Mauritius Times and the Catholic Church

Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – 2nd YEAR No. 30 — Friday 4th March 1955

Editorially Speaking

Rev. Father Dethise has found it necessary to blame us for the polemic, which is going on in that Mauritius Times around an article written by our London Correspondent, Mr Peter Ibbotson.

In the issue of the 20th February of La Vie Catholique, Rev. Father Dethise among other things writes: “L’habitude semble prise maintenant dans le Mauritius Times d’accumuler des calomnies et des attaques contre l’Eglise Catholique… Dans cette guerre à coups d’épingle, le Catholicisme ne souffrira pas – il en a vu d’autres! Mais, si j’osais, je ferais remarquer à l’éditeur du Mauritius Times qu’il dessert la cause qu’il prétend défendre en attaquant ainsi une religion » (italics are ours).

Our readers probably remember how the polemic started. When publishing the comments of Mr Ibbotson on the Pastoral letter of the Bishop of Port Louis, in a note we stressed that we did not necessarily agree with our correspondent.

The following week we printed a letter from a correspondent who signed the initials R. D.

R.D. said something disagreeable regarding the Anglican Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The week after another correspondent writing under the pseudonym “Le Capuchon de la plume” found it necessary to disapprove R.D. We were bound to publish both letters. Now Rev. Father Dethise accuses us of attacking the Catholic religion. It is a strange conception of journalism that the views of a correspondent, especially one writing under the column Letters to the Editor should be considered as being the views of the paper. As we should like the readers of La Vie Catholique to know our point of view, we are writing a letter to the editor of that paper.

(MT – Friday 25th February 1955)

* * *

Le Cerneen’s Malicious Criticism

Under the heading : La douane va-t-elle recommencer?, Le Cernéen of Tuesday 22nd instant says : « … Nous avons appris qu’un inspecteur des douanes (d’assez mauvaise apparence, nous dit-on) aurait été insupportable, lors du départ du dernier paquebot des M.M. à l’égard d’un de nos visiteurs, pourtant accompagné d’amis bien connus à Maurice et pouvant répondre à son honorabilité.

Va-t-on nous obliger à renouveler notre ancienne offensive contre le comportement de certains fonctionnaires de la Douane ? » (Italics are ours).

What we have gathered is this: the ‘incident’ happened on the occasion of the departure of the S.S. Maréchal Joffre in the Customs’ shed. The Chief Preventive Officer, having noticed that a passenger bound for Réunion had some packets for which permit was not previously obtained, referred the case to the Finance Control Officer.

Obviously that officer could not allow the export of the packets.

Where is the offence which has so shocked the Cernéen? Does the Editor of Le Cernéen know that the luggage of the Queen Mother was searched when she went to Canada last year? When an officer does his duty without favour, Le Cernéen ought to congratulate him and not blame, vilify and intimidate him.

The intimidation of Le Cernéen ‘à renouveler notre ancienne offensive’ is quixotic.

Concerning the « Inspecteur des douanes » who has been ridiculed by the Cernéen, we gather that he had nothing to do with the alleged incident. But if he has intervened, has he not a right to do it? The Authorities should be congratulated for having placed in a key post a man who in spite of “assez mauvaise apparence” is doing his duty impartially and efficiently. He is the pride of the Civil Service. We think it is the duty of the Comptroller of Customs and of the Secretariat to protect this civil servant from such malicious criticism.

(MT- Friday 25th February 1955)

* * *

Editorially Speaking

Secondary Education – An alarming situation

The results of the GCE Examination, ordinary level, held last autumn, which are the product of about 40 secondary schools, reveal a grim picture of secondary education in Mauritius.

How many candidates sat for the examination we do not know, but out of the 333 candidates who have passed, only 10 have been able to secure a pass in five subjects. So only 10 have reached the Matriculation Standard or its equivalent and therefore they are the only ones eligible for admission in the General Clerical Service.

174 candidates have passed in one subject only, among these 130 have passed in French only and 81 have passed only in two subjects. It appears that there is insufficient coaching in the English language. Whilst 265 candidates have passed in French, only 58 have passed in English. The greatest number of victims are among the Indo-Mauritians. Out of 206 Indo-Mauritians who have “passed” the examination 71 have passed in French only.

Such results give a false sense of security to the illiterate parents who are blissfully unaware of the progress of their children. Even when the children pass in one subject the parents are under the impression that their children have reached the required standard.

After having failed to obtain admission for their children in Government or aided secondary schools, the parents have no other alternative than to send them in the private “colleges”. In order to solve the problem, according to us, Government should:

(a)        Exercise close control over the private secondary schools.

(b)    Help financially all efficient private secondary schools.

(c)    Open post primary schools.

In Government aided secondary schools where 75% of the salary of the staff is paid from Government funds, Government should introduce legislation so that 50% of the admissions be made by Government, as it is done in England.

(MT- Friday 4th March 1955)

* * *

Major-General B. Chatterjee

Major-General Bimanesh Chatterjee, who has been appointed Commissioner for the Government of India in Mauritius with the personal rank of Minister in replacement of Mr Anand Mohun Sahay now transferred to Hanoi, arrived in this Colony on Friday 25th February 1955.

He entered the Bengal Medical Service in 1929 and served in various capacities. He saw active service in the North West Frontier Province in 1940 and served in Northern Command in 1941-42, when he became a Major. He served on South-East Asia Command in 1942-45, on Eastern Command in 1944, and on Persia and Iraq command in 1945 when he became a Lieutenant-Colonel. He was appointed surgeon to the Governor of Bengal in 1947-48, and Military Secretary to the Governor in 1948-50 when he become Colonel.

We welcome Major-General Chatterjee in our midst and hope that his term of office in Mauritius will be a happy and fruitful one.

(MT- Friday 4th March 1955)

* * *

Mr J. R. Delaitre

Young and promising Mr J. R. Delaitre, after passing his exams at the Royal College, chose the path of service and struggle instead of joining Govt. and lead an easy life.

Still attending college he was a regular contributor to Advance under the pen name of J. Airday (JRD) in the field of sports in general.

He is a full time journalist since 3 years and takes a very keen interest in the local Youth Movement. Last year he was the leader of the Youth Delegation that visited Madagascar where he made a very good impression. This year he is the President of the Mauritius Youth Council where he has won the confidence and admiration of the Mauritian Youth.

Though still young he has acquired a good experience in public affairs, which, together with his enthusiasm, devotion and broad mindedness, will, we hope, make of him a brilliant public man.

We trust that the electorate of the Quatre Bornes Town Council will give him an opportunity to serve by voting for him in the by-election that will be held next Sunday.

(MT- Friday 4th March 1955)

* * *

Readers’ Forum

Quatre Bornes

Le 15.2.55

Au “Capuchon de la Plume”

Non Monsieur, la religion n’est pas une balle ronde avec laquelle on peut jouer comme l’on veut. C’est ce qu’a voulu faire Henri VIII, et vous, vous appelez ça « avoir du cran » !

Puisque vous me référez à La Vie Catholique, vous devez y avoir lu la réponse du Rev. Père Dethise à Mr Ibbotson. Vous devrez sûrement avoir lu dans cette même Vie Catholique les articles qui y paraissent presque toutes les semaines concernant le communisme. Pouvez-vous les réfuter ? Peter Ibbotson le pourra-t-il ?

Peut-être connaissez-vous mieux que moi l’histoire des religions. Mais je connais suffisamment l’histoire de la mienne pour prouver qu’elle est la vraie.

Je suis fier de pouvoir vous le dire. Prenez cela pour de l’orgueil si vous le voulez…


P.S. – Je n’ai pas l’intention de continuer à disserter avec vous, Monsieur. Les discussions dans ce domaine ne servent à rien sinon à aggraver certaines discordes.

(MT – Friday 25th February 1955)

* * *

South Indian League

The Editor – Mauritius Times


Whilst congratulating the South Indian League for the concert and bhajans which it gives at the MBS (Mauritius Broadcasting Services) from time to time, especially for the fine performance on the occasion of the Cavadee, could it not be reasonable for the MBS authorities to extend the Tamil programme? Though I don’t understand the language, not being a Tamil, I should say that the S.I. League has a bhajan team incomparable in the Hindu community of the island.

When one considers the number of hours wasted in sometimes disgusting and sexy Hindustani film songs, I think a part of that wasted time could be profitably used by extending the Tamil Programme.

Arrangements could then be made to hear the S.I. League bhajan team occasionally.

What do you think about it?

Yours respectfully,

Bhajan Fan

* * *

[The Tamil Community has produced three up-to-date Jazz bands and some well-organised Bhajan teams. Their love for music, especially classical, is more marked than the other sections of the Hindu community. The South Indian league Bhajan team is doing an appreciable service in making the MBS listeners hear some very fine pieces of a classical music which is becoming a forgotten art in Mauritius.

They need our encouragement. We do not see why the Manager of the MBS should not allow some more time to the Tamil programme. Until the MBS authorities decide to increase the period allotted to Hindustani Programme, the listeners should concede to this curtailment with pleasure, because it will, we hope, be profitably used especially if the South Indian League bhajunum team is given the opportunity to make itself heard. Anyway, bhajunum or no bhajunum the weekly half hour allotted to the Tamil programme does not do justice to the Tamil speaking community. Ed]

(MT – Friday 25th February 1955)

* * *

373 Unqualified Teachers Employed By E. Dept


The extraordinary issue of the Government Gazette of the 14th February last contains a list of Government and Aided Primary and Secondary school teachers. The list is divided in two sections. In section A are listed school masters holding the Teachers Certificate and the Teachers Training College Certificate. In section B are listed school masters holding university degrees, and secondary schools’ certificate. Section B also contains a list of 443 school masters whose qualification is mentioned Experience.

In fact these ‘School Masters’ are 3rd grade teachers of whom seventy (70) teach Indian languages and the other three hundred and seventy three (373) School Masters are employed in the normal secular instruction. Educationists will find it hard to understand how teachers holding only a Sixth Standard certificate can be employed as “School masters” after having followed a short course of three to six months. No doubt there are among them some who have read up to Matriculation Standard but have failed to secure a certificate. They are exceptions.

While addressing a meeting of teachers on 18th January 1955, Prof B. A. Fletcher, Director of the University of Bristol Institute of Education, said: “The teacher’s mind is the glass through which children get their intellectual view of the world. It is the quality of mind of the teacher which in the long run matters most in education. If the quality of the teacher’s mind is commonplace, the minds of his pupils will be commonplace; if his mind is sensitive and creative, some impress of these things will be made on even the most unresponsive pupil.”

Such a scientific aspect of the matter deserves the consideration of our Education authorities. Government should make it a point to employ teachers having a good intellectual standard.

It is for the first time in the annals of the Teachers Training College that all men recruits for the long course – are holders of Cambridge School Certificate or its equivalent. While congratulating the new Director of Education for this new departure, we cannot help from pointing out that many women recruits for the short course, as we are informed, have no qualifications. These ladies will be posted as “School Mistresses” after a training of three to six months. The authorities hold that women candidates with secondary school certificate are scarce, yet they are recruiting women in a higher proportion. If there is sufficient number of men candidates, why should the authorities pursue their “feminizing” policy at the expense of efficiency?

We hope the Director of Education will consider the establishment of the ex-Teachers Examination. Instead of recruiting Sixth Standard certificate holders, recruitment will at that time be made from among the best candidates holding a Teachers Certificate who may then follow a short course.

(MT- Friday 4th March 1955)


* Published in print edition on 19 March  2015

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