How will Comprehensive Schools Be Organised?

MT 60 Yrs — 2nd YEAR NO. 38 – 29th April 1955

In a fine and forthright speech in Council last month, Hon Chadien called for comprehensive secondary schools for Mauritius. They are, he said, “a socialist idea and a socialist programme” designed to stop the division of Mauritian society into classes by the education system. In England, we Labour teachers have for years urged that the comprehensive school will destroy the class basis on which the English education system rests. The traditional organization of post-primary education in England rests on the competitive examination at age 11 to sort out pupils for one type of school or another. The comprehensive school stops this; all children of age 11, from a given area, will go to the same secondary school irrespective of their academic record; just as at present all children under 11 in a given area go to the same primary school. The primary schools are indeed comprehensive.

But how will these schools be organised? It is another tradition in English education that head teachers control the detailed, day-to-day organization of their schools; and it is true that not all teachers are in agreement with the comprehensive school system. But, where a local education authority – such as London – adopts the policy of comprehensive schools, it is the duty of the teachers, as servants of that authority, to carry out the policy whatever their personal feelings on the matter. So, no head teacher will be able to sabotage the comprehensive principle by not applying in his school the guiding principles of organization in such schools.

Recently the London County Council published a pamphlet on suggested organizational principles to be followed in the new comprehensive schools. The London Labour Party later epitomised these principles in a popular leaflet. There are four guiding principles:

Teaching groups will be arranged so that pupils are in groups best suited to his ability and aptitude; not once-for-all by a competitive examination at age 11, but throughout his school life.

As the child progresses up the school he will be increasingly able to select courses of study to fit in with his interests, ability and aptitude.

Within the school there will be smaller groupings (Houses, forms, sets, study groups,) as well as multifarity of out-of-school clubs and other activities, to provide a full choice of loyalties and companionship.

From the start of his secondary career, each pupil will be in charge of one member of the staff (call him house-tutor, counsellor, or what you will) who will be always available for advice and consultation. This will give the pupil a feeling of permanence; he will always have a guide, philosopher and friend to turn to for help.

“By these means” says the leaflet, “the new schools hope to combine the benefits of personal touch, flexible organization, fine provision and the pride of being part of a great school.”

The emphasis in the organization of these schools is always on the child. It is the child that counts in education; not ease of administration. Comprehensive schools provide a child-centred system of secondary education. They are a bold advance in education. Hon Chadien is to be heartily congratulated on his advocacy thereof in Council.

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Editorially Speaking

Labour Day

Reflections and Reminiscences

“Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains,” wrote Jean Jacques Rousseau two centuries ago. In some countries man has become free to a certain extent but in others he is still laboring under economic, political and social thralldom. Since the dawn of History a handful of haves have always kept most of the wealth among them while the great masses of have-nots have been condemned to live in squalor and scarcity. At the present time about 1,500 million people are still leading a life of destitution. In the colonies, in Africa and in Asia the average income per capita per week is only Rs 6.70 cs whilst in England it is Rs 53; in the United States it is still higher.

History has proved, beyond any doubt, that unequal distribution of wealth obviously leads to conflicts which have far reaching consequences. The greatest revolutions had at their root one staggering problem: hunger. People cannot remain idle when they happen to realize that they lack the bare necessities of life while their neighbours who hardly put up a few hours of work daily, are rolling on gold. In every country at every stage of its people’s development the working class has protested against the unequal distribution of wealth which the workers themselves have sweated to produce. But in spite of the fact that their protests have met with strong opposition, they have bettered their position to a certain extent.

The present century is the page of the common man – the worker. In all countries the working class has risen against oppression of the employers. In Mauritius also the working class has organised itself and has joined in the fight against capitalism. The Mauritius Labour Party was founded on the 23rd February 1936, at a meeting held at the Champ-de-Mars, by Dr Maurice Curé.

Labour Day was celebrated for the first time in Mauritius, on Sunday the 1st May, 1938, at the Champ de Mars. About 30,000 people attended the meeting. People arrived in town since the early hours of morning and met in front of the Central Railway Station. At 11.30 am a procession, headed by Dr Curé and members of the Managing Committee of the Labour Party, left the Central Station for the Champ de Mars where on the arrival of the cortège, an orchestra composed exclusively of Mauritian workers played God save the King.

Dr Curé welcomed the workers and asked the audience to observe two minutes silence in memory of five of their fellow-workers, killed during the recent labour unrests. Dr Curé spoke lengthily on the necessity of unity and goodwill among the workers and explained the benefits the working class can derive from a sound organization set up to defend its rights. After him Mr Ramkhelawon Battoo spoke nearly on the same lines and asked the workers to continue to have faith in the Labour Party. Mr Mamode Assenjee followed suit and expressed his optimism about the success of the Labour Movement in Maurititius. Among other interesting things Mr Mamode Assenjee said: “Laissons de côté, tout sentiment religieux, et tout préjugé qui nous divisent. Gardons chez nous et dans nos églises, notre foi et nos croyances religieuses et luttons ensemble pour soulager nos misères. »

Then came the turn of Mr Fritz Moutia to address the gathering. He emphasized on the necessary of starting trade unions in Mauritius. He reviewed the difficulties encountered by the labouring classes and concluded that only a sound organization will solve the problems of the proletariat.

Dr Millien too spoke on the occasion. In a very short speech he impressed the gathering that he was a well-wisher of the budding Labour Party. Mr J. E. G. Anquetil almost repeated the same opinions expressed by the previous orators.

Mr B. Oshan, bar-at-law, read four resolutions which were acclaimed by the gathering.

In the resolution, the assembly, while expressing its allegiance to His Majesty the King, requested the revision of the Constitution so that the workers may have the right to vote.

The resolutions expressed the Party’s dissatisfaction with the findings of the Commission of Inquiry set up to inquire into the causes of the labour unrests and finally it was resolved to confer on Dr Curé all necessary powers to enable him to negotiate on behalf of the workers.

* * *

A Model Bus Company

Ever since his arrival, Mr Jessop, our Transport Adviser, has left no stone unturned in devising ways and means to better the conditions of our Public Transport.

On the 25th last Mr Jessop invited the bus company managers of the island to visit the new park and depot of the Vacoas Transport Company situated at Bonne Terre, Vacoas, with a view to showing them the excellent initiative taken by its manager, Mr S. Issur.

Mr Jessop pointed out that an efficient maintenance system is one of the most essential fundamentals of good bus service. He stressed that he does not want to thrust upon the rising companies the expensive system that exists in Great Britain as conditions there are in many ways different from ours. He wants our local companies to evolve their own system based upon local conditions. Side by side with a good administration, a bus company must own its own depot where maintenance, repairs and regular overhauling are carried out.

He was very pleased to notice that Mr Issur has found out a solution to that problem. The excellent work achieved by the manager of the VT Co Ltd only in four months is a proof of the efficiency of his methods.

Mr Issur was elected Manager of the VT Co Ltd only on the 16th of December last. At the handing over the company was in a poor state. An average of only 19 busses out of 34 were in service. Within one week he managed to put all the buses in running order thus giving satisfaction to the Transport Adviser and to the public in coping with the great demand for transport during the Christmas and New Year period. He reorganized the whole establishment and with the scanty means at his disposal he planned a two-year programme.

At the request of the Transport Adviser, Mr Issur showed all the details of his park and depot, which covers an area of 1½ acres. A filling depot is also under construction. Already four sheds, 3 water closets, 1 bathroom and one storeroom have been erected on the premises. His two-year plan includes a monthly addition of a new bus to his fleet. The Manager is very keep upon not delaying the repair of buses that have sustained breakdown. He has made provision to keep mechanics at work even on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Closing the meeting Mr Jessop requested the bus company managers to do everything in their power to build depots and parks of their own. He thanked Mr Issur for his hospitality and the managers for responding to his invitation.

In the name of the managers present, Mr Rey of the Tip Top Transport thanked Mr Issur and Mr Jessop.

Sub Editor

(M.Times — 29 April 1955)

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Glimpses of Mauritian History
Emancipation of slaves in Mauritius and the persecution of Jeremie

By D. Napal, B. A. Hons

« Vous comprendrez tout le tort que le Cernéen en ce flambeau de discorde, peut causer à ce pays, tant à l’extérieur ? »

(Compte rendu du Cernéen, 29 Novembre, 1833,
d’une plaidoirie de J. Jérémie

England was far from forcing the abolition of slavery abruptly upon the colonists. She wanted to educate public opinion in its favour until the time would be ripe for it. As a prelude to total emancipation an order in Council was passed on the 10th March, 1824, which abrogated many of the laws which weighed upon the slaves; a protector of slaves, who was assisted by commissioners in districts, was appointed to look after the interests of slaves.

The whites interpreted these measures as an encroachment upon their privileges. Their historian, Albert Pitot, among other things that he writes against this legislation which did justice to the slaves, brings forward the plea that the office of protectorship was superfluous as the slaves had in the past been protected by the Procureur-General. Was the Procureur-General in fact well-disposed towards the slaves? Usually a prominent member of the “Parti Français” occupied this prominent post and he was as much dependant upon slave-labour as any other master. History records the fact that once some coloured people entered an inn and had the misfortune of getting into the room reserved for the whites. On their refusal to leave that room a quarrel ensued and the next day they were prosecuted before the police court. They could find no barrister or attorney to fight their case. Doresten Bruils, a clerk in the court was allowed to defend them. While pleading, he expressed the wish that the time would soon come when members of the coloured population would become lawyers and attorneys. Hearing this, Adrien d’Epinay, a prominent member of the bar said, “Le jour où un Mulâtre prendra rang dans ce barreau, ce jour là je me dépouillerai de ma robe et la foulerai au pieds. »

Another instance shows the attitude of the whites, who monopolised the legal profession, towards the coloured population. This time it is a Procureur-General himself, M. Foisy who speaks to coloured people. “Que voulez-vous? Nous sommes les fondateurs de la colonie; nous sommes vos maîtres. Tant que le sang coulera dans nos veines, nous maintiendrons ce préjugé. » It is to be imagined how people holding such poor opinions of the coloured population could discharge themselves of the duty of protecting the slaves who in their eyes were much more inferior than the coloured.

The Whites were as determined to stand in the way of anything done for the slaves as England was anxious to see their emancipation. They spread the rumour that every measure passed by the Colonial Secretary in their interest had but one effect – filling the minds of the slaves with ideas of liberty which would make them rise en masse. To safeguard against a possible insurrection of slaves, they formed a company of volunteers. E. Vanmeerbeck even records that « En 1830 des factieux s’assemblèrent à l’ancienne librairie de Maurice au coin des rues Royale et de l’Eglise: la question de former un corps révolutionnaire pour résister à l’abolition de l’esclavage, fut la sur le point d’être résolu. »

On the 1st October 1826 two commissioners, Messrs Colebroke and Blair came to Mauritius to study the question of slavery. They must have seen how the whites were griping at power and how reluctant they were to let go their hold on their slaves. Some years later England sent another man, J. Jérémie, whose name is closely associated with the emancipation of the slaves. He had already attracted the notice of Mauritian colonists by the publication of four Essays on Slavery, by his connection with the Anti-Slavery Society and the notable work done by him for the cause of Emancipation St Lucie. He was sent by England to occupy the post of Procureur Général. He was determined to see the end of slavery and to serve as a brake against the abuses of the local courts which were the preserve of the whites.

On the 22nd June, Jérémie was to take his post at the court. He was preceeded there by a rowdy crowd bent on mischief. The newly founded Conservative Paper, Le Cernéen, had roused to fever heat the feelings of the whites against him. It could vilify at pleasure for the other classes of the population had no organ to support them. He was greeted by a horrible din, cries of “A bas Jérémie!” were heard from the crowd, one of whom was so bold as even to assault him. Had soldiers not protected him, he would have been sacrificed at the altar of colonial prejudice and cruelty. Only two months later Jérémie was compelled to return to England, to the great satisfaction of the colonists who prided themselves upon this victory on the Secretary of States for the colonies.

But England was not prepared to give way before colonial obstinacy.

Jeremy came again in Mauritius on the 29th April 1833, this time accompanied by one or two regiments. He lodged at the barracks and everyday went to the court escorted by soldiers. He stayed in the island till the 29th August 1834. Throughout this period there scarcely went by a day when Le Cernéen did not consecrate an editorial, an article or at least a letter, with a view to lower down the Procureur Général in the eyes of the public.

Soon after his return to England Jérémie wrote a booklet “Les événements récents à Maurice” in which he wrote: “J’ai traversé les trois dernières années, une distance de 17,000 lieues; j’ai rencontré l’assassin à terre et le pirate sur l’eau.”

(M.Times — 22 April 1955)


* Published in print edition on 29 May  2015

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