By Somduth Bhuckory —
MT 60 Years Ago
3rd Year No 78 – Friday 3rd February 1956
The admission campaign is going from strength to strength. As the question of admission of children to primary schools is a national problem the immense response of the people is quite understandable.
One voice, that of the Director of Education, has said once that about 10,000 children would not be admitted. Since then thousands of voices have risen against that solitary voice, not once but many times, and have drowned it with “Admit Our Children”.
The campaign that has been set on foot is not a campaign of sour and noisy people who want to vomit their bile and venom on a particular person or a particular department. It is a campaign that is led by people who sincerely believe that the Education Department has failed miserably and who earnestly hope that their efforts will bring about a happy solution.
Already there are signs that the tension is easing off. The same man who said about three weeks ago that no more admission was possible has published three lists successively which manifestly give a lie to his statement. According to the third list, the number of schools not allowing an intake has been reduced from 81 to 69, and the number of schools allowing an intake has been raised from 77 to 89. That was the position at the end of January, and a new list is promised within a few days.
Wonderful work. But it must go on and on at a quicker pace until the last child has been admitted. The admission campaign will not rest satisfied until all parents can find their children within the four walls of a classroom.
* * *
Now that the Education Department is absorbing more and more children, one is tempted to ask: But why wasn’t this possible before?
Space has been found now. Teachers are being found now. But those who had to find space and teachers seem to have been blind to the existing facilities. They must have thought that the people would submit to anything coming from the high authorities. In their forecast they did not reckon with popular feeling – they failed to realise that the people have become conscious of their rights and privileges, and that they cannot be lulled into believing all sorts of cock-and-bull stories.
We have blamed the Director of Education squarely and unhesitatingly. And we have good reasons for that. The Director has spoken about doctors who have not been to medical schools and drivers who do not hold driving licences. But does he know that he has unwittingly created the impression that he is the captain of a big ship without the necessary nautical knowledge!
Poor skipper! He thinks that the salvation of his ship lies in the throwing overboard of ten thousand children.
Mr Kynaston-Snell, by teaching us to choose our doctors and drivers, you have also taught us to choose our Directors of Education. Thank you for the valuable lesson.
* * *
The Admission Campaign wants the Director of Education to realise that he is a responsible agent of the present stalemate. And it wants him to have a twinge of conscience and set matters right.
One might say that the Liaison Officer, the Education Committee, the Legislative Council, the Executive Council and the Labour Party are all to blame. Instead of apportioning blame at this stage, it would be more useful to appeal to the Director of Education to show some goodwill and co-operate with the people.
People have even taken the decision of providing furniture together with space. What the Village Council of Piton has done in this respect, for example, is a stirring proof of co-operation. The Director has turned down the offers of Village Councils and others perhaps because of lack of furniture also. Now that it has been abundantly proved that the lack of teachers is but a myth, will he persist in rejecting the offers of space and furniture?
We appeal to the people to renew their offers to the Director. And we appeal to them to give him the furniture as well this time. All that the Director will have to do will be to send teachers.
As long ago as the 25th of November, writing on ‘The problem of space in schools’, we suggested the use of Village Councils Halls, Social Welfare Centres and even Baitkas. But at that time the Director was snobbishly thinking in terms of miniature palaces.
As regards the question of space, we find it outright silly to keep empty rooms in certain schools, while children are still on waiting lists, in the hope of admitting others next year.
As regards the question of teachers, we know that there are about one hundred students at the Training College who have been following courses for one year. Why not release them?
As regards the question of furniture, if the worst comes to the worst, every parent may provide the sitting accommodation for the child — although not the ideal one.
Now is the time to implement the advice of the Executive Council in the Report of the Education Department for 1953: “In deciding the admission policy of the Education Department more weight to be given to the necessity for providing education to the maximum number of pupils than to approximation to ideal conditions for coaching.”
* * *
Up to now the Admission Campaign has held five public meetings. Tomorrow it is holding a meeting at Plaine Verte at 7.30 pm. And others will follow in due course.
Since Mr Kynaston-Snell made his broadcast up today, 750 children have been admitted. And we have been told that others will be admitted in due course.
The Admission Campaign expects Mr Snell to realise that it could be ridiculous to move at a snailish pace in this atomic age.
Tags: MT 60 Years Ago, Somduth Bhuckory, The Admission Campaign, Education Department, Director of Education Kynaston-Snell