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La Educación
Número: (121) II
Año: 1995

New Directions

With the coming of the Crown Colony Government, most governors made use of the opportunities provided by the new constitution to improve the economic and social conditions of their respective territories by introducing administrative reforms and public services as advised by the Colonial Office. Governor Grant of Jamaica enacted 54 major laws during his first 15 months in office, including laws to organize a constabulary force, to reduce the number of parishes from 22 to 14, to raise and collect revenue, and to establish boards of health and district courts. The Morant Bay riots that had immediately preceded the establishment of Crown Colony rule seemed to instill in the administrators a sense of urgency. The belief was reinforced that the safety of the upper classes and the prosperity and stability of the country would depend on the extent to which they could successfully promote “the enlightenment and the moral and social elevation of the people,” through education.30

Similar developments took place in Trinidad in the years after 1865. Trinidad was already a Crown Colony, but the previous governors had tended to promote only the interests of the white English-speaking population. There were many problems, and the interests of the French and Spanish creoles, the ex-slaves and the newly imported indentured laborers had been neglected.

The new governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, was appointed to service in Trinidad in 1866 with strong support and direction from the colonial office and was able to carry out sweeping reforms. He initiated a successful road and bridge-building program, encouraged sales of crown land to small settlers and disestablished the Church of England.

Educational reform in the British Caribbean at the end of the 19th century must be examined within the wider context of the social and economic policies of Crown Colony government. It seemed only natural for the Caribbean to be “the place where England [found] it convenient to carry on the production of sugar, coffee and a few tropical commodities.”31 This was the designated function of the colonies, and social reforms were intended to ensure that this function was effectively performed.