The Local Government

Give two examples of to show how education supported a colour conscious community Two examples which showed how education supported a colour conscious community can be found in the type of schools built and who were to be educated. Very little was done after emancipation to educate the children of former slaves. Education as the universal right of man had not yet been considered. Landowners were still of the belief that as soon as children of former slaves could spell "hoe and whip" they should be sent back in the field. They felt that educating the blacks who worked on the fields would make them adverse to agriculture and so ruin the economy and create upheavals in society. It was also the belief that the Nature of the Negro man was such that he was "uneducable and inferior, with childish traits which society could repress but which could not be removed by education".

The society was divided. Although the upper class in society was looking for a means of integrating, they still tried to maintain their own position at the top of society. Education was opened to all as a means of advancement. In each Ward, there were one or more primary school and in each district there was a school where pupils of "superior intelligence" could be sent. While in Port-of-Spain a "normal school" was established. These schools were under the control of separate boards.

There was a separation of Local and Central Government and the expenses of the schools of the Local Government were met by a rate levied on the owners of property and land. The costs of the Ward schools, where education was to be entirely secular and free was to be met from the Ward rate. A "normal school" was set up with funds from the colonial government to train teachers and Model Schools attached to them for the teachers to practice. A fee was charged for entry to this model school.

Peasants and labourers who were faced with low wages and unemployment, could not afford school fees and even where education was free, they were unable to clothe their children decently for school. Their children were needed to help them in the farm with their marketing. The girls stayed at home and looked after babies or did house work. Parents were illiterate, and because of pressure of the "colonial white" for labourers, the parents did not see education as necessary for their children.

The ward schools were poorly maintained and neglected by those who were put in charge of them. These schools were starved of funds and were forced to operate on very low standards both in terms of physical conditions and teacher efficiency, which caused many working class parents to lose interest in the schools. The church schools flourished even after the government grant was take away from them since they had the support of the clergy. With the setting up of a college for boys, in Port-of-Spain (POS) for the upper classes, questions were being raised.

After the first government college was opened in 1859, dubbed the "godless college" by the Catholics, it was realised that the curriculum excluded scientific and agriculture subjects, and catered for the "well-endowed" youths in liberal arts. Boys from the countryside could not attend this college because no provision was made for borders and unless these boys could find their own lodging in POS, they could not attend.

Boys therefore who attended this college were children of professional men, the Anglican clergy, merchants and public servants. All pupils had to pay a term's fee of 14 pounds, except those whose fathers died in public service. Therefore only the comparatively wealthy could afford to send their sons to school and these were mainly the whites. Blacks were excluded since the rate of illegitimacy was high among them, and legitimacy was one of the requirements for entrance into this school.

However, with the advent of this college, the doors were opened for more secondary schools to be established which were mainly church schools. Although blacks were still unable to attend in numbers, many of the lower class whites were privileged to this secondary education. Later, however, scholarships called "Exhibitions" were established for entry into these two colleges. As a result, more boys of African and Indian origin were able to enter the school system.

Following close on the heels of these new colleges (QRC), (CIC) for boys, were the establishment of a girls' convent which was opened in 1870 by a French Madam, d'Heureux. This allowed not only boys to be educated but girls as well. What year was the Queen's Collegiate School built? Why did the British introduce a government school? How did she achieve her aims? The Queen's Collegiate School, now called Queen's Royal College (Q.R.C.), was opened on Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, in 1859. In 1870 the college was inaugurated in the Princes Building (Queen's Park West) and on the 25th of March 1904, the new Q.R.C. building was erected on Maraval Road, opposite the Queen's Park Savannah, where it still stands.

The British introduced a government school since they felt that schools should be free and secular and under the control of a board of education. Lord Harris who was governor at the time was interested in mass education especially for the lower class, but at the same time spoke of educating the boys only. He felt that education should not be handed over to the denominations, which at that time controlled the majority of primary schools. He wanted a state school system, which would be in the hands of the government as well as a system for higher education. The school would be allowed weekly visits by the clergy of the majority faith, with parents free to withdraw then children if they wished.

The Catholic Church which by 1866 had become stronger and had gained financially because of the French influence, did not agree to state-run schools. They agreed to state-aided denominational schools since they believed a state run school was "godless" and damaging to Catholic youth. A recommendation was made that the church schools should be allowed state aid under certain circumstances. To this, the Catholic Church agreed and the education ordinance of 1870 was put into effect. This was a dual system of education with state-supported church schools operating alongside government schools.

This made way for a Royal College of Trinidad, which made the catholic run school, College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC) affiliated to Queen's Collegiate College. This meant that CIC could be on par with the QRC, which by that time had excelled academically but not socially. Both schools therefore, could then accept scholarship boys from Primary Schools.

In this regard, the British did achieve her aims, but not entirely as it was expected, since QRC did not cater wholly to the lower class because of their stand on the entry of illegitimate students to the school. Also, the school did not make allowance for boarding students who came from the country district. However, where QRC fell through, CIC picked up since they had no policy on illegitimacy and they provided boarding for the students who came for the country.

Since CIC depended wholly on donation and fees, it still excluded the poor but they were able to draw more pupils from the less exclusive class than QRC did and by 1870 CIC had twice as many students as did the Collegiate. By the mid 1860s education had done little to build up a society with sound, lasting principles, but as least for the British they had made headway in achieving their aims to open a Government school for Post Primary Education, and an attempt at educating the boys of the lower class population. Later, there were the model schools for girls and boys which is now known as Tranquillity Boys and Girls, which offered Post Primary education to children who did not come from the higher classes.