are group and the college would mean that students
would attend three different institutions in the 7-year span. This is seen as an
undesirable feature of the system because it is felt that such movement will
reduce inter-personal relationships between teachers and students and make it
much more impersonal than it now is.
It is important to note that in the current discussion a distinction has been
made between sixth form and 'A' level. This is of fundamental significance
because in the past the two have been inseparably synonymous, and
indistinguishable. This distinction therefore represents a significant departure
from the past since sixth form is being defined and reorganized as a certain stage
in the educative process and not merely an examination syllabus. Whereas the
fate of 'A' level seems to be in doubt there is some consensus for retaining the
sixth form. However, there is no consensus for the exact nature of sixth form in
A comprehensive look at these several proposals reveals that they are not all
complementary to and consistent with each other. For each proposal there are
strong arguments both in favour and against. While the possibility of different
groups going off in their own directions guided by their own ideas is exciting and
invigorating, it is not feasible on a long-term basis.
One of the restrictions of limited financial resources is that one cannot afford
to implement a large number of ideas in order to choose the one or two that best
meet the needs of a particular situation. At the outset the choice has to be
narrowed to those ideas that stand a good chance of meeting with success.
At the same time that the society is confronted with the need for urgent
educational reform at this level, it is also presented with a number of new
possibilities and little to go on in making the decision of the one or two that
should be implemented. While the need to act cannot be underestimated yet to
implement changes that are ineffective would make it difficult for any further
reform in the near future.
It is necessary to point out that a re-evaluation of the implicit assumptions of
the sixth form idea and an examination of its current efficiency are not
sufficient bases on which to go ahead and effect reform, since there are other
important considerations that must be made before reform should be effected.
One is saying that the public discussion of the sixth form idea so far has been
limited and is an insufficient basis for decision making concerning new directions
for education at this level.
The reappraisal of sixth form so far has to a large extent ignored three
important considerations, namely: the social context of high school education in
general and the social aspects of sixth form in particular; the personal, social and
developmental needs of the sixth former themselves; and the ways in which it is
proposed to reform the entire system. It is necessary to discuss each of these in
Firstly, it is necessary to look at the social dimension of the high school
education and evaluate the current sixth form education in this context. From
its inception in the 1 880's high school education has had as its major role that of
socializing its students for life in the middle class. While in the earliest time its
students were all from the middle class itself, from the beginning of this century
high schools have been admitting an increasing number of students from the
lower classes. In this respect it provided social mobility for some of its students.
Farrel (1967) has pointed out that high schools are now acting as a broker
institution for Black people in the same manner it did for Brown people in the
19th century. This role has received some stimulation from efforts to provide
equality of educational opportunity, namely the award of 2,000 free places each
year to High school, 1,400 of which are awarded to students from Government
primary schools and 600 to children from private preparatory schools.
High school education on the whole is regarded as the badge of the middle
class and does allow for upward social mobility. However, because sixth form is
reserved for the "successful" this means that it provides the greatest amount of
mobility available from secondary education and that the social status of the
sixth former is assured and his prospects within the society are very good.
It is also necessary to recall the fact of the rural/urban dichotomy in the
society. The urban areas are known to be more middle class and the rural areas
more lower class. Also in recent decades there has been a marked migration of
rural youth to urban areas.
There is a number of questions which arise when we seek to appraise sixth
form in relationship to these social factors. What proportion of the lower class
children is successful in the '0' levels and how many of the successful students
enter sixth form? How does the social mobility role that sixth form plays in
urban schools compare with that in rural schools? Does the rural school provide
greater social mobility opportunities than the urban schools? Although one may
speculate about the answers to some of these questions there is no empirical data
available from which answers could be obtained. There is a great need for such
data because this is undoubtedly an important dimension in which to evaluate
the current operation of sixth form in this society.
With respect to rural migration to urban areas one would expect that rural
high school students who go to sixth form would eventually leave the rural areas
in order to seek either work or further educational opportunity. Sixth form in
rural schools quite likely serves to keep them in their home communities for a
longer period of time, than if schooling had been terminated at '0' level. Hence
while sixth form in the rural areas does not reduce migration it certainly retains
the students in the rural communities for a longer time and allows these
communities to benefit from their presence for a longer period of time than
would otherwise be the case.
In the light of the discussion on the social aspect one would say that any
reform of education at this level must take into consideration the social factor
and whatever proposals are made must meet certain social criteria. One such
criterion must be that the reform system should not aggravate the rural-urban
migration situation. That is, it is important that rural high schools retain
students after '0' level and continue to educate them for whatever is their next
step in life.
To remove these rural youths from their communities at an earlier age than is
now the case is not in the interest of the rural communities.
Because of the lack of empirical data one cannot establish exactly the various
indices relating to the amount of social mobility allowed by sixth form, one
would think that another criterion should be that the reformed structure should
improve upon what is currently the case, or at least retain the present level. Any
new structure at this level which would reduce social mobility should not be
implemented however attractive may be its economic or educational
possibilities. Such a step would be reactionary and retrograde. The whole
promise of independence has been that the society shall democratize its various
structures so that it can move away from the exclusive elitist stratification of the
Secondly, there is the relevance of the current sixth form curriculum to the
developmental needs of the sixth former. Generally, sixth former range in age
from 16 to 19 years. At this stage they are approaching the end of adolescence
and usually find themselves in conflict with parents and guardians over a wide
range of issues. There is nothing in the sixth form programme which helps the
sixth former to understand himself and to cope with his situation. In a sense this
criticism can be levelled at high school education in general. The school sees
intellectual development as its legitimate responsibility and sees all other matters
outside of its province and terms of reference even where it seeks to develop
programmes to meet certain felt needs. However, at the sixth form level some of
the problems the students face are related to the educational system itself.
The comparatively recent expansion of the educational opportunities has
meant that many sixth former are much better educated, formally, than their
parents or guardians and are in fact first generation secondary or first generation
sixth form. This increases the difficulty of communication between parents and
offspring at the same time when such communication is usually at a low ebb.
Because the sixth form curriculum ignores the development needs of the
students any help they receive is on an informal and haphazard basis. In this
respect, sixth form fails its students to a large extent.
Another developmental need of the student at this stage is that of
understanding his society and defining and determining his place in it. Usually at
this stage students possess a sense of social awareness, they become interested in
politics both at the local and the international level; interested also in various
philosophic and religious ideas about God, human society and man. Not only are
they interested in an academic understanding of these questions but there is the
desire to come to closure and establish for themselves their particular outlook
and interpretation of these matters. Although some schools attempt in a general
way to meet this need through the General Paper classes or Special Lecture
programmes, this is by no means universal and is left up largely to the whims and
fancies of the teacher involved. Again in this respect sixth form fails the
Even with respect to intellectual needs, the sixth form fails its students in
that it fails to sufficiently explore their capabilities and excite their curiosity. By
this stage these students have come to full intellectual maturity.
Not that they have acquired all the knowledge and skills that they are capable
of but that they are now able to perform intellectual operations of the highest
quality. For these young people this is a relatively recent endowment. One has
to seriously question whether the restrictions of the curriculum to a study of
three subjects and the general paper does not in fact squander the opportunity
to excite the intellectual curiosity of these students and to broaden their whole
understanding and appreciation of life. This is a matter when it is considered
that education beyond this level will of necessity become more restricted and
Again the very nature of the content of the subjects taught at the sixth form
level seem to stultify meaningful intellectual development. For example, in the
sciences students will learn a wealth of conclusions and the experiments and
observations which support these conclusions but there is very little chance that
they will come to have any appreciation for the men who develop the ideas, the
history of the development of these ideas, the philosophical bases for them, to
reasons why the scientific community now accepts them, and the ways in which
these ideas have influenced society and civilization. While the sixth form
curriculum may help the students eventually to be good research people, they
will have little or no appreciation of what the scientific enterprise, of which they
are a part, is all about. While this may be quite justified within the context of a
highly industrialized society with a long tradition of a resident scientific
community it is totally ridiculous within the context of a society in which a
resident scientific community is only just now being established. A similar
criticism can be made of the sixth form curriculum in the area of the Arts.
Also sixth form has a high coefficient of boredom because the curriculum
lacks an intrinsic motivational factor. The purpose of the curriculum is to get
students through the 'A' level examinations. Very few aspects of the curriculum
have value in and for themselves. Students not particularly enamoured by 'A'
levels or University entry have little motive for work. Because entry to the
University preliminary year is possible on the basis of '0' level performance,
some students see no point in rushing themselves through the various routines.
Usually the greatest period of intellectual activity is immediately before the
Again there is good reason to believe that many sixth former become victims
of the way in which their achievements during the course are assessed. There is
no doubt whatsoever that a single essay examination at the end of two years of
study run by an agency external to the society and the educational system is a
grossly inadequate way of assessing the achievements and accomplishments of
the students involved. It is more than likely that a more enlightened means of
assessment would do far more justice to the students than the present system.
There is little doubt also that 'A' levels have any significant validity in predicting
students' subsequent performance in university.
Following from discussion, one would say that in whatever way education at
this level is reformed and restructured, the new pattern must be relevant to the
personal, social and development needs of the students. The new structure
should meet the following criteria with respect to students. It should help them
(1) to cope with conflicts with adults in general and parents in particular, (2) to
gain social perspectives and personal outlook, and (3) widen their intellectual
understanding and excite their intellectual curiosity.
(4) This new programme of education should also have value in and for itself
and not merely as preparation for the next step and it should be evaluated in a
more enlightened manner than is currently the case.
Thirdly, in discussing reform in any segment of the educational structure,
consideration must be given to the implications of such reform for the rest of
the educational structure. It has already been stated that the educational system
has been inherited from the colonial past and also was borrowed from the
British. The question that is immediately raised is, how feasible is it to reform
the system by patchwork and in a piece-meal fashion? More specifically the
question is, how effectively can sixth form education be reformed without
significant changes in the rest of the system and at least some clear idea of how
the rest of the system is going to be remoulded? Following from these two
questions one must ask, is it possible for the entire educational system to be
reformed in one fell swoop? Must changes at one level of the system wait on
changes in the other parts?
In seeking answers to these questions it is necessary to realise that it is unwise
to act on the fallacy that all changes and so-called improvements and innovations
made in and to the system will inevitably work to the good with the passage of
time aided by the process of evaluation. Often times such a strategy leads to
little real progress despite the investment of large amounts of energy, money and
time. In this particular situation one is saying that it is unwise for several
agencies to go ahead and reform sixth form according to their fancy without
some clear idea of where exactly it is all leading and how exactly this will fit into
the new educational structures that must come.
On the other hand, it is unrealistic to expect that educational reform can be
accomplished in all parts of the system at the same time. It is also impractical to
insist that reform in any one sector should wait until every last detail is worked
out for reform in all sectors. Such a position would lead to stagnation and a
preservation of the status quo.
It goes without question that the way in which sixth form is remoulded or
how it is replaced must be related to what happens in the rest of the system. One
has therefore to adopt a strategy that steers clear of blind but well-meaning
changes on one hand and on the other hand from waiting for everything to be
worked out in detail before effecting any change at the sixth form level. Such a
strategy must of necessity involve a blue print which gives an overall idea of how
the entire system is going to be reformed and what it is proposed to look like
when all the changes have been effected. Such a blue print would also give an
idea about the time schedule involved when the various changes will be effected.
Having these rough estimates it would be possible to go ahead with reform at the
sixth form level which would of course make adjustment for the temporary
dislocations that will arise in any transition period.
The drafting and formulation of such a blue-print is the responsibility of
those charged with the responsibility of administering education the
politicians, the civil servants, The Ministry of Education and relevant School
Board. Of course it would be expected that in formulating such a plan there
would be the necessary dialogue with teachers, parents and the community in
general. This blue-print would not only guide the system as it develops but also
help in the decision where a choice has to be made between a number of fairly
plausible alternative solutions as is the case with sixth form restructuring.
It is also unwise to embark upon reform in the absence of reliable data and a
good working knowledge concerning various crucial aspects of the function of
the present system. There is a sad lack of empirical data on several important
aspects of sixth form education. For example, information and understanding of
the social mobility aspects of sixth form education is lacking. Likewise lacking is
information and understanding of why it is that students do poorly at 'A' level
examinations. Again there is a lack of understanding of the role sixth form plays
in urban as opposed to rural schools. While there are individuals capable of giving
a good account of such matters in one or two particular schools, a similar
account on an island basis is unavailable at the present time. There is an
undoubted need for a fact-finding island survey of several aspects of sixth form
Steps in the Strategy for Reform.
It is necessary at this point to propose a strategy for reform which would
show the steps that could be taken whereby concern for the efficiency and
relevance of this colonial education structure could be translated into
meaningful reappraisal and reform. One can identify at least four steps that
should be taken in this reform strategy:
1. Public debate in which the nature of the change to be effected is first
discussed and debated, finally determined and defined.
In a large measure this step has already been taken. The consensus from this
debate can be summarized as follows:
a. Sixth form should be continued and should not be abolished
b. Sixth form, however, should become the terminal step for all students in
c. Sixth form education should be related to the personal development of
the students. That is, it should help him to cope with conflicts with the
adult world, to find social perspective and personal outlook, and
broaden his intellectual curiosity and his understanding of life.
d. It should help to prepare the sixth former for his next step in life
whether it be work or further study. That is, sixth form education
should have vocational orientation in addition to an academic one.
The great dilemma that the public debate had not solved is, in what
institution should sixth form education be provided? Should it remain in high
school or should it be relocated in special colleges? This brings us to the next
2. There is the undoubted need for a study of the existing sixth form
enterprise. Such a study should seek to discover (a) the social background of
sixth former and their aspirations, (b) how sixth forms operate in urban and
rural schools (c) what are some of the factors contributing to the apparently
poor performance of sixth former in 'A' levels, (d) the perception of
administrators, teachers, and students of sixth form work; their problems and
satisfaction, and (e) their opinions concerning the future of sixth form.
Information on the various points are essential in planning effective change.
Information on the social and regional factors could throw useful light on the
solutions accepted for the future evolution of sixth form. Probably sixth form as
a part of the high school may be the best proposition in rural areas while sixth
form colleges may be a viable proposition in urban areas where several high
schools are located in relatively close proximity.
The Department of Education at U.W.I. has undertaken such a study. This
has been carried out by students in the Diploma of Education course under the
supervision of the present writer.
3. Step three is the drafting of an overall plan which would clearly show the
overall shape and pattern of the restructured educational system and the exact
way in which sixth form education will be integrated within the overall
structure. The overall blueprint would answer the question of whether secondary
education shall be on a junior secondary and secondary basis, the latter being of
three or four years or whether secondary education shall follow the old pattern
of 5 years high school plus two years sixth form. It should also determine how
secondary education shall relate to the world of work and with the tertiary stage
in the educational enterprise. It is important for the Ministry to rationalise the
structure of the educational system in order that phased restructuring of the
system can be effected.
4. The final stage in this strategy is the legislative, administrative and fiscal,
enabling action necessary to implement reformed structure.
If such a strategy is effected, hopefully, in the future education at this level
will be more satisfying to the students and relevant to the society.
EDUCATIONAL PLANNING IN A DEVELOPING SOCIETY -
THE CASE OF BRITISH HONDURAS
This study represents an investigation into the problems of coordinating
educational methods and goals with the problems and goals of economic
development policies. Specifically, the issue to be explored here involves the
type of educational system developing countries "ought" to adopt. And while
the argument applies particularly to the small country of British Honduras,1 I
believe the ideas outlined here have merit for other countries as well.
Unfortunately (and I say unfortunate from an openly biased viewpoint),
much of the attention given to education and economic development has been
by economists or planners who have had an eye open to the costs of education
versus their greater interest: how to achieve and stimulate savings. Economists in
particular have focused on the problems of fitting investments in human
resource development within the realm of economic theory. And the key issue
apparently revolves around whether or not the contribution of education is an
economic investment or a social investment. Most writers now admit, though
with qualifications, that education falls within the productive sector. However,
agreement breaks down on questions of what it produces or the quality of that
production vis-a-vis development. Put in other terms, the situation is
characterized simply by a series of demands for the products of education. For
instance, to borrow from Eisenstadt,2 one set of demands, and most typical, is
"knowledge of various skills," whether these are literary skills, specific
vocational skills, or general skills.
As problems of development intensify, the various demands and
rationalizations for the expenses incurred in educational programmes become
more acute. Any education system under this kind of pressure would be put on
the defensive. In other words, as finances tighten, education must be one of the
first services to justify itself by pointing out that it performs more than just
consumptive services. Thus, we read of productive services provided in terms of
employment (administrators, clerks, etc., as well as teachers), communication of
cultural values, or the development within the school population of a sense of
motivation for change commensurate with development plans. There is the
point, frequently left unstated but definitely implied, that an increased
enrollment in secondary schools also actually delays numbers of youths from
entering the job market, youths who would otherwise contribute to
unemployment statistics (who can deny today, for example, that one of the
implicit functions of American universities is to delay sections of the population
from entering the labour force?).
This fixation on the productive aspects of education can have the effect of
sidetracking analysis. For instance, C.A. Anderson claims, "It is clear that
investment in formal schooling has less short-run economic pay-off in
underdeveloped than in developed countries, so long as complementary and
on-the-job training opportunities lag behind school expansion."3 Aside from the
fact that nowhere does he define what he means by "formal schooling," the
statement is misleading and not altogether accurate. It is not accurate in the
sense that during the initial stages of modernization formal education can have
significant short-run "pay-off." Literate farmers "can" be expected to respond
to modernizing attempts more readily than illiterate farmers. Moreover, if
educational expansion keeps pace with modernization, then the "pay-off" could
continue. But more important, such ideas mislead, since the problem may not lie
in this direction at all.
In the first place, it probably is impossible to calculate the financial return
from investments in educational projects. Harbison and Myers, for instance,
claim "It is incorrect to assume that the central purpose of human resource
development is to maximize man's contribution to the creation of productive
goods and services. Nor is it realistic to measure the return of education solely in
terms of increases in individual incomes or the income of the economy as a
whole."4 In the second place, economists tend to treat education as a social
service and the social services suffer from the predilection that they produce
only services as opposed to commodities that can be exchanged at international
markets. Growth supposedly is achieved by expanding commodities. But it
seems to me that this kind of reasoning overlooks the basic point of
According to W.A. Lewis, "as national income grows demand grows for both
services and commodities; hence more of both should be produced. If income is
increased by producing more commodities only, there will be a shortage of
services; if by producing more services only, there will be a shortage of
commodities," (emphasis added).5 This is not to suggest, however, that
commodities necessarily will respond to expansion of services, but that
investment in services should be balanced at each step against attention given to
Lewis argues that whatever productive value the social services have, and this
certainly includes education, basically they are consumptive: "the lingering
prejudice against services has impelled some advocates of the social services
to defend them on the ground that they represent 'investment' rather than
'consumption.' This seems hardly necessary The social services are desirable
in their own right, as a form of consumption, capable of competing with all
other forms of consumption, and do not need to be defended as
'investment' [At] the margin the social services are consumption rather than
investment. This cannot be held against them; there is no general presumption in
favour of investment rather than consumption. Such a presumption would be
odd, since the purpose of production is consumption; and item of expenditure
does not have to be 'investment' in order to be justified."6
The problem therefore does not rest with the question of investment versus
consumption, but with controlling demand. And with particular reference to
education, the issue should focus on how to expand, improve, and control the
direction of the existing system. All too easily the blame for a country's
educational woes will be directed at the type of school system itself. The more a
problem is perceived the more the cry for radical change and replacement of one
system by another. Usually the plan which suffers is the humanistic pattern and
usually its replacement is some form of vocational schooling, or what C.A.
Anderson calls the technocraticc pattern."7
The tendency to favour the vocational system results from the frustration
most political figures experience as unemployment rises among the educated.
The facts do indicate that in most developing countries with a humanistic school
system there is a sharp increase in unemployment among those leaving school as
well as no noticeable increase in real incomes. Egypt is a case in point. Impatient
government planners opt for the technocratic pattern to solve their problems.
Education then becomes vocationalized and on-the-job training substitutes for
Unemployment, however, is a consequence of the economy's inability to
absorb the expanding labour force; it is not necessarily the fault of the education
system per se. In these cases, education obviously has outstripped or had little
relevance to the growth of commodities. A hasty shift to a technocraticc
pattern" may neither solve nor alleviate the problem. Lewis claims that
"unemployment of the educated results from the salaries of the educated getting
out of line with the incomes of the uneducated."8 As a consequence of
investments in economic growth, there usually is a rising demand for skills, even
if the skill simply is literacy. Hence, income gaps appear between the educated
and uneducated: "the educated acquire not merely incomes but also social status
far in excess of those of other people of equal abilities, so ambitious young
people and ambitious parents move towards the schools."9 In a relatively short
period of time, the number of educated will exceed what the economy can
absorb. Blame turns to the curricula, but Lewis argues, "this is hardly relevant;
young people's aspirations are determined by past market opportunities rather
than by schoolbooks." 10
Developed countries do not face this problem, because the services and
industries generally are extensive enough to fit the educated into existing
programmes.11 In countries with very limited funds for social services,
educational goals must be kept at a realistic level. Some planners conclude that
this means changing the entire character of the education system. For instance,
Anderson claims that "A particularly excruciating dilemma ... faces the
developing countries; they must choose between traditional general or
humanistic education however vocational that actually may have been and a
more technocratic pattern."' 2 As a solution to the problem, he suggests that
"we should not expect new nations to copy the relaxed and fuzzy mixture of
general and practical education that Americans enjoy."'13 We should not, he
reasons, because humanistic education is the luxury of developed and
modernized nations. The taint of ethnocentrism is strong.
We should not expect schooling to fit out "fuzzy" pattern, but on the other
hand we categorize and analyze existing "humanistic" school systems on the
basis of our "fuzzy" pattern. I return to the matter of defining formal
education. Too often we associate formal education with the experiences of
North America or Western Europe. That we have some justification for doing so
goes without saying, since most educational systems are patterned explicitly or
implicitly, after the Western model. But we need not compound the issue by
continuing to project our notion of our "fuzzy" pattern of formal education on
other countries. Humanistic education might mix very well with practical
education if humanism can reflect more realistically the cultural and social
heritage of the country or region rather than the Western model.
As a consequence of the effects of colonialism and neo-imperialism the so-called
humanistic educational systems in the developing countries are not fitted to the
needs of those countries, but rather result from the past requirements of the
parent powers. Thus, Anderson would see the problem as resting with the
copying of the "fuzzy" Western pattern. This is correct. But it is incorrect to
assume that "humanistic" education must out of financial necessity yield to
vocationalized education. A culturally-determined "fuzzy" pattern would
provide the flexibility needed where financial resources are limited and
uncertain. The problem is one of rational control, especially with reference to
the output of educated persons (to function even a technocratic pattern must
match on-the-job training programmes with the growth of commodities).
As an example of the problems faced by developing countries, observers have
long noted that as fast as schools are built in rural areas, youth run to towns and
cities, thereby adding to urban employment and overcrowding. Implicit in these
observations is the criticism that the youth betray the nation which has fed
them. Supposedly, the purpose of education resulted from a sense of humane
obligation on the one hand and the need to create better agriculturists on the
other. By emigrating, the young deplete the countryside of potentially efficient
farmers while compounding urban woes. Planners frequently put the blame on
The conditions for emigration, however, are created simply by providing a
primary education, since the aspirations of literates are quite different from
those of illiterates. But, what the criticisms fail to note is that the culprit is not
education, nor is it the rural folk, but it is the conditions created by the past and
present economic arrangements. Education does create new expectations but
rural income frequently fails to approximate these expectations. And because
agricultural labour, when performed by indigenous labour, does not offer the
rewards believed to be provided by urban-based industry, migration to the cities
follows. It does so as part of a quest for income commensurate with
expectations. Lewis claims, "the rate at which agriculture can absorb primary
school boys depends upon the rate at which it is modernized. If the schools are
producing the youngsters faster than this, frustration is inevitable."14 In the
society as a whole, the problem will solve itself if the economy can generate
sustained growth. But since most "developing" countries are not achieving
projected growth curves, the problem must be solved by controlling the
educational output and especially the direction of that output.
I am not suggesting that classrooms close down, but instead that more
vigorous attempts be made to link education to the progress as well as the goals
of economic development. This need not represent some radical change in the
educational system, but it does mean rational coordination of educational
programmes with the economy. The schools need not restrict enrollment, but
they do need to lengthen the period of attendance and hence to delay entrance
into the labour market. In order to cope with inflated enrollments, the schools
must mix humanistic education with technical and on-the-job training. This
would be particularly critical in rural areas, where there is need to attract
qualified farmers to cultivation: "Literate farmers would produce more than
illiterate farmers. .since the problems of extension would be simplified."'15
Beyond this level, it becomes a different problem and there must be close
cooperation between the turn-out of modem farmers and the income results of
modem farming. Many of the problems associated with increasing the domestic
production, especially farm production, could be solved to a large extent
through cooperation of schools with agricultural and marketing leaders. Too
frequently, primary schools follow one course, extension programmes another,
and neither systematically watches the economy. These suggestions, of course,
presuppose a national commitment for development by the controlling political
and economic forces.
Here I turn to an example. I intend to focus on the situation in British
Honduras in order to support the contention that the "fuzzy" mixture of liberal
arts and practical education is not necessarily an inadequate method. Instead,
the problem rests with the failure to develop a rational and culturally-based
liberal arts programme that can respond to local economic realities.
British Honduras is a small British possession on the east coast of the Central
American mainland. It is bounded on the north by Mexico and the west and
south by the Republic of Guatemala. Some 120,000 people live in an area of less
than 9,000 square miles, but the cultural and linguistic diversity is striking. The
population is composed of several Maya speaking people (Kekchi, Mopan,
Yucatan), Black Carib, Spanish speaking "Mestizos," Creoles, and to a lesser
extent, East Indians, Europeans, Chinese, and Lebanese. Inhabitants who call
themselves "Creole" form the largest segment of the population (the term
"Creole" refers to an inhabitant of Anglo-African origin who speaks a form of
English-based Creole of the general type spoken throughout the West Indies).
Between the census of 1946 and 1960, the population increased by over 50
per cent with an average annual rate of growth at about 3 per cent. The 1960
census listed the population density at 10.2 persons per square mile. But this is
slightly misleading, for over 40,000 people live in the capital, Belize City, and
from 12,000 to 15,000 in the country's six towns. The rest of the population
tends to live in scattered and relatively small villages located on the banks of
rivers or near roads.
British Honduras was settled to exploit its natural resources, especially its
forests, and the history of this activity constitutes the history of the country. In
the early days of the settlement there was little incentive to establish a
permanent community. The very nature of forestry exploitation, which took the
forest owners and their workers into the heart of the forest for at least six
months of the year, and the constant danger of attack by the Spanish,
encouraged men interested in amassing wealth as quickly as possible. In short, it
was an acquisitive group of people, a community of woodcutters hardly
concerned with developing an elaborate system of education for their children.
Intent on pursuing their main economic objective, the settlers neglected other
sectors of the economy and the social services in general. Since they controlled
the government almost completely, the forestry owners and timber merchants
could protect their interests. They controlled public finances and showed a
strong reluctance to spend public funds on any project or service other than
those directly benefitting the forest industry. For example, attempts to develop
agriculture were frustrated and construction of roads was neglected since the
forest industry relied on river transport. There was opposition to levying an
income tax since the persons most immediately affected would be the forestry
group. Welfare services were considered to be the responsibility of anyone
except the forestry-controlled government. This was evident in the field of
education. Although the government was able to provide adequate funds for
education and other social services, its contribution was limited.
From the beginning, therefore, the responsibility for education had to be
assumed by non-governmental sources. These agencies were the churches. It was
not until 1850, for example, that a board of education was established, but it
had limited effects and was abolished 18 years later. The government's role
remained passive and its financial participation was restricted to grants-in-aid to
denominational schools at the elementary level.16 At the secondary level,
schools were wholly the responsibility of the churches.17
The government in 1926 re-asserted its potential role in education and passed
a comprehensive education ordinance that remains the legal foundation of the
system. The re-created board of education retains general control of education,
especially at the primary level, but effective control and management of the
schools continue to reside with the ministers of religion in the local parish or
district. Moreover, each denomination has a general manager of schools who
usually is its representative on the board of education, so that the board itself is
heavily influenced by the churches. Secondary schools remain under the
management of the churches.
In the absence of direct government supervision, the various denominations
have planned and implemented their own programmes with little attention to
the country's economic problems or the government's goals. Individual
programmes rarely are coordinated with other schools as there has been little
interdenominational cooperation. Religious schisms were steadily widening at
the time of field research with each secondary school pursuing its independent
policy. Education apparently is considered to be closely allied with Evangelicism
and the denominations act on the implied assumption that there is an
indissoluble union between education and religion. They have been able to put
this idea fully into practice at the secondary level where governmental
intervention has always been negligible.
To complicate the matter, the Protestant schools overwhelmingly are of
British orientation and the Roman Catholic schools, American. Principals of the
Protestant secondary schools, with one exception, are either British or West
Indian clergymen. The values, standards of behaviour, and textbooks are of
British derivation. In contrast, the Roman Catholic schools are principaled and
staffed by American Jesuits and nuns. And although the Catholic schools have
been compelled to prepare their students for the British system, their curricula
and textbooks reflect American biases (the author learned recently that one
Jesuit school had independently established an "Associate of Arts" degree after
the American pattern). The country, therefore, has not only had a "dual
system" of control of education i.e., State and Church but also two
differing and invariably conflicting systems of education at the secondary level -
one British and the other American.
At the 1960 census, over 40,000 persons, or about 45 per cent of the total
population, were under the age of 15. Education is compulsory from ages 6
through 14, but by the end of the 1964/65 academic year, the Department of
Education could only note a school population of 28,760; 26,523 children were
enrolled at the primary level and 2,237 at the secondary level.18 Aside from the
problems of getting all children into school who should be in school, the glaring
fact stands out that a very small proportion of students receive a secondary
education. Students who transfer from primary to secondary school usually do
so between the ages of eleven and fourteen. The vast majority, however, do not
transfer and those who stay in school remain at the primary level until the age of
16 less than 15 per cent of the eligible total have been transferring to
Primary schools may be under the ultimate supervision of the board of
education, but they are run by the denominations in government reports, for
example, only two primary schools are listed as "government schools;" the
remaining 158 schools are listed as denominational or private.20 Similarly, the
country has 17 secondary schools, 16 being denominational and one technical
school being government. All denominational secondary schools are fee paying.
Obviously, in a low-income society a large segment of the population cannot
afford to pay tuition and other expenses to send their children to school in
1965 the government did offer scholarships to 262 out of 2,237 students
attending secondary schools.21 Also characteristic of low-income societies, rural
areas suffer, since it becomes both a financial and logistic burden to send
children to secondary schools located in the towns and cities. With respect to the
problems of economic development, we can borrow from a word of caution by
W.A. Lewis who notes, "If secondary school graduates are in short supply many
desirable developments will be held up, and the cost of any scheme which relies
on their skills will be excessive."22
In the absence of interdenominational cooperation and government
centralized control, the school system has been allowed to pursue a path of
fragmentation and duplication. For instance, shortly after the government
established a teacher-training college in the 1950's, the Jesuits opened their own
training school. The small country was thus in the position of maintaining two
training schools, which in 1957 had a total enrollment of only 27 students 18
at the government school and 9 at the Catholic college. Partly from lack of
students and partly under the urging of a UNESCO team, the Catholic college in
1965 abandoned this uneconomic venture.23
The same UNESCO survey team in 1964 pointed out many other isolated,
badly planned, and overlapping projects in the system despite the "well-meant
attitudes" of the managers. The team offered examples of some schools being
without teachers of science, while one school had a highly qualified graduate of
science who was not teaching science.24
Eight of the country's seventeen secondary schools are in Belize City. With a
total enrollment in 1965 of 1,599, the schools averaged less than 200 pupils per
school. The breakdown was three Roman Catholic with 818 pupils, two
Anglican with 355 pupils, one Methodist with 291 pupils, one Nazarene with 20
pupils, and one government technical school with 115 pupils.25 Because of the
disparity in resources and the traditional religious philosophies of education,
development among these schools has been uneven. The Roman Catholic schools
have a decided advantage, since they have been able to acquire far more
substantial aid from the United States than have the other denominations from
their affiliates in Britain or the West Indies. In consequence, the student
attending a Catholic school has an advantage over his counterpart at a Protestant
school, and both, just in terms of facilities, have a distinct advantage over the 20
students attending the Nazarene school.
This brief excursion into the organization and structure of the British
Honduran education system serves to emphasize the difficulties encountered in
coordinating educational projects with economic goals. The schools are
managed, and in the case of secondary schools, mostly staffed by aliens of
differing cultural orientations. The one common thread is Christianity. Aside
from the major problems of fragmentation, duplication, and economic disparity
that the system breeds, the missionizing character of the denominational
schools, both primary and secondary, leads to a course content heavily weighted
with a religious bias that is maintained at the expense of other material. Thus,
for example, in rural primary schools, the walls are decorated with religious
pictures and objects, while reading materials concentrate on the liturgy and
examples of Christian morals. At the same time, the Agriculture Department
complains of rural pertinaciousness. Farm demonstrators sent out from the city
experience a great deal of frustration in coping with what one demonstrator
labelled "backward techniques, backward living conditions, and a backward
mentality." Yet the schools perpetuate these conditions by focusing on rote
learning of religious ideas as opposed to any content associated with local
I am not claiming that denominational schools per se are the culprit. Rather, I
am arguing that the government's passive role and the religious character of the
curricula have led to the development of a culprit. Because the system at the
secondary level lacks a unifying philosophy or direction, isolated projects of
reform, such as a notable attempt by the Jesuits to improve course content,
remain isolated. Moreover, they tend to increase the disparities among the
schools. Even at the primary level, religious dominance and foreign management
prevent rational reform. In rural areas, for example, recent (1967) Peace Corps
involvement in primary schools has almost bordered on the ludicrous. Most
efforts by the volunteers have been directed toward group activities such as
songs and games on the one hand, and exercises of the American type on the
other. Religious textbooks, methods, and ideas remain the principal means of
making children literate. In the city's schools, the situation differs little.
Foreigners, for instance, regard the Creole language spoken by the majority of
the inhabitants as merely a corrupt and bad form of English. Most indigenous
teachers tend to emulate their "educated" counterparts and "Creole" is
forbidden in the classrooms, though many students and some teachers cannot
speak standard English. I can recall one instance when a 6 or 7 year old child was
punished by a native-born teacher for speaking Creole in the classroom. The
child failed to understand why he was being punished and in exasperation the
teacher finally resorted to Creole to explain why.
To conclude. British Honduras is an example of where the education system,
as an institution, can hinder or at least create an unfavourable atmosphere for
economic development. At first glance there might be the tendency to put the
blame on the "humanistic" form of education and to substitute what Anderson
called a technocraticc pattern."26 However, it is not the liberal arts programme
itself that is at fault, but the nature of that programme. Primary schools may
contribute to the alleviation of general illiteracy, but the curricula keep the
population illiterate of cultural and economic possibilities. That is to say, not
only should the quality of the primary schools be improved, but also their
relevance to the society at large.
A liberal arts system teaching less Christian morals and more cultural values,
while at the same time adjusting curricula to meet local conditions, could
contribute effectively to development projects. In this regard, the development
of rural-based technicians should have the highest priority. Neglect of the rural
areas serves only to increase the migration to Belize City as individuals seek to
escape rural poverty. All they gain, of course, is urban poverty. Farm
demonstrators and foreign "advisors" who prefer the comforts of the city and
who have little understanding of "peasant" economics do not alter present
patterns. At this level, the rural-based primary schools are in the best position to
improve and modernize living conditions. But for the present, they serve only to
perpetuate ignorance and poverty.
W.A. Lewis writes that "economic development is not the purpose of
education,"27 yet it is obvious that education can and does hinder or facilitate
the process of development. I suggest that a "fuzzy" mixture of liberal arts and
practical education based on cultural values, local needs, and kept in pace with
economic growth is an efficient system capable of responding to both short-run
and long-run developments. A more specialized system is less able to adapt to
changes. Vocationalized education, for instance, could not provide the type of
educated personnel that Lewis claims is so essential for development.28
With respect to British Honduras, a liberal arts programme would have value
were the rural schools to adopt texts and other materials that dealt with
agricultural ideas and problems. In this sense, the schools could serve the dual
purpose of teaching the pupil to read and write while also introducing scientific
agriculture to the rural areas. I am using the term liberal arts, therefore, to refer
to a system based not only on humanistic courses with local cultural content,
but also vocational and on-the-job training courses that can respond to economic
Economic growth depends to a large extent on a country's population,
farmers as well as urban-based entrepreneurs, making an effort to improve their
lot. Development, in contrast, when viewed as a total social and cultural process,
depends on the formation of an institutional frame-work that will facilitate
growth. In both instances, the process can be helped significantly by the
education system. It makes no sense to continue the debate over whether
education is productive or consumptive, or if productive, how productive, when
such arguments miss the point. What should be at issue is how, where, and when
to expand and improve the school system. The answers, as Lewis seems to argue,
rest with the progress of economic growth. This implies that an education
system must have flexibility to enable it to respond to changing needs, a goal to
match the projected results of development, and knowledge of the economic
realities of the country.
1. This is a revised and expanded version of a paper that was translated into Spanish and
published as "Educacion y desarrollo economic en Honduras Britanica" in America
Indigena, VoL XXX, No. 2, April, 1970. The field research on which portions of this
paper are based was conducted in 1966-67 and was financed by the Inter-University
Consortium for Caribbean Studies, under the direction of the Research Institute for
the Study of Man.
2. S.N. Eisenstadt, "Education and Political Development" in Piper and Cole (ed.) Post
Primary Education and Political and Economic Development, 1964, p. 33.
3. C.A. Anderson, "Economic Development and Post-Primary Education" in Piper and
Cole (ed.) Post-Primary Education and Political and Economic Development. Duke
University Press, 1964, p. 7.
4. F. Harbison and and Charles Myers, Education, Manpower and Economic Growth,
McGraw-Hill, 1964, p. 12.
5. W.A. Lewis, Development Planning Harper and Row, 1966, p. 101.
6. Ibid, p. 102.
7. Anderson, op. cit., p. 8.
8. Lewis, op. cit., p. 79.
10. Ibid., p. 80.
12. Anderson, op. cit., p. 8.
14. Lewis, op. cit., p. 109.
16. The formation of the educational system has been discussed in more detail in,
Norman Ashcraft and Cedric Grant, "The Development and Organization of
Education in British Honduras," in Comparative Education Review, Vol. XII, No. 2.
June 1968, pp. 171-179.
17. Triennial Report, N.D., British Honduras, Department of Education Triennial Report,
1952, 53, 54. Printing Office, British Honduras.
18. Annual Report of the Education Department, 1964/65. Education Department, N.D.
British Honduras. Printing Office, British Honduras.
22. Lewis, opt. cit., p. 232.
23. UNESCO. Educational Planning Mission, British Honduras. Report to the Government
of British Honduras. Paris, 1964.
25. Education Department, op. cit.
26. Anderson, op. cit.
27. Lewis, op. cit., p. 232.
A FUNCTIONAL ROLE FOR TEACHERS' ORGANIZATIONS
In considering the role of teachers' professional organizations it is essential
that, at the outset, we recognize the tremendous importance of the part played
by the teacher in the education of the child and youth. For the purpose of
education today is not simply to supply the child with a few facts; the
expectations are far greater. More and more we look on education as one of the
means, and possibly the most important one, whereby we can change the society
in which we live. With this new objective "the role of the teacher becomes that
of stimulating the learner's curiosity, sharpening his powers of independent
intellectual discovery and strengthening his ability to organize and use
knowledge on his own initiative in short, helping the learner to acquire
life-long powers of self-education."'
In the necessarily intimate and prolonged relationship between teacher and
pupil the personal and professional qualities of the teacher take on such
significance that, as has been stated:
In no profession is the person of the practitioner, as he affects the welfare of
others, as crucial as in teaching.2
The significance of this relationship becomes clear when we remember that:
The teacher is the keystone of the educational arch; in the final analysis the
fulfillment of educational aims rests on him.3
Teachers the practitioners in the classroom are the ones into whose
hands is entrusted the formal education of the child and youth. It is teachers
who ultimately determine whether or not a "new" idea will be accepted and
used; whether or not new techniques will be utilised in the classroom. It is they
who, ultimately, must convert theory into practice.
Since the teacher is so important in the educational context, it is essential to
ensure that, professionally speaking, he is always at the peak of form and that
facilities exist by which he can update himself and be kept constantly aware of
current thinking and practice in education. In assisting such professional growth
few organizations are better placed than are the professional teachers'
A concept of role for teachers' professional associations
The literature on teachers' professional organizations is rich in its emphasis on
the impact these can have on the classroom teacher. As recently as 1969 Bell,
writing on the idea of growth throughout life-span, contended that if teachers
are to be trained for a new role as "mediator rather than that of a fountain of
wisdom" then "teachers' organizations are most likely to be the significant
groups to bring about the change."4
This paper is concerned with suggesting some legitimate and meaningful areas
of concern to teachers, and with indicating as well some of the ways in which
teachers' professional associations can contribute to the growth of the teacher in
service and, simultaneously, to the general improvement of education in
1. Fostering the personal and professional growth of teachers
One of the most important functions of teachers' organizations is that of
fostering the personal and professional growth of the teacher, for every
professional needs constantly to be kept in touch with new developments in
his/her field. This is as true of the teacher as it is of the doctor, engineer or
Even if all our teachers had received professional training (and this is certainly
not the case) there would still be need for professional updating for, as one
writer has put it:
the education of the teacher in service must assume as important a role as
pre-service education, for the objectives and methods of instruction may be
expected to change constantly in the light of research and development in the
It is useful, at this point, to note a conclusion reached by the Second
Canadian Conference on Education held in Montreal in 1962:
Professional qualifications must not only be attained; they must be
maintained. When knowledge is growing so rapidly, when research is
unearthing so much that is new, when the related disciplines of psychology
and sociology are revealing so much more about how people learn and how
people may work effectively with others, it is imperative that teachers
continue to be students throughout their lives.6
The value of in-service education is, indeed, threefold: first, it assists in
overcoming inadequacies in previous training; second, it contributes to and
facilitates the updating of knowledge; third, it increases expertise and
professional competence, thereby helping to maintain and to improve the quality
of service offered by teachers as members of a profession.
In-service education, then, must be perceived as an integral part of the
teacher's training, for this is the only way in which professional skill and
competence can be maintained at a high level. Without such continuing
education the teacher must inevitably be outpaced by new thinking; his teaching
practice soon becomes out of date and is no longer consonant with the best of
theory and practice.
It was stated previously that no other organization was so well placed as the
teachers' professional associations to assist with and foster constant in-service
growth. Empirical evidence in support of this contention comes from recent
research7 which was concerned with a study of the factors influencing the
personal and professional growth of a group of teachers. One of the most
significant findings was that, in the opinion of the teachers participating in the
study, the single most important influence on their professional and personal
development was membership in their professional associations and participation
in the various activities these sponsored.
It would be inappropriate here, to discuss the study at length, but the
research in question certainly lends support to the numerous theoretical
statements made in support of the significant role such associations can play in
the teacher's life.
Teachers associations in Barbados, as in other parts of the West Indies, have
frequently tended to give most of their attention to bread and butter issues like
salary levels, conditions of service, etc. These are unquestionably important
considerations but they must never be perceived as the be-all and end-all of the
associations' activities. Teachers' organizations must now turn their attention to
and must assume other and wider responsibilities, and these must necessarily
include interest in and concern for increasing professional competence on the
part of every classroom teacher.
With respect to Barbados one such activity might be the development,
perhaps in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, of a Resource Centre
where teachers can go to prepare their teaching aids. Teachers' associations in
other countries have embarked on similar projects and have found that such
Centres are well used and are of tremendous help to the teacher. Barbados is, of
course, a poor country and may be unable to afford to provide the range of
facilities offered in other countries, but a joint effort of the kind suggested
might none-the-less make it possible to provide equipment for making
transparencies, copying maps, and producing a variety of teaching aids. One
might also suggest the establishment of a central pool of recordings (e.g., of
plays, poetry readings, etc.) which would be available to teachers throughout the
island. Such a Centre might serve, in addition, as a library for professional
Involvement in research must form part of the overall commitment of
teachers' organizations in Barbados. We, in the West Indies, still continue to be
largely dependent on research carried out in other countries for their own needs.
Consequently we have relatively little evaluative data about ourselves: teachers,
pupils or educational provisions. For example, most of the tests used in
Barbados were designed for other societies, and the norms on which they are
based are those of other cultures. The time has surely come when specific and
deliberate efforts should be made to remedy this situation. Let me be bold
enough to suggest some specific areas to which attention might profitably be
a. The development of aptitude and achievement tests
What do we know about the range of abilities in the children and youth we
teach? Teachers no doubt have their own opinions, but are these opinions
reliable? To what cold, hard, factual data can they point to substantiate any
claims made? What achievement tests have been prepared based on local norms?
I am concerned here not with the subjective tests frequently given in our
schools, but rather with properly designed standardized tests which could be
used by children in all our schools.
b. The Common Entrance Examination
This is another aspect of our educational provisions which, in my view, cries
out for attention from researchers. What specific data do we have on the
usefulness of this examination which we have been using since 1962? Are the
test papers really suited to our culture? Even if they are, and I am prepared to
hazard a guess that this is not always the case, we need at the very least to know
something about their predictive validity. Let me expand on this a little.
For years now we have been selecting several hundreds of children each year
for admission to a limited number of places in Government secondary schools.
What concrete evidence is there that we are really selecting those with the
greatest ability? and ability for what? What effort has been made to define
precisely and clearly our objectives in the selection process? How are the criteria
of selection related to the needs of a developing country?
But to get back to the question I posed earlier about predictive validity. How
do we know that the tests we use are effective, that they do what we want them
to do? Are there any data to show that those children who do best in the
Common Entrance Examination are, generally, those who do best at G.C.E.
O-level or A-level, or at University level? In at least one Caribbean territory such
studies have been carried out, but no similar investigation has been undertaken
These are certainly some of the questions that need to be asked, and to which
answers should be sought. It may even be that the whole Common Entrance
Examination is an exercise in futility and that there is no correlation between
children's performance and results in this examination and later success as judged
by whatever criteria we may choose to establish. On the other hand,
investigation might show that the Common Entrance Examination is, indeed,
selecting our ablest pupils. My point is that we shall only know what the facts
are when there has been proper statistical analysis of the data. Until then we are
operating on the basis of hunch and of supposition.
Apart from the fact that this is a poor way for professionals to go about their
business we should, at least, give some thought to the unfortunate children who
may suffer from the use of procedures we have not taken the trouble to examine
thoroughly. This is, I believe, a case where we should, like Gradgrind, be
concerned with facts, facts, facts; and teachers' professional associations could
reasonably spearhead such an investigation.
This is not to suggest that the teachers' associations should themselves
necessarily undertake to carry out the entire investigation. Indeed their
contribution might be that of drawing this need to the attention of the
appropriate Ministry and urging that necessary steps be taken to set up and carry
out the research needed. What is certain is that teachers' associations cannot
absolve themselves from some responsibility in this matter.
A third area in which teachers' associations should be involved is that of
constant review of teaching methods. We need to ask ourselves what real changes
have taken place in our teaching techniques during the past ten years; what
impact, if any, research findings have had on our teaching methods. A whole
new world of thinking has developed about the part played by inter-personal
relationships in the learning process, but what attention is given, in day to day
teaching to the influence of the peer group on the child's willingness to learn?
Has there been even a ripple in teaching circles in Barbados as a result of this
new knowledge, or are our waters still singularly untroubled by this new
thinking? If the latter is the case then teachers should ask themselves whether
their ignorance is merely blissful or culpable.
The fact must be stressed that we shall only know how effective new methods
are or how appropriate they are to our context if, first, we are aware of the
research data relating to the success or failure of new approaches; second, if they
are tried out in our own schools on a scientific basis. Decision not to try them
should, of course, be based on sound educational principles rather than on
What has been said above implies the need for long-range and detailed
planning. Data compilation must be thorough and reports on various
experimental procedures well documented. In any such effort co-ordination
would be essential and teachers' associations have both the opportunity and the
responsibility to involve classroom teachers in the dissemination of new ideas
and in setting up and carrying out (if necessary in conjunction with other
agencies) controlled experiments in the schools. One would hope, for example,
that such associations would lend their full support to, and be willing
co-sponsors of, such action research projects as may be undertaken by persons
attending the proposed In-service Diploma training programme to be established
in Barbados by the University of the West Indies.
d. Teacher training
It is well known that there is a severe shortage of qualified and trained
teachers in Barbados. Recent figures indicate that, of teachers in secondary
schools in the island, 33% hold degrees and 46% have had professional training.
Of the non-graduates in these schools 50% have been trained and of the
graduates 33.1% have received such training. The percentage who are graduates
and are professionally trained is a mere 12.4%. These figures speak for
themselves and underline the urgency of our need for more graduate teachers
and also for provision of professional training within the island itself.
In this area, teachers' associations likewise have a significant role to play by
urging the establishment of such training at an early date. But involvement by
the associations must go beyond this point, for teachers should be involved, as
well, in determining the content of the training programme. In any such
deliberations teachers' associations would do well to consider whether we in
Barbados should be satisfied with a mere replica of what is provided in, or
planned for, other territories, or whether the training programme to be offered
in the country should be planned afresh "from the ground up," so to speak -
to meet our specific needs, and be designed in the light of modern educational
theory and the best of modern practice.
The teachers' associations might consider and advocate, for example, the
desirability of greater emphasis on research, however elementary, by persons
preparing for the professional diploma videe above). Data collected and analysed
in the course of such research might provide a basis for more elaborate analysis
of our educational programme and might well offer significant insights otherwise
difficult if not impossible to obtain. There is also the possibility, indeed the
likelihood, of impact on classroom teaching.
The associations might also, in the course of discussions on programmes of
teacher training, urge greater attention to inter-personal relationships in the
classroom an area that has generally been sadly neglected in the professional
training of teachers.
e. A consultative role
So far I have argued that the teachers' associations should play a more
dynamic role in a number of areas. Acceptance of this challenge will necessarily
involve them in the decision-making process. Such a development is, to my
mind, long overdue. It is not only useful for such organizations to play this role
but essential, for it is in the ranks of the teachers themselves that a great deal of
insight is to be found.
I make no apology, therefore, for my insistence on the need for teachers'
associations to be involved, at the highest levels, in policy making in education.
Failure, on their part, to seek such involvement is to rob the country's elected
representatives, and their technical and executive officers in the Civil Service, of
the many insights which can be contributed by those still "in the field."
These statements are not intended to cast reflection on professional
colleagues in the Ministry of Education nor to call their competence into
question. The point I wish to emphasise is that responsibility for improving the
quality of education and for providing an education that is relevant to the 70's is
not the Ministry's alone it belongs to teachers' associations as well.
This contention leads logically to the proposal that another functional role
for teachers' organizations in Barbados is a consultative one. It is evident that
local associations have accepted the idea of such involvement, witness the
Memoranda submitted to the Honourable Minister of Education in connection
with the Draft Bill on Education. Conversely, the provision in the Draft Bill for
representatives of professional teachers' associations to be members of the
proposed National Advisory Commission on Education suggests recognition, by
the Ministry, of the contribution such organizations can make to the
development of education in the island.
This is as it should be, but there is room and need for still greater involvement
by teachers' organizations; curriculum development and the preparation of
school texts are examples that spring immediately to mind. In my view, no
major change in educational policy should be implemented nor even attempted
without prior consultation with teachers' organizations. Indeed, I would go
further and suggest that, in the best interests of education in Barbados, it is
eminently desirable that there should be established a Committee representative
of all teachers in the island and that this Committee should be accorded due
recognition by Government, by the University, and by other agencies concerned
with any aspect of public education or with the professional education and
training of teachers.
f. Certification of teachers
I turn now to the question of certification of teachers and recognition of
their professional and other qualifications. In this area, teachers have a long way
to go before they achieve the status of, say, the Medical profession.
None-the-less I suggest that one of the long-term objectives should be that of
having a teacher's qualifications assessed by his peers instead of by persons
outside the profession.
If teachers are to make their profession as respected as other professions are
then they must be prepared to strive for and to accept responsibility for
standards of behaviour and of competence among their members. This means
that they must be in a position to refuse admission to those whose demonstrable
competence does not meet the standards or criteria established, and must also be
able to discipline those whose professional behaviour has been legitimately called
But before teachers can achieve such a standing for their profession, they
must first put their own house in order. In Barbados' 166 square miles with a
total teaching force of about 3,000 there are no fewer than five separate
teachers' organizations. This has meant that, up to the present, there has been no
single organization able to speak for all teachers on professional matters, no
agency able to bring to bear on any educational issue the full weight of available
professional opinion. Fortunately, steps are being taken to form a National
Association which will be able to meet these requirements, and it is to be hoped
that the now-existing associations will give their full weight and support to this
It is not the purpose of this paper to offer a working formula which will allow
for assimilation, into a single body, of these discrete groups. My purpose is
merely to indicate that teachers do themselves a disservice by thinking of
themselves not as teachers, but as secondary teachers, as Head Masters and Head
Mistresses, as teachers in Independent Schools, as primary teachers and as
university teachers. Surely they can make common purpose of the fact that they
all teach, for this, in the final analysis, is what they are paid to do, and what
The areas of opportunity and of challenge so far discussed or referred to by
no means exhaust the possibilities open to teachers' associations in Barbados.
One might suggest, as indeed one group of teachers did, that teachers'
organizations should: encourage more discussion among teachers on a variety of
educational topics such as the "ungraded school," "team teaching," etc; do more
to facilitate exchange of views and ideas on teaching methods; provide more
workshops, seminars, etc; disseminate more professional literature; seek to exert
greater influence on Teacher Training Institutions. But such a catalogue, if
continued, could daunt by its very length, and the purpose of this paper is to
stimulate rather than to depress or discourage.
Teachers' organizations in Barbados have two courses of action open to them.
They can ignore the pressing educational needs in the community, some of
which have been pointed out and can, figuratively, bury their heads in
comfortable complacency fondly believing that "all is for the best in this best of
all possible worlds." In that case they will have failed the challenge of the 70's
and, like the dinosaur which was incapable of adapting to changed conditions,
they will no doubt die an unlamented death.
Alternatively, teachers' organizations in Barbados can infuse themselves with
new life, can grapple manfully with the many problems facing the schools and
can exert themselves to fashion, or to assist in the fashioning of, and education
that will truly fit the children and youth of today for life as citizens to
Activity or passivity; acceptance of challenge or obsolescence the choice is
1. De Young, C.A., and Wynn, Richard. American Education. New York: McGraw-Hill
Book Company, 1968, pp. 317, 318.
2. Schuelcr, H.; Lesser, G.S.; and Dobbins, A.L. Teacher Education and the New Media.
Washington, D.C.: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1967,
3. Ontario Royal Commission on Education. Report of the Royal Commission on
Education in Ontario. Toronto: Published by Baptist Johnson, 1950, p. 564.
4. Bell, Wilmer. "International Survey of Education Permanente," Convergence, 1,
No. 4 (1968), p. 56.
5. Doherty, Victor W. "The Carnegie Professional Growth Program: An Experiment
in the In-service Education of Teachers." Journal of Teacher Education, XVIII,
No. 3 (1967), p. 261.
6. Second Canadian Conference on Education: A Report. Edited by Fred W. Price.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962, p. 25.
7. Shorcy, Leonard L. "Teacher Participation in Continuing Education Activities."
Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1969.
LIBRARIES AND LIBRARIANSHIP IN THE
The history of libraries and librarianship in the Commonwealth Caribbean
countries* presents an interesting mixture of outstanding achievements on the
one hand and dismal stagnation on the other. One territory Barbados has
the distinction of having instituted a free public library by lawt three years
before this was first done anywhere in England and one year before the first
similar legislation was passed in the United States of America. Yet this fact is
little publicized in the library world and is not commonly known even in the
Caribbean itself for, up to one century after this auspicious start of 1847, library
services in the area remained largely undeveloped.
In the last two decades, however, library growth has been more rapid
especially in the larger territories where a number of school and special libraries2
are being established alongside the traditional public library services and are
gradually taking their place in the intellectual equipment of the region.
The climate for library service has of course improved steadily over the years.
Firstly, illiteracy rates have decreased from over 45% in the thirties in many
territories, to 10.5% (Leeward Islands), 24% (Trinidad), 33.9% (Jamaica) and
38.4% (Windward Islands) by the 1960 census. Barbados stands out as the only
island with a very high literacy rate (92%) recorded from the 1946 census.
Secondly, whereas up to the thirties "governmental apathy"3 was blamed in
some cases for the lack of extension of libraries, by the fifties it could be said
"the recognition by governments of the importance of the library services,
not only as a medium for education but also as an intellectual force in the
community is one of the most heartening features in the pattern of West
* This article covers the ten members of the former West Indies federation Jamaica,
Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua,
Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.
Financial stringency, however, has plagued the smaller islands particularly and
made it difficult for governments to match good will with hard cash. The
uneconomic size of the several island units and their insolvency have directly
affected their whole history, and not unnaturally, the pattern of their library
services. Even in cases where library buildings were constructed free of cost to
the governments, through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie, the usual
conditions for government support of a free library service had to be waived
because of economic conditions. And so although all the territories have
long-established public library services, most of them began as subscription
libraries, restricted in use to those who could afford to pay, and equally
restricted in scope by the limited reading interests of these few. Direct access to
the shelves was seldom permitted in these early days.
Free Public Libraries
The history of free and open access library services in the region begins with a
survey conducted in 1933 by the British librarian, Ernest Savage, whose reports
to the Carnegie Corporation is now a landmark in the annals of West Indian
library development. Reporting a pattern of decadent subscription libraries in a
multiplicity of tiny independent units (16 in the Bahamas alone), few school
libraries, and some islands with no libraries whatever, there was nothing that he
could consider adequate. His recommendations focused on four major
1. the need for greater financial support
2. larger units of service
3. professional staff and most of all, the need for
4. making the libraries free.
As a result of this report the Carnegie Corporation sponsored a co-operative
scheme for the Eastern Caribbean. It was begun in Trinidad in 1941 as the
Central Library Scheme and extended with separate funds from 1945 as the
Eastern Caribbean Regional Library (ECRL).
Regional Library Services
In tackling these four problems the ECRL's first achievement lay in
demonstrating modern library services with a wide range of attractive material
accessible on open shelves, thereby persuading the island governments to commit
themselves (in appropriate legislation) to support their local libraries as free
services. Substantial assistance in kind was given to the individual libraries by the
regional service, which was financed successively by the Carnegie Corporation,
the British Council and Colonial Development and Welfare until 1956 when all
external aid came to an end.
The position in Jamaica was separately reported on by Nora Bateson6 and
the British Council was similarly responsible for initating and partly financing a
regional scheme there. From 1948 existing subscription and free libraries which
formerly functioned independently in the parishes were incorporated into one
regional service the Jamaica Library Service. Together these two schemes
marked the turning point in library development in the area. Not only did they
emphasize free services in preference to the subscription pattern but they also
underlined the effects of increased levels of support.
By introducing larger service units these two major regional services ECRL
in the Eastern Caribbean and the Jamaica Library Service were thus able to
attack at once most of the four problems outlined in the Savage report. The
effects on Library finance were most significant. In the case of ECRL the
scheme introduced (albeit indirectly) an additional level of spending for libraries
above that of the island governments themselves, in much the same way as the
state and federal governments of the United States today render necessary aid to
libraries financed by municipal, county and other local government units in
order to enable them to improve on the quality of their services. In the West
Indies taxation and other revenue collecting are conducted mainly at the
territorial level, as are budgeting and spending, since financial resources are more
restricted. Library support is therefore derived mainly from this single level
except in Jamaica where parish councils contribute substantially. Levels of
support throughout the area are accordingly low, the highest rate being just over
60c per head for Trinidad's three public library services combined.
The rate of expenditure realized in each case is directly related to the size of
population served. Annual budgets of $12,000 and $28,000 such as currently
appear in the estimates for Antigua and St. Vincent are grossly inadequate to
support a full range of modern library services. All the smaller and
non-independent territories are in this position, having less to spend, fewer
persons to serve, and therefore less economic library units and weaker libraries.
This problem of undersized units has remained the bane of public library
development here as elsewhere.
The introduction of a regional co-operative scheme was therefore
all-important in this context. Although the ECRL made no cash contributions its
tangible assistance with books and staff as well as training made remarkable
progress possible on the limited island budgets, and this has been sorely missed
since 1956. The effects of the collapse of this scheme are still in evidence in the
Eastern Caribbean. Fully trained staff have drifted away in three cases and
standards have been adversely affected the collections have deteriorated,
catalogues have not been maintained and old buildings lack modern fixtures and
equipment. Although reader interest has not flagged noticeably, in qualitative
terms stagnation and deterioration have replaced the striking advances of the
fifties when the West Indies had easily the most advanced library services among
the British colonies.7
Patterns of Service
In spite of limited funds every effort has been made to maintain the
extension of services (undertaken in the fifties) to rural areas. The degree of
accessibility, levels and types of services offered, however, all vary from island to
island. Local service centres include bookmobile stops at the grocery store, in
the park or in the school yard; deposit collections, stations or centres housed in
clubs, government offices, private living rooms or rented premises; and, in a few
cases, branch libraries in the more populated towns. Some of the smallest
part-time outlets are altogether weak attempts at extension with no more than a
few shelves of books irregularly tended and in poor condition. At the other end
of the scale are full-time branches housed in modern buildings with up-to-date
stock and professional or semi-professional staff. The parish libraries of the
Jamaica Library Service are in this category while branches in Trinidad and
Barbados staffed by untrained help fall in between.
The weakness of centres has been recognized and in recent years bookmobiles
have been preferred as the method for extension services. Grenada, Barbados, St.
Lucia and Dominica have all embarked on mobile services in the last decade
while Trinidad followed by Jamaica were the first to use the library-on-wheels.
The novelty of this service seems to hold a special attraction for readers and
young people are among the most enthusiastic patrons.
Service to Children
Services to children are a comparatively new feature in the islands. At the
time of the 1933 survey only the Institute of Jamaica served a few children and
a paltry few schools had tiny collections. The improved services which were
developed subsequently focused mainly on adults in the formative years.8 As
services to children have been introduced on a limited scale eager youngsters
everywhere clamour for more.
Today public libraries and, increasingly, school libraries at the secondary level
cater to the needs of children and young people. One secondary school in
Barbados uniquely has its own separate library building and in recent years a
professional librarian, but in most cases teachers do library duty as an extra and
only a scattered few have some partial training in library techniques. Primary
schools have no full-fledged library provision in the smaller territories. In
Jamaica, Barbados, Tobago and Antigua special arrangements exist for a separate
Schools Library Service in each case conducted from the public library. In other
cases token services are provided to some schools while others lack library
Public Libraries in the largest territories have also gone some of the way
towards providing service to adults in institutions (hospitals, prisons, etc.) and in
Jamaica and Trinidad their extension programmes the Parish Festival of Arts
sponsored by the Jamaica Library Service Parish Libraries and the Adult
Education Programmes of the Trinidad Public Library have made a definite
impact on their communities. In Jamaica particularly the library's contribution
to the formation of national character has been emphasized since independence
and the library service has taken an active part in building the new Jamaica.9
This territory has also made the most noteworthy strides in building new
libraries. The headquarters and all the thirteen parishes in the island are served
by attractive library buildings constructed within the last decade and this is an
outstanding achievement, especially by comparison with the other territories.
In St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica of the former Windward group, the
main public library buildings are all prominent Carnegie structures strategically
sited in the capital towns. In the Leewards on the other hand, although they all
date from the nineteenth century, none of the public libraries has an
independent or typical library building. In Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis
they are housed with other government offices, and in one case law court
proceedings can be followed from a library work gallery!
In addition to the fine parish libraries constructed in Jamaica, new buildings
have gone up for three branches of the Central Library of Trinidad and Tobago,
and for the West India Reference Library of the Institute of Jamaica, so that
some few examples of modern public library architecture are to be seen. Among
the most notable buildings are the university libraries. The University of the
West Indies occupied its first library building at Mona, Jamaica, in 1953 and this
was extended in 1957 to a total floor area of 40,000 sq. ft. while plans for
further extension to double its area are currently afoot. Since their
establishment both the Barbados and Trinidad campuses of the University have
constructed new library buildings. The former, a two-storey building, was
occupied in 1967. The latter, a four-storey, fully air-conditioned structure with
46,000 sq. ft. of space, was occupied late in 1969 and is now the region's largest
and most modern library building.
Many public libraries in the region were for years better provided with
buildings than with books as a result of Carnegie donations for the former and
inadequate local support for the latter. From the inception of the regional
services emphasis was therefore placed on providing a range of suitable and
up-to-date books for information, education and recreation. Since the collapse
of ECRL the island libraries have tried to maintain this policy as far as their
means will allow. Book budgets, however, are so low generally that bookstocks
are small and in poor condition, especially in the smaller territories. Well under
one book per head of population is provided even in the most developed
services. Older material predominates in the islands where former ECRL book
gifts are still much in evidence. In 1962 there were 3.7 books per registered
library reader in the three public library services of Trinidad & Tobago and 2.8
per reader in Jamaicalo for the same period. These figures have improved
somewhat in the intervening years, but it is significant that young people now
make up more than half the population in some territories while library stocks
everywhere are leanest in material for this age group although separate statistics
are unavailable. The heavier and more destructive use of children's book serves
merely to compound the problem. Juvenile membership is therefore strictly
controlled (by quotas to schools or other similar methods), as are the number of
items loaned both to adults and children in all services.
The most outstanding growth in library collections has come about through
the development of the university's three libraries and various special libraries in
government departments, research institutes, statutory boards and private
concerns. These collections range widely over the Humanities, Sciences and
Social Sciences, the university libraries being strongest in those fields in which
teaching and research have been conducted. As the former forty year old library
of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, the St. Augustine campus library
has especially rich resources in agriculture and extensive runs of major journals
in related sciences.
West Indiana collections of varying sizes exist throughout the region, notably
in the larger public libraries which have in many cases assumed the role of
national libraries in the absence of a recognized institution with this title in any
of the territories. The Institute of Jamaica, established in 1879, has the finest
library in this field and is virtually a national library. Some of the island public
libraries have a few notable items in early imprints and scarce titles.
The number of West Indians who avail themselves of the services offered by
the several public libraries is not readily determined. While the school, special
and university libraries have a ready-made captive clientele in the staff, students
or other persons attached to the institutions which they serve, the public
libraries as "universities of the people" have a wider and less fixed readership
which is only partly revealed by statistics of registered borrowers and loans. The
former are seldom accurately maintained as the 1968 figure of 24% reported for
St. Vincent suggests; the Jamaica Library Service's 15% for the same year is a
more likely figure and probably reflects the true position in that territory. The
restrictions imposed on juvenile registration further invalidate statistics of library
use since almost everywhere children are known to be the more avid and
enthusiastic readers accounting for half the circulation in many cases in spite of
In addition to local residents, students and research workers abroad have
made increasing use of the region's libraries of all types either by correspondence
or in person. Answering all the enquiries generated by research takes the skill of
a trained reference librarian, but trained staff is in short supply in the region.
While money for libraries has always been a seriously limiting factor, the
major difficulty in the development of libraries of all types in the West Indies
can be identified as the lack of trained staff to manage the services according to
accepted professional standards. These two deficiencies are inter-related and
they set up a vicious circle. Five of the islands have no fully qualified librarians
although some members of staff in each case have been exposed to both
practical and formal training at the ECRL school or abroad.
In 1933 trained librarians were unknown in the region. In 1960 there were
thirty trained librarians in the whole West Indies to serve a population of three
million a ratio of 1 to 100,000. These figures have improved to the extent that
Trinidad alone now has over thirty-seven professionals, nine of them in special
libraries, but the population of the area has also increased and the ratio has not
therefore improved significantly. Without a more adequate number of trained
personnel it is evident that library development on a large scale must be hindered
even if funds were generously available.
Library Education and the Profession
An essential part of the ECRL regional programme was the provision of
training facilities in Trinidad for the whole area. The ECRL school, continued on
a limited scale by the Trinidad & Tobago Government with some lapses in later
years, was responsible for producing the large majority of local professionals
who completed the examinations of the British Library Association to become
Chartered Librarians or Associates of the Library Association (A.L.A.). Most
island governments have also given scholarships to enable some members of staff
to train overseas.
In this setting it is fortunate that a proposal to the University of the West
Indies to establish a full-fledged School of Librarianship with undergraduate and
postgraduate degrees has finally been accepted. The first students were
admitted in 1971 and this should undoubtedly prove to be the second major
turning point in the development of the area's library services. The proposal was
made in joint representations by the Library Associations of Jamaica and
Trinidad & Tobago in 1962. These Associations were founded in 1949 and 1960
respectively and were joined in 1969 by a third in Barbados. This is a clear
indication of the professional spirit which obtains.
In recent years co-operation between the several libraries has become
increasingly desirable and necessary. Through co-operative effort a Current
Caribbean Bibliography listing all local publications has been prepared and
published by the Caribbean Regional Library in Puerto Rico (formerly the
Library of the Caribbean Commission in Trinidad). Plans for the establishment
of a formal Regional Bibliographic Centre to carry this work forward on a more
current basis were formulated at a conference in March 1967 but have been
stalemated due to lack of funds.
Undaunted by this setback, a number of conferences were held on the
co-operation theme in early 1969, the last of them resulting in the formation of
an Association of Caribbean University and Research Libraries (ACURIL)
sponsored by and in affiliation with the Association of Caribbean Universities
and Research Institutes. This body includes non-Commonwealth libraries in the
Caribbean area and is to function through Standing Committees devoted to areas
of common interest to promote co-operative activity for mutual benefit.
These recent developments in library education and co-operation augur well
for the future growth of the profession and of libraries in the scattered island
territories of the Commonwealth Caribbean, which were once devoid of a single
adequate library service, and are today experiencing a heartening upsurge of
library consciousness and activity. The trend of future development, however,
will depend as much on widespread recognition of the vital role of libraries in
the society, accompanied by suitable funding to individual libraries of all types,
as on extensive national and regional planning for adequate, efficient and
rationally co-ordinated library and bibliographic services to the whole region. It
is an investment in the future which all the governments and institutions
concerned should gladly make for here in the Caribbean as elsewhere. The
libraries of today belong to posterity.
1. Wiles, Donald A. "An Outline History of the Public Library in Barbados", Librarian
and Book World XXXVII (July, 1948), 186.
2. Richards, Judith E. comp. Directory of Jamaica Libraries Part 1. Kingston: Jamaica
Library Association, 1967.
3. Savage, Ernest. The Libraries of Bermuda, the Bahamas .... [a Review] by E.L.
Library Association Record 1: 4th series (March, 1934) 94.
4. Great Britain. Colonial Office. Development and Welfare in the West Indies. Report
by Sir Stephen Luke. (Colonial No. 337) London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office,
5. Savage, Ernest A. The Libraries of Bermuda, the Bahamas, the British West Indies,
British Guiana, British Honduras, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands: A
Report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York: London: The Library Association,
6. Bateson, Nora. Library Plan for Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Government Printer,
7. Flood, R.A. Public Libraries in the Colonies. ("Library Association Pamphlet", No. 5)
London: The Library Association, 1951.
8. ECRL: A Regional Experiment; A Report on the Progress of the Eastern Caribbean
Regional Library, 1941 1950. Trinidad: Guardian Commercial Printery, 1951. p.
9. Evans, P.C. "Libraries and Nationhood," Library World LXIII (June, 1962), 323.
10. Jordan, Alma Theodora. The Development of Library Service in the West Indies
Through Inter-Library Co-operation. Metchuen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press,
1970. p. 75, 55.
WEST INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION THE STORY OF
The Question of Continued Affiliation Between Codrington College and Durham
Codrington College in Barbados, British West Indies, stands as a monument to
its founder Christopher Codrington the Younger. Munificent indeed as the
bequest was, it was ennobled by the life and character of its giver. Codrington
descended from an old Gloucestershire family, whose name goes back as far as
the fourteenth century.1 His grandfather also named Christopher, as well as
his father sailed for the West Indian island of Barbados around the year
1643,2 bought land on the windward side of the island, and amassed a
considerable fortune from sugar and molasses.
The second Codrington enhanced the family fortunes not only in Barbados,
but also extended them to Antigua and Barbuda, to the extent that he became
one of the richest planters in the West Indies. In 1689 the second Codrington
became Governor General of the Leeward Islands, being recommended by the
retiring Governor General as "a gentleman of great estate here in Barbados, and
much beloved by the inhabitants, and suggested for the office by them."3
The third Codrington, known in West Indian history as Codrington the
Younger, was born in the parish of St. John, in the island of Barbados, in 1668.
After receiving the rudiments of education and acquaintance with the learned
tongues in that island, Codrington was sent to England, at the age of twelve,
where he enrolled as a student of Dr. Weakle at Enfield, near London.
Codrington "went up" to Oxford in 1685 and remained there, apart from during
short military campaigns, until 1699. In 1689 he was elected to a probationer
Fellowship and was formally elected to a Fellowship the following year.
* The piece is based largely on correspondence between Durham University, the
University College of the West Indies and the Society for the Propagation of the
Codrington's career at Oxford is characterized by considerable diversity of
interests, academic and otherwise. His success in so many varied endeavours
evoked opprobrious lines from his detractors, and eulogies from his admirers.
"No spark," declared one defamer, "had walked up High Street bolder." Even
more abusive and personal is Sir Richard Blackmore's verse:
"By nature small and of Dwarfish Breed,
Peevish was sent to school, to Write and Read;
Where bribed by Gifts and Pedagorgirk Don
Abused the Father and deceived the Son;
And grooped one's Sugar, as he the other Spoiled,
Thence, swolen with figures and possessed with Tropes,
On Isis he bestowed his Parents hopes.4
But Codrington had his followers and his defenders: "His career astonished
his contemporaries not merely by its swiftness in achievement but also by its
extraordinary diversity."s "His whole life," says Harlow, "was swift, short,
kaleidoscopic and brilliant. He was famous as a scholar and wit; yet he has left
nothing of solid achievement in either scholarship or literature. He was a skilful
and courageous soldier, a born leader of men, who caught the eye of William of
Orange and gained high promotion; yet no one would place him among the
famous commanders of his age. "6
Clearly, then, Codrington, though brilliant in many ways, spread himself too
thinly; consequently he has made no permanent place as philosopher, scholar,
soldier or man of letters. "Like Raleigh, his versatility has been his bane. Just
because he could do so many things well, his abounding vigour diffused itself. He
attempted too much. As a scholar, a soldier, a statesman, he could have won
high distinction. But to attempt all three was too much for one short life. Too
much, that is to say, if one has an eye on the eternal garland. ",7
Only one stanza of a poem written to his friend, Sir Samuel Garth, finds a
permanent place in anthologies:
"Ask me not, friend, what I approve or blame;
Perhaps I know not why I like, or damn:
I can be pleas'd; and I dare own I am.
I read thee over with a lover's eye;
Thou hast no faults, or I no faults can spy;
Thou art all beauty, or all blindness I.8
If Codrington has earned a permanent place in West Indian history as
indeed he obviously has it is due to the enlightened disposition of his wealth.
He bequeathed 10,000 cash and a library of some 12,000 books to his college,
All Souls; and his two estates in Barbados to the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for founding and maintaining a college to train
ministers who would be qualified to "take care of men's souls while taking care
of their bodies." Enlightened as the will was, it has not escaped criticism, for
some have insisted that in giving his books and silver to All Souls, and only land
to his West Indian College, he clearly showed where his heart lay.
Englishmen had long been in the habit of bequeathing their fortunes to
founding Colleges at home and in the American Colonies. But Codrington's
bequest is different in that the college which he envisaged was intended to
benefit slaves and the children of slaves. It is true that Bishop Berkeley had
dreams of establishing a college in Bermuda at an earlier date; but the Bishop's
venture was abortive, primarily because he had no vast wealth. Codrington had
the vision and the money to actualize the vision. Codrington College is therefore,
the first colonial college founded by a European to benefit non-whites. This is
not to say that Christopher Codrington was an Emancipator; but the humane
tenor of the will was bound to ameliorate the lot of the slaves.
The portion of the will which created the college reads thus:
"Paragraph 8. Item: I give the bequeath my two plantations in Barbados to
the Society for Propagation of the Christian Religion in Foreign parts, Erected
and established by my late good master, King William the Third, and my desire is
to have the plantations continued Intire and three hundred negroes at least Kept
thereon, and A convenient number of Professors and Scholars maintained there,
all of them to be under the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, who shall
be obliged to Studdy and Practice Physick and Chyrurgery as well as Divinity,
that by the apparent usefulness of the former to all mankind, they may both
endear themselves to the people and have better opportunity of doing good to
mens souls wilst they are taking care of their Bodys. But the Particulars of the
Constitution I leave to the Society Compos'd of good and wise men."9
Codrington College can be said to have passed through four stages in its
1. The Grammar School Stage 1745-1824
The opening of a Grammar School was forced upon the Society purely out of
the logic of events. Since there were no schools in the island' 0 to instruct boys
up to a standard necessary for entrance into a college as envisaged by
Christopher Codrington, the Society provided such a school on the Benefactor's
estate. But a grammar school was not their goal; it was only a precursor to a
college, giving instruction so that "in time there may be Scholars properly
qualified to receive the Instructions of the Professors hereafter to be chosen,
who are to teach the Scholars Divinity, Physick, and Chyrurgery. I'
The Grammar School imitated the English Public Schools both in
administration and in curricula. A severe economic depression between
1770-1775 brought the school under grave financial difficulties. Then on
October 10, 1750, a disastrous hurricane struck, causing considerable damage to
the building. The Report of 1780/81 states: most of the buildings have
been thrown down, but not one negro lost, and very few cattle the
Mansion-house entirely uncovered . .; and the chapel greatly damaged. "12
So damaging was this hurricane that the school was closed between
1780-1797. The Reverend Mark Nicholson became head of Codrington in 1797
under the imposing title of "President of the College and Superior
School-Master."13 Nicholson's long tenure (1797-1821) coincided with
economic prosperity and laid the foundation for a real collegiate foundation.
2. The Collegiate Stage 1824-1875
Credit for developing the collegiate foundation at Codrington must be given
to Bishop William Hart Coleridge, the first Bishop of the new See of Barbados
and the Leeward Islands.14 Hart was a distinguished scholar, having gained a
double first at Oxford. The Report of 1829 stated that the college was being
placed on a more respectable footing, "more conformable to the Testator's
intentions and their own original views," with "the character of a university."'5
The S.P.G. had counted on "a liberal grant of money" and "cooperation of
Government;" but the British Government, even though influenced by a number
of "liberal" Tories, "did not enter into these propositions"' 16 At any rate the
Grammar School was removed to the Chaplain's Lodge in 1829, with the hope
that it would provide candidates to be trained at Codrington for the ministry.
Apropos to this is a resolution of the S.P.G. which states in part that:
in order to meet the wishes of the benevolent provider in every
practicable way, a medical professor be appointed to give lectures to the
students in physics and chirurgery. Further, that in connection and in
subordination of this establishment at the college, a seminary be opened at the
residence of the Chaplain, wherein a limited number of boys may be admitted
for gratuitous education, and be prepared, if such be the wish of their parents, as
candidates for their future admission into the higher department."' 7
On Thursday, September 9, 1830, Codrington College began its life as an
institution with university status, with civil and ecclesiastical officials present for
the occasion. It must have been an intolerably pompish sight, for at noon the
academic ceremony began in traditional English style the exhibitioner's
wearing scholar's cap and gown of Oxford, and the commoners wearing
commoner's gown of the the said university. Following the students were the
clergy, the Tutor, the Arch-deacon, the Lord Bishop, and the Governor, Sir
3. Affiliation with Codrington 1875-1950
Affiliation with Durham University (England) in 1875, an arrangement by
which Codrington College students earned Durham degrees while in residence at
Codrington, marks the third stage in the evolution of the college.
The terms of affiliation read in part:
1. Students of Codrington College, Barbados and Fourah Bay College,
Sierra Leone, may have their names placed on the Register of the University as
Matriculated Students of the same, provided that the Principal of their College,
or other person authorized to act in his behalf, shall have certified to the Warden
that they have passed an examination similar to that required for the admission
of students, in the several faculties, in the University of Durham.
2. Students of the affiliated Colleges, having been so matriculated shall be
admissible to the Exercises and Public Examinations required for proceeding to
Degrees, Licenses, and Academical ranks in the several Faculties, provided that
they shall have forwarded to the Warden certificates of having fulfilled the same
conditions as to residence, attendance at lectures, and conformity to discipline,
in their own Colleges, as are required from other Students of the University so
admissible, terms of residence being counted from the time of passing the
Admission Examination of their own College.19
Thus Codrington College became the first institution outside of Great Britain
to grant a residential Degree of a British University. In more recent times the
University of London has been called upon to assume the role of parent
University to colleges in various parts of the Empire; but it was Durham and
Codrington which initiated the procedure and it was Bishop Mitchinson who
conceived the idea and steered it to a successful completion.
Undoubtedly the affiliation with Durham raised Codrington to a new status
academically and has allowed scores of students, who would have been
financially unable to go to England, to earn a degree in Barbados. It gave some
measure of prestige to its graduates, who were increasingly taking the leading
role in Church, civic, and educational life in the West Indies, where the holder of
a University Degree is automatically accorded deference; it was an obvious
advantage for the Clergy especially to be considered graduates of Durham. But
while admitting that an external examining body fosters high standards and puts
both Faculty and Students on their mettle, there are, it seems to me, more
weighty considerations than the advantages admitted, which have a debilitating
effect upon the institution so affiliated.
There seems to be lack of that critical, self-examining spirit, which preserves
the best, but which drives universities forward and without which no university
can long endure respectably. That inquiring, critical approach is never present
when there are external criteria. Indeed, the affiliated institution tends to be
conservative and to lag behind the "mother institution," endeavouring to
preserve that which it really does not possses.
Then, too, the affiliated institution obviously cannot have as its primary goal
service to the local community, but rather has to consider the satisfying of
external examiners and conditions often alien to the immediate needs.
Between 1875 and 1955, two hundred and eighty-three Codrington students
were awarded degrees of Durham University.20 Apart from serving the Anglican
Church with distinction and teaching the classics in the Grammar Schools
throughout the West Indies, a number of Codrington graduates have been
conspicuously successful abroad in both the academic and political world.
Perhaps the most notable Codringtonian is Michael Stanley Greaves, B.A., 1919,
Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and later Astronomer Royal for
Scotland and Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh."21
4. The question of Codrington's Affiliation as Viewed by Durham, 1950-1955
Serious consideration was given to the question of higher education in the
British colonies when Parliament established the Asquith Commission in
1939.22 The Irvine Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sir James Irvine,
Principal of St. Andrews University, Scotland, concerned itself with higher
education the British West Indies. The Report was very critical of the absence of
a truly West Indian institution of higher education which reflected and moulded
national character. With this need in view the Report states:
"It is, indeed, difficult to conceive of the West Indies advancing towards the
greater political independence of self-government, while the present system of
dependence on others for education continued.
"A university does more than transform undergraduates into graduates;.
"It should be the intellectual centre of a region to which its own graduates
may look for encouragement and refreshment, and which may also be a meeting
ground for all pursuing knowledge at the higher levels. It should be the place
where the character of a people finds its intellectual expression. Before the
confusing impact of a number of different influences which are now striking the
West Indies in their position between two continents, it is more necessary that
they should develop their own academic centre and so win their own intellectual
character, confidence, and self-respect."23
It was the successful establishment of the University of the West Indies at
Mona, Jamaica, which raised the question of Codrington's affiliation with
Durham University at this time.24 Sir James Duff, Vice-Chancellor of Durham,
wrote the Principal of Codrington on May 31, 1950:
If you think that the prospects of Arts Degrees at the University
College, Jamaica, starting in October, 1950, are sufficiently clear, and in
consequence you think it timely to refuse to admit students to Codrington who
wish to take ordinary Arts Degrees as from September, 1950 on, I should
certainly approve your action."
"I notice that you are continuing to admit men for classical Honours until
A reply to this letter would have been very illuminating, but Reverend G.P.H.
Parson, Principal of Codrington, wrote me on April 28, 1969, "I have no
evidence of any reply to this letter."26
There are two letters from Sir James Duff to Dr. Grave, Principal of the
University college in Jamaica, dated respectively January 30, 1953, and May 3,
1954. The letters are almost identical and raise the question of the affiliation
between Durham and Codrington on a wider scale.
Sir James wished Dr. Grave "a long and prosperous reign over [his] new
domain." The letter then proceeded to review the history of the affiliation
which, at least was "a tenuous one." Durham never had "anything like the
intimate knowledge of them and their affairs that it had of its other affiliated
college, Fourah Bay,27 in Sierra Leone." Sir James observed that the Irvine
Commission had looked at Codrington College in considering the question of
higher education in the West Indies, but had made no mention of Codrington in
the report. This omission of Codrington neither "surprised" nor "displeased"
Durham. Moreover, Durham assumed "quite gladly" and "without overt
objection by Codrington" that when the University College was fully
established, Codrington would become "a Theological College and would cease
to enter students for degree examinations" at Durham.
Sir James explained that Dr. Taylor, first Principal of the University college,
had requested that Durham should not terminate the arrangement because
Jamaica was not yet ready to offer the classics and there the matter rested.
In an ominous closing paragraph, Sir James states: "But I don't think it ought
to be allowed to stand there much longer. Whatever may have been the
justification for affiliating a small missionary college in Barbados in 1875, the
affiliation has now become an anomaly, if not an actual absurdity. So could you
let me know (1) are you yet teaching classics in Jamaica (2) even if you are not,
would you feel bound to press for the retention of the classics degree course at
Codrington if we gave notice of our intention to terminate it?"2 8
The registrar of Durham, Mr. E.M. Bettenson, addressed himself to the same
problem of the affiliation in a long letter, dated January 29, 1953, to the
Warden of Durham University. Again, the lack of communication was referred
to, said the registrar:
"We have very little or no correspondence with the college on general
principles and there seems to be a general agreement the manifest destiny
of Codrington lies with that University College [Jamaica]. Meanwhile, however,
the connection with this university is tenuous and somewhat embarrassing."
The imperfect communications lead to imperfect understanding. For
example, in 1952 there were eleven candidates in all from Codrington of whom
one took the examination in Nassau under arrangements made by the Principal
unknown to us, and two were entered for an examination which they were not
entitled to take because Codrington had misrepresented both the regulations for
the degree and a communication from this office. Incidentally, the candidate
sitting in Nassau went sick in the middle of the examination and the first we
knew of the arrangement was an application by the invigilator for a concession
to the candidate."
If there were any prospects of Codrington being revived in the way
Fourah Bay has been revived other considerations would apply, but I do not
believe that there are any such prospects . "29
The question of Codrington's affiliation remained quiet for some time after
that. Then on Monday, November 8, 1954, the following announcement
appeared in Times of London: "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel
announces that from next October the Community of the Resurrection,
Murfield, Yorkshire, hope to undertake the management and staffing of
Codrington College, Barbados. The S.P.G. which for 244 years has administered
the Codrington estates and applied the proceeds to the upkeep of the college will
continue to be associated with its work."
This announcement evoked a letter from Sir James Duff to the Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel, in which Sir James complained that since
Codrington was an affiliated College of Durham it was hardly proper for the
Vice-Chancellor to have received this information from his reading The Times.
Sir James closed with this somber warning:
"It may be, though we have heard nothing to that effect, that the college
intends to give up its affiliation with Durham. But in any case, it must on no
account be assumed by those responsible for Codrington that the affiliation will
be automatically continued."
The Reverend B.C. Roberts replied to Sir James's letter on behalf of the
S.P.G. He apologised if any discourtesy had been shown either to Sir James or to
the University. He continued:30
"I must explain that.. we have never been precisely aware of the
relationship between Codrington College and the Durham University since the
matter was discussed in 1949. It was then understood that with the coming into
operation of the West Indies University College Durham would be unwilling for
the affiliation to continue, and we were under the impression that the severance
was effected. "31
Sir James accepted the apologies, but insisted that it was "odd" and
"symptomatic of the far too tenuous relations between Codrington and Durham,
that it should not have been ascertained, before a public announcement was
made, what the relationship with Durham University was. "32
Since the community of the Resurrection was assuming responsibilities for
administering Codrington, Sir James considered it propitious to sever the
relations at a time and in a manner that would meet the wishes of the
Community and the college.
On November 18, 1954, the Reverend Roberts informed Sir James Duff that
the correspondence was discussed with the West Indian sub-committee on
November 17, and copies were being sent to the Archbishop of the West Indies
and to the Principal of Codrington. "I am doing this at once," Reverend Roberts
stated, "and I hope that within a reasonable time you will hear from one of
The Reverend Roberts can be considered a cautious optimist in wishing for a
reply from Codrington "within a reasonable time"! I am not sure that Sir James
was in any way optimistic for he replied briefly to Reverend Roberts, and this is
the letter in its entirety: "Dear Bishop Roberts, Thank you for your letter of
November 13th. I shall now wait to hear from the West Indies."34
There is no evidence indeed that a reply was received from the West Indies,
though in February, 1955, the Principal of Codrington, Father Jonathan
Graham, visited Sir James at Durham University.3 s
Meanwhile, the University of Durham was pressing for some modification of
the affiliation, perhaps not an outright severance, but the relinquishing of
responsibilities at Codrington for offering the degree in classics. The Durham
Senate, therefore, passed the following resolution on December 7, 1954: "That
the following be appointed a committee to conduct correspondence with
Codrington college and the Authorities responsible for it, drawing attention to
the present unsatisfactory state of affairs and suggesting the desirability of
raising again the question of continued affiliation:
Professor Greenslade" 36
The Registrar of Durham drafted a very lengthy letter on December 12, 1954,
and circulated it to members of the committee for reactions before the meeting
which was scheduled for January 20, 1955. The letter, though modified by the
Committee, made four points:
1. That the opening of the University college must perforce alter the
relation between Codrington and Durham.
2. That lack of communication with Codrington posed an almost
3. That the quality of the teaching staff at Codrington was very
4. That Senate felt that July, 1957, was a reasonable time to terminate the
The Vice-Chancellor and members of the Ad-hoc Committee showed some
sensitivity about the impression which would be created in the West Indies
should the affiliation be completely removed and should Durham show no
concern for the future of Codrington. This sensitivity is best demonstrated in an
exchange of letters between the Vice-Chancellor and Professor Bum.
On December 14, 1954, Sir James Duff wrote thus to Professor Burn:
"Before summoning the Senate Committee which was formed to conduct
correspondence with Codrington College, I should like to ask if you have any
suggestions to make about its possible future. On historical and sentimental
grounds, I feel very much as you do. But I cannot persuade myself that a college
with a staff of two and with twelve students, and with no contact, and
apparently no wish for contact, with the parent university, ought to be called an
affiliated college of our university. Am I wrong in thinking that?"37
Professor Burn's reply is so humane that, though lengthy, it warrants being
"Thank you for your letter of December 14th about Codrington College. I
find it difficult, as we all do, to make suggestions for its future because I know
so little about its present state. It has long ago failed to be the institution which
Christopher Codrington had in mind; the basis of a cultivated, indigenous,
planter society. There has not been for one hundred and fifty years the slightest
chance of reviving this idea."
"I have no knowledge of the circumstances in which Codrington College was
affiliated to us although I suspect that this action was taken somewhat rashly.
Two things worry me slightly. One is the possibility that we have not done all
that we might have done for the College and may be in some sense to blame for
its present condition. The other is that having acquiesced in its decline we may
appear, now, to be withdrawing such slight support as we could give it. These
anxious observations obviously do not carry us very far but what I think we
need is much more information than we have. I hope that on the basis of this
information, if we can obtain it, we can decide whether or not the continuance
of affiliation will be of any benefit to the College and to potential students. I am
inclined to think that even if such benefit was small, so long as it was recognized
and tangible, it might be our duty to retain the present relationship. If, on the
other hand, that relationship involved no benefit to anyone or if the Trustees
considered that they could do better for themselves elsewhere our obligation
would cease. What I am anxious to avoid, as you are, is any hasty action which
might make even one small corner of the gloomy West Indian scene gloomier
than it is."
"I hope that I can attend any meeting of the Committee which may be called.
I rather hope that there will be no meeting until next term because I am
suffering from an incapacitating attack of arthritis. I very much wish that we
could find out whether from the Trustees or from anyone else, not only what is
happening at the College but whether an improved College could be of real
assistance to the West Indies or to Barbados or even to the Church in those parts.
Do you think it will be possible to get an objective opinion from the Colonial
Office or is there anyone who might weigh up the situation for us? My old friend
W.M. MacMillan is at present a temporary occupant of the Chair of History in
Jamaica. If you agreed I could write to him in confidence and ask him if he
could make enquiries about the College. But, of course, the distance between
Barbados and Jamaica is greater than any map shows."38
The Vice-Chancellor's reply to Professor Bum's letter also justifies recording:
"Our telephone conversation yesterday evening makes unnecessary a full
reply to your letter of December 17th about Codrington College. But, thinking
over what you said, I wonder if instead of the Registrar's draft letter, you would
prefer a shorter letter, to be addressed primarily to the Community of the
Resurrection, though copies should be sent both to the Principal of the College
and to the Secretary of the S.P.G. The letter would ask the Community of the
Resurrection whether they had any plans for the future of the College, and
whether they had any wish for the help or sponsorship of Durham University in
respect of those plans. It would I think necessarily add that ever since the
founding of the Jamaica College in 1946, we had felt unhappy about the
continuance of Arts degree courses at Codrington under our auspices, and that
we had also been troubled by the slenderness of our contact with Codrington.
(The last point is really quite valid and, at least in recent years, not our own
fault. Bettenson had tried hard to make a better two-way information service,
but the College has made not response at all to his efforts)."
"The difference between the letter I am now proposing and the letter which
Bettenson drafted is, in terms of Latin grammar, the difference between a
question beginning with "-ne" and a question beginning with "num."
"May I say again how sorry I am that you are plagued by arthritis."39
The Ad-hoc Committee on Codrington met on January 20, 1955, and decided
to alter the letter drafted earlier by Registrar Bettenson. The letter, addressed to
the Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, suggested that perhaps
future relations between Codrington and Durham should be limited to
"theological studies; and, that if "talk might be better than writing, we should
welcome a visit from you or from representatives of your Community."40
Since the reply of the Father Superior of the Community of the Resurrection
to the Registrar's letter suggested the direction in which Codrington would be
headed under the administration of the Community of the Resurrection, the
"Thank you for your letter of 20th January. Though this was acknowledged
in my absence, I apologise for further delay in answering it, but I was out of
action for five days through influenza."
"I had been in correspondence with the Rev. A.E.A. Sulston of the S.P.G. on
this matter, just previously to receiving your letter, and on January 22nd I
received a letter from him enclosing a letter addressed to Sir James Duff, which
he requested me to forward if I was in general agreement with its contents. This
I am now doing and I would be obliged if you would hand the letter on to Sir
James Duff at the same time telling him that the Community is in agreement
with this letter and is most anxious that there should not be a breach between
Codrington College and the University of Durham at the time when the
Community takes charge of the College. Further to this, the affiliation with the
University of Durham is obviously of value and importance to Codrington
College, and while it may as your letter to me suggests require some kind of
adjustment, it would be a cause of considerable regret if it were to be
"In your letter to me you ask whether the Community had any plans as to
the future of Codrington College and whether it has any wish for the help or
sponsorship of the University in respect of those plans. Until the Community has
taken over the College and had some experience of its working and its needs, it is
a little difficult to state any formal plans. Our hope and intention (which is also
the desire of the Archbishop of the West Indies) is to develop the theological
studies, probably developing into a five years' course for the ordinands of the
Province of the West Indies. The result of this would be that in the near future
there will be only theological students at the College. Therefore I think that the
suggestion you make that the link between the College and the University of
Durham should be limited to theological studies and teaching would be very
appropriate, and if it were possible to develop something in the nature of a
Diploma in Theology which would be taken by the students, this would seem to
be the most desirable kind of arrangement."
"I have no doubt that it will be possible to devise some systematic and regular
channel of information between the College and the University authorities,
particularly as the Fathers of the Community at the College will be in regular
communication with the Mother House of the Community here in Yorkshire.
"I think that it might be of general advantage if in the near future a
conference between some representatives of the Community and the University
authorities concerned could be arranged, and I would like to write a little later
suggesting some dates to see whether they meet with your convenience."
"I have sent a copy of this letter to the Secretary of the S.P.G."41
Meanwhile, the suggestion made by the Registrar on January 20, 1955, that,
perhaps, a face to face meeting might be more effective than correspondence was
carried out. On February 15, 1955, Father Jonathan Graham, recently
appointed as the first Principal of Codrington under the C.R., visited Durham.
His impressions of the meeting follow:
"I visited Durham on 15 February 1955 and had informal conversation first
with the Registrar alone, then with Sir J. Duff, Professor Greenslade and the
Registrar together. Nothing could have been happier or more friendly. Sir J.
Duff is primarily concerned that Durham should not have official affiliation with
an educational institution which is attempting courses with an inadequate staff.
When the Jamaica University was started, Durham was quite firm about not
encouraging Codrington to attempt degree courses which Jamaica could
adequately offer. But he is keen that Durham University should give Codrington
any help that it can. I told him that I was sure that the best help it could offer at
this moment was not to press any idea of dropping the affiliation until we have
had a year's working and can send him a report. He sees this (including the
sentimental values) and I have promised to report."42
The Vice-Chancellor's account of the meeting confirmed Father Graham's
impressions. On February 28, 1955, the Vice-Chancellor wrote to Bishop
"Thank you for your letter of February 25th. I was glad to meet Father
Graham last week, whom I had known before when he had a parish in
Middlesborough. We had a pretty full talk about Codrington College and its
future; and we told him that we would take no further steps until he had been at
Codrington long enough to see how the land lay, probably for about a year. But
I made it clear to him, and I ought to make it clear to you too, that we continue
to feel very serious doubts whether Codrington ought to continue to enter
students for degree courses with their manifestly insufficient staff and resources.
But we can now wait and see what Father Graham says after he has sized up the
Sir James Duff had, on November 3, 1954, asked Professor Duguid, Professor
of Pathology at the University of Durham's Medical School, who was taking a
trip to the West Indies, to look at the College, and give any impressions he might
form; also to find out, if possible, what the Faculty at Jamaica thought about
Codrington, "if indeed they knew of its existence."44
Professor Duguid's account of his mission to the West Indies ranged over
matters much beyond Codrington, and includes comments on social and political
matters. His report to the Vice-Chancellor follows:
"I did not manage to visit Barbados on my trip to the Caribbean but I did, as
you suggested, get some information about Codrington College, and I gather that
it is by no means moribund. The Registrar of the University College of the West
Indies, a distinguished and very cultured individual, is a graduate of it. It was, I
understand, the meeting place of the British West Indies Teachers' Congress last
February, and is quite an active centre."
"I think it is perhaps regrettable that the affiliation with Durham was severed.
I got the impression from talks in general that there was a feeling in the British
West Indies that recently, and between the wars, Britain had neglected the
islands, not only in matters of finance but also in the way of sympathetic
cooperation and encouragement. There is no doubt that the West Indians are
sensitive about these things. The recent troubles in British Guiana and British
Honduras were the works of the irresponsible elements but I think they were
nevertheless the expression of a feeling common also to the more responsible
West Indians that there is not much more help, economical or cultural, to be got
out of Britain, and that a closer association with the U.S.A. might be more
"I think the recent action of Codrington in shifting its affiliation may have
been the efforts of the more conservative elements, in what I understand is the
riost conservative and pro-British of the islands, to consolidate its association
with Britain by finding some more vital link with a British Institution."
"I suppose it is too late in so far as Codrington is concerned, but I feel sure
that occasional exchanges of visits with the Colonial universities are very
important. West Indians hate answering letters. They lose them with philosophic
The Vice Chancellor replied to Professor Duguid on May 25, 1955:
"Many thanks for your letter of 18th May telling me what you were able to
hear about Codrington College while you were in Jamaica."
"I wonder if it was from me, during the short talk we had, or from
informants in Jamica that you got the impression that the affiliation of
Codrington to Durham University had been severed. It has not! All that
happened recently was that the home body responsible for the finance and
staffing of the College (a task which Durham never undertook, nor could have
undertaken) was transferred from the S.P.G. to the Community of the
Resurrection at Mirfield. This transfer took place without anyone informing
Durham University; and that added somewhat to the pre-existing feeling here
that our link with Codrington was so thin that it must be either strengthened or
"Now a new Principal is going out from the Mirfield Community (a body of
Anglican monks, so to speak) a man whom I knew slightly before he became a
monk, and one whom I regard as both sensible and energetic. I saw him, after
seeing you last term, and we have agreed informally that things should
continue just as they are between the University and Codrington until he has had
time to size up the position and report his ideas to us."
"If the link is to be retained in any form, I feel absolutely sure you are right
in thinking that more personal contacts are essential. Perhaps, now that the
Rector has a son-in-law from the West Indies, he could be persuaded to go there
Many thanks again for your letter."46
The up-shot of all this correspondence is that Codrington ceased to grant
degrees of the University of Durham in 1956, but retains an affiliation in
theological studies. The 1969-70 Durham University Calendar states under the
section, "Affiliated Colleges": Codrington College, Barbados.
"This College was founded by Christopher Codrington, Captain-General of
the Leeward Islands, and Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, who died in
1710. His estates in Barbados were left in trust to the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel, then lately incorporated, to found a College, with
Professors and Scholars, all of them to be under the vows of Poverty, Chastity
and Obedience, who should study Divinity, Physic, and Chirurgery. The College
was affiliated to the University of Durham in Easter Term, 1875. In 1955 the
Community of the Ressurection, Mirfield, assumed direction of the College and
pastoral care of the estates. In 1969 the Community of the Resurrection ceased
to be responsible for the College and pastoral care of the estates."
Codrington College is also affiliated with the University of the West Indies.
The terms of affiliation as recorded in the University of the West Indies
Calendar, 1970-71, state inter alia:
"Students of affiliated Colleges or Institutions may have their names placed
on the register of the University as matriculated students of the same, provided
that the Principal of their College or Institution or other person authorised to
act on his behalf shall have certified that they have the required qualifications
for entry to the course for which they have registered."
Students of the affiliated Colleges or Institutions so matriculated shall be
admissible to the University examinations for proceeding to those degrees,
diplomas or certificates which Senate may from time to time deem students of
those Colleges or Institutions to be eligible, provided that the Principal of their
College or Institution, or other person authorised to act on his behalf, shall have
forwarded certificates of their having fulfilled the conditions as to residence,
attendance at lectures, and conformity to discipline in their own College or
Institution, as have been set out in the Regulations for the Course or agreed on
with the University.
Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance the following Colleges and
institutions shall be and hereby are admitted for such periods and in respect of
such privileges and on such special terms as shall in each case be prescribed by
1. United Theological College of the West Indies, Jamaica.
2. Codrington College, Barbados.
3. Institute of International Relations, Trinidad.
4. St. Michael's Seminary.
16. Licentiate in Theology
The L.Th. Certificate may be awarded, on successful completion of the
courses, to students in Colleges and Institutions affiliated for the purpose of
teaching for the Licentiate of Theology."
In any study of Codrington College two points seem salient, and I propose
now to discuss them briefly.
1. What contribution has Codrington College made to education in
Barbados and in the West Indies?
2. Why has the college not become a seat of West Indian intellectual life?
Lack of intercolonial communication, in addition to Codrington's location in
Barbados, would naturally lead one to expect that the influence of the college
would be more Barbadian than West Indian. By holding entrance examinations
exclusively in Barbados, the Codrington authorities placed an additional burden
on students from other islands, and so the Codrington student body has always
been mainly Barbadian. The Bishops of the West Indian Province, meeting in
Bridgetown in 1873, attempted to correct this situation by requesting that
future examinations for Diocesan Scholarships be held in the island home of
each competing student.7 A year later, however, the Bishops of Nassau and
Antigua admitted that "candidates were hard to come by except in Barbados,"
because of the lack of "Grammar Schools [in the other islands] which the
islands simply are too poor to support.'48
But the presence of good Grammar Schools in Barbados and the resultant fact
that more Barbadians were able to compete for entrance into the college stem
not so much from the superior economic position of Barbados as from the
influence of Codrington itself. Several able men have been at the College, and
their very presence exerted tremendous influence on the general outlook on
education in Barbados. Rawle was particularly influential and was the prime
mover of the Educational Act of 1850, while Bishop Mitchinson was responsible
for the Act of 1878. These two Acts, which attempted to "incorporate
Codrington College into the educational system of the island," placed Barbados,
at an early stage, far ahead of the other islands educationally. The reconstitution
of the College by Bishop Coleridge created in Barbados a demand for excellent
Grammar Schools, with Latin and Greek as the staples, in order to supply
entrants to the collegiate institution, and this tradition of excellent classical high
schools has remained in the island till the present time.
Codrington served Barbados well, and the West Indies to a less extent,49
immediately after Emancipation, which date coincides with the reconstitution
under Bishop Coleridge. It provided the bulk of the clergy at a time when the
church was responsible for education. Prinicpal Rawle began the first Teacher
Training scheme in the West Indies in 1848, and later commenced the famous
Pongas Mission project, with its far-reaching results. During Rawle's tenure also
the college became known as a place of "general education," so that many
planters and others who never entered the Ministry of the Church came under its
Near the close of the nineteenth century one of the great Principals of the
college, Alfred Caldecott, observed:
"The college looks back upon its great Principal, Rawle; upon its first
Scholar, Bishop Jackson,50 upon capable and devoted clergy; upon some
intelligent planters and some able lawyers who laid at least the foundation of
their academical studies in the college; and upon all the rank and file of those
who went to their life work having learnt, without leaving West Indian soil, the
joy of having an Alma Mater of their own." 51
To sum up, then, on Codrington's contribution to education in Barbados and
the West Indies: Codrington created in Barbados a demand for excellent
Grammar Schools to be feeders of the collegiate school; provided what little
formal training was given to elementary teachers during the nineteenth century;
trained ministers for the Church of England in the West Indies at a time when
that church was the responsible agent for education. The college served as an
academic mentor to the entire island, exercising tremendous influence upon
legislation having to do with education, and instilled into the community
generally a love of learning, with the result that Barbados, even though not the
centre of intellectual and political life of the West Indies today, is still the most
literate and informed island.
Notwithstanding the influence which Codrington has exerted on education in
the West Indies, generally, and in Barbados particularly, the institution has never
been fully and truly Barbadian, let alone West Indian. Indeed, it has always
served a special class of the community as its first interest, its impact upon the
rest of the island being secondary. Its influence was greatest immediately after
Emancipation, but waned more and more as a general awakening of the
population was experienced. As a large number of native West Indians became
enlightened, the demand for more education became more clamant, and the
necessity of the state control of education rather than religious control began to
be voiced. In 1876, during the debate in the House of Assembly on the report of
the Education Commission, one speaker said:
"A generation ago it was thought as generally beyond the province of the
state to provide elementary education; and we may predict that, a
generation hence, the supervision and, where necessary, the providing of
education of every grade from the highest to the lowest, will be looked upon as
being within the legitimate province of the state, and as essential to a high state
of national life. ""52
As these national sentiments could not be grafted onto the religious
foundation of Codrington, the ties became weaker and weaker during the late
nineteenth century, the final link being inevitably broken by the rise of
democracy in the West Indies-and the establishment of the University College in
Jamaica, the two being coeval-in the 1940's. Here again is an illustration of Sir
Ernest Barker's observation that equal education available to all members of the
community is a corollary of the suffrage and the democratic principle, and can
best be provided by the state.53 To put it another way, the inability of the
Codrington authorities to adjust to these national sentiments, made it impossible
for the college fully to become Barbadian or West Indian.
The authorities have always insisted that the Founder never intended the
college to become a school for general education, but rather one for the training
of ministers for the Church. This insistence upon the fulfillment of the Testator's
wishes seems superfluous. The facts are that the S.P.G. has never been able fully
to carry out the Testator's wishes. The maintenance of "at least 300 slaves" soon
became repugnant and impossible; the celibate provisions have never been
carried out; and the studyy and practice of Physick and Chyrurgery," as
conceived by Codrington, became more and more remote as science advanced. In
some instances, then, the Codrington Trustees admitted the impossibility of
adhering to the will, and adjusted their plans to the changing times. The fact that
similar institutions (most notably Fourah Bay College) have been transformed
into modern institutions with national characteristics makes the position of
Codrington all the more inexcusable and the arguments of its apologists all the
more inane. In the words of the Governor of Barbados in 1881, "It seems a
thousand pities that so fine a building and so favourable an endowment should
benefit so few persons."54
From its very beginning Codrington College, the collegiate part of it at any
rate, has had a number of able scholars associated with it. William Hart
Coleridge, the first Visitor, was "a member of one of the most distinguished
English families," and as "a worthy member of that great family added
lustre to its distinctions."55s The first Principal, J.H. Pinder, was a scholar of
enviable merit who, on returning to England, became Principal of the new
Theological College at Wells for graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, and "made
the college such a success as to encourage the system and give rise to many such
colleges since." Rawle was "one of the ablest Cambridge men of the day."56
Caldecott and Mitchinson were notable scholars who achieved marked success on
returning to England.
Yet Codrington College, even under such undoubted scholarly leadership and
influence, never became a real university nor a centre of West Indian intellectual
activity. It remained only a teaching institution, with no academic traditions. No
original research was ever undertaken; no outstanding book written, and no
literature was produced there. All of these activities one should expect from an
institution so favourably placed as Codrington was. The reason for this failure is
partly but only partly economic. In spite of widespread poverty in the West
Indies there was considerable wealth in Barbados during the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, judging even by English standards.57 Froude speaks of
families living in luxury and spreading the most fabulous tables.s 8 Why was not
some of this wealth used for educational purposes, specifically for building
Codrington into a centre of higher education in the West Indies? The answer to
this question, it seems to me, is found in an illuminating statement by the frank
historian of Barbados, Sir Robert Schomburgk, who said:
"If we consult the history of our colonies (in the West Indies), it will
generally be found that the first settlers were of that class of society in which
morals and virtue are seldom to be met with;. it was not the amelioration of
their Christian virtues which led them to distant climes."59
There was therefore no early coterie of native West Indian intellectual
curiosity to form the nucleus of disinterested and objective scholarship, nor a
large enough literate group to recognize the need for, and appreciate the
advantages of, an advanced academic institution. The educated planters and men
of commerce who should have formed that coterie of intelligence and culture
did not consider the West Indies their home. Since England was home and
Oxford and Cambridge theirs, a good Grammar School was all that was necessary
in the West Indies. It is not without significance that the real need for a West
Indian university was not felt until the children of the emancipated slaves had
developed intellectually, socially, and culturally enough to benefit from
university education, and in this context Codrington's classical curriculum and
its religious commitments were immediately recognized to be hopelessly
inadequate to meet the needs. Education, like culture, cannot be foisted on
people; the need must be felt from within. Codrington, in spite of the good it
has done for the West Indies, was never a native institution.
Why, then, did not Codrington College develop, as would naturally be
expected, into a centre of learning for the West Indies? The lines of
communication in the West Indies have always been from each island to London.
This orientation kept the islands apart, developed insular feelings, and prevented
the common action which would have been necessary for the support of a
university. The Professors, devoted though they were, never looked upon the
college as their home, and even though some remained as many as twenty years
they eventually "went home." There was never at Codrington a residual knot of
cultivated, disinterested, and objective scholars, pursuing learning and research
for their own sakes. Affiliation with Durham, while raising the academic
standards, ensured the permanence of a curriculum ill-suited to the islands. The
need for an institution of higher learning was not intrinsically felt. The Grammar
Schools prepared the sons of the few wealthy planters and merchants for Oxford
and Cambridge, and at the same time provided the rudiments of knowledge
which were necessary for the commerce and business of the island. Economic
instability, caused more by mismanagement than by anything else, prevented
expansion. Finally, the religious constitution of Codrington proved an
insuperable difficulty to its development and its usefulness to the West Indies.
Yet, historically-minded people regret that the same compromising spirit
which transformed Oxford and Cambridge into national universities was not
exhibited in the West Indies so that the University College of the West Indies
could have been established at Codrington and could have thus continued the
link with this ancient establishment.
GEORGE C. SIMMONS
1. See Who's Who (London, 1961), p. 608; Sir Robert Atkins, The Ancient and Present
State of Gloucestershire, pp. 204-207; P.H. Ditchfield, Memorials of Old
Gloucestershire, p. 231; Robert Lowe, The Codrington Correspondence (London,
1951), p. 1.
2. Wippel in Diocesan History of Barbados, p. 65, says that Codrington arrived in 1644.
Harlow, in Christopher Codrington, puts the date at 1628. Probably neither is
accurate, and the point is minute. By 1631, however, there were 3,000-4,000 English
in Barbados. See Arthur P. Newton, The Europeans in the West Indies, 1493-1688,
3. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1689-1692, No. 256.
4. A Short and True History of a Certain Capt. General: Discommendatory Verses, by
Sir Richard Blackmore.
5. V.T. Harlow, Christopher Codrington, p. 47.
6. Ibid., pp. 47-48.
8. Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. IV, p. 660.
9. Several substantive questions can be raised about the will of Codrington, not the least
being the presence of slaves on an estate owned by the Anglican Church. See
Klingberg (ed.), Codrington Chronicle: An Experiment in Anglican Altruism on a
Barbados Plantation, 1710-1834; Anglican Humanitarianism at Codrington College,
Journal of Negro History, VoL XXIII, 1938, Bennett, Bondsmen and Bishops, Slavery
and Apprenticeship on the Codrington Plantations, passim.
10. The only Grammar School in Barbados which antedates Codrington Grammar School
is Harrison College. Thomas Harrison, founder, who became Church Warden of St.
Michael in 1729, proposed that one half of the 10% Commission allowed him for
collecting and disbursing parish funds should be utilized for a charity schooL In 1733,
the "Harrison Free School: was opened as a "public and free school for the poor and
indigent boys of the parish" to the number of 25. See The Harrisonian, July, 1933,
pp. 63, 65; also, Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Vol. 1, p. 39
11. Thomas Rotherham to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Barbados, August 13, 1746,
S.P.G. Journals (L.C. Film) VoL X, pp. 192-197; Report, 1746.
12. Minutes of Codrington Attorneys, Barbados, June 29, 1775, IBID., pp. 428-430.
13. Extracts from The Barbados Journal, (L.C. Film) XII, p. 220; Sir Richard
Schomburgk, The History of Barbados, p. 115.
14. Colonial Office, August 19, 1824; Reece and Hunte, Barbados Diocesan History, p. 4.
15. Report, 1825, p. 45; Schomburgk, op. cit., p. 116.
18. Schomburgk, op. cit., p. 119.
19. Durham University Calendar, 1874-1883, PASSIM.
20. Ibid, 1878-1963.
21. Who Was Who, 1951-1960, p. 448.
22. Durham University Calendar, 1875-1955, PASSIM.
23. The Report of the Committee of the West Indies Commission for Higher Education in
the Colonies, 1945.
24. The Registrar of Durham, Mr. E.M. Bettenson, was kind enough to send me copies of
the correspondence between Durham, the University College of the West Indies,
Codrington, and occasionally the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. It is
regrettable that I am unable to offer thanks to the Registrar of the University College
in the same vein. Mr. Carl Jackman, then acting Registrar, wrote me on February 13,
1968: . I apologise for my delay in replying but have had to wait whilst a search
was made for the correspondence under reference. I regret that I have been unable to
find it .... "
The carelessness with which correspondence is handled generally in the West Indies drew
this comment from Professor J.B. Duguid in a letter dated May 18, 1955, to
Vice-Chancellor Sir James Duff:
"West Indians hate answering letters. They lose them with philosophic unconcern."
A West Indian myself, I concur!
25. Letter from Sir James Duff to Principal of Codrington, Dated May 31, 1950.
26. Letter dated April 28, 1969.
27. Fourah Bay's affiliation with Durham dates from 1876, the year following
Codrington's. The College was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1827,
was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1960 and became a constituent College of the
University of Sierra Leonne in 1966. Fourah Bay is a thriving University College with
about 600 students and over 100 teachers.
See (a) Commonwealth Universities Yearbook, 1969, pp. 215-217;
(b) The World of Learning, 1969-70, pp. 1106, 1107.
28. Sir James Duff to Dr. Grave, Principal of University College of the West Indies,
January 30, 1953; May 3, 1954.
29. Registrar Bettenson to Warden of Durham, January 29, 1953.
30. Sir James Duff to the Rev. B.C. Roberts, Secretary of S.P.G., November 9, 1954.
31. The Rev. B.C. Roberts to Sir James Duff, November 11, 1954.
32. Sir James Duff to the Rev. B.C. Roberts, November 15, 1954.
33. The Rev. B.C. Roberts to Sir James Duff, November 18, 1954.
34. Sir James Duff to Rev. B.C. Roberts, November 23, 1954.
35. Rev. Father Pawson, Principal of Codrington to Professor George Simmons, April 28,
36. Copy of Resolution dated December 12, 1954, sent by Registrar Bettenson to
Professor George Simmons.
37. Sir James Duff to Professor Burn, December 14, 1954.
38. Professor Burn to Sir James Duff, December 17, 1954.
39. Sir James Duff to Professor Burn, December 20, 1954.
40. Registrar Bettenson to Superior of Community of the Resurrection, January 20,
41. Father Raymond Rayner to Registrar Bettenson, January 28, 1955.
42. Father Pawson, Principal of Codrington, to Professor George Simmons, April 28,
43. Sir James Duff to Bishop Roberts, February 28, 1955.
44. Sir James Duff to Professor Duguid, November 3, 1954.
45. Professor J.B. Duguid to Vice-Chancellor Duff, May 18, 1955.
46. Sir James Duff to Professor Duguid, May 25, 1955.
47. Report, 1873, p. 28.
48. Ibid., 1824, pp. 14, 15.
49. Between 1830 and 1885 there were 317 admissions to the college, distributed thus:
Barbados 220, Trinidad 9, Antigua 11, St. Kitts 4, Nevis 3, Anguilla 2, Grenada 10,
St. Vincent 8, Dominica 1, Tobago 3, British Guiana 4, Bermuda 1, Montserrat 1,
Jamaica 4, Haiti 1, England 22, Ireland 3, United States 3, Belgium 1, not specified 5.
Thus Barbados supplied nearly 70 per cent of the school population during that
Among those educated at Codrington College during this period were: E.G. Beckles,
Bishop of Sierra Leone, 1860-69; W.T. Webb, Headmaster of Lodge School,
1850-1864, Principal of Codrington College, 1864-1884; H.H. Parry, D.D., Bishop of
Barbados, 1868, Bishop of Perth, Australia, 1876; Sir Thomas Graham Briggs; W.W.
Jackson, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, Rector of Exeter College, Oxford,
1887-1913; T.L. Speed, Headmaster of Combermere School, 1880; J.W. Carrington,
D.C.L., Solicitor General, 1878; H.A. Bovell, Chief Justice of Demerara, 1902; G.B.R.
Burton, Headmaster of Combermere School; S.E. Branch, Headmaster of Antigua
Grammar School; A.P. Berkeley, D.D., Bishop of Barbados, 1917, Bishop of
Windward Islands, 1927; H.S. Thorne, Judge of the Court of Appeal, Barbados; Sir E.
Hutson, K.C.M.G., Governor of British Honduras, Governor of Fiji; N.J. Paterson,
Attorney General of Grenada; E. Hutson, D.D., Bishop of Antigua, 1911, Archbishop
of the West Indies, 1922.
50. W.W. Jackson of Barbados entered the college in 1830 as an Exhibitioner; he later
became Vicar of St. Paul's, Barbados, Chaplain to H.M. Forces at Barbados; and
finally Bishop of Antigua. See Parry, op. cit., pp. 26, 27.
51. Caldecott, The Church in the West Indies, p. 232.
52. The West Indian, Bridgetown, Barbados, November 10, 1876.
53. Ernest Baker, Church, State and Education, p. 209.
54. Governor of Barbados to Colonial Secretary, The Official Gazette, Bridgetown,
Barbados, November 21, 1881.
57. See F.W.N. Bayley, Four Years in the West Indies (London: William Kidd, 1839), pp.
58. J.A. Froude, The English in the West Indies, p. 111.
59. Schomburgk, The History of Barbados, p. 92.
TEACHING LITERATURE IN A DIALECT/STANDARD
A Commentary given at a Conference of Training College Lecturers in Literature and
Language held at Newcastle, Jamaica, October 16, 1971.
We have reached the stage at which we have accepted the fact that our
language situation here in Jamaica is a dialect/standard one. Dialect is widely
used but the standard (the official and educational norm) is understood and
generally attempted with varying degrees of success. Another of the realities we
must face is that the majority of students who enter College have had no
exposure to Literature and those who have had, lack the linguistic sophistication
which we like to think is so necessary for successful introduction to Literature.
This state of affairs should be seen as an advantage rather than as cause for
concern. We should beware of becoming so absorbed with convincing ourselves
and others that our teaching situation is a remedial one that we fail to take
advantage of the fine opportunity of providing that springboard which will
launch our students into a big exciting world of Literature and books. The
greater advantage here is that we can do it our way and as Teachers educators
whose main interest should be the introduction of exciting methods for teaching
children, we have the golden opportunity of providing the sort of stimulus we
hope they will pass on to their pupils.
We must approach our task by taking into the consideration the students'
strengths and their needs, and begin by capitalising on the strong points. These
might differ from group to group; the strong points upon which we can count
a. a strong desire to succeed; (their ideas to succeed might sometimes be
different from ours but there is little doubt that they want to)
b. the ability (too often untapped hence dormant) to create and fashion
something new and intensely personal out of situations to which they
are exposed. The situations may be literary, emotional or cultural.
c. experience of the 'real' adult world.
This second point is very important and will be to a large extent the premise
upon which I will base my recommendations.
On the other hand, students need assurance the sort of assurance that helps
them to develop a healthy concept of themselves as beings capable of producing
something worthwhile, this sort of assurance will engender self-confidence.
Attention must be drawn to the fact that it is the ability to 'produce,' to 'do', to
'give out' that is being emphasized.
Students also need 'challenge! Successful grappling with challenges goes a
long way towards self confidence.
Finally, students in our situation need the opportunity to concretizee' their
newly acquired experiences if these are to help them overcome the language
difficulties and cope with College and examination requirements.
The staff on the other hand must motivate, stimulate and excite. We must
help our students see the relation between their own experiences and those in
Literature, and grapple intelligently with material which is in keeping with their
own experience and/or emotions.
The staff must also provide challenges and create the atmosphere, not merely
the classroom atmosphere but also in particular the type of atmosphere, the
passage, scene or poem is attempting to set and allow the students to engulf
themselves spontaneously as it were.
If we are to cope with this situation we must be like Holbrook in his 'English
for the Rejected' lay down certain rules for ourselves. First we must strive not
only to see our students as human beings with a lot to offer, but treat them as
such. Secondly we must be flexible. Thirdly we must be prepared for all sorts of
surprises and finally we must be endless and unflagging in our encouragement.
Since students' ideas, experiences and emotions are far in advance of their
ability to verbalise, their frustration is even greater when after being helped to
understand and appreciate the material, they lack the linguistic competence to
talk or write about it fluently. To cope with this we need to fall back on their
ability to participate, to act out. Active participation is the key.
I am advocating that in the initial stages (the stage at which they are being
introduced to their books), they should see themselves as playing a role rather
than reading a book and before asking them to write, they should be made to
illustrate. In this scheme of things, the role of the tutor is a big one.
In teaching a play for instance, the tutor immediately becomes the stage
manager and must verbally set the stage as carefully as if the play was about to
be performed to an audience. He has got to shift the curtain and change the
props and the sound effects as the play demands. If in response to your calls, the
required sound effects are not given spontaneously, as it often is, a member of
the class must be delegated to be in charge of producing these sounds.
Sometimes it might be more effective for the tutor himself to take charge of the
The tutor is not only stage manager; he is also the producer and must fashion
the character with and for the class his shape, size, general appearance, voice
etc; the classroom immediately becomes a stage where he no longer has students
reading but actors performing.
This approach, I have found useful even when anwers to questions are being
discussed. Very often it is the recollection of a voice, or the behaviour of a
particular 'performer' that helps students to understand the point we are trying
to put across. Also, the vocabulary which the tutor/stagemanager/producer uses
to give his instructions or set his stage lingers with the students and helps build
up the fluency which is so lacking.
This stage setting technique works to a lesser degree in the teaching of novels.
Again I advocate reading in class paying strict attention to the behaviour of the
characters, the sort of scene being set, and getting students to fit themselves into
particular situations. What has worked wonders with students is the working up
of illustrated projects of the book being studied. Art, but not necessarily
drawing is, called for. This has special appeal to the non-artist since he is free to
use any pictures, comic strips, sticks, grass and pebbles or anything he can lay his
hands on to illustrate his point. What never ceases to amaze me is the way
students have always been able to find for their projects appropriate comic strip
pictures to illustrate the point being made in their literature book. The scope of
the novel thus takes on greater dimensions; it does not begin and end within the
covers of the text. One must however, be careful to set the questions in such a
way that complete reading of the text is necessary if the questions are to be
answered. The following is an example of the type of instructions given.
'Work up in an interesting manner a project on one of the following topics.
This must not take the form of a long written essay but is intended to awaken
and challenge your ability to create something interesting out of a required
text. Illustrations may be in the form of cartoons, stick figures, cut-outs or
any medium you want to use.'
1. One aspect of Caribbean Society as seen in 'A House for Mr. Biswas'
2. A striving for independence as seen in 'A House for Mr. Biswas'
3. Life of 'Miguel Street.'
4. Interesting character in 'Earthquake' (Salkey).
5. Patience and Fortitude win the day as seen in Hardy's 'Far from the
6. Farm Life as seen in 'Far from the Madding Crowd'
The topics, in themselves rather abstract, take on a new appeal when done in
the form of an illustrated project and the successful completion usually goes a
long way towards boosting the ego of the students. I have always found too that
after this, students are prepared for, and in fact do much better on, any essay
question which is given later.
Our students tend to react positively to drama, they seem to accept the fact
that they will be called upon to read novels but we seem to have to 'sell' poetry
There I advocate working first through the ear as the musician does;
Read the poems to them starting of course with the ones which have easy
appeal; poems that cause laughter, or evoke sympathy.
I have time and again watched the reaction of groups of students listening for
the first time to Eddie Brathwaite's recording of Rights of Passage and have
always been struck by the immediate favourable reaction to material which we
tend to think is above them; group after group of students who do not belong to
the Literature class congregate to hear it. At first I was tempted to feel it was
merely a feeling of being liberated when they could listen to words which under
other circumstances would be taboo. This however is not so; the fact is that it is
being read for them; they are listening to the music of the poetry and without
knowing or understanding why, they are completely sold on the poem. The
point I'm making here is that the tutor will have to begin by reading and
allowing students to listen to the music of the words.
The next thing would be to help them to create for themselves that same type
of music with words of the poem before them. The capturing of the atmosphere
and the correct tone are things which students will have to be taught to capture.
Practising to read poems and discussion of the type of atmosphere the reader is
trying to create, seems to be an important part of the poetry teaching process.
As suggested in teaching of drama and novels, it is sometimes necessary to set
verbally, the scene of the poem and then put the students within it to 'perform.'
In this approach, essay type questions are not attempted until involvement
and excitement are at a peak; students will then be so confident about their
knowledge of content, that there is less difficulty (or only one difficulty) to be
overcome at time of writing. It is in the last term that lectures and discussion
come to an end and intensive writing practice begins. Content, confidence, and
interest having being acquired, we can now return to the formality and
preparation for exams.
We all know that students invariably react to the teacher rather than to the
subject; we must therefore remember that we ourselves must be stimulated and
stimulating if we are to stimulate.
Our active participation could be a vital source of this stimulation.
The development of Library Service in the West Indies through inter-library
co-operation. Alma Theodora Jordan, D.L.S. Metuchen, N.J. the Scarecrow
Press, Inc., 1970 433 p. ISBN 0-8108 0294-5.
The main objectives of the study were to bring into focus the problems and
needs of Library Services in the West Indies; to collect data on co-operative
activity already undertaken; and to assess the value of inter-library co-operation
as a tool for developing Caribbean Libraries.
In the course of the investigation all types of libraries were examined with
special emphasis on public libraries. The methods employed were by means of
questionnaires, documentary analyses, interviews and observations.
The report is divided into 5 parts dealing with the Libraries of individual
territories of the West Indies; their pattern of Library Services; forms of
co-operation practiced in developed countries with consideration of their
application to the West Indies; concluding with findings and suggested blue
prints for future action.
What the study points up is, that in spite of the progress made from small
subscription libraries, to large, free, open access public libraries, these advances
are now almost eclipsed by a decade of stagnation in some of the smaller islands,
caused mainly by lack of funds and trained staff. It is imperative and urgent
therefore, that some form of co-operation be worked out between libraries and
librarians in order to increase efficiency, and lead to economical use of existing
resources. The study emphasises that it will not be enough to copy wholesale or
superimpose methods and devices applied elsewhere, rather, a new formula must
be worked out and a system evolved which bears relation to local interests,
needs, finances and overall development.
This must also be considered in the light of changing patterns of education in
Unfortunately, the time lag between the period when the actual research was
carried out, written up, and finally published, covers almost 10 years, causing
much of the material to be dated and some of the recommendations to be
already implemented. A case in point being the establishment of a school of
Librarianship at the University of the West Indies which is now a year old.
Much care has been taken in meticulously compiling the material and we are
presented with a painstaking piece of research of a high standard. The book is
well and clearly printed, amply illustrated with maps, tables and footnotes at the
end of each chapter. The comprehensive bibliography is alphabetically arranged
in sections which deal with books, pamphlets and reports; articles and
periodicals; unpublished material; personal and other correspondence; and
interviews. The alphabetically arranged index is well cross-referenced.
As a work of scholarship the book stands on its own merit. In view of the
establishment of a school of Librarianship at the University of the West Indies
the book will now become required reading for students, and a valuable
reference work for Library Administrators, especially those of other Third World
It took 28 years for this report to follow the first one undertaken on West
Indian Library development by Dr. Savage in 1932, and it is significant that it
has been carried out by a Trinidadian Dr. Alma Jordan, at present Librarian in
charge at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, who
brings to her task a wealth of experience having served for many years in the
public library field. She has listed other areas for future research and it is to be
hoped that this study will lead the way for many others.
Society, Schools and Progress in the West Indies. John J. Figueroa. Oxford:
Pergamon Press Ltd., 1971.
There has long been a need for a comprehensive review and assessment of
contemporary educational policy, practice and provisions in the English-speaking
Caribbean. This need has now been met by Professor Figueroa's book: "Society,
Schools and Progress in the West Indies."
Professor Figueroa is particularly well qualified for this task. A West Indian
by birth, Professor Figueroa has been intimately involved, since 1953, in teacher
training at the University College (now the University) of the West Indies, and
has had personal experience of teaching and practice in most of the English
speaking Caribbean over a period of nearly twenty years.
The purpose of the book is precisely stated:
to give important information about education and society in the West
Indies; to raise certain questions which need to be carefully considered if
education is to lead to real human development in the West Indies;. [and]
to provide informed opinion on a variety of subjects affecting society, schools
and progress in the West Indies. (p. xix).
A brief historical review of the settlement and development of the West
Indies forms the basis for the author's conclusion that while [the territories]
share, or at least have shared, the social and economic disadvantages of a
one-crop economy that of sugar" (p. 7), and despite the "mixed ethnic and
cultural heritage" (p. 7) they have in common, the territories none-the-less have
major differences, educationally and culturally, The magnitude of some of the
educational problems is exemplified by the case of St. Lucia whose "patois [is]
French even though English is spoken and is the official language." (p. 10).
The complexity of the society is indicated, though briefly, by the author's
reference to some of the economic and social problems: widely varying natural
resources and potential for development; a plural (or is it a mixed?) society;
conflicting social patterns whose result is "not only a mixture of values, which
might be a good thing, but also a basic confusion about values, an uncertainty,
an ambivalence." (p. 42). Causes of common problems include "reliance on ideas
of importance of class, caste, colour and shade, rather than performance" (p.
50), confusion about desirable norms, unemployment and heavy populations.
One approach to analysis of the area's problems would have been the
presentation of numerous pages of tables which might have delighted the
statistician, but which might well have meant little to the general reader.
Professor Figueroa has chosen instead, and in the reviewer's opinion wisely so, to
draw imaginatively on the poets and novelists of the area "In order to give the
feel of the situation and to get at realities which lie behind the statistics." (p.
His analysis is penetrating. He probes delicately but skillfully and successfully
at practices which suggest that there is "little analysis, at any level, about
whether this kind of education is better than that." (p. 56). He draws attention
to the authoritarian attitudes of parents and teachers which interact with
overcrowding to produce lamentable passivity in children at school. He
discerningly points a critical and accusing finger at "[the] pervading atmosphere
of unreality and disorientation [that] rests heavily upon many educational
enterprises in the West Indies." (p. 62).
But these criticisms are no mere venting of spleen, no wild and unfounded
raving. The facts on which the criticisms are based are clearly and explicitly
stated in his analysis of typical proposals for development such as New Deal for
Education in Independent Jamaica and Draft Plan for Trinidad and Tobago. As
Professor Figueroa points out, the net result of such unrealistic and
unimaginative planning is that "Attitudes of rigidity in mind and feeling -
attitudes towards learning, are encouraged by what is called education in such a
way as to make further learning after school almost impossible and satisfying
and enduring learning in school most difficult." (p. 81) a damning indictment
of the "education" we now offer our children.
Furthermore West Indian Education, as Professor Figueroa sees it, is
bedevilled by the tendency of West Indians to think themselves "revolutionary
when [they] imitate yesterday's solutions from 'developed' countries." (p. 82).
It is not surprising, therefore, that one of Professor Figueroa's great concerns is
that we should ask ourselves just what education is all about for, as he says quite
rightly, "If education is more than book learning, if it is more than examination
passing, it has to be concerned with values." (p. 90) and values are inculcated
in the school whether consciously or unconsciously not only through "content"
but by the very way in which the school, its classes and its clubs are organized.
But new orientations are unlikely to be developed or more imaginative practices
introduced unless the schools themselves act quickly and positively to overcome
their "irrelevance and impermeability to change." (p. 105).
On the matter of teacher education, Professor Figueroa is equally stringent in
his criticisms and just as insightful in his proposals. His brief review of the
shortage of trained teachers in the territories and of the provisions that now
exist for such training constitutes a frightening picture of desperate need for
adequate numbers of trained personnel. With respect to University-based
inservice training programmes, Professor Figueroa makes specific
recommendations which are severely practical and one can only hope that the
University of the West Indies will give these recommendations the serious
consideration they deserve.
In the final chapters of the book Professor Figueroa addresses himself to
discussion of desirable priorities in education in the West Indies and to
consideration of the philosophical and practical implications, for the West Indian
area, of the frequently used term "development."
Professor Figueroa's book is neither a mere catalogue of ills nor a superficial
and uncritical commentary on West Indian education. It is solidly based on first
hand experience and is backed by data which have been carefully and fairly
No serious student of education in the West Indies can afford to be without
this book, which raises as well questions that must concern both the sociologist
and the economist. In addition, theorist and practitioner alike in government
and in politics will find it a most valuable stimulant to critical and pertinent
thinking about some of the pressing problems which today confront the West
LEONARD L. SHOREY
New Ships, an Anthology of West Indian Poems, edited by D.G. Wilson,
published by Savacou Publications.
Talk of the Tamarinds, An Anthology of Poetry, edited by A.N. Forde,
published by Edward Arnold and Columbus Publishers.
Anthologies are never innocent collections of this or that set of literary
compositions. They are never objective round-ups of stories, poems, essays and
so on. They are really subversive, if they are actually intended to be influential.
Indeed, they are creatures of their editors' private and sometimes public
preferences. And I have discovered that most editors seek to please themselves,
first, and hope, as a second duty, to attract and nudge their unseen readers. One
editor once told me. "If they (he meant the would-be reading public) are as
unseen as they certainly are, at the time of my editing the anthology, then, why
should I bear them in mind?" He might have added: I know I exist and I know
what I like, so I choose the kind of stuff which I want to read in an anthology
meant for myself only.
All very personal. All very self-satisfying. And I suppose not so harmful as
some purists contend. Highly personal choices, like highly personal visions of
theory and practice, can be rewarding and even illuminating for a great many
recipients of the idiosyncratic selections, whatever they may be.
New Ships, edited by D.G. Wilson and compiled by nine educationists in
Jamaica, is an excellent example of anthology teamwork. It proves that too
many personal and idiosyncratic cooks simply do not always spoil the broth, if
only because each cook has a very good idea of his customer's taste and appetite.
New Ships has been selected for readers in the Junior Secondary schools in
Jamaica, and also for those in similar schools throughout the Caribbean. One
introduction is addressed to the teacher and another to the student (a welcome
innovation), and the contents are graded in terms of classroom and educational
Apart from what now seems to be the obligatory (and I would have thought
expendable) Sir John Squire poem, "There was an Indian," the poetry in New
Ships is lively, persuasive and educationally inventive. I'm particularly happy to
see the following poems included: "Colonisation in Reverse" by Louise Bennett,
"Sensemaya" by Nicolas Guillen, "Ancestor on the Auction Block" by Vera
Bell, "The Making of the Drum" by Edward Brathwaite, and "Uncle Time" by
What can I say about Talk of the Tamarinds, edited by A.N. Forde, for use in
Caribbean Secondary schools? Sir John Squire turns up, again (twice, in fact),
and in company with W.H. Oliver, A.P. Herbert, Lord Tennyson and Vernon
Scannell. With so very many of our own poets and those of our near and far
neighbours in the rest of the Caribbean, Central America and Latin America,
waiting in the wings, one wonders about so extremely generous and catholic a
use of the space in A.N. Forde's collection. But his intention differs from D.G.
Wilson's, radically. Forde is that most private of editors, "the universalist." His
aim is wide and his selection as diverse as the very essence of poetry itself: W.H.
Auden and Edward Brathwaite, D.H. Lawrence and Derek Walcott, Robert Frost
and Louise Bennett, Ogden Nash and Nikki Giovanni. I leapt from Walt Whitman
to Claude McKay and from Robert Graves to A.N. Forde himself a poet, and
received a similar shiver of cultural shock when I sprang from John Wain to an
unnamed Yoruba poet, but infinitely less so from Yevgeny Yevtushenko to
Talk of the Tamarinds may, very well, at once, baffle and jiggle the minds of
its young readers, and perhaps nowhere near as much as it did mine. Their
expectations are yet formative; I've tended, over the years, to whittle my early
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WEST INDIAN PLAYS:
Catalogue and Plays may be obtained on application to:
Mrs. Myra Hinkson (Publications),
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113 Frederick Street,
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Recent publications from Caribbean Universities Press include the following:
The Journal of Caribbean History ed. D.G. Hall, E.V. Goveia, F.R. Augier,
Vols. 1, 2 & 3
Social and Economic Obstacles to the Development of Popular Education in
Post Emancipation Jamaica, 1834 65 C. Campbell
Free Jamaica 1838 1865, An Economic History Douglas Hall 1.38
Manuscripts relating to Commonwealth Caribbean Countries in United States
and Canadian Depositories K.E. Ingram
Immigration into the West Indies in the 19th Century K.O. Laurence
Five of the Leewards, 1834 1870 Douglas Hall 1.86
A Brief History of the West India Committee Douglas Hall
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