Looking back at Colonial Education – commentary


 Opinion - commentary -analysisEducation has historically played a critical role in the development of Guyana. It has imparted knowledge and skills and has empowered the people to solve everyday problems in society. It has supported capacity building in the plantation economy and has built critical areas of thinking. Education has made Guyana very competitive in its pursuit of economic growth and development.

Guyana’s experience since independence has shown that its educated and skilled population has provided greater opportunities in the area of human and economic development with the main spin-off being the creation of decent paying jobs and a better quality of life for all.    

After 50 years of independence, this has not been achieved and most Guyanese continue to struggle to survive.
However, the education system bequeathed to Guyana by the British during the colonial era was designed to keep the nation in ignorance. There was evidence that the intent of the British was to educate a small section of the population so that they can function at a minimum level, while keeping the majority illiterate.

This was the belief of many including the Mighty Sparrow whose song “Dan is the man in the van” expressed outrage at the education system. The song high-lighted the triviality of the colonial education system and made the critical link between a modern and a regressive education system.

Mighty Sparrow – Dan Is The Man (In The Van)

The truth is that the education system was fashioned after the system in the Mother Country, thus providing the Mother Country with a trained and qualified labour force in the colonies. That is why so many of us migrated to London and easily gained employment. We were trained for life in the Mother Country, albeit at a lower level.

The poems and the lessons that were taught to Guyanese by the British for decades were not about their history or culture. They were about British verses. Other than rhymes, nothing was educational about the poems.

It was trifling and had no bearing on educating the nation. Unfortunately the local teachers were part of the system. Many have inadvertently perpetuated the status quo. As a result, students ended up not knowing their country’s history, culture or geography and many generations have been deprived of a good education.

Today, not much has changed from the colonial education system. Education is still not seen as a social equalizer especially for those in the lower socio-economic strata. It is still part of the British colonial system. Efforts to modify it have been unsuccessful. The failure of the education system must rest on the colonial education and the inability of the government to improve it.

Lateral thinking is no longer part of the system. The result is that we are failures at Mathematics and the sciences.
There are only a handful of teachers in Guyana who have inspired students in their early academic years. It was not because of what they taught them, but what they represented as an authority figure, a leader and consummate educator. Teachers are respected not only for their ability to teach but also for their skills to encourage and help students, especially those who are slow to learn and are likely to drop out of school.

The ultimate objective of all teachers is to provide a sense of hope to students, regardless of their status. Education should advance the social, economic and spiritual well-being of children. They must be at ease to know that education is the best chance for them to realize their maximum human potential. It should be the means of achieving social satisfaction.
Forbes Burnham once said that the future of Guyana lies in education. The ultimate irony is that many students today are not even aware of his legacy.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 09/23/2016 at 12:54 pm

    As a former student under the British colonial government and a high school teacher under Burnham’s government of free education for all, I need time to digest what I have just read.

  • Leslie Chin  On 09/23/2016 at 4:06 pm

    The secondary education I received in Guyana was second to none. I was able to hold my own with students in England. Guyanese in Canada, the US and England who received their secondary education in Guyana prosper in every sector. The fact that we speak English is a serious disadvantage for the Caribbean. The brain drain continues unabated.

    The teachers were mostly Guyanese at Central High School but we studied for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) to the British curriculum so we had to pass the same examinations as British students.

  • Brian West  On 09/23/2016 at 5:12 pm

    The British may not have screwed us with the education system, however they ensured that we cannot trace our family from generation to generation. For example; my father’s first name is John. His father’s first name is Joseph. My father’s full name will be John Joseph. My first name is Timmy. My full name is therefore Timmy John. How on God’s earth can we trace our ancestors. I think that the British were deliberate in their acts.

  • Stanley Greaves.  On 09/23/2016 at 9:14 pm

    In primary school as a pupil I did the History and Geography of Guyana. In Teacher’s examinations the same applied. At Saints we were expected to ask questions, even questioning religious doctrines…which we did. Being taught to read with a questioning mind we did and the habit still remains. Any number of us with a Colonial Education moved on to achieve significant things at home and abroad. I totally agree with Leslie Chin. In the UK I had the advantage of knowing more of its inhabitants than they did of me. I regret that at Saints we did French instead of Spanish but this changed after I left in 1951.

  • demerwater  On 09/24/2016 at 5:51 am

    IMHO, British colonization left 3 things in its ‘wake’. An exemplary “Civil Service”, a fine Railway System and a first class Education System.
    In the interest of spirited debate, I refer (maybe defer) to;
    In my time, ‘education’ was a somewhat abstract ideal. When I was a recalcitrant son and pupil, nobody connected going to school and learning, with getting a job. My father hoped that “I would amount to something” and did his level best that I would not lack anything along the way.
    I marvel at Miss Henry, Miss Stewart, Mr. Straughn and Mr. Laine; and their unending efforts to educate us, in and from Albuoystown, arguably the worst slum except “Tiger Bay”. It was some years later; I was on a career – and Jeffrey Emanuel Laine was still a teacher – Head-teacher at Bourda R.C., I think.
    At Saints, Leslie P Cummings, would sacrifice a few minutes from ‘Geography Period’ to allow us to relate “Odd Facts”, what our fathers did, and things like that. I remember (?) Menezies regaling us with his father’s optometry profession. At the end of the production process, he would drop an iron marble through a tube on to the new lens. If it was smashed, it was defective.
    The ancillary qualities and habits I acquired from these individuals have been of more use to me than the “GCE” certificates I managed to obtain.
    In my tenure at Albion / Port Mourant, neighborhoods with names like “Boundyard” and “Niggeryard” were the cradle of some of the most brilliant Guyanese minds – consistently.
    Okay, I acknowledge Hague and the Ramsahoye brothers!
    I would look in the personnel file of a cane cutter, and observe with an emotion close to anger, that he had more subjects GCE than I; frustration with a system peopled with self-proclaimed leaders who could not get past petty prejudices and grudges.
    I was there when “The Mighty Sparrow” appeared on stage, dressed like a schoolboy, singing “Dan is the man”. The consensus was that it was nothing but a light-hearted commentary by a master of his art.
    In my stint as teacher, I was part of the debate on the merits of “West Indian Readers” and “Royal Readers”; I was there when the Minister of Education, B S Rai, banned the singing of songs like “Sityrah Gal” in schools because they had no educational value or something like that.
    I did not realize how fortunate I was to be educated in English until I read Thomas Friedman’s “The Great Indian Dream”.

    Finally, one more speech from Dr. Shashi Tharoor in which he distills a fine difference between ‘educated’ and ‘enlightened’.

  • Gigi  On 09/24/2016 at 9:49 pm

    No one likes to believe that they received a subpar education because to do so would mean that they’re not really smart. Even parents, myself included, who criticized the quality of education/teachers would always maintain that their kids’ school was an exception. Why? Because they did not want to acknowledge that they were being shafted. I remember one day when one of my kids came home and said that her sixth grade math teacher told the class that they think were soo smart but that the children in China were smarter than them. I smirked and nodded my head, glad that the teacher had the audacity to tell them the truth. American education is all about filling kids heads about how smart they are to make up for the mediocre education they receive. Even the education I received here in the US was a joke. Because I was fully aware of that, I knew that I had to seek outside knowledge.

    As for Guyana, I went to Central High School and the education was not only CRAP, but it was far below the quality of education taught in US high schools. And that’s saying something! Yes, I can still recite my multiplications tables to this day because I was afraid of being shamed and lashed for forgetting. I was taught that Guyana had six races! Huh!!!! Imagine my shock in learning that there are only 3 races in the world, possibly 4 – the Aborigines. To this day I still read and hear Guyanese not only regurgitate the 6 races gobbledygook, but they also confuse race with nationality. In 4th form, my mom decided to take me out of school and enrolled me in secretarial school. Secretarial school is what got me a job at GTM, DDL AND The Chrysler Museum of Art in VA when I migrated to the US.

    “Forbes Burnham once said that the future of Guyana lies in education. The ultimate irony is that many students today are not even aware of his legacy.”

    THE ultimate irony is that he did not put into action what he preached because HE FEARED an educated society; more so educated Blacks (Rodney et al) who would rise up and challenge his position. So much so that even though Blacks under Burnham received “more fuh yu” treatment, many did not amount to much because the system Burnham had in place did not require much of them to get by in the system. That is why Lil Guyana in Faltbush, NY is a crime ridden dump filled with housing projects and filthy streets whereas, Lil Guyana in Richmond Hill, NY is a thriving community dotted with well- maintained residential homes and clean streets.

    Guyanese should take note of those who epitomize Burnham as a great leader and see it as testament to these folks cultural values and belief system and recognize that this mindset/ideology does not belong in civilized society. They should not allow it to reflect theirs, nor should they accept or allow themselves to be dragged down by these folks. History has shown time and again that when societies allow themselves to be dragged down to the levels of the uncultured and unabashed, rot and decay creep in and take hold.

  • Ram Jagessar  On 09/24/2016 at 11:13 pm

    I too had a British colonial education in Trinidad in the late fifties and early sixties, and it was exactly that. British and colonial, with very little to do with Trinidad or my Indo Trinidadian culture, religion or heritage.

    It was designed for the few of us deemed to be bright, not the many deemed to be less bright. Actually it was the British grammar school education with cripplingly high standards. Many of the boys I went to secondary school with did not get “good” passes and were deemed to be failures. That system had a high casualty rate. Later the Eric Williams government very stupidly tried to expand that wrong headed system for a much greater slice of the young students, which produced the absolute disaster of widespread secondary education in Trinidad for most of the later years of the late century. The junior secondary and senior secondary shift systems were horrendous catastrophes whose effects are still being felt.

    The second thing I remember about my primary and secondary education is that it seemed to be telling us categorically that EVERYTHING British was the best in the world. The British colonial system, British steel, British cars, British textiles, British poets and writers, British technology, British design (don’t laugh!), British railways, British comedians, British films, the BBC, you name it and the British were best at it. Which was of course horribly and demonstrably false, as we learned after Trinidad became independent in 1962. It was rather a shock to discover that the British were the world’s best at very very little. Their Westminster democratic system eas failing world wide, British cars were inferior junk, British design was joke, Birmingham steel inferior to the Germans, British writers and artists medoiocre to poor by world standards, and the British themselves were a tight assed, racist bunch in a poor assed island with no resources to speak of and little to recommend it. We realized with shock that the British looked down on us with barely disguised contempt in the colonial period and that we were far from being welcome citizens of the British Empire, that when we waved our little union jacks and sang Britons never never will be slaves it didnt apply to us Trinidadians. The British were never slaves in Trinidad but they surely had been slavers. My birth certificate said illegitimate because those British bastards had not recognized Hindu marriages of people like my father and mother. ‘They were the bastards and stinkers, not me.

    Since that time I have had a complete revision of my attitudes and opinions about the British, a revision downwards! Yes, even the much touted English legal system does not measure up too well with other systems in the world.

    Motive is everything in many spheres of life, and the British education system in Trinidad is no exception. They refused to give any education at all to the Indians out in the tural areas because they judged us to be useful only for agricultural labour. How much education do you need to swing a cutlass or dig dirt? The few primary and secondary schools they set up in the towns were designed just to produce a tiny class of literate and numerate petty colonials who could operate the systems necessary for the colonial system to function. . And what about the fate of the majority of Indo and Afro colonials in good old Trinidad? Why, they could go and fornicate themselves, would be the realistic British reply.

    Looking back on it, I feel mostly shame for ourselves that we were so ignorant and gullible, and more shame on the British that they would so conscience freely shove a load of faeces down or throats while all the time proclaiming their own generosity.

  • NDTewarie  On 09/25/2016 at 1:02 pm

    As they say back home, me too. We may not agree with everything the British has done, but their system was the best at that time, we had none, we were a struggling backward colonial country and Surprise! we still are.
    I became a teacher, taught under the great Cedric Vernon Nunes, brushed shoulders with the likes of JR Chinapen, Butchey, Fields, and John Ramlall and many more decent teachers like Jack Narayan, H E Cumberbatch, Wharton, Mohamed Hamaludin, Riley and George Bulkan and headmasters James Sukhu and Somwaru. I think we should thank the British for the legacy we had. Compared with others we stood out abroad. Today you can find a Guyanese in a top position in most companies, firms and plants, especially in Canada and the USA. It was due to our English which was our first language and we learnt it well. We have produced a great number of stalwart writers in prose and poetry. lawyers and doctors and entrepreneurs.
    The chief reason for the failure of the present Education system in Guyana is that there are very few good teachers, for most of them have left (brain drain) Guyana during the disturbances fostered by the 2 party system. The teachers today can barely make ends meet so there is no loyalty to schools and kids.
    In my days as a teacher we had discipline, today the kids carry knives and even guns to schools. They say “Spare the rod and spoil the Child,” but I say:


    When I was growing up
    Although maybe I hadn’t enough love
    I think I grew up straight
    Studied and prayed to the one above
    And I turned out ok, mate

    When I was growing up
    There was a real community spirit
    You could be thrashed by your elders
    If you swear or misbehave you get it
    And you respect all your teachers

    And as l was grew up
    After hours I did not stray
    I had to be at home at a certain time
    And my parents had the say
    For my upbringing, prose and rhyme

    As a student I had home-work
    And it was done every night
    Not for the teacher or class
    But because it was alright
    And all my exams I did pass

    At home if I did wrong
    I was punished, not brutally
    All because of the cause
    But I knew my place respectfully
    I had to obey all the laws

    At school it was the same
    The rod or cane was always there
    To keep you in line for what you did
    The rod was not spared but feared
    And everything worked out splendid

    Today kids are spared of the rod
    There are so many regulations and rules
    And what we have, drugs, condoms, guns
    Violence and sex amidst all schedules
    An atmosphere I don’t want for my sons

    I became a better citizen
    l respect other people’s property
    I know the integral pride of worth
    Developed morals, ethics and decency
    For hard work, and I don’t feel hurt.

    We have/had two of the best learning institutions in the Caribbean, Queen’s College and Bishops . The graduates from these 2 schools can be found in every part of the world. One such student was a Ms Elaine Vassie who later became a teacher and a famous Headmistress:

    This is a letter written in the London Times on June 9,2000, by one,
    Mrs Elaine Vassie from:
    The Old Manse,
    Lochgilhead, Argyll .
    PA31 8QZ
    She wrote:
    I agree with your reporters Adam Sherwin and Michael Harvey when they describe the products of Guyanese education as some of Britain’s most successful role models.
    As a daughter of the regiment I was dragged around the last outposts of the Empire, eventually fetching up in Georgetown, Guyana. There, and contemporaneously with many of your Guyanese examples such as Bernie Grant and Trevor Phillips, I was sent to Bishop’s High School for Girls sister of Queen’s College.
    I was one of a tiny minority of white students, yet I have no doubt that BHS changed my life. Its ethos was highly academic and its curriculum based on British public schools. But it was the teachers who left the greatest impression. Most were first generation educated, many were Oxbridge graduates. They were women who had few educational advantages in early life. They taught us as though our lives depended upon assimilation of knowledge, as indeed they did. The country was on the verge of Independence and the schools were producing those who would eventually run Guyana.
    On returning to Britain, I became a teacher myself and subsequently a head teacher in both state and independent schools. Now near to retirement I can honestly say I have never come across any school in this country to compare with the Guyanese model.
    Currently many West Indian families are making huge sacrifices to send their children back to the caribbean to be educated. Perhaps our comparative educationists within the university departments of education should look more closely at this rejection of our schools.
    Could it have something to do with Guyana having a literacy rate of 96 per cent?
    Yours faithfully,

    PS, Your feedback is welcomed.

  • demerwater  On 09/25/2016 at 8:04 pm

    The really smart people comprehend the inadequacy of their school education; and they usually become ‘life-long students’. I feel for all those people who learnt in school that the earth was flat … and died without the opportunity of learning differently.
    A very incisive lesson was taught to us in fourth standard. The teacher drew two circles – one about twice the size of the other. The perimeters were done in red chalk; and both were shaded in white. He explained that if the small disc represented all our knowledge in first standard, then everything outside of that red circle represented things that we did not know. If the large disc represents all our knowledge when we leave school, then, in the same way, everything outside of the red perimeter represents what we do not know. But look at how much bigger is the red circle now!
    The more we know, the more we do not know.
    Forgive me for laboring a point that needs emphasizing.

    1. He who knows and knows not that he knows. He is asleep… wake him.
    2. He who knows not and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool… shun him.
    3. He who knows not and knows that he knows not. He is a child… teach him.
    4. He who knows and knows that he knows. He is a king… follow him.

    I readily concede that a vocational education can equip a person to enter the work place and function productively – from day one!
    The trouble is that one needs the basics to embark on that vocational education. In Guyana, the GTI and PMTC. were the two examples of my time.
    I too, was caught up in the tide of opinion against learning by rote as in ‘multiplication tables’ until I studied this –

    – a number of times; and had to wonder how those teachers of old seemed to intuitively know how to make us learn.
    “….there are only 3 races in the world, possibly 4 – the Aborigines.” I conclude that the jury is still out! Therefore the number may well be six … eight … ten …

    In Trinidad, I did hear this story about Bhadase Sagan Maraj He was head of the Maha Sabha which to their great credit, operated a number of schools. On a routine visit, a School Inspector asked a class, “Who broke down the walls of Jericho?” No one in the class could answer. Later, the Inspector raised the matter with Mr. Maraj.
    The retort was incisive, “Don’t worry with that. Just build it back and let me know what it cost.”
    I studied with a number of teachers – all brilliant and creative minds. The history of the Naparima Training College reminds me that education in the colonies was, for the most part “owned and operated” by Christian Religious Denominations”.

  • Kemp. Thompson - Robertson  On 09/26/2016 at 7:39 am

    I agree with most of the positive comments of our school system in Guyana during colonial period. It was second to none and taught us well. I came to Canada via the US in 1970 after attending GTI and passing the OTD there in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. I never set foot in any Secondary school in Guyana. I was a pupil teacher for four years before my stunt at GTI. After 5 years of no schooling, I entered University of Toronto and obtained and my degree in Engineering 1974-1978. The system as I know it then served its purpose. It was run by Guyanese trained and untrained teachers. To my amazement I later found out that the British School children were not any better educated than us. The bottom line is our local teachers were responsible and we did a good job implementing the British Colonial system. We beat them at it. Unlike my friend from Trinidad spewing hatred and ignorance and talking about Hindu. I went to School with a lot of Hindu guys who did exceeding well. My Trinidad friend must be smoking something.

  • Ram Jagessar  On 09/26/2016 at 5:01 pm

    My Guyanese friend Kemp Thompson is a fine example of the failings of the British colonial education system in Guyana and elsewhere in the British Empire.
    He is so colonized that he doesn’t even know it, and is proud of being a colonized monkey of the British masters and colonizers.

    Let us ask what an education system is supposed to do, a good education system I mean. I would say a decent education system should give the young person a positive idea of their history and culture and identity to bring about pride and strength, educate them about their geography and environment, give them understanding of language, mathematics, science, ethics. basic communication techniques and other things needed to help the youth become good citizens who could get a job and contribute meaningfully to society.

    How did the British colonial education of the West Indies stack up?

    Point one: The British colonials didn’t bother to give any education system at all to most of the ex-slaves after emancipation and pretty much all of the Indian ex-indentured servants. They deemed education of any type as unnecessary for the Indians in Guyana, Trinidad, and so on. In Trinidad the British colony didn;t let us Indians into school from our arrival in 1845 right up to the end of colonization in 1962. Indians did get a slice of education from the Canadians from the late 19th century on, and from the 1950’s when the Maha Sabha delivered primary education to the Hindus. Only a very tiny portion of the ex slaves got any primary education in the colonial period, and an even tinier portion got access to some secondary education. I believe a similar situation applies to Guyana, except for the Hindu education part.

    So in conclusion, give the British colonialists didn’t give any education at all to most Indians in the colonial period, and at a rough guess less than 20% of the Africans for primary education, and maybe three for secondary education, and how could I forget zero percent for university education. Now they did have the Imperial College of Tropical Education but that wasn’t really for Afro and Indian people but so satisfy the needs of the colonial sugar, cocoa, coconut and other. estates. There’s no point in discussing the quality of education offered when for the most part none at all was offered to the majority of the colonized people of Trinidad. Same applies to Guyana. The British stinkers gave us nearly nothing for so long and this fool Kemp Thompson is so proud of the little micro slice he got, completely ignoring his fellow Guyanese who didn’t get any pie at all! You see what I mean by calling the man colonized.

    Now let’s jump to the other part, except the job training element, which we will tackle separately. The colonial education I got made barely any mention of the fact of the British dragging the Africans as slaves to Trinidad, exploiting them all their lives and their children too, stripping them of their culture and religion and family values and sense of African identity, giving them names like Thompson, worshipping/hating the white man, becoming the mimic man, the white man’s monkey, the whole blasted black community a broken vessel scrambling for crumbs in the town areas and competing to wipe the white man’s ass. The education system didn’t say much about the treatment of the Indians, the other large section of the population and what they did to us. We Indians got to keep some of our culture, heritage, spiritual values, family values, sense of positive identity etc but we took a lot of casualties. It was similar for small groups like the Chinese, Syrian-Lebanese, and Portuguese. We learned that there were Caribs and Arawaks at an earlier time, but little or no mention of the fact that British and before them the Spanish colonizers simply killed off the natives and stole their land. As for the remnants of the Caribes in Trinidad can hardly fill a school bus now. Hey hey, we had genocide in Trinidad, but nobody talked about that, certainly not the colonial teacher in the schools my friend Thompson and I went to.

    Did I learn much about the flora and fauna of Trinidad, the history of the peoples of Trinidad? No way. I learned about the British history of Trinidad and the great things they did for black Sambo and the old barefoot jahaji in a dirty dhoti. I learned about Chaucer and Shakespeare and the Romantic Pets and Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and Sir Francis Drake and the East India company in the Presbyterian school I went to, which carried out much of the same British colonial agenda. Do you know when Princess Margaret came to visit the little boy in short pants that was me waved the Union Jack proudly and sang the song about Rule Britannia! Britons never never will be slaves, and I thought that I was a Briton too! I woke up some years later, but it seems Nr Kemp Thompson did not. I presume Thompson is a black man, and hope he will not get vex when I ask him where is his African name, where is his African identity, where is his African heritage, why he is still warning the white man’s suit and tie and walking to church with the colonizer’s Bible in his hand. I can tell him I am Ramdath Jagessar (and I know what that means too, and can write it in Hindi and Sanskrit too!), a proud Indian and proud Hindu, and that my ancestor Nerghin came from the village of Dhenuwa in Uttar Pradesh in the year 1887 aboard the ship British Nation. Yes man it took the whole British Nation to bring my jahaji and his family (including a young boy named Jagessur) to Trinidad. Thompson says I am spewing hatred and ignorance: As we say in Trinidad, let me hear you ramajay? Let your bird sing. Let me hear what the British education that most of your people did not get do for the black people in Guyana and Trinidad.

    And yes, some of us got the education and training in the colonial period to make us competitive in the real workplace and a few of us ahve done well. Only a few. Most of the Indian and African people didn;t get shit from the Btitish colonial education system ( they didn;t get no education, bro!) and those who did, got a lot of shit too. When colonization ended it was our job to decolonize ourselves deep six the myths and junk that the British masters and colonizers stick in our brains. We must recognize in reality that pretty much all the British colonizers did in the colonial period was for themselves, and that applies double to the education system they imposed on us, and which we in the West Indies are still perpetuating. Some people still have a lot of work to do in that regard.

  • demerwater  On 09/27/2016 at 8:17 am

    “Did I learn much about the flora and fauna of Trinidad,………….. ? No way.”
    I wish to comment on this part – only – of that statement.
    My answer is, “Yes!!!” I learnt about “Sweet Broom”, “Iron Weed” and “Daisy” teas long before I was allowed to taste beverages from the genera “Coffea” and “Camellia”. And I was there when one or two men died after they consumed something they thought was “Bois Bande” tea.
    My grandmother’s generation forgot more than I ever could learn about the flora of British Guiana; the juice of ‘money bush’ for eczema; ‘karilla’ bitters when our blood got “too sweet”; the juice of the ‘aloes’ leaves, rendered limp over gentle heat – for colds; confined to a bed of “neem” when we got the measles; same neem leaves in the rice barrel to keep weevils out.

    You don’t believe me? Look here:-
    and here!

    I wonder if anyone has given a thought to the many Amerindians who had to have died before the detoxification process of “bitter cassava” was discovered. A similar thought for those who did not survive “eating mammee fruit and drinking rum”. I believe this last to be unproven.

    And all this handed down ‘word of mouth’, ‘Nancy’ stories – and “Superstition” – as the uninformed dare to dismiss these things.

    To them I wish to point out that the superstition of alchemy gave us the science of chemistry; the superstition of astrology gave us the science of astronomy.

    “Superstition – the Foundation of Science”; is a book waiting to be written.

  • Ram Jagessar  On 09/27/2016 at 12:50 pm

    Let me rephrase. Did you learn much about the flora and fauna from the British colonial education system? No, you learned it from your grandmother and other family and friends. . Your primary or secondary education system had nothing to do with it.

  • demerwater  On 09/28/2016 at 5:39 am

    Whether by convention, courtesy or privilege, I suppose that a writer is allowed to ‘rephrase’.
    What I will not allow, is for my own words or expressions to be rephrased!
    What I learned, where and how I came by that learning, is my business; and I alone can and will share that – as I deem fit.
    However, to return to the topic, I wonder if we are conflating literacy with education; education with edification.
    Literacy is essentially the ability to read and write. It is almost a miraculous process. I can fondly recall the thrill of coaxing a syllable or two out of the mouth of a 3-month old; and for the next year or so the hilarious attempts at stringing words together. I readily admit that I learned English almost as a foreign language when I started school. When I review the video-clip of “How we Learn”, it is a tribute to both teachers and students that we left school as literate as we were – at age 15!
    Education is different; and a bit more difficult to define. I have had cause to ponder its benefits many, many, times – usually in the context of the question, “What has it done for you?”
    Perhaps I can put it this way. Literacy in arithmetic requires that I know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Education is to know when to apply each or all four. This latter became ’embedded’ as my parents taught me to make and count change when they sent me to the shop. Reinforcement occurred in other ways. The daily trip to the market brought home a copy of the “Daily Chronicle”. The really ironic thing here was that my reading skills started with “Naylor’s column”. I had to read to my grandmother her “Horoscope for Today” by P I H Naylor.
    Talk about “Superstition – the Harbinger of Science”.
    Over the years, I did isolate one benefit of a good academic education.
    Our ability to adapt successfully to our changing circumstances and environment is directly correlated with our level of academic education.
    I cannot provide statistics; and you will not hurt my feelings at all if you disagree.
    It is a great temptation to ‘cherry-pick’ praiseworthy and blameworthy factors for my edification – or lack of it.
    In the final analysis, I can remedy the deficiencies. It requires self analysis, will… and a good internet connection.

  • Kemp. Thompson - Robertson  On 09/28/2016 at 5:02 pm

    I COULD TELL THAT YOU ARE A SOUR LOSER and do not know what you are talking about. Spewing venom would get you nowhere. I will never stoop to your level, because that is all you know – Sucking up to the very colonials you hate. I do not have time for nin com poops, pip squeaks and dolts.I will leave you to crawl like a snake in the dust. There are many Indians with similar names like mine and many more in Northern India with Iranian blood line. I could go on, but I will leave you to continue to dig your own hole. I do not belong to any organized religion like you and I am self employed with the little slice I got. I earned it. I did not sit and wait on anyone. I can tell the type of person that you are. Hatred gets you nowhere. At least you can read and write.

  • Ram Jagessar  On 09/29/2016 at 3:45 am

    Yes Kemp Thompson-Robertson, I was mistaken in believing you were a colonized African. You are apparently a colonized Indian. Same difference.

    I tell you that the British colonial education did nothing for us Indians in Trinidad, and I believe the same nothing for Guyana. They gave us no primary school education and no secondary school education and no university education either, because they believed we Indians did not deserve any education. And for that I call them a bunch of stinkers and racists.

    What do you do? You rise to the defence of the British colonial education system that never existed for us Indians in Guyana and Trinidad in the colonial period . Who is the idiot, you or I? The lowest of the low in my opinion is the person who cannot even recognize those who have oppressed his people. Which would be you, if you are an Indian.

    If we are talking about the British colonial education system in India, the picture is even worse. When they came to India in the 18th century, they found a huge complex of thousands of Indian schools in almost every hamlet and village in India, a better system than the British had a home, and more widespread. As soon as they were able, the British promptly smashed that traditional Indian education system, and replaced it with ….nothing.

    Later in the 18th century a Scotsman called Andrew Bell went to Indian and found the Madras monitorial system to be superior to anything used in Britain. He took back that Madras system to Britain and it spread widely throughout the country, along with a similar system developed by Joseph Lancaster. Yes, the primary and secondary education system developed in Britain in the 18th and 19th was copied from India. Look it up Kemp and stop parading your ignorance.
    Meanwhile, what did the British do for education in India? Same as in Trinidad and Guyana. They deemed the Indians to have no need for education. Eventually they started a few, very few schools in India for the Indians, for the sole purpose of training a few of the locals to run some of the lower rungs of the colonial system. That was it. Thank the mighty and generous British, you say, Kemp?

    As you see, I feel a great deal of contempt for the British colonials who failed so miserably to give education to their colonial subjects, and I also feel contempt for such as you who defend them for it.

    Go ahead. Let me hear you list the contributions of the British colonials in education to the colonies of Trinidad and Guyana, and yes India too. Take off the boot polish from your tongue before you do so.

    Finally, a correction. The British colonial education system in Trinidad did not teach me to read and write. I went to a Canadian Mission primary and secondary school.

  • guyaneseonline  On 09/30/2016 at 12:55 am

    Check out this video on Education..

  • demerwater  On 09/30/2016 at 3:52 am

    Man, that is one tough act to follow!
    “Khan Academy” was mentioned; a site that I recently stumbled across. Here it is.

    Now we do not have to be like so many goats, tied to a picket, grazing and trampling over the same circle of weeds.

  • demerwater  On 10/08/2016 at 10:19 am

    In the interest of spirited debate, I came back to post this other calypso by the Mighty Sparrow. It is the first cut – Schooldays. Enjoy!

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