'The School mirrored the society which created them. With the advent of QRC and CIC in the 1850's and 1860's, thing range of schools supported by Public Funds was brought in line with the social assumption of a race and colour conscious community' -Carl Campbell 1. Name the grant which the British government used to provide funds for school buildings and teacher training. 2. Apart from race and colour, identify two other features in society which were reflected in the schools. 3. Give two examples to show how education supported a colour conscious community. 4. What year was the Queen's Collegiate School built? Why did the British introduce a government school? How did she achieve her aims?
Name the grant which the British Government used to provide funds for school buildings and teacher training. The grant, which the government used to provide funds for school buildings and teachers' training was the Negro Education Grant of 1835. 30 000 pounds were allocated for this purpose. Prior to 1835, the West Indian government spent very little on education, especially primary school education. While parents saw education as a means to provide social stability for their children, the land owners saw education as irrelevant in the agricultural community.
Although the government provided funds for maintenance of schools and salary for teachers, they had no control over how the money was spent. Neither was there any surveillance over the quality or the qualifications of the teachers. Education therefore was still in the hands of private institutions and the churches. Apart from race and colour, identify two other features in society which were reflected in the schools Apart from race and colour, two other factors in society that were reflected in schools were Religion and Language.
After emancipation, from the 1830's to the 1860's, education for most children meant basic primary schooling. The Catholic and Protestant churches were the first institutions to set up and run primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. During slavery and even after, churches played an important part in the conversion of slaves to Christianity. However, the Catholic Church was very different in their views from that of the Church of England – each having its own methods and reasoning for converting the slaves.
Rivalries between religions for converts were keen, and both churches vied with each other to increase their flocks. During this time, the prohibition against giving education to the Africans had been abolished and the offer of schooling to these ex-slaves was the attractive way to create converts. The various denominations were then encouraged to start schools. The quality of education in these schools however, were said to be low. Instructions in these schools were given in English, while the children of these former slaves spoke both French and Patois, as a result of the plantation system, namely the Spanish, the French Creoles and the French Language. Then too, the idea of Catholicism was firmly established in the hierarchical structure of society.
A state school system, which was secular and free and in the hands of the government was established with a school in every ward under the control of a board of education with salaried inspectors, with the heads of the Catholic and Anglican churches on the board. Instructions were to be entirely secular but each week at stated times, the clergymen of the majority faith in the ward would undertake to teach religion. These people who once opposed the idea of Ward Schools, had reluctantly accepted the idea of secular education in the primary schools. It was not until the setting up of the Queen's Collegiate in Port of Spain that the conflict arose again. The Catholic Clergy had come out strongly against the principle of secular education for their students. They did not mind secular education in primary school but opposed secular education in what they termed "classical education" – namely secondary education.
They in turn opened The College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC), staffed by Fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, as a rival to the Queen's Collegiate (QRC). They were able to cater to a wider range of society than did QRC, but they too had their share of problems especially concerning Language. Many of the Holy Ghost Fathers were French and taught in their own language. This was offensive to those who felt that progress was simply the spread of the English feelings and institutions and the eradication of foreign influence. The confusion of languages made reading and writing difficult and the children's knowledge of geography and arithmetic bad.
When Lord Harris assumed governorship in 1845, there were already 54 primary schools in Trinidad, many of them organised by different churches. He however was interested in mass education and noted that education was essential for the lower classes to "fit them for freedom". He felt that education should not be handed over to the denominations since they were competing for increased numbers in their congregations.
For example, with the Irish system of education, children over the age of fourteen were only allowed to attend school if they could prove that they were regular church-goers. Younger children also had to prove that they were receiving religious instructions. The special case of the Muslim and Hindu children, who in 1846 had no teachers of their own, had not been considered. Later, the Presbyterians were able to address the problem of converting the Indians and teaching them the English Language
The British system of education became the answer to the language barrier that evolved in the schools, with textbooks being ordered from England. The Government requested a man experienced in training teachers from Ireland to come to the island to train the educators to teach in the schools. This meant that everyone had to learn to speak, read and write English, thus putting to an end the confusion, which existed in schools because of the different languages spoken by the various classes of people.
1) Brereton, Bridget- Social Life in the Caribbean 1838-1938
2) Campbell, Carl- Colony and Nation: A Short History of Education