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Codrington College, and the endowed Grammar School connected with it, are of such grave importance, that I shall devote some other space to their consideration.
The private schools in the island are very numerous, but from the continual changes of situation and of their teachers, their number and character cannot be ascertained with any accuracy. Their number, excluding the parish of St. Michael, is stated in 1845 to amount to 119, in which 2145 children received instruction.
A proprietary school was founded in 1846 in Bridgetown, for the education of boys of the higher classes. It promises well, and if it should succeed, a great want would be supplied, which has been seriously felt where parents, from disinclination or want of means, did not wish to send their children to Europe.
Bishop Coleridge writes, "At the commencement of the year 1825, the number of schools in Barbados in connection with the Church (and there were few if any others) for the religious instruction of the poor, were six for white children, one for coloured, and one on Codrington College property for slaves." In the commencement of this section, I have stated that these schools amounted in 1846 to fifty-nine, and nevertheless their number is far from being sufficient for the wants of the rising generation.
The number of schools in connection with the United Brethren or Moravians, amounted in 1844 to four, in which 182 boys and 177 girls received instruction; and the Wesleyans had four day-schools and 416 scholars, eight sabbath-schools, with 1260 scholars, including children and adults. The Wesleyan Methodist Mission has now seven day-schools with salaried teachers, and 515 scholars; and eight sabbath-schools, with 111 gratuitous teachers, attended by 1029 scholars; consequently the number of children and adults who receive instruction by the Society amount to 1275.
In 1845 the grants for the support of schools in connection with the Church amounted to the following sums:—
Legislative grant in support of the Central schools in Bridge
Parochial grants of ten parishes.
Grant of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Grant of the Society for the Advancement of the Christian Faith
£ 8. d.
512 0 0 1,434 7 4 485 68 0 0 00 9 2
£2,928 3 2
Besides this amount there are some endowments, e. g. £87 13s. 4d. in the parish of St. George.
I subjoin a comparative statement of the number of scholars who attended the parochial schools in 1844, and on the 10th of October 1845. The decrease in the attendance of the schools is very considerable, and does not show a desire on the part of the labouring population to advance the welfare of their children.
Comparative Statement of the Number of Scholars attending the Parochial Schools in 1844, and on the 10th of October 1845.
Infants. Boys. Girls.
255 609 436
On October 10th, 1845.
90 121 54
Private Schools in the parish of St.
Michael, assumed at . In the other parishes
Schools of the United Brethren
Schools of the Wesleyans.
Infants. 1844. 1845.
From other official returns which I have had at my command, I have compiled the following results for the year 1844:—
120 127 425 268
6 on the foundation
We will assume that there were 220 schools, with 7500 pupils. The census of 1844 exhibits a population of 122,198 persons. According to the more detailed returns from the other West India Colonies, the proportion of children between the fifth and fifteenth year of age
amounts to 18.25 per cent.; if therefore similar circumstances prevail in Barbados, the proportion of children of that age would be in round numbers 22,300, and of these only 7500 attended school in 1844; or, out of 100 children who were of the proper age to receive instruction, only 33-6 attended school. The average number of pupils in each school amounted to 34-4, and the ratio of amount paid in 1845 for the salaries of teachers for the pupils of the parochial schools exclusively amounted per annum to 17s. 10d. for each child.
A sound and substantial education sheds its benefits to the latest period of man's life. The knowledge which is imparted to the mind when young forms a basis upon which generally rests the moral condition of the individual in after years. Various have been therefore the means resorted to by the governments of civilized nations to supply such instruction as is adequate to the station of the scholar, and the condition he is hereafter to assume; and while some have considered it the duty of the State to defray the expenses connected with such a liberal system from the public revenues, other governments have left the task to individual exertions and voluntary contributions.
The subject of education is of the gravest importance. A more liberal system has spread over the Colonies; it is no longer the wish of the great proprietors of the land to keep the labouring classes in the darkness of ignorance; that enlightened system which distinguishes our age will not be restrained by unnatural barriers, and its influence, so manifest in civilized Europe, has likewise extended to the distant Colonies.
The future welfare of many thousands, the interest of the Colony, is deeply involved in the question of a more extended education of the poorer classes than Barbados at present offers. The benevolent feeling which actuated pious Societies to give their aid for the education of the poor has been restrained by the necessity of husbanding their funds. Government has withdrawn the parliamentary grant, and the educational system is now dependent upon the assistance of the vestries and legislative grants. A sum of £512 was formerly the only legislative aid granted for purposes of education in Barbados; and when the Legislature was informed the other day that the pecuniary assistance hitherto granted from England would be withdrawn, a resolution passed the Assembly on the 7th of April 1846, upon the able report of the Committee of Education, that for a limited period £1000 should be voted out of the revenue in support of public schools. The House of Assembly was informed on the 28th of April, that Her Majesty's Council had approved of the Bill, but, contrary to the general custom of legislative proceedings, they had reduced the sum to £500 sterling. As it was a money Bill, the alteration made by the honourable Board could not be entertained by the House of Assembly, and thereupon the amendment was unanimously rejected.
It has been assumed that the only true system of national education ought to be based upon the two following principles1:
1. "That every inhabitant of a country is bound to contribute to the support of its public institutions, according to the property which he acquires or enjoys under the government of that country.
2. "That every child born or brought up in the country has a right to that education which will fit him for the duties of a useful citizen of the country, and is not to be deprived of it on account of the inability of his parents or guardians to provide it. The right of the child involves corresponding obligations on the part of the State, and the poverty of the child adds the claims of charity to the demands of civil right.”
The benefits which arise from such liberal principles are clearly developed in the 'Annual Report of the Board of Education for the State of Massachusetts;' and the advocacy of such principles by a free and independent State possesses the greater importance, as being the spontaneous result of conviction, and not an opinion forced upon the Legislature by royal mandates.
"The cardinal principle which lies at the foundation of our educational system, is, that all the children of the State shall be educated by the State. As our government was founded upon the virtue and intelligence of the people, it was rightly concluded by its framers, that, without a wise educational system, the government itself could not exist; and in ordaining that the expenses of educating the people should be defrayed by the people at large, without reference to the particular benefit of individuals, it was considered that those who, perhaps without children of their own, nevertheless would still be compelled to pay, would receive an ample equivalent in the protection of their persons, and the security of their property."
Such a system possesses manifold advantages; the child of the poor man, equally with that of the rich, has the opportunity of obtaining a good common school education, and there can be no excuse that the want of pecuniary means for paying school-fees prevents parents from sending their children to school. If we are authorized to believe that a moral and religious education improves the human mind, the diminution of public expenditure arising from the diminution of crime will compensate in a financial point of view for the expense of providing such advantages of education for the young.
Public education ought to be based upon the broad and general principle of Christianity. The profession of any particular form of religion ought never to be any obstacle to the admission of any scholar, whether attached to the Established Church or a Dissenter, nor ought these differences to form the object of discussion in the school-room. When assem
' Circular of the Educational Department of Upper Canada. Toronto, October
bled for instruction, the scholars should be considered solely in the light of children of one God and partakers of his gracious mercy through his Son, whatever may be the peculiar forms or observances under which He may be adored. It is only by acting in the strictest harmony with this principle that beneficial results can be expected from public education.
It may perhaps be said that these opinions are not applicable to Barbados, or in place in these pages. The first objection is easily refuted, by referring to the excellent plan of education which has become the law of Upper Canada1; and as the object of the author is not only to show what Barbados has been and what it is, but likewise what it may be, he would but inadequately fulfill that task by omitting such an important ques
The best intention of the House of Assembly to afford some substantial aid to public education has been materially restricted by the Council. I do not wish to express my opinion on this step, but it is the duty of the historian to record the fact to whom certain measures are to be ascribed, and to leave his reader to form a judgement whether such measures tend to hinder or to promote the advancement of the public welfare.
Although the Bill was introduced a second time in the House, and the sum voted for education reduced to £750 per annum, which met the concurrence of the Council, it will be evident that it is inadequate. It has been stated, that in consequence of demanding a small payment from the children, many of them, particularly of the poorest class, have been withdrawn from the schools. Unfortunately the parents are not yet persuaded, that whatever sacrifice they are called upon to make for the religious and other instruction of their children, they ought only to consider as conducive to the moral and spiritual welfare of their offspring.
1 An Act for the better establishment and maintenance of common schools in Upper Canada.