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Colección:
La Educación
Número: (121) II
Año: 1995

Introduction

With the achievement of political independence, the social and economic imperatives of nationhood appear to have engendered in the new governments of the British Caribbean a consciousness of the need for fundamental reform of the education systems inherited from the colonial past. The belief in education as a “fundamental contributor to human resource development, to discipline, and to economic progress in individuals, families and nationals,” expressed by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in the Draft Plan for Educational Development 1974 has been echoed in similar documents throughout the region.

The new Caribbean nations have, like Jamaica, proposed a radical transformation of the education systems and have proclaimed a “new deal” for education which would destroy the class education established during the colonial period when elementary education was provided for working class children and secondary and university education was the monopoly of the ruling classes. The “new deal” for education would provide equal educational opportunities for all children, regardless of class, race or creed.1 In support of these policies, the goals of universal primary enrollment, the expansion of teacher training and secondary and tertiary enrollment, improved articulation between primary and secondary education, the caribbeanization of the curriculum, the expansion of technical and vocational training and the qualitative improvement in education at all levels have been articulated in successive five-and-ten year plans in the last three or four decades. More significantly, all of the territories have made a conscious effort to link their socio-economic development priorities with their educational policies. These goals reflect the deficiencies of the colonial legacy.

This article aims to examine the origins and functions of the education systems of the British Caribbean and describe and evaluate the achievements of the late 19th century—the formative period in the history of education in the British Caribbean.