Topics of The Times

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

By Peter Ibbotson

Lotteries

Many territories, large and small, use state-run lotteries to raise funds. The world-famous British Museum had its financial origin in a state’s lottery; and last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced the Premium Bond scheme (a form of lottery) to boost national savings. Some colonial territories use lotteries as a means of raising funds for national expenditure; notably Gibraltar. The Malta Government Lottery is worldwide.

The Government of St Kitts is alarmed at the amount of money which is sent out of the island every year to pay for lottery tickets in other countries. So alarmed, in fact, that the local Legislature has passed a bill authorising the establishment of a local lottery.

There is, of course, the Mauritius Lottery. Before me I have a copy of Le Mauricien of March 9, detailing the winning numbers of ticket in the 120th draw of the Mauritius Lottery. For a ticket costing 25 cents, prizes of Rs 83, 748, 22,332, 16,749, 8,374, 5,583 and 2,791 were awarded; with 50 consolation prizes of Rs 1,116 each.

Contrast this with the Malta Government Lottery. Tickets for this cost 10 shillings sterling; say, Rs 665. Four lotteries are held every year; they are organised by a Director of Public Lotteries. He has a whole host of ticket selling agents, and these agents sell tickets all over the world. The total prize fund of the 32nd lottery was announced — before the receipts of the tickets were known — as £60,000; that is, Rs 800,000. (Compare this against the prizes awarded in the 120th Mauritius Lottery — Rs 195, 412). If the sales of tickets exceed 450,000 the prize fund is increase. The fixed prizes awarded in the Malta Lottery are:

1st prize – £35,000 or Rs 466,666

2nd prize – £10,000 or Rs 133,333

3rd prize – 4,000 or Rs 53,333

4th prize – £1,500 or Rs 20,000

5th prize – £1,000 or Rs 13,333

6th prize – £600 or Rs 8,000

Other prizes are 12 of £200 (Rs 2,666); 30 of £100 (Rs 1,333); and 28 of £50 (Rs 666). Every ticket buyer receives prize list, by airmail; and the prizewinners are scattered all over the world. The list of prizewinners in a typical draw, the 31st (March 1957), shows that the 1st, 2nd and 5th prizes went to England; the 3rd to South Africa, the 4th to S.W. Africa, and the 6th to the USA. The lesser prizes went to England, USA, France, Iran, Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, Malta, Kenya, Jamaica, Uganda, Scotland, Venezuela, Philippine Islands, Cameroons, India, Ireland, Southern Rhodesia, Wales, Portugal, Holland, Tanganyika, and Bolivia.

If we have a Mauritius Lottery, and it is an established institution, let it be a worthwhile one. It would be a good thing to seek advice from the Director of Public Lotto, Malta, and to try and build up the Mauritius Lottery into a world-wide lottery. If Malta becomes integrated into the UK, the lottery will have to cease as it is against the laws of the United Kingdom to run such a lottery. For myself, I have no moral objection to a lottery as such; although it does become objectionable when people buy tickets at the expense of necessary expenditure on their families. But if a Mauritius Lottery could be established on the lines of the Malta Lottery, then welcome revenue would accrue; and more people would learn of the existence of Mauritius and its place on the map.

* * *

The Franchise

Whatever system of constituencies is decided upon, the next election will be fought on a much wider franchise than in 1953. Adult suffrage, without literacy tests, will add considerably to the number of electors registered. And these illiterate electors will have to have some means of distinguishing between candidates on the ballot papers.

In such circumstances, the usual method is for the various political parties or groups to be allotted different party symbols. For Example, when the vote was given to thousands of illiterate Africans in Gold Coast, the various political parties were allotted symbols and Government teams toured the country instructing voters in the meaning of the party symbols.

The Labour party must make sure that it gets one symbol which is recognised as the party symbol which is recognised as the party symbol all over Mauritius. This is important; it sounds a small point but is really a big one. The same symbol in all areas will help voters to recognise the Labour candidates wherever they happen to live. The absence of a nationally-recognised symbol puts the Party under a handicap.

For example, the Labour Party in Dominica (West Indies) recently fought a general election at which, says Phyllis Allfrey (leader of the Party) in the October issue of Venture, confusion and trickery marked the scene. “These island people”, she says, “are politically shrewd but mainly illiterate and they have to vote by symbols — the hat, the bottle, the hammer and so forth.

Several months before the election date the Labour Party of Dominica applied for one overall symbol but the request was refused… The boundaries between voting districts are vague so that often Labour voters putting crosses against the ‘the hat’ with wild enthusiasm found afterwards that they were on the wrong side of the stream, road or ravine and should have voted for ‘the hand’ or ‘the bottle’ — they had voted for the opposition candidate”.

* * *

Education

Many teachers are irked at the insistence of the Director of Education that the timetable is sacrosanct. Rigidity of the timetable if not a sign of educational advance. You cannot compartmentalise instruction into half-an-hour’s reading, half-an-hour’s writing, half-an-hour’s French, and so on. Especially at the primary school stage. The time-table must be flexible.

Mr Kynaston-Snell has boasted about having been a member of the National Union of Teachers. As such he should surely be aware — when he was a member — of the advances in educational theory and practice of the last twenty or thirty years in the UK. All over England and Wales, the realisation is growing that the time-table is no longer king. The needs of the pupils, not the requirements of administrators, come first. In the junior school (children aged 8 to 11) in England, the timetable is not rigidly adhered to; and in many infants’ schools (children aged 5 to 8) there is no formal timetable.

The days are divided into “Teacher’s time” and “Children’s time” — and the pupils busy themselves with a variety of occupations. In teacher’s time, their occupations will be chosen and guided by teacher; in children’s time, their occupations will be self-chosen with the teacher being ready with help, advice and assistance if and when appealed to. Rigidity is a thing of the past. When will Mr Snell encourage modern methods in Mauritius? and when will he stop his department insisting on slavish adherence to a rigid time-table?

Friday 31 October 1957
4thyear – No 169


* Published in print edition on 3 August 2021

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