MT 60 Years Ago — 2nd YEAR NO. 43 – 3rd June 1955
In many respects Barbados, in the West Indies, resembles Mauritius. Both are small islands, densely populated; each relies almost entirely on sugar or exports and prosperity. In Barbados, for example, 40,000 acres (two-thirds of the cultivate land) grow sugar, and 25,000 of Barbados’ 223,000 people are employed in its production (3,000 more work in sugar factories and syrup plants).
In 1953, Barbadian exports were valued at $38 millions of which $34 millions were the value of the sugar and molasses exported.
But in two important respects, Barbados is far in advance of Mauritius; in education and in political status. Barbados has responsible government with ministerial responsibility (and a Labour Government!); its educational facilities are more comprehensive than those of Mauritius.
Let us see how education fares in Barbados, when economy is so like Mauritius’ and which should therefore have a similar educational set-up to Mauritius. In 1952, total public expenditure in Barbados was £2 1/4 millions, of which £404,000 went on education – one-fifth or 20%. In the same year, Mauritius spent £7,814,000 altogether, with £690,544 going on education – just over one-tenth, or about 10%; that is to say, half the proportion spent from public funds in Barbados. As to the school enrolment, Barbados had 35,906 children in schools and 361 in higher educational institutes; Mauritius had 78,522 in schools and 75 in higher educational institutes. Simple arithmetic shows that average expenditure per child at school was: Barbados over £11; Mauritius: under £9.
The widespread provision of schools in Barbados shows results in census returns. Of the over 10s, only 7.3%, were illiterate at the 1946 census; of the children under 10, less than one per cent were illiterate. Such is the result of universal free primary education without waiting lists!
In 1951 there were 124 government primary schools with a total roll of 30,000. Leaving age is 14. Every child gets free biscuits and milk daily; the school health service provides medical, optical and dental treatment. There were, also in 1951, 11 government-aided secondary schools, with a total roll of 2,838; also 11 prepare the pupils for the GCE. In 1952, an agricultural and scientific technical school was opened. There is a teachers’ training college; Barbados sends students to the University College of the West Indies; but it also has its own, independent, University College – Codrington College founded in 1710 – which is affiliated to the University of Durham and whose students read for Durham degrees.
If Barbados, with overcrowding problems as bad as those of Mauritius (it has 1,343 people to the square mile) and with an economy based on sugar and so dependent on the vagaries of the world sugar market, can support such a well-developed educational system – free and compulsory primary education with a leaving-age of 14; one child in 10 going on to a secondary school where he can take GCE; a technical school based on and allied to the island’s industry; and higher educational facilities in advance to what Mauritius can offer, why cannot Mauritian education develop along similar lines and achieve similar ambitious ends? There is no reason at all; except that any attempt to widen the provision of educational facilities will inevitably meet with opposition from those sections of the population, who have a vested interest in ignorance.
An educated society is a democratic society. That is the justification, the establishment of democracy, for wishing to expand the educational facilities of any country. I have briefly described what a small island like Barbados, so similar to Mauritius, is doing; let it be an example and an inspiration to many Mauritians. At the General Election of 1953, the Mauritius Labour Party put before the electorate in its manifesto a comprehensive education plan which earned commendation in both Tribune and Socialist Outlook. That plan, when implemented, will give Mauritian children opportunities they are now denied; opportunities such as those enjoyed by Barbadian children. Let the people of Mauritius remember that; and when the time comes, let them support the Party which will give them the educational system that they want, and ought to have.
(M.Times – 3rd June 1955)
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Mr Hazareesingh, Capt. Jackson and The Tamil Religion?
In a section of the Report on the Treatment of Offenders of 1953 signed by Captain Jackson, the Commissioner of Prisons, Tamil is considered as a religion. In the following passage of the Report, Tamil is not mentioned as a linguistic group but a religion distinct from Hinduism: “Divine Service is held regularly in prison. Priests of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Tamil and Mohammedan religions visit the prisons.” (Italics are ours).
On page 6 of the Report, the population of H. M. Prisons is classified according to religious groups as follows: Christians 395, Hindu 279, Tamil 57, Mohammedan 102, others 9.
On page 18 we find that the population of the Borstal Institution was: R. Catholics 40, C. of England 1, Hindus 32, Tamils 11, Mohammedans 18.
On page 21 we read: Roman Catholic, Hindoo, Tamil, Muslim and Anglican priests attend the Institution.
On page 24 the population of the Industrial School is described as follows: Roman Catholics 22, Hindus 13, Muslims 9, Tamils 6.
The Report on the Treatment of Offenders is probably the only official document in which Tamil is mentioned as being a religion.
Did Captain Jackson not know that there is no such thing as a Tamil religion? That Tamil is the language spoken by the inhabitants of Madras Province?
One thing surprises us most. How is it that Mr K. Hazareesingh, the Social Welfare Commissioner, who has had the privilege to write the introduction of that Report and who has on several occasions written and spoken on Hinduism has passed over such a glaring error?
(M.Times – 3rd June 1955)
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Should we export Molasses?
When so much is being talked about our secondary industries we are at a loss to understand why our rum industry is completely ignored. We talk about tea. We talk about tobacco. We talk about aloe fibre. And recently there was a lot of talk about protecting a local shoe factory. But why are we so silent when it comes to rum? Why on earth do we just then keep mum?
The rum industry is doing fine as far as the production for local consumption goes. We want to speak about what it can do where export is concerned.
It would be interesting and instructive to know what has prompted a stop to the exportation of our rum. Is it the high customs duty?
It would be equally interesting and instructive to know what has started the exportation of molasses. Is it less customs duty or the poor quality of our product when judged by foreign standard?
We do not want to go into details or to hazard any guess. We want simply to bring the hard fact home that by exporting molasses instead of rum we are depriving a lot of our people of work and at the same time stifling a secondary industry of ours.
(M.Times – 20th May 1955)
- Published in print edition on 17 July 2015