The Double Shift

One of the most controversial issues in the secondary school system, especially at the Junior Secondary level, has been the double shift arrangement. There are indications that this feature of the secondary school system may persist far into the future. The double shift was introduced by the PNM government as a device for increasing the number of secondary school places for students leaving primary school.

In view of the people's desire for secondary education, the requirements of the economy for manpower with that level of education, and the campaign promise of free secondary education by the PNM, the introduction of the double shift was as much a sound administrative strategy as an expedient political move. Although the double shift did ease pressure on the government to provide adequate secondary school places, it stirred up intense controversy among the people and remained an unresolved issue through successive periods of PNM government and the one-term regime of the NAR. Both the PNM and the NAR made promises during their election campaign to get rid of the double shift, but failed to do so during their terms of office.

Both political parties were reluctant to tell the people "fairly and squarely" that the use of the double shift was necessary, because at the time the country could not afford to spend any more money on education. If the country wanted secondary schools for all primary school leavers, money would have to be found to build and equip these schools. The country had limited resources for financing a multiplicity of development projects. People were making demands other than for secondary education. In the long run, a country gets not what it wants, or what it needs in education, but rather what it can afford.

It would require a government with great confidence in itself and very healthy relations with the people to put forward this type of argument. Both the PNM and the NAR were committed to a policy of free secondary education. The quickest way to achieve the required number of secondary school places was to put some of those schools that were already constructed and some of the others under construction on a double shift system.

Since the declaration of the policy of free universal secondary education as a preamble to the 15-Year Education Plan, and the continued adherence to this policy by the governments of the PNM and NAR, the economy fluctuated and in the later years of the implementation of the plan, it declined at a steady rate.

Unless the rate of growth of the economy resumes an upward trend, the country will not be able to afford a secondary school building program that would remove the necessity for the double shift. When one looks at the reasons and the circumstances under which the double shift was introduced, and its persistence through successive political regimes, one would have to conclude that this arrangement may remain a feature of the secondary school system of the country for years to come. It is regrettable, therefore, that proposals to reduce the ill-effects of the use of the double shift were never seriously implemented by either the PNM or the NAR. Even more regrettable was the failure of both political regimes to discern and explore the possibilities inherent in the double shift to provide a type of education and a curriculum structure that was consistent with current sound and enlightened educational theory.

The only other alternative available to present and future governments is to abandon the objective of free universal secondary education, but one would hazard a guess that no political party would attempt this probably suicidal path. Anyone who has sensed the anxieties in the country each year regarding the results of the Common Entrance Exam would understand how much the people have gotten used to both the "freeness" and "universality" of the educational policy that has been in existence since independence.

In the midst of the ever-growing advocacy of "cost sharing" as an alternative to free education by international agencies like the World Bank, one may expect to hear some voices raised in support of the return to fee paying for secondary education. These voices would most likely come from members of the middle and upper class who could afford to pay fees, and would most likely get their children placed not just in secondary schools, but in the most prestigious secondary schools. The ability of the middle- and upper-class families to pay for the "extra" lessons for their children in preparation for the Common Entrance and their contacts with the principals of the prestigious schools practically assured their children of secondary school places.

Pressure from this advocacy of cost sharing has already resulted in the imposition of a cess by the government of Trinidad and Tobago on students gaining admission to the University of the West Indies. Until a decision was made for students to contribute to the cost of their university tuition, this level of education was also included in the free educational policy declared by the PNM and silently endorsed by the NAR. The imposition of the cess on university students constituted the first retraction from the sacred policy of free education.

In addition to the financial implications, the use of the double shift to accelerate the rate of free universal secondary education also raises some philosophical questions. One could question the advisability of all children going on to secondary education or more so, the type of secondary education presently provided in Trinidad and Tobago. Even if it can be argued that education is one of the basic human rights, as stated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the issue still remains of how much, or up to what level of education would fulfill that right. Even if one were to determine the amount or level of education to which each child is entitled on the basis of his or her "potential" or "innate ability," there would still be much room for debate and controversy because of the imprecise nature of "potential" or "innate ability."

It would be difficult to find one country that provides secondary education for all of its children as stipulated by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. One needs to bear in mind that the nature of education itself adds another confusing dimension to the matter of education as a right. Economists have formulated a notion that education is a social good that creates its own demand. This notion is clearly manifested in the real world because the more education people get, the more they want. It is therefore impossible to fulfill unconditionally their right to education.

One would have to conclude that free universal secondary education is an ideal to which a nation could aspire or to which a government could set its development target. For a variety of reasons, the achievement of that ideal or cherished goal may be impossible. No government or political party in Trinidad and Tobago has attempted to present clearly and directly the financial and philosophical arguments pertinent to the use of the double shift and probably will not do so anytime in the near future.

A major objective of any future plan for educational development should be the elimination of the double shift system in the schools of the country. Any increased revenue will have to be used to build or enlarge schools to phase out the double shift in the secondary schools and provide enough secondary school places for all students leaving primary school. Post-primary classes in elementary schools should also be eliminated.

In the meantime, measures will have to be adopted to reduce the worst effects and meet the major concerns caused by the double shift. The two principal problems and concerns of both parents and teachers about the double shift are the long unsupervised hours of students off the shift, and the anxiety produced when students, especially teenage girls, have to leave home early in the morning and return home after dark.

During the part of the day when shift school students are not in classes, special arrangements could be made for lightly structured education. This "Out-school" program could be organized by the principal and could hold classes in community centers, church halls or any other convenient building. The Out-school program should reinforce the teaching conducted in the school. Visits to factories, offices, estates, museums and libraries could be organized following the Discovery or Project method, which could be advocated as the basic methodology in all schools. In the schools, children would be taught "how to learn." Once equipped with these learning tools, the children could go out and learn from the environment. Appropriate Educational TV films could be designed to support this Out-school program and students could view them either in the Out-school centers or at home.

To deal with the transportation problem, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) could organize a mini-bus service to pick up children and bring them back home at appropriate times. A PTA could purchase its own mini-bus, for which a tax waiver could be given, and hire a reliable driver. School mini-bus drivers could be trained by the Department of Transport and be given special certification. Women would be encouraged to drive the school mini-bus, especially since parents would feel more comfortable with women drivers where their teenage daughters are concerned. Of course, all school mini-bus drivers would need to have a good character reference.

The phasing out of the post-primary classes in the elementary school should run concurrently with the elimination of the double shift in secondary school. They both are necessary only because there are not enough secondary school places to accommodate all primary school students after the Common Entrance Examination. While these post-primary classes still exist, they should be given special attention in educational programs because the children in these classes tend to be the more disadvantaged in the society.

The detailed results of these pupils on the Common Entrance Exam should be examined by the Supervisory and Guidance section of the Ministry to ascertain their individual deficiencies which militated against their better performance in the Common Entrance tests. The Common Entrance Exam, therefore, could be used as a diagnostic measure, as it ought to be.

Post-primary classes should be kept small with an improved teacher-pupil ratio in the primary school. Teachers in these post-primary classes would be able to give more individual attention, and conduct better remedial programs for these students. The Discovery and Project method should be adopted as the basic methodology since as Common Entrance "failures," the children in the post-primary classes may be able to learn more "by doing" than by strictly academic approaches.

Teachers in these classes would be expected to arrange visits to factories, offices, museums, etc, just as those in double shift schools. Such visits can be arranged jointly between teachers of the secondary school and a nearby post-primary class. In any case, arrangements would be made for some students, especially those who are making significant progress, to attend classes in the nearby secondary school. Secondary school subjects like Spanish and Computer Science should be introduced into the curricula of the post-primary classes.

The close and individualized attention that would be paid to these children in post-primary classes should make it possible to identify those who could be transferred to a nearby secondary school whenever a vacancy occurs (such as parents moving to another area, or children having to join their parents abroad). A tutoring service at the community level could be organized to assist individual students in these post-primary classes. Advanced students from nearby secondary schools would be invited and encouraged to participate as volunteers in this program as their contribution to the welfare of the nation, and their effort would be duly recognized and rewarded. These practical measures do not have to await an upturn in the economy. They could be carried out without any massive increase in budgetary allocations to education.

Providing Secondary Education with a Shrinking Budget

"Cost Sharing" as a strategy for financing education is increasingly being advocated by the World Bank and other international funding organizations for countries like Trinidad and Tobago that have had to resort to the use of the double shift to match supply with demand for secondary education. This policy of shifting the burden of educational costs from the government to the individual beneficiary or some other entity is more and more being adopted by developing countries that are faced with an overwhelming external debt problem. As Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in this financial situation turn to the International Monetary Fund and other lending agencies for assistance, they are made to undertake structural adjustment programs in which severe cuts are made in government allocations to certain sections.

One of the sections that generally receives drastic budgetary cuts is education, and since the provision for secondary education has been the major thrust of the education development programs in Trinidad and Tobago since independence, it has been the one most severely affected by the debt crisis afflicting the country.

During the final stages in the implementation of the 15-Year Educational Plan, the debt crisis in Trinidad and Tobago reached alarming proportions. It was quite a change from the early period of implementation when funds from both local revenue and external loans were in such abundance that Dr. Williams, the Prime Minister, allegedly boasted "that money was no problem." These latter years were marked by a severely shrinking budget for education as the country's level of debt rose astronomically.

The repayment of debt has proved to be an impossible burden. A substantial portion of the country's resources and earnings were being diverted to repaying debt. By 1987, total debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at 43.5 percent. In terms of outstanding debt in Trinidad and Tobago, the total amount owed rose from TT $1,551.0 million in 1983 to TT $4,494.4 million in 1987. With respect to the debt servicing ratio, which is the ratio of debt payments—principal and interest—expressed as a percentage of total exports of goods and services, the Trinidad and Tobago percentage increased from 6.8 in 1983 to 15.8 in 1987.

In facing such a financial crisis, the government had no alternative but to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. It also had to enter negotiations with commercial banks and bilateral creditors from the Paris and London clubs for a rescheduling of its principal obligations. All of the negotiations involved conditions, and the IMF in particular established very stringent conditionalities that had far reaching effects on the total social and economic structure of the country. In general, conditionalities imposed by the financing agencies were directed to reduce government expenditure.

The structural adjustment programs that the IMF and World Bank prescribed for Trinidad and Tobago to cure its debt and balance of payments ills steered the reductions in government expenditures toward the social sectors. The argument is made that sectors such as education do not directly contribute to the country's immediate economic growth. It is ironical, however, to see some similarity in the attitudes of present day international financing agencies and the colonial government with respect to the contribution of education to economic growth. People should realize that a major obstacle to economic growth in developing as well as developed countries is the shortage of educated and trained manpower, and that expenditure on social sectors like education constitute a sound investment. It is well established that human capital is a crucial factor in any economic growth equation. However, since developing countries in the throes of a debt crisis need the assistance of the IMF and other financial agencies, they have no choice but to adhere to the policies set forth by these agencies, no matter how unenlightened these policies may be.

It is not expected that Trinidad and Tobago will see a significant upturn in economic growth and substantial relief from its debt burden in the very near future. The planning and development of the educational system, especially at the secondary school level, will have to be conducted in the context of a shrinking budget. These inevitable budgetary constraints will require innovation and realistic reforms in education and a possible rethinking of policies. Some very hard decisions will have to be made by government with respect to the provision of secondary education, since approximately 95 percent of expenditures at this level of education is borne by government.

If the policy of free universal secondary education is to be maintained and the double shift eliminated, a massive school building program will be necessary. To this enormous capital expenditure one would have to add the cost of equipment, teacher training and other requirements and the related recurrent expenditure. Since it is very unlikely that this policy of free secondary education will be changed, some innovative adjustments will have to be made in the overall structural adjustment program and climate of austerity envisaged for the coming years.

One of the problems in secondary education that the government will have to address is the slowing down of the school building program. For the schools that it can afford to construct, new designs will have to be created to keep building costs down. Care will have to be taken, however, to ensure that these new designs do not imply a higher recurrent maintenance expenditure.

If some growth is to take place in secondary education, the government will have to find other sources of assistance for development and maintenance programs in education. In this period of austerity and structural adjustments, the obvious source to tap would be the community that the school serves. If governments consider it political suicide to renege of their promise of free universal secondary education, they will have to rethink their policy of financing education almost entirely from national revenue or external loans.

One may consider raising general taxation for national revenue. Along with the other burdens brought on the people by the conditionalities of structural adjustment, increased taxation will not improve any government's chances at elections. On the other hand, although people would object to increased taxation for general revenue, even if they are told that these increases are necessary for improved or expanded education, they may be more willing to dig into their own pockets or make some contribution to the specific school to which their own children are going or will go.

The community, especially the neighborhood served by a particular school, remains the obvious source for the government to explore for the growth or maintenance of the educational system as the country struggles through the inevitable process of structural adjustment. It would be useful for any plan or project in education to identify unused or under-utilized existing resources in the community, such as the intellectual, professional or technical talent in the neighborhood, especially among retired persons.

Moreover, if national governments are reluctant to return to the fee-paying structure, they may find people quite willing to make financial contributions to the schools of their children. PTAs or similar groups can amass considerable sums of money by fundraising activities, especially for the addition of classrooms or other spaces.

To secure maximum advantages from community participation in education, policy changes will be required of government. A concerted campaign will also have to be launched by the Ministry of Education and the government's Public Information office to stimulate and facilitate neighborhood involvement in school building and maintenance and other aspects of educational development. The principal of the school will be responsible for promoting community and parents' assistance to the school. The establishment of Parent-Teacher or Past Student Associations should be considered one of the important duties of the principal.

One should not lose sight of the fact that even outside of a period of austerity or structural adjustment, community participation in the provision of education is highly desirable. Participation at the community level has become all the more imperative in Trinidad and Tobago because of the negative side-effects of the policy of "free" education. Due to the intensity with which both the PNM and NAR have seduced the people with their free education slogan in election campaigns, the "freeness" attitude has become ingrained in the mentality of the populace. Moreover, this mentality has its origins in the colonial era when government was the sole provider of all the goods and services to the people.

Self-reliance was a distant and remote notion during colonial times, and even though the national government did some preaching about self-reliance, it was more understood in the context of independence from the colonial government rather than reliance on each and everyone's own resources. The unfortunate result was a shift from dependence on the colonial masters to dependence on the national government by the people. This dependency syndrome was reinforced by the declared policy of "free" education.

Promotion of community participation in the provision of education should not be hindered by austerity and structural adjustments. There is an urgent need to remove that "freeness" attitude from the minds of the people that was engendered by their colonial experience and fostered by national governments.

Although the slowing down of school construction, and the subsequent "de-shifting process" would be the principal negative results of structural adjustment in Trinidad and Tobago, there are other aspects of secondary education development with which one would have to be concerned.

One of the aspects affected by structural adjustment is equity in the availability of secondary school places throughout the different parts of the country. One of the deficiencies in the secondary school system that the 15-Year Education Plan sought to correct was the inequity in the distribution of secondary school places throughout the various regions of the country.

Since the Common Entrance Examination replaced the College Exhibition as the vehicle by which students are selected for secondary school, the Ministry of Education has had to work out a very complicated mechanism for deciding on the particular school to which the successful "winner" of a place would go. Included in this mechanism is some element of zoning. The implementation of a full policy of zoning would depend on the availability of secondary school places in the various zones or districts delineated for the country. The availability of secondary school places among the different districts or counties varies from 50 to 100 percent.

The shrinking education budget brought on by structural adjustment and austerity will result in a slowing down of the secondary school building program that is necessary for evening out the distribution of secondary school places over the country as a whole. In the meantime, the zoning mechanism within overall secondary school selection procedure may have to be re-examined.

A major policy objective of the 15-Year Education Plan was the equalization of educational opportunity. The construction of secondary schools in districts or counties where places were in short supply or nonexistent moved the process closer to a realization of this objective. Another aspect of secondary school development that was pertinent to the issue of equality of opportunity was the diversity and inequality in the different secondary schools. The growth of the secondary system since independence has been marked by the appearance of eight types of secondary schools.

Whereas the factors by which these types of schools are differentiated would affect their quality and, consequently, the "equality" of the opportunity for secondary education, the one which was most weighty was the "double shift" variable. In the absence of any measure to cope with the problems of double shift, it could not be denied that children being sent to secondary schools on double shift were at a real disadvantage when compared with their more fortunate brethren.

For some of the "conditionalities" or requirements of the structural adjustment program, counter strategies or measures could be devised that the government of Trinidad and Tobago could consider for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of the structural adjustment program on secondary education.

The austerity measure adopted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that has had the most severe effect on the quality of education is the elimination of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to public servants, including teachers. The reduction in take-home pay by teachers has resulted in a widespread lowering of morale in the profession. It is well recognized that teachers constitute the most potent determinant of quality in education.

The inevitable result of the loss of motivation among teachers will be their departure from the profession, including many of the more competent and innovative ones. The thrust towards improving quality in education will be severely hampered by the departure of more enterprising among the teachers.

One of the counteracting strategies that the government may consider to retain the more enterprising teachers in the profession, especially for the secondary schools, would be the widening of the scope for promotion. The creation of positions such as heads of departments within the Junior and Senior Secondary schools would provide incentive and motivation for the competent teachers to stay in schools, even though the cost of living allowance has been cut from their salaries.

To compensate for the reduction in take-home pay, government may have to review existing legislation prohibiting the receipt of money by teachers for extra lessons. It would be in the best interest of the schools to allow those teachers to be paid for private lessons on weekends or school holidays. This would also eliminate the need for them to supplement their official remuneration by driving taxis, selling insurance and other pursuits unrelated to their profession. These types of activities make much greater demands on the time and energy of teachers than private tuition.

In addition to decreasing allocations to education as a sector, structural adjustment would include reductions in subsidies, transfers to other public utilities and the removal of basic crucial subsidies that would directly or indirectly affect education. One of the education-related public utilities that would be most affected is the Public Transport Service Corporation. This utility provides a school bus service in which a reduction in transfer or subsidies would result in the elimination of certain bus routes and create hardships, especially for students in double shift schools. The resulting overall increase in transportation cost would create an added burden on family income. Similarly, reduction in transfers and subsidies to other utilities such as water and electricity would increase the cost of living to families, and consequently, their ability to meet school-related expenses such as books, supplies and uniforms. The higher utility rates would be particularly burdensome on the Assisted and private schools that have to pay their own utility bills.

The removal of crucial subsidies like basic foods and gasoline would also make it difficult for many families to meet education costs of their children that would result in increased dropout rates, absenteeism, and decreased student performance. Student performance would also be severely hampered by any austerity- motivated attack on the school feeding program.

The negative effects of structural adjustment and austerity measures on education, particularly at the secondary school level, would be pervasive and deep. Creative counter strategies requiring the collaboration, involvement and understanding of both the community at large and specific families served by a school would have to be devised and adopted by the Ministry of Education. Some of the strategies and measures that readily recommend themselves are: standardization of curricula and textbooks, and using those textbooks over a longer period of time in the schools; a book rental scheme; curriculum reconstruction, including regrouping of subjects like sciences into Integrated Science; amalgamation of small schools into larger ones; increased zoning; team teaching for the more efficient use of the master teacher; better utilization of school facilities on evenings, weekends and vacations and training of principals as managers.

The Community College

One of the areas of secondary education development that has been getting increasing attention in recent years is the upper level of the secondary school system, which to some extent overlaps with the "post secondary," or "further" education section.

In addition to the "Sixth Form"—a two-year program at the end of certain secondary schools in which students are prepared for the "A" level examinations—other institutions such as the Sixth Form College, the Polytechnic Institute, the Teachers Training College and Technical Institutes provide a level of education that could be considered secondary, post secondary or further education.

In response to concerns regarding the wide variety of institutions that provide education at this level, proposals have been made for the establishment of a Community College.

It is generally agreed that the concept of the Community College originated in the USA. This type of educational institution has even been acclaimed as an American invention.1 In the post-World War II expansion of higher education in the USA, this post- secondary educational innovation had been experiencing parallel growth with the Junior College. Actually, the terms Community College and Junior College have tended to be used synonymously. The term "Community College" has steadily gained currency over the last decade, however, much credit is given to President Harry Truman's 1947 Commission on Higher Education2 for the impetus given to the development of these institutions and their emphasis on community orientation.

Original Motives of the USA Community College

In the history of U.S. education, the Community College emerged as a response to the increasing concern for skill shortages in the labor force in a period of rapid industrialization and mechanization of agriculture. The growth of the Community College also received a solid push from the prevailing determination to democratize education, especially at the higher level, to provide places for the increasing output from the secondary school system. The concept of lifelong education that was beginning to be espoused universally, manifested itself in the growth of Community Colleges in the USA, where national prosperity made it possible for an unprecedented expansion of learning opportunities for all age groups, especially at the older ends of the age spectrum. It was natural for the idea of the Community College to flourish in a society with long and strong traditions of neighborhood schools and community involvement in educational provision.

The USA, therefore, in its post-World War II condition and aspirations, constituted an ideal environment for the flourishing of the Community College.

Emergence of the Community College in the Commonwealth Caribbean

As an educational experiment being perfected in the USA, the Community College was bound to stimulate thinking among the educational planners and policy makers in other countries with significant geographic proximity and cultural affinity to the "Colossus from the North." One such group of countries is the Commonwealth Caribbean, of which Trinidad and Tobago is a member.

The USA and the Commonwealth Caribbean share a common cultural base. Both underwent a long period of colonization by the United Kingdom and an absorption of cultural contributions from European countries and the African and Asian continents. Cultural penetration has been facilitated by physical closeness, direct transportation links, media—especially television—and the attendance at U.S. universities by Caribbean scholars.

In so far as the Community College constitutes an "American invention," one can speculate that its emergence on the Commonwealth Caribbean scene represents a "transfer of technology" from the USA. Over the past two decades, attempts have been made in a number of Commonwealth Caribbean countries to construct institutions or systems that experiment with the concept of the Community College to provide adequate and relevant education for the people. It would be difficult to attribute this enthusiastic adoption of the Community College concept to "neocolonialism," since the national governments of these newly independent states are very jealous of their sovereignty and wary of any possible encroachments. After securing independence from the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, like all other Commonwealth Caribbean countries, has given high priority to creating a national system of education with clearly articulated policies and comprehensive plans for its development.

Policy Objectives to Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean

In the Commonwealth Caribbean, as well as in most developing countries, governments place great faith in education in their determination to create satisfying societies for their people. They see education as a principal instrument in the overall development of the country.

Two main policy objectives are conceived for education. Education is intended to provide manpower of varying skills and professions for the programs of social and economic development. Education is also provided as an end in itself, as something people want and enjoy for their own personal development and satisfaction.

Development policies in these countries continue to be based on the traditional economic theory3 that without human capital, land, labor and physical resources cannot be exploited to achieve desirable targets of economic growth. And so on the basis of this economic development theory, considerable percentages of national budgets are allocated to education in these countries. They invest in the human resources of the country with the hope of substantial returns in improved standards of living. Education is seen as an investment.

It should be noted, too, that in addition to the investment potential, governments in the Commonwealth Caribbean identify another major purpose to education. Education is one of the most cherished "goods and services" that are expected to emerge from successful economic developmental programs. This education is more consumption than investment. Governments cannot fail to recognize this demand for education by the people who want it for their own individual use or satisfaction. One can attempt to simplify the distinction between these two major objectives to educational development by referring to the first as the education that the "country needs" and the second as the education that the "people want."

In the countries where Community College-type institutions have been founded, the production of manpower for economic development is considered the most important objective. The type of manpower that Community Colleges are designed to produce is the middle-level or semi-professional worker. Although most countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean are in short supply of professionals, scientists and technologists, the lack of middle-level technicians, engineering and scientific assistants and their like has been identified as the major constraint to economic development.

Most governments in the Commonwealth Caribbean have for sometime recognized the critical importance of middle-level manpower, and have been seeking to fill this need by establishing facilities similar to the Community College. The idea of creating institutions to provide training at the semi-professional level has been in the minds of the policy makers and planners of education in Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean for sometime now.

The Spread of Community Colleges throughout the<R>Commonwealth Caribbean

Institutions very similar to the Community College of the USA have been set up in several Commonwealth Caribbean countries. In Barbados, there is the Barbados Community College; in the Bahamas, the College of the Bahamas; in Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua State College; in Grenada, the National College of Grenada; in St. Lucia, the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College; in St. Kitts and Nevis, the College of Further Education; and in Jamaica, the College of Arts, Science and Technology, Excelsior College and Montego Bay Community College.

It is natural for developing countries, as practically all countries in the Caribbean could be classified, to profit from the experience of developed societies like the USA, especially those with which there are economic, cultural or political ties. In the case of the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, their colonial association with the United Kingdom has resulted in the development of upper-level secondary or "further" institutions patterned more on the British model. With the achievement of independence, the experiences of other developed countries like the USA are now being utilized to solve the educational problems of these new States. A comparative analysis of any aspect of the two systems is bound to reveal possibilities for experience sharing.

The Proposed Community College for Trinidad and Tobago

The 1987 decision of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to establish a Community College is the most recent attempt at experimenting with this educational innovation in the Commonwealth Caribbean. A study of the events that led up to the establishment of the College raises the question whether the appearance of the Community College in Trinidad and Tobago represented a transfer of technology from the USA or was merely a natural evolution in the development of post-secondary or higher education in the country.

The Terms of Reference of a National Task Force4 on the Community College appointed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago suggested a certain "tentativeness" in the commitment to the Community College idea, as originated in the USA. Much attention, however, was given to the development of Community Colleges in the USA, according to the Report of this Task Force.

In Trinidad and Tobago, various upper-secondary institutions provided further education and training for the students after five years of secondary education. In the USA, the forerunners to the Community College were mainly the technical institutes. In Trinidad and Tobago, some specialized training institutions associated with government Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture and the Extra Mural Department of the University of the West Indies (UWI) also provided semi- or para-professional training opportunities.

With the ever-increasing demand for mid-level manpower for the social and economic developmental programs of Trinidad and Tobago, it was inevitable that serious thought would have to be given to a rationalization and coordination of the disparate ongoing efforts at providing upper-level secondary education in the country. The rapid expansion in secondary education on which the national Government embarked after achieving independence in 1962, required an equivalent or consequential increase in upper- level secondary and training for the graduates of the expanding secondary school system. The increased demand for this level of education by the output of the high schools was also one of the main motives for the development of Junior and Community Colleges in the USA.

It can be argued, therefore, that both the USA and Trinidad and Tobago have been moving through very similar evolutionary stages in the history of secondary educational development. Just as countries pass through certain identifiable stages leading to the "take off" of economic growth, so too did secondary education in developing Trinidad and Tobago pass through similar phases, although at a later date than the developed USA.

On the other hand, it would be difficult to absolutely rule out the possibility that the idea and terminology of the Community College was inspired by the USA experiment. The termination of British colonial rule in the Commonwealth Caribbean has meant an increase in technical cooperation from the USA to these newly independent states. Educational planners and policy makers from the Commonwealth Caribbean increasingly visit and study in the USA, thereby receiving special opportunities for firsthand knowledge and contact with well-tried American educational experiments.

An early attempt to bring some coordination into the national effort in upper-level secondary education in Trinidad and Tobago was the National Institute of Higher Education (NIHE), which could be regarded as the first step in the country to set up an institution or create a system incorporating the basic elements of the Community College concept. This institution, whose terms of reference were defined in a Government White Paper5 in 1977, provided the original structure for the development of the National Institute for Higher Education, Science and Technology (NIHERST). It was designed with the same major intention of the USA Community College—to train technical and semi-professional manpower. NIHERST has been designated by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as the base institution for the formation of the Community College which is to grow out of an amalgamation of existing upper and post secondary institutions.

Similarities and Differences Between U.S. and Commonwealth
Caribbean Community Colleges

The Community Colleges being established in Trinidad and Tobago and similar institutions throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean have distinct common elements with the USA version. In spite of the similarities that exist between these types of institutions in the various countries of the Caribbean, the USA-type Community College has a particular feature that distinguishes it significantly from the others. The Community Colleges in the USA display a flexibility, variety of courses, and capacity for adjustment to the needs of their served community more evident than in other countries. Serving the very specific needs of a community is identified as one of the salient advantages of the Community College in all countries. But nowhere is this characteristic more prominent than in the USA model. The market "responsiveness" of the American Community College may be due to a large extent to the strong tradition of neighborhood-oriented school systems in the USA.

A look at the history of education in the Caribbean and North America would reveal that educational systems in the Commonwealth Caribbean have been less swift and thorough than the USA in ridding themselves of negative influences of their European colonial past. One of the colonial legacies that has persisted in varying degrees among countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean is the elitist nature of educational provisions, especially at the secondary and post-secondary stages. For a long period in the educational history of the Commonwealth Caribbean, secondary and university education were almost exclusive privileges of the middle and upper class. Only recently have provisions been made in most of these countries to make it possible for substantial percentages of the total population to attend secondary school or university. It should be understood, too, that the extensive provision of secondary school and university places in the USA is due as much to its sustained economic wealth as to its democratization policies in educational development. Developing countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean are finding that the expansion of upper-level secondary school places to meet the manpower needs and demands of the people draws heavily on their financial resources. The concept of university education inherited from their past meant a university career of at least three to four years. In order to provide more upper-level secondary or tertiary education, these countries have been turning to the Community College-type institution or other short cycle training facilities. In this way, a "piece of the university pie" is offered to a greater percentage of the population. This piece of the pie can be enlarged to three years and offered to more persons depending on the financial capacity of the country to meet such an expense.

Another merit of the Community College that finds favor with planners in Caribbean countries is that it reduces the amount of trained talent that tends to "drop out" from the traditional university system. At the University of West Indies, which serves all the Commonwealth Caribbean countries with respect to degree courses, students who do not complete the prescribed number of years at the university, receive no diploma, credit or marketable certification for the work completed. At the University of the West Indies, the regular undergraduate university courses are structured so that there is only one "exitpoint." A credit system similar to that in the USA higher education system is now being introduced at this University. Individual countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean are therefore setting up Community Colleges within their educational systems to provide more "exit points" for students in the terminal level of their educational careers. More persons would be able to leave the upper-secondary school system with a wider variety and range of marketable skills with certification recognizable by the employment market. "Wastage" or "drop out" rates would thus substantially be reduced.

There are many distinct advantages to be gained from the introduction of Community College-type institutions into the upper-secondary or tertiary educational system in the Caribbean. The history of these institutions in the region has been marked with some setbacks however. One of them is that in spite of their obvious value to the economic and social development of the country, they have not been receiving social recognition as a traditional university. A similar phenomenon has been identified by researchers like Foster6 with respect to the vocationalization of secondary education.

Although governments in the Commonwealth Caribbean generally agree that Community College-type institutions are sorely needed, the number of these institutions that exist in relation to potential demand remains very small. This is mainly because in spite of the demands for education for economic purposes and the personal aspirations of the people, in the final analysis, actual provisions will be limited by the financial circumstances of the country. In other words, final decisions about what a country gets in education is based not on what the country "needs" (investment), or the people "want" (consumption), but on what the country can "afford."

In the Commonwealth Caribbean, "the unemployed intellectual" is as prevalent as in other developing countries. It is often felt that the solution to this problem lies in the reduction of conventional university places and in the simultaneous increase in types of courses given in Community Colleges. But unemployment persists in the Region at very high rates, and there are reports that graduates of institutions like the Community Colleges continue to form part of these unemployment figures. It is known that employers sometimes prefer to hire "unqualified" applicants since they may be willing to accept lower salaries than the paper-qualified candidates. The lack of managerial sophistication and formal education that typify employers in developing countries, especially in the small business sector, is bound to come in conflict with the "superiority" attitude that paper qualifications would engender among the young graduates of Community Colleges or similar formal institutions.

Even if the Community College may seem appropriate for achieving the objective of training urgently needed mid-level manpower, Caribbean governments have not been able to meet the demand for this type of education simply because they have not been able to afford the cost of the expensive facilities. Other developmental expenditures may have higher priority. Governments should not only be thinking about the funds for capital expenditure in the Community College program. The recurrent expenditure for the continuous running of the program may be so high that it would be unwise to implement it on the scale proposed. In many developing countries, one can find heaps of abandoned projects, dilapidated buildings and unused equipment that started as ambitious projects, but where only capital but not recurrent expenditure was seriously considered. The offer of a loan or grant from some international agency, a friendly neighbor or a benevolent organization for the construction of a Community College may be difficult to resist. There are not many such sources of financial assistance available to developing countries for meeting the high recurrent expenditures that these constructions entail. Moreover, Community Colleges and other employment-oriented training facilities are more expensive, especially in running costs, than other types of post-secondary institutions.

The critical shortages of intermediate-level manpower, the high unemployment rate, the lack of secondary and upper-secondary facilities for masses of eager young people all indicate that there is an important place for institutions like Community Colleges in developing countries. Although similar institutions already exist in most countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, they can profit from the experience of the USA with its peculiar concept of short-cycle higher education. Since the financial resources of these countries are so limited, they should be carefully designed and planned.

Recommendation for the Proposed Community College
in Trinidad and Tobago

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago created a Community College Task Force in 1988 to design a plan for the establishment of such a college for the country. The tentativeness to the Community College idea indicated in the Terms of Reference of the Task Force hopefully reflected a soberness and alertness in the minds of the policy makers. It was reassuring to see a cautious attitude being adopted regarding the possible transplant of another country's experience to one's own.

The design proposed for the Community College by the Task Force wisely takes into account the peculiar historical development of upper-level secondary education in Trinidad and Tobago, and the existing involvement in the provision of this level of education by institutions like NIHERST, the National Training Board, and the UWI Extra Mural Department.

The Community College that is being created for Trinidad and Tobago, and those already set up in other Commonwealth Caribbean countries, have evolved from changes that the educational system has been undergoing over a considerable length of time, and more recent modifications in the demand for education to meet the manpower and consumption needs of society.

In view of the wide variety of institutions already in place that offer such education, the major and most difficult function in the administration of the proposed Community College in Trinidad and Tobago will be the integration and coordination of its diverse components. It is possible that only time will tell of the advantages and disadvantages of centralization with heavy control or decentralization with light control by the directorate of the College over the heads of the disparate education and training entities that are to be brought together under its aegis.7 On the one hand, in order to ensure effective coordination and utilization of the college's resources, the governing body of the College may have to concentrate authority at the center and exercise heavy control.

On the other hand, especially in the early stages of the creation of the College, light-handed direction with a decentralized structure may be more advisable. In a decentralized model, the Directorate would articulate policy, transmit policy guidelines to the principals of the component bodies, arrange accreditation and certification and monitor, rather than direct or control, their functioning. The imposition of heavy control may strangle the growth of these component institutions and hamper the flexibility, creativity and imagination which the College as a whole would require to adequately respond to the developmental needs of a dynamic society. In view of the authority enjoyed by the heads of the institutions, and the experience that these principals have acquired in managing their institutions, too- heavy control may promote undesirable situations of personality conflict that would be detrimental to the internal efficiency of the college.

Since middle-level manpower has been identified as a critical constraint to development in countries like Trinidad and Tobago, the rationalization, systematization and coordination of agencies for training this level of manpower stand out as the most important role that the Community College can play in the developmental process. The Trinidad and Tobago Task Force on a Community College quite rightly devoted its greatest attention to strategies for this coordination.

More specifically, the Task Force concentrated on coordination at the "horizontal" level. A study of the Community Colleges in the USA would suggest that "vertical" coordination merits equal attention. Essential to the concept of the Community College is its relationship with higher institutions of learning. "Upward" vertical coordination between Community Colleges in the Commonwealth Caribbean and the University of the West Indies must be carefully devised to ensure a smooth educational continuum. Courses completed at the Community College would have to be accepted and given credit at the UWI. The University of the West Indies, on the other hand, would need to inject more flexibility in its admission and graduation policy by introducing a credit system which would cater more realistically to the education needs of the community it serves. More importantly, vertical coordination with UWI or other higher learning centers should be organized to provide reinforcement for the courses at the Community College, especially in areas where appropriate teaching staff and specialized facilities may be lacking. In structuring this coordination with the UWI, one should be sensitive to the need for the Community College to preserve its own identity and mission to give its graduating students a sense of fulfillment and pride in the education they received.

Vertical coordination also implies a full-flowing relationship between the courses and activities of the Community College and the world of work and the community at large. A student guidance and counselling service is crucial to the maintenance of communication between the Community College and the population it serves. To ensure a close link with the world of work, representatives of both the public and private sector should be included in the advisory and decision-making board. By far the most effective way to strengthen this relationship with the world of work would be to draw teachers, instructors and curriculum designers from factories and business offices, preferably on a part-time basis, to teach the courses of the Community College. The directorate of the College would need a constant supply of information on the manpower needs of the community and the employment trends. Constant contact with the world of would be essential.

As the basis of the upper-level secondary educational system of the country, the Community College would have to maintain strong communication lines with the five-year secondary schools in the country. "Downward" vertical coordination with these feeder institutions could be maintained in different ways, but especially through collaboration between the guidance and counselling services in the Community Colleges, secondary schools and the Unit in the Ministry of Education. In the USA, some Community Colleges utilize classrooms and other facilities of the high schools on evenings, Saturdays and during school vacations. This way of forging links between the Community College and the secondary schools should be explored in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The Future of Community Colleges in Trinidad and Tobago<R>and the Commonwealth Caribbean

Even though the Community College may be regarded as a USA creation, the development of the concept has taken different shapes in the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean. In Trinidad and Tobago, it will assume structure and characteristics particular to that country. The historical educational developments and the myriad institutions out of which Community Colleges in the Commonwealth Caribbean are to be forged should be handled carefully and with sensitivity. The proposed College in Trinidad and Tobago should be a phase in the continuous process of educational development at the secondary or further level by adjusting to meet more adequately and appropriately the needs of the society. Trinidad and Tobago should learn from the experiences of other countries in their attempts to organize education at this level, and also from earlier initiatives such as the National Training Board, NIHE and NIHERST. Education does not lend itself easily to swift, revolutionary change as does some other human endeavors. The development of a sound educational system tends to follow an evolutionary and accumulative process. Trinidad and Tobago therefore has to build on the past, consolidate achievements and use accumulated wisdom for shaping new institutions.

The type of Community College that is developing in Trinidad and Tobago and the other Commonwealth Caribbean countries can be seen as a variation of the USA model. Even within the Caribbean region, the Community Colleges in the different territories do not have the same structure, even though their objectives are very similar. The shape that the Community College has taken in each country has been influenced by factors such as the previous history of education, the types of existing institutions providing secondary education, the size and economic wealth of the country, and the presence or absence of campus facilities of the University of the West Indies. The distinctive element of the Caribbean Colleges is their origin from an amalgamation of ongoing institutions. The major difficulty among them is the administration of the College in the various countries, especially in the centralization and control exercised by the governing authorities. The other significant variation is in the coordination with other elements of the educational system especially the vertical coordination with the University of West Indies or other higher educational facility.

Due to historical, economic and geopolitical factors, the links between the USA and the Commonwealth Caribbean will inevitably remain strong during the foreseeable future. At this point in time it would be difficult to predict what shape the Community College will ultimately take in each country, or whether it be more a result of transfer of technology from the more developed USA, or merely a consequence of the natural evaluation process through which educational systems throughout the world tend to grow.

It cannot be denied that whether by natural process or deliberate transplant the germ of the Community College concept that originated in the USA has found a propitious environment for growth in Trinidad and Tobago and the Commonwealth Caribbean as a whole.

State-Church Partnership and the "Prestige" Schools

A significant characteristic of the educational system of Trinidad and Tobago is the extent to which the State-Church partnership is solidly entrenched, especially at the secondary level, and seems destined to persist forever. This peculiar dual provision and control of education has its beginnings in the earliest days of the history of education in the country.

It was during the time of Ralph Woodford (1814-28) that a formal system of public education was initiated in which grants from state funds were made and some control over the establishment of denominational schools was exercised. The principal measure that Woodford instituted to exercise control over education was the requirement of a license for the opening of a public school.

With the abolition of slavery in 1834, the churches became very active in the provision of education for the freed slaves. To build schools and pay teachers' salaries, assistance was given to churches from public funds. Through the Negro Education Grant between 1835 and 1845, an annual subsidy was made by the British Government to the missionary societies involved in education in Trinidad and Tobago.

The missionaries belonged mainly to the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. The Micro Charity, which was a non- denominational but Protestant educational trust, also received a high proportion of these public funds.

The Micro Charity set up the first teacher training institution in the country soon after abolition, but the college fell victim to the State-Church rivalry. The intention of the College was to train teachers regardless of their religious affiliation, but was resisted by the Roman Catholics and the Church of England who viewed the institution as quasi-government.

After the collapse of the Micro Teacher Training college, the government decided to use its authority and establish its own institution in 1852. The opposition of the Church to government initiatives on education did not desist, and the Roman Catholics started two residential training schools in Port of Spain. In 1894, the Canadian Presbyterian Mission, which was very active in the education of the Indians, established Naparima Training college in San Fernando. The Church of England, however, because of its sympathy with the English aspirations of the government, chose to use the government-training college for lectures while maintaining its own hostel for the Anglican students.

Due to the rivalry that existed between the two major denominations—the Catholic and Anglicans—in the provision of education, and because of the determination to force a British stamp on the culture and life of the colony, the governors, particularly Lord Harris, chose to allocate public funds to non- denominational bodies and strove to establish a system of secular government schools which he called the Ward Schools, since they were financed from taxes which were derived from the "wards" or regions into which the colony was administratively divided.

A dual system of education was clearly taking shape, for the curriculum and books in these government schools took on a distinct Christian religious character, and the children were expected to have their education complemented by lessons in their own churches. These "ward" schools were severely opposed by the major denominational bodies, however, and the criticism reached a high point of severity in the Keenan report of 1869, which emphasized the principle of Church ownership and management of schools.

It can be said that the dual system emerged in 1870 from the recommendations of the Keenan Report, and that Governor Arthur Gordon instituted the new policy which established two types of schools—the government and the assisted, the latter administered by a religious denomination but with assistance from government. This pattern, with slight variations, continued throughout the history of education in the country.

The basic element of this dual system was that the State had the ultimate authority for providing education for the people, but it allowed this responsibility to be shared with the Church—for which the religious denomination received assistance from public funds. Although this arrangement seemed to have worked satisfactorily in the provision of education for the people of the country, it generated a stream of rivalries within the educational system and in the society as a whole. The rivalry was most evident in the competition between the government schools and the denominational schools in their claims for government grants. Rivalry reached its high point of intensity in the secondary school system when the "flag bearer" of the government sector—Queen's Royal College—vied unrelentingly in every sphere of activity with the archival—St. Mary's College, the leading Catholic denominational secondary school. Although in earlier years the lower classes—mainly African and Indian—kept out of the mainstream of this rivalry, the upper and middle classes of society were ardently engaged in the debate and controversies surrounding the State-Church provision and control of education. The French and Spanish speakers in the community and their descendants (generally called French creoles) formed the Roman Catholic opposition and vehemently objected to government schools by arguing that they were not necessary. Some support for government schools came from the English speakers who were generally Anglicans. The debate and controversy about the dual system of education reflected the sharp divisions that existed in the society and exacerbated the social and cultural tensions in the multi-racial and multi-religious society that fate had destined for Trinidad and Tobago.

Because the Churches were involved earlier than the government in the provision of education for the people of the country, the notion emerged—which persisted over generations—that it was the Church and not the State that had the right and responsibility to construct and control the schools. In spite of their rivalry, the two major Christian religions—the Catholics and Anglicans—were consistent in maintaining their rights to build and manage schools in opposition to the State's effort. In the minds of the majority of the population, it was the government schools that had to be justified. Even the State-appointed commissions like the Marriott-Mayhew were firm in the endorsement of the dual system and reaffirmed the role of the denominations. Later on in the history of education of the country, as the population of Indian descent grew and non-Christians such as the Hindus and Moslems increased in numbers, the right of all religious denominations to share in the provision of education could not be denied.

When the Queen's Collegiate School was established in 1859, it was conceived by the government as a non-denominational secondary school to provide an alternative to the schools of the Roman Catholics and Church of England. This school, which was modelled on the renowned grammar and public schools of England, was in the forefront of the thrust by government to counteract the cultural domination of the local society by the French creoles with their French language and Roman Catholic religion. Later renamed Queen's Royal College, this school set out to teach the English language and spread its use throughout the colony and cultivate in the youth of the country an English way of life and loyalty to the British crown. The English governors saw secondary education as one of the most effective vehicles for transforming the traditionally French and Spanish character of the society to one with a predominantly British stamp. The pattern of shared responsibility for education between the Church and State had evolved and gained acceptance throughout the society and reinforcement by the power of the Catholic Church. These early British Governors came to understand the futility of trying to keep the Church out of education and settled for the alternative of establishing rival secondary institutions. The dual system was the only feasible arrangement, and both the government Queen's Royal College and the Catholic St. Mary's College received government grants.

During the 19th century—the period in which some distinctive and lasting traits were emerging in the formation of a new society—the Catholic Church was very influential in determining the shape and character of that society. Brereton8 stresses that the Catholic Church constituted "a significant mechanism for social control" and remained an "entrenched organization still largely dominated by the French Creole elite." The Catholic Church, with its French creole adherents, continued to vie with the Government, with its English speaking Anglicans, for social and cultural domination of the society almost up to the time of independence. The Anglican Church, which was much smaller in congregation, nonetheless enjoyed substantial influence because the Governor and high level expatriate officials were usually members. Although the Church of England insisted on having its own schools, it could be expected to sympathize with the Government in the overall process of reinforcing English culture in a traditionally French and Spanish society. The other powerful religious denomination, the Canadian Presbyterian Church, concentrated on educating the Indian population, and like the Church of England, would confront the Government with its demand to build and control its own schools.

As the Colony moved towards independence however, the Church-State contest in education took on a new dimension. From the 1870s when the dual system of control of education was firmly established, the process of Anglicanisation of the colony proceeded gradually but irrevocably, even though the Catholics and other denominations insisted on their right to build and manage schools. Throughout the population, French gave way to English as the official and most widely used language, and an English creole developed to replace the French creole (patois) as the everyday language. The contest between the Catholic Church (with the French creole alliance) and the Government arrived at an accommodation which was most evident in the growing similarity between the flag bearers of the two camps—St. Mary's College for the Catholics and Queen's Royal College for the Government. Campbell9 observes that St. Mary's College (later renamed the College of the Immaculate Conception) "became more like QRC than QRC became like it."

By accommodation and adjustment, the Catholic Church was able to maintain its power on the society at large and its dominance as the main provider of education during the colonial era. Since the establishment of the dual control system of education in 1870, attempts made by colonial governments to wrest or reassume control over education by the State proved unsuccessful. The Report of the 1954 Working Party10 draws attention to the attempt of the colonial government to pass a bill in 1946 which would allow the Director of Education to approve and dismiss all denominational school teachers. This bill met with such opposition from the denominational bodies that the proposal was shelved. According to the 1954 Working Party report, 67 of the 370 primary schools were government, while 303 were denominational; among the 8 Intermediate schools, 2 were Government and 6 assisted. At the secondary-level, of the total of 14 schools, 2 were government and the rest denominational, half being Catholic. Denominational schools made up 81 percent of the public schools in the colony.

From colonialism until the pre-independence period, the denominations, particularly the Catholic Church, enjoyed a position of dominance as a "Senior Partner" in the dual system of control of education in the country. Although the local elites, essentially the French creoles with their Catholic church affiliation, did strive to wrest more local legislative control from the colonial government, they seemed to have acquiesced in the power that they enjoyed with respect to education and settled comfortably into an accommodation with the State.

The new dimension that was given to the contest of control over education in the colony was the emergence of the new nationalist movement of the 1950s. The Church saw the national movement as a threat to its entrenched power over education which the colonial government had come to recognize in the dual systems. The force with which the Church had to reckon was no longer the colonial administration but the local movement for independence. The new twist to the situation was that the Church, particularly the Roman Catholics, conceived an "unholy alliance" with the colonial administration. Stewart11 observes that "by the late 1950s with the rise of the nationalist groups advocating independence from England, the Christians especially found themselves in an ambiguous situation. On the one hand they too wanted more representation in parliament, but on the other hand, they feared the nationalists as well."

At this time, the People's National Movement (PNM) arrived at the scene and spearheaded and gave voice and shape to the nationalist drive for independence. Dr. Eric Williams was the head of the PNM who viewed education as the principal instrument for moving the colonial dependent country to nationhood and independence. In order to achieve this end, the national government would have to assume much greater control of the educational system and that meant wrenching it from the hands of its most influential force—the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, saw the emergent nationalist movement not only encroaching on its cherished dominance in education, but threatening the authority and influence it enjoyed in the society as a whole.

In the pre-independence days, this contest for power between the Nationalist movement and the Catholic Church was waged in every imaginable forum and arena in the country. In the deliberations of the Legislative Council, in the local newspapers, from the pulpits of churches, in political rallies and meetings at the "University of Woodford Square12 statements and counter arguments were issued by both sides. The chief spokesman for the nationalists was Dr. Eric Williams, who used his high intellectual endowment and unique knowledge of West Indian history to sway the populace over to his side, while the principal articulation of cause of the Catholic church came from the Archbishop Count Finbar Ryan, who would resort to threats of "fire and brimstone raining down on the heads" of those who showed any leaning towards the secular nationalists. But the contest between the Catholic Church and the PNM achieved its highest intellectual and philosophical stature in the polemical debates that took place in the Public Library of Port of Spain between Dr. Williams and Don Basil Matthews, a Catholic priest of great academic strength and local sensitivity.

This fight for power—power over the minds and souls of the people of the young emerging nation of Trinidad and Tobago—grew ever more intense as the date for independence grew near. As Campbell13 points out, "it was a struggle in which each side declared conflicting ideologies fundamentally incompatible. The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church's case claimed that the family and not the Government had the responsibility to provide education, the government asserted the right of the constitutionally elected government to control education in the national interest." Both sides reached an agreement just before the 1961 elections. Although the political education campaign of Dr. Williams and the PNM was proving to be highly successful, Dr. Williams realized that within the PNM itself, strong sympathy for the Catholic cause was persisting as an act of faith among the devotees. On the other side, because of the steadily growing popularity of the nationalist movement, the Catholics were beginning to realize that they may lose completely the gains they had made over the years to control education.

The accommodation that was achieved between the national government and the Church took the form of an agreement called the Concordat,14 which was signed in December 1960 by the Minister of Education and Culture, John S. Donaldson. The agreement sealed a relationship between the State and Church and ensured the fundament of a dual system of education for the new nation. The most important component of the agreement for the denominations was that their right to build and own schools was confirmed.

The Concordat represented a compromise between the two most powerful forces shaping the new society. It illustrated the fast growing political maturity of Dr. Williams as the leader of the PNM. Although he was essentially an academician, in a relatively short period of involvement in politics, he acquired the vital skills of compromise with which he crafted some conciliatory concessions to the Catholic Church, thereby assuaging the fears and discomfort of the numerous high-level middle-class Catholics in his party. The principal architect of this agreement was the Minister of Education, John S. Donaldson, who was a sincere Catholic but with deep nationalist dedication.

Independence was ushered into the country with the State and Church joined in a unique partnership to provide education to a people who were thirsting for increased access, especially at the secondary level, and for a society that was moving from colonial dependence to independent nationhood. Although in the ensuing years the basic elements of the Concordat were preserved and respected by both sides, the demands of independence and social and economic development of the country prompted the Government to institute some changes in the administration of education. The most important of those changes were incorporated into the Education Act of 1966, by which the inspection of Assisted denominational secondary schools was initiated and teachers in denominational primary schools were given similar conditions of work as their government colleagues, thereby integrating the total teaching service. The other crucial development in the State-Church relationship was the establishment of a Teaching Service Commission in 1967, which was given the authority to hire, dismiss, promote and transfer all teachers in public schools—both government and denominational. This authority was formerly in the hands of boards of management with respect to denominational schools.

Although ownership of buildings and authority over hiring and firing of teachers were crucial elements in the State-Church power contest, the aspect of the dual control system that would have the longest and most far-reaching effect on the fabric of society and the character of the new nation being formed was the control over admission to secondary schools. This was the element in the State-Church relationship that continued to generate the greatest controversy throughout the society and that the Church—especially the Catholic—continued to oppose vehemently.

The earlier years of independence witnessed an unprecedented growth in education. The expansion of education, especially at the secondary level, was a major plank in the political platform of the Nationalist government under Dr. Williams. The Nationalist government adopted a policy of free education. The demand for education, especially from the lower and lower-middle classes, increased astronomically. The upper classes grew anxious about their privileged access to secondary education, which traditionally was provided by the religious denominations, especially the Catholics. The Common Entrance exam replaced the College Exhibition exam as the means of selecting primary school students to continue on to secondary education.

In the spirit of the Concordat, and for the preservation of the dual system, the religious denominations were allowed some control over the admission of students to their Assisted schools. Whereas in the government secondary school admission was strictly on the basis of scores on the Common Entrance exams, principals of the Assisted schools were allowed their own discretion to admit 20 percent of their First Form intake. The Ministry of Education, however, reserved the right to set a cutoff point on the results of the Common Entrance for all secondary school entrants, whether in government or Assisted schools.

Although Queen's Royal College was established not too long after the Catholic Secondary Schools, greater prestige was enjoyed by these denominational schools because of the consistently high quality education they provided and their association with the upper classes of the society. Queen's Royal College suffered a major setback in prestige just after independence as the national government drew on its experienced staff to man the new government secondary schools. For the implementation of this policy of free secondary education, Government had to build more secondary schools. These new schools did not have the social prestige of their older denominational counterparts.

The phenomenon of the "prestige school" has plagued the secondary school selection mechanism since the shift from the College Exhibition to the Common Entrance exam and the implementation of the 15-Year Educational Development Plan. Free secondary education with equality of opportunity was a prime goal of the 15-Year Plan and cherished dream of Dr. Williams, the father of the Nation. A major strategy in the Plan for the realization of this goal was the replacement of the College Exhibition Exam by the Common Entrance as a selection mechanism for entry into secondary school, and the provision of school places to cater for all children leaving the primary school. The Plan represented a blueprint for the achievement of this objective with specific dates for the construction of the required secondary schools. The replacement of the College Exhibition exam by the Common Entrance was intended to give all primary school leavers an equal chance to secondary education, regardless of the socio-economic status of their parents. Whereas the College Exhibition was very susceptible to coaching, and middle class parents would be better able to pay the high fees for special coaching of their children, the Common Entrance was supposed to test innate intelligence and be relatively immune to coaching.

As indicated earlier, appropriate research on the Common Entrance and selection procedure has yet to be carried out. This research would have to determine if a disproportionate number of middle- class children get into the type of secondary school that is considered more desirable and prestigious by all classes of citizens.

The phenomenon of the "prestige school" in secondary education in Trinidad and Tobago grew out of the peculiarities of the early provisions of secondary education and the secondary school selection procedure that was later created to preserve the fundamentals of the dual system. Although on the surface, this procedure seemed compatible with the principle of equality of opportunity as underlined in the 15-Year Educational Plan, it gave families with close connections to the principals of the prestigious denominational secondary schools a distinct advantage in getting their children admitted to these schools. Due to the discretion enjoyed by the principals of the Assisted schools to admit 20 percent of the yearly intake, a child whose parents were in the good graces of the school would have a better chance of getting his or her first choice even though he or she may have scored lower marks on the Common Entrance. "Opportunities" for gaining a place in the better secondary schools, therefore, were and are not "equal." The children of the upper classes with their contacts and connections with the "prestige" schools are more likely to gain admission to these schools than those of the lower classes.

Even without the benefit of appropriate research, it can be posited that social class has been a significant determinant in the selection of students for entry into the "prestige" secondary schools. Because of the structure of society in Trinidad and Tobago, the prestige school phenomenon has assumed an even more delicate and enigmatic dimension—race and color. One of the continuously vexing outcomes of the complex process of colonization of Trinidad and Tobago, when peoples of various races and colors came into the country under different conditions and unequal socio-economic circumstances, is a marked correlation between race and color and socio-economic status. In his analysis of the evolution of inequality in Trinidad and Tobago, Henry15 observed that "one hundred years after the slavery, Trinidad and Tobago remained a highly unequal society with race and color being very much determinants of social status and a approximation to the caucasoid phenotype having a high association with income and wealth as has applied even before emancipation." In a nutshell, persons of European descent and lighter complexion are generally better off than those of African and Indian ancestry and darker skin color. This is one of the most disturbing vestiges of colonialism still afflicting the society.

Trinidad and Tobago may be considered a model nation with respect to race relations, and can boast of a very creditable record of integration among the peoples of African, Indian and European descent. In the interest of preserving that racial harmony, or rather, the cherished reputation, the society at large tends to deny that a problem of race and color does exist. This denial may be the reason why no research16 has been attempted on the race and color mix of the prestige schools compared with the other secondary schools of the system.

Trinidad and Tobago seems destined and committed to a State-Church partnership for the provision of education for the people. The unique dual system of control of education, which was initiated and negotiated with the religious bodies of the country during the early years of independence, has stood the test of time. If the principle of equality of opportunity is to be respected, the system must undergo some drastic changes to ensure that children receive equally high quality education from government and Assisted schools, and that social class, race or color should in no way affect a child's chance of gaining admission into a prestige school. Not only should these factors be absent in the selection procedure, but steps should be taken to remove any impression that they may be of influence.

It cannot be doubted that the State-Church coalition has brought definite benefits to the educational system. The denominational schools have made an outstanding contribution to the provision of education, especially in the high standards of attainment by their students at the secondary level. These consistently high levels of achievement have set standards of excellence for the country as a whole. We find evidence of this in the creditable scores of students of Trinidad and Tobago on both the Ordinary and Advanced General Certificates of Education as compared to other countries where these exams are taken.

Although these levels of attainment can be attributed to the social and intellectual endowments of the students that these prestige schools receive, credit must be given to the dedication of the nuns, priests and lay persons who make up the teaching staff of the schools.

The experience and expertise that the denominational schools have accumulated over the years in the provision of high quality education must be put at the disposal of the entire education system and all classes of the society. The religious denominations have earned a very creditable record for their contribution to the education of the disadvantaged, especially in their primary schools in rural areas and in their schools for the handicapped and orphans. It would behoove them to continue the fulfillment of their mission to the poor and underprivileged by opening more widely the doors of their "prestige" secondary schools to the less fortunate children of the country.


1. Thomas Diener, Growth of an American Invention (N.Y.: Greenwood Press, 1986).

2. Higher Education for American Democracy, Commission on Higher Education, A Report of the President's (N.Y.: Harper Row, 1948).

3. G. Psacharopoulos, "Comparative Education Rejoiner from Rhetoric to Practice," Comparative Education Review 34.3 (1990): 403, for his support of Human Capital as his favorite theory even through formulated in the early 1960s by J.W. Schults and others.

4. Ministry of Education, 1980 Report of the Community of Trinidad and Tobago College Task Force, Trinidad and Tobago.

5. Government of Trinidad and Tobago 1977, A White Paper on a National Institute of Higher Education, Trinidad and Tobago.

6. P.J. Foster, "The Vocational School Fallacy in Development Planning," Education and Economic Development, Eds. C.A. Anderson and M.J. Bowman (Chicago: Aldine, 1965).

7. R.A. Holland, "University Community Colleges. A Status Report," Community College Review 14.4 (1987): 45, for a report on the Study of USA Community Colleges which shows greater successes from centralization than decentralization.

8. B. Brereton.

9. Carl Campbell, Colony and Nation. A Short History of Education in Trinidad and Tobago (Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers Kingston, 1992).

10. Government of Trinidad and Tobago, The Working Party on Education: Report on Education in Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago: Trinidad Government, 1954).

11. Sandra Stewart, "Nationalist Educational Reforms and Religious Schools in Trinidad," Comparative Education Review (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981).

12. This was the name given to Woodford Square—a very central square in Port of Spain. Traditionally, it was the popular scene for wayside preachers and aspiring politicians, but was given "university" status by Dr. Williams and the PNM in its campaign of political education of the people. The Square was first used for nationalist political education by the People's Education Movement (PEM) from which the PNM emerged as a political party in 1956. The PEM itself which was founded by de Wilton Rodgers and launched in Tobago in 1950, was an arm of the Teacher's Economic and Cultural Association (TECA) which made an outstanding contribution to the nationalist movement of independence.

13. Campbell 72-73.

14. Because of the historical importance of the Concordat its full text is recorded in this note.

The Minister of Education and Culture wishes to clarify, for general information, some of the proposals on Education with reference to the reorganization of Education so far as these proposals affect the Denominational Boards of Management, the Governing Bodies and Principals of Assisted Secondary Schools.

1. In relation to property, the ownership and right of direct control and management of all denominational primary and secondary schools will be assured to the denominations in whatever modifications of the existing system that may subsequently be introduced in the New Education Ordinance, and all existing rights, so far as property is concerned, will be respected.

2. In denominational schools, no books or apparatus to which the denominational authority formally objects, will be introduced or imposed.

3. In denominational schools (unless the Denomination concerned otherwise gives its consent the religion of the particular Denomination which owns the school will be taught exclusively and by teachers professing to belong to that Denomination. In Government Schools all recognized religious denominations will have access through their accredited representatives during the times specified in the time-table for the teaching of Religion to the pupils belonging to their faith.

Pupils attending the schools of a denomination not of their own faith will not be compelled to take part in the religious exercises or lessons of that denomination.

4. The right of appointment, retention, promotion, transfer and dismissal of teachers in Primary Schools will rest with the Public Service Commission.

A teacher shall not be appointed to a school if the denominational Board objects to such an appointment on moral or religious grounds. Similarly, if a teacher be found unsatisfactory on these very grounds, moral or religious, the denominational authority shall have the right to request his removal to another school after due investigation. For these reasons it is proposed (provided the legal and constitutional arrangements allow) "that vacancies as they occur in all schools should be advertised and applications submitted in the first instance to the respective Board of Management which will examine them and forward them all, with their recommendations to the Public Service Commission for final action."

Secondary Schools

5. The existing relationship between Government and the Governing Bodies and teachers in Assisted Secondary Schools will remain, subject however, to negotiated changes inevitable with the introduction of Free Secondary Education and to a system of inspection of these schools by persons authorized to do so by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Governing Bodies of these schools will continue to be responsible for the administration of these schools and for their maintenance, repair and furnishing. These schools will continue to qualify for Government Aid.

The Principals of Assisted Secondary Schools will make available a minimum of 80 percentum of the First Form entry places to those who, by passing the test, qualify on the results of the Common Entrance Examination for free secondary education. The Principals will be represented on the panel of examiners to be set up to administer the test.

The Principals will be free to allocate up to 20 percentum, the remaining places, as they see fit provided normally that the pass list of the Common Entrance Examination serve to provide the pupils.

Entry above the First Form will be under the control of the Ministry of Education and Culture and will require the approval of the Minister.

6. Where the need arises for disciplinary reasons or unsatisfactory progress to remove a pupil from the school, the right to request such removal will remain with the Principal who may for the same reasons suspend a pupil pending investigation. Authority to expel a pupil is vested solely in the Cabinet. For disciplinary reasons the same principle will apply to Primary Schools.

7. All new Central Schools may be established only by Government for the simple reason that these schools are to be fed from the Primary Schools of all Denominations, as well as Government Schools, which may be in the area served by the Central School. Where, however, the need arises for converting an existing denominational school into a secondary school, the denominational character of that school will be allowed to remain.

8. The selection of teachers for training at the Teachers' College is to remain solely with the Ministry of Education and Culture. Selection of teachers for training in the existing denominational training colleges may be made by the Denominational Boards; but such selection must be approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

9. It is the desire of the Government that all teachers be trained at the Teachers College under Government supervision and administration. Government will, however, respect the rights of the existing training colleges conducted by the denominations; but no expansion of these facilities will be allowed without the expressed permission of Government.

Signed by Hon. J.S. Donaldson Minister of Education and Culture on behalf of Cabinet on 22 December 1960, and published on 25 December, 1960

15. Ralph Henry, Notes on the Evolution of Inequality in Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad Ethnicity, ed. K. Yelvington (Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1993).

16. The one nationwide enquiry into race and color in the country was the 1971 National Commission of Enquiry into racial discrimination in the public and private sector. The author served as Secretary for the Commission, whose work led to the immediate recruitment by the banks of persons of non-European descent and darker skin color. Starting in 1971 with a statistical and sociological study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research of the University of West Indies on discrimination in incomes earned by people of African, Indian and European descent, more research is appearing on the effect of race and color. For a review of many of these see ed. K. Yelvington, Trinidad Ethnicity (Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1993).