People, Politics and Education

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

Professor G.D.H. Cole

The death of Professor Cole robbed the Labour movement of a fine theoretician and a vigorous polemist. I have recently been looking afresh at his booklet World Socialism Restated In which I came across this short passage:

“Socialism cannot be fully realised in one country irrespective of what is happening elsewhere. It requires a concerted effort to put an end to primary poverty in every country, to open to all peoples the means of taking advantage of the full range of economic and social opportunity… It involves a world war of mankind against want and ignorance, against squalor and disease, waged with the constructive weapons men possess. It involves a great appeal to human idealism.”

This seems to me to sum up the philosophy underlying the Five-year Plan. The plan declares war on economic insecurity in Mauritius. It declares war on continued ignorance through the lack of opportunity for secondary education. It declares war on poverty and disease and squalor in Mauritius. It determines to raise the standard of living of the people. It determines to give the people fullness of life, and life in abundance.

But the Plan to be achieved in its entirety, calls for the concerted effort to which Cole referred. Progress will not, cannot, come by itself; it has to be worked for. The people can help themselves, and their children, by working now for the fulfilment of the Mauritius Five-year Plan. Only a handful of parasites, of myopic anarchists, of Destroyers — men of ill-will, in fact — do not want to see the Plan succeed; only those few are trying to sabotage its fulfilment by their pernicious, destructive, selfish, Ill-founded, false, and baseless criticisms.

If everyone pulls together, the future of Mauritius is limitless: the achievements of Mauritius will be boundless. But just as it takes only a few grains of sugar in the petrol to put a powerful internal combustion engine out of action, so it takes only a handful of ill-wishers to be a running sore on the body politic, to be a canker at the heart of society, to be a drag on progress by their very existence.

Let us ever be alert to prevent the canker eating its evil way even further into society.

*  *  *

School Certificate

As I have recently shown, Mauritius has a very bad record, compared with other colonies, in the Cambridge School Certificate examination. The proportion of passes in recent years has been one in four and one in three. This low proportion is due to the number of private candidates who have entered, yet who have had (and surely their private college principals knew this well) no chance of success.

How can the performance of Mauritius be improved? By better teaching certainly, but this takes time. By prohibiting the entry of private candidates; certainly; but this would, as past results prove, penalise the few who do get their School Certificate as private candidates, and we don’t want to do that. A third suggestion is the introduction of an examination preliminary to the SC itself; only those who passed this preliminary exam would be able to go on to the SC exam. Such a preliminary is already held in Singapore and East Africa, and it is successful in weeding out the hopeless candidates (as many as 80 per cent of the aspiring candidates in Singapore, in fact).

In East Africa, the preliminary examination consists of one paper only: English language: it is taken 15 months before the hopeful candidates intend to sit their SC exam. If this preliminary were taken in Mauritius too, it would have a twofold beneficial effect: many unsuitable candidates would be weeded out before they got near the School Certificate exam papers; and the standard of English language teaching would, willy-nilly, improve. What are Mr Kynaston Snell’s views?

*  *  *

GCE Advanced Level

Many Mauritians come to the UK every year with the intention of taking their General Certificate of Education at Advanced Level. They almost invariably come to London, find digs in or near Earls Court, enrol at a Polytechnic, and attempt to combine study with life in digs and looking after themselves. Often it doesn’t work out, and the student leaves the Polytechnic and gets a job, frequently in the Continental Telephone Exchange or a hotel. He hardly ever mixes with anyone but more Mauritians. And the way of life into which he drifts isn’t the most creditable one.

Or perhaps he drifts away from studying because after a few months his usual allowance from home doesn’t arrive and he has to take a job in order to have money to live. Or perhaps, not realising the cost of life in London, his parents or family in Mauritius don’t send a big enough monthly allowance, so that he has to work to eke out his remittances.

If young Mauritius must come to the UK to study for their Advanced Level GCE — and I do not think that in every case it is necessary — they would be doing themselves a service by not insisting on studying in London, and by entering a residential college to study. There are plenty of these in all parts of England and Wales where advanced level courses can be studied; some in London, others outside. In London there are Stafford House, Kensington, the London Academy in Westminster, Duff-Miller & Co Ltd in Earls Court; all are residential.

Outside London, there are suitable establishments in Manchester, Birmingham Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Swansea and Penmaenmawr, to name but six. And nearly all of these cater especially for non-English students from all over the world. Fathers who are considering sending their sons to England to study would do well to write first of all to a residential establishment, for it would be far more satisfactory than study in digs after days at a Polytechnic. And no more expensive. I would suggest that interested persons write (mentioning my name) to J & J Paton Ltd., 143 Cannon Street, London EC 4 for full particulars of suitable residential colleges for their sons who are coming to England for advanced level study.

6th Year – No 262
Friday 21th August, 1959

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