The implementation of the 15-Year Plan for Educational Development (1968-83) was the most ambitious and far-reaching educational project ever executed in the history of Trinidad and Tobago. Education theory of the 1960s gave education a markedly vital role in overall development and much literature was being produced on techniques and approaches to educational planning. With the breakup of the colonial empires in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, national governments were burdened with the task of providing adequate and appropriate education to their peoples to equip them to exercise their rights and undertake their responsibilities in these young democratic societies.

Due to the poor economic state of the colonial governments, the need for international technical and financial assistance was urgent. International funding agencies such as the World Bank stressed the need for planning in all sectors of development as a prerequisite for loans or any technical assistance.

When Trinidad and Tobago attained independence in 1962, the ruling political party was the People's National Movement (PNM). The party was led by Dr. Eric Williams and it adopted education, especially at the secondary school level, as a major plank in its political platform. In 1964, the government invited a UNESCO Educational Planning Mission to the country, and in its report the Mission outlined a scheme for educational development. One of the proposals in the Mission's report was to establish a small, but well-trained planning unit within the Ministry of Education and Culture to ensure relevant and balanced educational advance.

In the field of social sciences, educational planning was beginning to emerge as a sound discipline, and well-trained educational planners were in limited supply in developing countries such as Trinidad and Tobago. A team of local educators with a combination of political and technical attributes was assembled, and the services of a foreign consultant from UNESCO were secured to assist in the completion of the planning operation.

As indicated in the Introduction of the Draft Plan, the planning exercise was undertaken in response to a local problem:

Full national independence and identity will be achieved and secured only on the basis of an educational system which does not rely on foreign assumptions and references for its existence and growth. Every component of the system would require to have, as the foundation of its validity, its relevance to the needs of the peoples it serves.1

Foremost in the minds of the political leaders of the country was the recognition of education as a vehicle for the movement of the people from colonialism to independence and for the transformation of the society into a viable self-reliant integrated nation state. The existing educational system was designed to serve a colonial people and therefore could not be relied upon to bring about the desired changes in the mentality of the people or the fabric of the society.

The following is a partial list of the broad outlines for secondary education that the Government adopted for the formulation of the Plan:

1) The principle of provision of general education for all children up to age 14 in two stages—namely, primary followed by Junior Secondary.

2) The principle of provision of specialized education and training for a selected entry at age 15 into academic and/or technical courses.

3) The selection of pupils at age 11 plus should be eliminated as rapidly as the resources of the country would allow of the expansion of opportunities for admission to Junior Secondary Schools.

4) Specialized training should be provided as far as possible for approximately 35 to 40 percent of the age group above 15 years, bearing in mind proposals for an education extension service for persons not attending a full time school.

5) The curricula and syllabus used in the educational system at all levels should be brought in line with modern trends and the needs of the country as a whole. During the implementation period of the Plan (1968-83), significant modifications were made in the Plan as the outcome of two proposals to the Cabinet: "The Prime Minister's Proposal on Education," September 1975, and the Prime Minister's Further Proposals to Cabinet on Education", October 1975. The most notable guidelines for the Plan adopted as a result of Cabinet's approval of these proposals were:

a) That the norm for post-primary education be a period of at least five years.

b) That the three-year Junior Secondary School Program remain an integral part of the Educational Plan.

c) That the concept of programs in specialized craft training done in isolation in Government-controlled vocational schools be rejected.

d) That an integrated comprehensive program embracing the traditional academic, pre-technical, commercial, general industrial and limited specialized craft training, utilizing common facilities and with common management be adopted as the national model for the 14 plus education. It is recognized that the constraints of finance, management and teaching resources may force a phased implementation of such a policy. But this model should be the basis for the planning of all future facilities.

e) That the denominational organizations be accepted as having a critical and important role in the educational system, particularly at the secondary level. In accepting this as a matter of policy, however, these organizations should be requested to adopt the national model as described above and prepare a plan leading to the implementation within the shortest possible time and certainly within five years. The denominational participation hereafter should be based on the rejection of the old formula of cost sharing with the public sector assuming full responsibility for all costs of education structured along the lines of the national model.

f) That the shift system be viewed as a temporary measure and the financial implications of its complete phasing-out should be worked out as a matter of national urgency.

g) That the location of these schools be considered in the light of the original program, combining the proposed vocational schools with that of the proposed Senior Comprehensive Schools wherever these have common or almost common location (eg. Arima Princes Town and Morvant/Lavantille with San Juan/Barataria).

The main thrust of the 15-Year Educational Development Plan was to expand the secondary education system and introduce a two-tier arrangement: the Junior Secondary and the Senior Secondary levels. All2 secondary schools were previously five-year grammar schools. Although the sound educational planning theory did impact the structuring of the 15-Year Educational Development Plan, political considerations essentially overrode the technical factors for the two-tiered system. Having students go through a common curriculum and move into the senior secondary level courses suited to their special interests or aptitude made good educational sense. A politician, however, would readily appreciate the vote-catching advantage of providing some form of secondary education for all primary school leavers, even if only to the Junior Secondary level. The use of the shift system that was adopted for the new Junior Secondary school was also a sound political strategy since it doubled the number of places available for primary school leavers. In spite of early criticism that the two-tier arrangement limited secondary education to only 3 years for many children and that the shift system further reduced the amount of class time that those students received, parents who previously had little hope of their child going to secondary school would be appreciative of a national government or political party that gave them the opportunities they were denied during the colonial era.

The Junior Secondary School

During the implementation of the Plan for Educational Development in Trinidad and Tobago 1968-83, the introduction of the Junior Secondary School was given the most attention. It also generated the most controversy. By the end of the plan period, the construction of Junior Secondary Schools stood out as the most significant achievement of the Plan.

Over the period 1968 to 1983, 21 Junior Secondary Schools were built to accommodate the 12,960 students coming from the Primary Schools. The use of the double shift system in these new schools, coupled with the two traditional Grammar schools that were converted to Junior Secondary schools and the places in Forms 1 to 3 in the Composite Schools, created a total of 43,660 spaces for primary school leavers to enter the first level of the secondary education system. In 1968, 5,278 primary school leavers were awarded places in public secondary schools on the basis of the Common Entrance selection examination; by 1983, the year the plan period ended, that number had risen to 19,086, an increase of over 250 percent due to the unprecedented secondary school construction programs in the 15-Year Plan. The following table shows the First Form intake 1968-1983 in Government and Assisted Secondary schools on the basis of the Common Entrance Examination.

The massive construction of Junior Secondary Schools was a sound policy decision by the government both on educational and political grounds. As a purely educational measure, the Junior Secondary represented a distinct improvement on the existing primary-post primary- secondary school system. This new system would give all children completing primary school an opportunity for a fundamental first cycle secondary education. The post- primary schooling to which the Common entrance "failures" were relegated did not constitute a proper secondary education. It was essentially a continuation or repetition of the primary school curriculum with reduced motivation both among the students and the teachers.

As a political strategy, the Junior Secondary School program was calculated to reap a greater number of votes for the People's National Party than any other single item in the Party's manifesto. For the people of a society that was just emerging from colonialism, the expansion of secondary education through the creation of Junior Secondary Schools promoted the social and economic upward mobility that they were denied during the colonial era. For each child that gained admission into a secondary school, the PNM could count on at least one vote from each parent, in addition to the other adults interested in the child's education.

This unprecedented expansion of secondary education—the main feature of the 15-Year Educational Plan—was extremely popular with the working class. Not only was there a limited number of secondary school places in the existing five-year secondary schools, but the vast majority of these places were given to the middle-class families whose children scored the high marks on the College Exhibition and later the Common Entrance exam. The middle-class families also had the advantage of "social connections," which they could use to get their children admitted to the Assisted Secondary schools. The Government allowed the Principals of the Assisted Secondary schools the liberty and discretion to admit 20 percent of their yearly first form intake. The other 80 percent was admitted essentially on the basis of the children's score on the Common Entrance examination.

The working class parents who were determined to give their children a secondary education had to resort to the private secondary schools if their children failed to gain a place in the Government and Assisted Secondary schools. Whereas the Government and Assisted Secondary schools were free, the private secondary schools charged fees. Ironically, the education that was offered at the private schools was often inferior to that offered at the Government and Assisted schools.

To the vast majority of the electorate, of which working class people made up about 75 percent, the dramatic increase in free secondary school places created by the establishment of Junior Secondary Schools brought long-awaited relief, benefits and the fulfillment of cherished dreams. No other item in the PNM's manifesto accounted for the popularity of the party and its repeated victories at the national polls as the expansion in secondary education. It was a political strategy of outstanding success. The only aspect of the Junior Secondary Schools program that may have detracted somewhat from the enormous popularity of the PNM was the double shift arrangement under which all the new Junior Secondary schools constructed by the Government operated.

To satisfy the election pledge to the people to provide free secondary education for all, the Government would have had to build a tremendous amount of Junior Secondary Schools within a relatively short period of time. Education was only one sector in the total development process to which the Government was committed by way of its election campaign promises. In the third 5-Year Educational Development Plan (1969-1973), for which the 15-Year Educational Development Plan (1968-1983) was approved as its education sector, education ranked highest in the distribution of the public sector outlays. The national Government was obliged, however, to direct resources to a wide range of development issues, especially those that were neglected by the colonial government.

The government therefore introduced the double shift system in its new Junior Secondary schools to provide a free secondary school place to as many primary school leavers in the shortest possible time within the budget constraints. Although the double shift system satisfied the yearnings of many parents for a secondary school place for their children, it did not escape their criticism and complaints. The main concern of parents was that the double shift left their children with too much unsupervised time on their hands. The morning shift generally ran from 7:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., while students on the afternoon shift started classes at 12:30 p.m. and ended, at times, after sunset. Another criticism was that students on the double shift system were given reduced teaching time as compared to those non-shift school students. Moreover, extracurricular activities in the shift schools were severely limited since the morning shift children had to vacate the premises immediately after classes, and the afternoon shift students could not stay once darkness came.

In anticipation of the controversy regarding the double shift by parents and political opponents, especially in the Parliament, the government launched a steady public information campaign. There were regular programs on the radio to explain these controversial educational innovations to the people. Although parents at times expressed strong apprehension and protested the double shift system, the majority of the people supported the overall program of secondary school expansion. They welcomed the educational opportunity that these new schools offered and tried to cope with the inconveniences of the double shift.

Apart from its vote-reaping success as a political strategy, the Junior Secondary School program also brought sound educational changes to the school system. Although the traditional secondary school curriculum of the colonial era was already beginning to undergo substantial deviations from its academic, literary or classical bias, the new Junior Secondary School program initiated the most significant reforms at the secondary school level in the history of education of the country to that date.

The Junior Secondary Schools primarily offered a common secondary school curriculum to all students. The curriculum was to reinforce the groundwork established in the primary school and explore paths for those furthering education, training or development or for those just entering the world of work.

This common curriculum incorporated a range of subject areas appropriate for exploring and developing a variety of individual abilities and aptitudes latent in the young adolescent. For the first time in the history of education in the country, the broad range interests of the 11 to 14 year old population was given widespread acceptance and recognition in the curriculum offerings at the secondary school level. This comprehensive curriculum included English Language, Arts and Crafts, Music, Physical Education, Mathematics, General Science, Agriculture, Social Studies, pre-vocational courses for boys and girls and a Modern Foreign Language.

The new Junior Secondary Schools differed from the traditional secondary schools not only in the comprehensive common curriculum, but also in their physical structure. The new schools tried to include the facilities needed for the implementation of the diversified curriculum such as a library and special spaces for Science, Arts and Crafts, Music, Pre-vocational courses, Agriculture, Physical Education and Social Studies.

Those parents who before the establishment of these Junior Secondary Schools would have had to see their children stay on in the post-primary classes or pay high fees in the private secondary schools for a grossly inferior education, escorted their children to the opening day of the new schools with enthusiasm and even gratitude to the national government that had helped them to fulfill a major ambition. Although they regretted the double shift system, they were thankful for the opportunity it afforded their children.

The Government saw no options other than the double shift to satisfy the great demand for secondary school places in a short time. However, it did not recognize what a good opportunity the double shift offered to introduce further revolutionary and theoretically sound innovations into the secondary school system. If the deepest concern of parents regarding the double shift system was the amount of their children's unsupervised time, measures could have been introduced to calm their fears but also improve the quality of their children's education. The controversial double shift could have offered an improved daily educational package by combining periods of heavily structured with lightly structured learning experiences in an educationally sound manner.

As a possible answer to the problem of supervision during the free or off-shift period, a proposal3 for a Teacher Aide System was made and discussed in the Ministry of Education, but no decision was made for its implementation. The use of teacher aides within a double shift system offered possibilities for a readjustment in the daily curriculum balance between periods of intense formal teaching and lightly structured learning experiences in which students would really "learn for themselves" with considerably reduced direction. It can be argued that during the colonial era, too great an emphasis was placed on direct teaching and rote learning. The need existed to reorient this basic approach from one of imparting knowledge to be regurgitated in exams to one of teaching the young "how to learn."

Under the double shift system, pupils attending the morning session could have their "in-school" during these hours with heavily structured learning, and their "out-school" during the afternoon with lighter learning activities under supervision of the teacher aides. During the "in-school," the master-teacher would "prepare" the pupils for learning by imparting relevant bits of knowledge and introducing them to methods of inquiry or discovery. They would create and structure learning situations in the classroom so that these pupils would be intimately engaged in an authentic learning experience with minimal or no supervision during the "off shift" period of the day out of school. The double shift, therefore, provided a unique opportunity to put into practice a fundamental principle in education, which is that schools should essentially teach children "how to learn." This out of school education could have been conducted in buildings that are usually left unused for a large part of the day such as community or adult education centers, churches or church halls, cinemas, friendly society halls, or club houses. These lightly structured learning experiences would not necessarily need housing, but could take the form of visits to places of interest such as factories, estates, firms, museums and libraries.

The inability of the existing government to recognize possibilities for revolutionary reform in secondary school curriculum can be considered one of the major shortcomings in the implementation of the 15-Year Plan for Educational Development. Nevertheless, the Junior Secondary School program of this Plan effectively initiated a new era in the history of secondary education in the country.

The Senior Secondary School

The 15-Year Plan of Educational Development 1968-83 introduced a new two-tier system for secondary education in the country. Over the previous years, three categories of schools evolved to form the public secondary school system: the public Grammar school, the assisted Grammar school—both called "Colleges"—and the secondary modern school.4 Some secondary education was also offered in the post-primary classes of primary schools and Intermediate schools. The Secondary Grammar schools and the Secondary Modern Schools generally offered five-year programs, but some Grammar schools offered seven-year programs (the Sixth Form). Some of the Grammar schools were originally intended to be Secondary Modern, but that experiment failed.

With the advent of national government, the policy was changed to give all children that completed the primary school three years of basic secondary education in the Junior Secondary Schools and give a certain percentage of those leaving Junior Secondary School at least two years at the Senior Secondary level. The Senior Secondary level was originally intended to include three types of schools, but as the Plan was being implemented, eight types of Secondary Schools could be identified in the public secondary school system:

1.    Govt. Senior Comprehensive

2.    Govt. Senior General

3.    Assisted Senior General

4.    Govt. Senior Composite

5.    Govt. Senior General with Sixth Form

6.    Govt. Senior Comprehensive with Sixth Form

7.    Assisted Grammar School without Sixth Form (5 years)

8.    Assisted Grammar School with Sixth Form

The Grammar school predominated in the secondary school system. The Grammar school model in Trinidad and Tobago, which was inherited from the British colonial past, had features in its curriculum and methodology that had long since undergone drastic modifications in the UK. A major argument for the formulation of the Educational Plan was that the grammar-school type of secondary education was proving to be markedly irrelevant to the educational requirements of the new nation of Trinidad and Tobago that came into being in 1962.

The establishment of the Senior Secondary school was to provide secondary education for the 15-year age group after they finished the Junior Secondary school. In order to accomodate the number of students entering the Senior Secondary schools, new schools had to be constructed and several existing schools had to be converted into Senior Secondary schools, as prescribed in the Plan.

The Senior Comprehensive school was to be the model of the new secondary school system and replaced the grammar school of the old system. As its most distinctive feature, this type of school would include both academic and technical courses in the same institution. The designers of the 15-Year Educational Plan took pains to explain that the term "comprehensive," as used in the Plan, was not "borrowed from the UK," and that this combination of technical and academic courses was being proposed as a "socially necessary measure designed to give to technical education and to persons who pursue technical courses a more meaningful and central place in the educational system."

The creation and design of this school was inspired by the concern of the new national government regarding the relevance of the curricula to the development needs of the society, especially at the secondary school level, and of the stigma attached to technical and vocational education. Through these schools, the education system would more adequately fulfill its role in society by providing manpower with skills and attitudes more favorable for development.

The proposals for the distribution of these schools throughout the country were inspired by both philosophical and administrative considerations. For the efficiency and completeness of the secondary school system, a Senior Secondary school would be fed by a number of Junior Secondary schools in a given geographic area, just as a Junior Secondary school was located strategically to absorb students leaving a group of primary schools in a district. Since education was viewed as a "good" to be enjoyed by people as a benefit or result of the overall development program, educational opportunities had to be more widely distributed throughout the country at ever increasing levels. These new schools, therefore, were placed in carefully selected areas where secondary schools had previously not existed. Historically, secondary schools had been concentrated in and around the two main towns of Port of Spain and San Fernando. The wide distribution of the new secondary schools represented a major step towards equalizing opportunity in education as promised by the new national government.

According to the Plan, the quantitative expansion of Senior Secondary education increased the number of the 15-year age group absorbed into the public secondary education system (both academic and technical) from approximately 23 percent in 1967 to 37 percent in 1980. Compared to the limited opportunities for full secondary education during the colonial era, the proposed expansion readily won tremendous support and appreciation for the government under the People's National Movement. Since this education would be free of charge, parents in working-class families could realistically entertain the hope of their children going to secondary school and taking the dreaded GCE examination, the passing of which could open the door to a good job or entrance into university.

In the Plan, the search for relevance continued on into the upper levels of the Senior Secondary school called the Sixth Form. This typically British educational feature was preserved in the Plan but with significant modifications in the direction of rationalization and appropriateness of curricula. The selection of the schools that would include the Sixth Form was to be made with careful consideration of geographic location and economical class size. Time-tabling and subject groupings were to be streamlined for a more efficient use of facilities and teaching staff. Among curriculum renovations, Latin and Greek were to be phased out rapidly. Although several Caribbean countries such as Jamaica pressured to have the University of the West Indies provide preliminary courses, the Sixth Form was to remain an essential part of the secondary school system of Trinidad and Tobago, especially as a transition phase to university education.

Technical-Vocational Education

One would have thought that the Plan would produce far-reaching and enlightened proposals for the development of technical-vocational education within the secondary school system, particularly since the Plan gave high priority to the production of manpower as an outcome of the education system. In both developed and developing countries, the technical-vocational area of an education system is the phase in the total educational process that most significantly influences the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of the labor force, especially at the skilled and technical levels.

Although a special section of the Plan called "Technical Education at Further Education Centers" was devoted to technical-vocational education, the clearest ideas on this type of education were expressed in the Plan's proposals for Senior Level secondary education. There it was explained that the technical courses in the Senior Comprehensive schools were intended to be both educational and vocational and that the more specialized craft training would only be offered in the Technical Colleges and in the Senior Comprehensive schools on evenings. It stated clearly that most of the vocational training would be deliberately handled on an in-service evening course basis. It is on this point that the Plan illustrates its greatest weakness, for it admits that this proposal was merely speculative and that it could not determine "how industry [would] respond to this challenge."

The principal reason for the weak and indecisive proposals on technical-vocational education lay in the absence of reliable manpower data. Any educational development plan which aims to restructure the system to ensure that it produces adequate manpower for the socio-economic development programs must have as a prerequisite some indication of the manpower needs of the economy.

The Plan admits that a "more informed manpower approach to educational planning" would be possible when more manpower information became available. In their avowed quest for relevance, the educational planners lost a unique opportunity to steer the growth of the educational system toward a closer relationship with the needs of the society, especially with respect to the manpower requirements of the economy. It was clear, however, that even without manpower surveys, any move toward increasing the technical-vocational education component in secondary school curriculum was in the right direction.

According to the plan, the basic provision for technical-vocational education would be found in the Senior Comprehensive schools; more specifically, in the four non-academic courses: Agriculture, Commerce and Business Studies, Home Economics and Institutional Management and Technology in relation to Construction and Engineering Metals. These courses would be of a two-year duration for the 15-plus age group and would not provide complete craft training but rather some good theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Craft training would be conducted during evening classes in various centers where physical facilities and teaching resources permitted. In spite of the weak treatment in the Plan, this arrangement of basic technical-vocational education in the Senior Comprehensive schools and specialized craft training on evening courses had some sound theoretical merit.

The long tradition in Trinidad and Tobago of vocational education in separate vocational schools such as the Pt. Fortin Vocational Center would not die easily, however. The government sought a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank for assistance in the construction of vocational schools to provide craft training for the 15-year olds who completed Junior Secondary school and the more able students who wished to continue their education in the post-primary classes, but failed to gain a place in the secondary schools on the basis of the results of the Common Entrance Exam.

Of the two Inter-American Development Bank loans approved in 1972, one was to set up a Student Revolving Loan Fund for overseas training and the other was US$9.4 million to improve technical-vocational education. This loan was to be used for the construction and equipment of seven secondary technical-vocational schools, a technical-vocational teachers' training center and three secondary agricultural schools, in addition to the expansion of the Pt. Fortin Vocational Center.

The implementation of the loan project and the disbursement of funds had barely started when the country, particularly the Prime Minister, had second thoughts about technical-vocational education in the plans for educational development of Trinidad and Tobago. A thorough review of the technical-vocational section of the Plan was instigated by Dr. Williams, the Prime Minister, who continued to maintain profound personal interest in the education sector as a major plank in the political platform of the People's National Movement.

As a result of the review of the Plan, especially in its provision for technical-vocational education, Dr. Williams presented his "Prime Minister's Proposals to Cabinet on Education" of September 18, 1975.5 This proposal was prepared in response to the heated debate that was generated by the implementation of the 15-Year Educational Development Plan. The Cabinet of the government of Trinidad and Tobago appointed a ministerial committee to make recommendations on programs for the graduates who were being turned out by the first Junior Secondary schools to be constructed in the Plan. Dr. Williams and the ruling party's campaign promise of free secondary education for all had whetted the appetite of the Trinidad and Tobago populace and created a demand that was proving difficult to meet.

The People's National Movement supporters who were excited at the chance given to their children to attend a secondary school even if it were a Junior Secondary on the double shift were now beginning to express apprehension about the continuation of their children's education beyond the Junior Secondary stage.

The political directorate either failed to realize or chose to neglect the fact that education creates its own demand. The more education the people get, the more they want.

Since technical-vocational education and training would be a major sector for the absorption of the students who completed the Junior Secondary school stage, intense attention and widespread discussion were focused on the provisions for technical- vocational education in the Plan.

So deep was the government and society's concern that in the preparation of his Proposal, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education held discussions with various sectors of the community, including the Trinidad and Tobago Teachers' Union, the Public Service Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Heads of Religious Bodies, the Trinidad and Tobago Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, the School Teacher's Association of Trinidad and Tobago and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

With respect to the provision of technical-vocational education, the Proposal essentially reaffirmed the prescriptions outlined in the 15-Year Plan. The Proposal, however, contained some inaccuracies, particularly in its statement that the Plan proposed craft training in separate vocational schools.

The fundamental decision coming out of this Proposal was "that the concept of programs in specialized craft training done in isolation in government-controlled vocational schools be rejected. Vocational education, therefore, would be provided in the Senior Comprehensive schools as envisaged in the original 15- Year Education Plan. The prescriptions on technical-vocational education as enunciated in the 15-Year Plan and reaffirmed in the 1975 Prime Minister's Proposal came to be recognized as the official policy for the provision of technical-vocational education in the system.

This policy was given a precise articulation in the report of a Committee on technical-vocational education in secondary schools.6 This Committee cleared up inaccuracies and inconsistencies between the 15-Year Education Plan and the Prime Minister's Proposal. The Committee's report makes it very clear that in regard to specialized craft training in the Senior Comprehensive school, the need was for limited training in the specialized crafts and not full and complete craft training of a limited number of students or training in a limited number of specialized crafts as previously believed. The Senior Secondary school was to offer limited training in the specialized crafts and would not attempt to produce fully skilled craftsmen at the end of five years.

In view of the rejection of the idea of separate vocational schools, the US$9.4 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank was cancelled when only two of the sub-projects contained in this loan were completed. When the loan was officially cancelled in 1977, only US$1.5 million was disbursed for the construction of a vocational school at Chaguanas and the creation of an instructor training center at the John S. Donaldson Technical Institute in Port of Spain.

To a large extent, the decision to cease the construction of separate vocational schools was a return to the original proposal of the 15-Year Plan for technical-vocational education that envisaged the use of the Senior Comprehensive school for training in specialized crafts.

Nowhere are the vicissitudes of the search of relevance better illustrated than in the conflicting changes in policy towards technical-vocational education by the Government. Education during the colonial era was deemed to be more in the service of the colonial power than to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. In assuming full responsibility for the development of the country, the national government had to remove the strong academic and literary bias to curricula, especially at the secondary school level, and make greater provisions for technical-vocational education.

In view of the presence of at least one vocational school, the Pt. Fortin Vocational School, the logical strategy to increase the provision of technical-vocational education would have been to establish more of this type of educational institution. Expanding the school and building similar ones would have been an obvious way of reducing the overall cost of this desired educational reform.

Whereas the Trinidad and Tobago economy needed more skilled craftsmen and technicians, the society needed to be cured of the negative attitudes to technical-vocational education inherited from its colonial past. Measures were needed to equalize prestige between academic and technical subjects and that could not be achieved by maintaining separate educational institutions for the two areas of education.

The search for relevance was also buffeted by the whims or experiences of the politicians. The people were making more strident their demands for more than just Junior Secondary education for their children. The politicians came to the conclusion that if they had to accede to parents' insistence that their children continue secondary education for five instead of three years, it would be more feasible to have them all advance to Senior Comprehensive schools where the technical- vocational character in curriculum was pronounced.

In the Prime Minister's Proposals, it was decided that the sites earmarked for the vocational schools identified in the Inter-American Development Bank loan project should be utilized for the construction of new Senior Comprehensive schools so that the establishment of a relevant and reformed secondary school system could proceed with urgency.


1. Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Draft Plan for Educational Development in Trinidad and Tobago 1968-1983 (Trinidad and Tobago: Government Printery, 1974).

2. Two schools, called Intermediate, included both five-year secondary and primary school education on the same complex.

3. This proposal was made by the author in his capacity of Director of Educational Planning in the Ministry of Education in February 1970.

4. In a previous Chapter, it was explained that parents felt that the Secondary Modern School with its provisions for practical or employment-oriented subjects was inferior to the Grammar school, which with its predominantly classical curriculum was historically the exclusive privilege of the upper class and colonial expatriates.

5. Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister's Proposals to Cabinet on Education, September 18, 1975 (Trinidad and Tobago: Government Printery, 1975)

6. Trinidad and Tobago, Report of the Cabinet Appointed Committee to Examine the Content, Organization and Administration of Technical-Vocational Education in Secondary Schools (Port of Spain: n.p. 1984).