Tag Archives: education

The Beginnings of Education for Black People in the British West Indies – Historical Notes (Antigua and Barbuda)

These are historical notes written and shared by Wadadli Pen team member and amateur historian/historical storyteller Barbara Arrindell via the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda’s and other social media with her encouragement that the knowledge be passed on. The was first shared in 2017 and resurfaced in May 2021 due to the interest around the observance of the first ever Vigo Blake Day. I am now getting around to posting it in 2022. Not through lack of priority but time; the good thing is this information is timeless. It is still of community interest for Antiguans and Barbudans but is also information worth knowing for Caribbean and other history buffs. Particularly those with interest in the evolution of education as a form of protest and society building in the Caribbean. Especially since the school in Bethesda is heralded by the keepers of its flame as the start of education for Black people in the British West Indies.


Image taken from a video by Petra Williams and The Spectator which also chronicles local culture and history.

In late 1812, Mr. & Mrs. Thwaites were visiting Lyon’s estate to worship there. After the service ended they heard children singing hymns. Following the sound they found an old man with a number of the estate children gathered around him. He was teaching them hymns and what he knew of the catechism.  This recognition that enslaved black adults could know enough of the teachings of the church  to pass it on to others led to a slight shift in the way the HART sisters expected education of the masses to unfold in Antigua.

[You can read a previous article by Barbara Arrindell on the Hart sister here]

The Thwaites spread the word. They wanted all enslaved black children and free black and white children in the vicinity who were being instructed by fellow slaves or free black men to gather with their teachers at Lyon’s on 13th February 1813. (204 years ago) More than 500 children turned up. Many of the teachers could not read but they taught whatever they knew.  They had memorised poetry and bible verses and even the alphabet. The Hart sisters wanted the children and adults to learn more.  Every other Sunday they gathered for reading and writing classes and the number of students grew. One Sunday afternoon as the Thwaites made their way from Lyon’s to their home in English Harbour they again noticed a peaceful rising with only grass and a few trees which seemed perfect for their dream school and possibly their home.

Vigo Blake, the head man (head slave) at Blake’s Estate, encouraged them to speak to those in charge and seek permission to use the land. He promised that if permission was granted he would get some of his fellow enslaved men to construct the schoolhouse for them in their spare time. Permission was sought and granted.  Vigo and his men started work and were instantly joined by men, women, and children from other estates who devoted their evening hours and early morning hours to building. In six weeks the 44ft. by 16ft. building with its roof made of the trash of sugar cane was ready.

On May 29th 1813, the first schoolroom built for the purpose of educating slaves [enslaved people] in the West Indies opened its doors. Many of the day students were enslaved people who were maimed or too old and fragile to contribute significantly to the wealth of the estate, Many were allowed to roam with little restriction. They were taught, so that they could teach others. In the evenings however,  two to three hundred people would make their way to the building called Bethesda. 

The earthen floor led to a challenge with chigoes for students and teachers. At the end of each night they painstakingly tried to remove all chigoes to prevent them from burying themselves into their skin and causing bigger problems. A few years later, at Hope Estate, not far away, another school room was constructed. A hurricane claimed that one but in 1821 a larger, stronger structure was built. This time it was financed by the Church Missionary Society. 


[This is a separate Barbara Arrindell posting which I have decided to share as an addendum to the article above. It too is part of the liberation education conversation]

Pictured are participants in my Jhohadli Writing Project/Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project on a field trip to the public statue commemorating the life of Prince Klass/King Court/Kwaku Takyi. The statue is the work of Sir Reginald Samuel.

October 20th should be a date known to all Antiguans and Barbudans for two reasons. On that day in 1736 a man was killed and on that day in 1818 a man was born. The first we believe was born a free man on the African continent ..the other was born when most Antiguan and Barbudan Black men were enslaved people. One, Kwaku Takyi, Prince Klass died trying to gain freedom for his people; The other, John Buckley, dedicated his life to emancipating his people from mental slavery. He at one time had more students enrolled in the school in Green Bay than the school presently accomodates. He and his wife also had 11 of their own to provide for at home. John Buckley was also the first Black Man, this man born during slavery on this island of Antigua, to be ordained as a Moravian Minister… the first in the world. It would be meaningful if our churches island wide (all denominations) could take a moment on Sunday 20th October to remember both of these freedom fighters. (Even just a moment of silence in their memory) It would be nice if all teachers would take a moment on Monday to tell their students about them. It would be even better if every citizen and resident would speak about these men on October 20th. Raise a toast to their memory at Sunday dinner. October 20th is a day for heroes. We will only know how great we can be if we remind each other of all that our ancestors have accomplished FOR US .. Will you fan the flame?

The copyright for the Vigo Blake article belongs to its author Barbara Arrindell who wrote: Please feel free to share this information. We learn so that we can teach others. This was first published on this Facebook page in Feb 20172021. The copyright for the addendum on Kwaku Tayki and John Buckley also belongs to its author Barbara Arrindell who wrote: Feel free to share this.

Minor edits only for punctuation – any notes from me in italics or square brackets.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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A & B Arts Round-up January 20th 2017 —>

Updated January 27th 2017

March 11th 2017 – Soothe16114617_1821137648146082_1427462733952277420_n

February 7th 2017 – the Literacy Festival that forms part of Education Week, this year with a focus on expressive literacy at the Secondary and Tertiary levels. The students will be engaged in an impromptu speaking activity and a dramatization of an extract from a text of any genre. In addition, there will be a display of original writings by teachers as well as local and regional authors as models of literacy.The event will take place at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Relatedly, congratulations to Desryn Collins on her appointment as Education Officer, Language Arts, (Ag.) as of January 3rd 2017.

Wadadli Pen 2017 flyer.jpgFebruary 6th – Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Annual Challenge deadline. Must be Antiguan and Barbudan and 35 or younger to participate. See details at Wadadli Pen 2017. Teachers, youth workers, parents encourage the young people in your lives to create and submit; young people, we, at Wadadli Pen, look forward to reading your efforts.

January 28th – 10:30 a.m. – Antigua Dance Academy will be hosting a Creole Headtie Workshop at the Red Cross Headquarters on Old Parham Road. It is part of their year-long 25th anniversary celebrations.

January 23rd – Start of 12-week sculpting and painting workshop. Register at the Cultural Development Division on Nevis Street.

January 21st – Tanya Evanson will be hosting a special master class ‘Bothism’ for poets, spoken word poets and creatives during the one Day Just Write Writers’ Retreat on Saturday, January 21, 2017, upstairs Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Long Street 10 am to 5pm – EC$150 (22 and over). Young writers 21 and under PAY ONLY EC$100 AND scholarships are available.


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Why I disagree with the decision to turn the Five Islands Secondary School into a university

On August 30th 2016, youth worker Daryl George posted a facebook note that I thought was worth sharing here; primarily because it deals with Education and by extension the youth, and that’s who Wadadli Pen’s work is about – young people (35 and younger). As you are aware, or will be after reading this, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize is about nurturing and showcasing the arts (especially the literary arts) among young people in Antigua and Barbuda. Education is a part of that; and George is a part of Wadadli Pen as the 2016 winner of the annual Wadadli Pen Challenge.

pair glen photo 22

Winner Daryl George with Douglas Allen, brother of Alstyne Allen in whose memory the plaque is named at the 2016 Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards Ceremony. While 2016 was George’s first win, he was by then a Wadadli Pen finalist several times over.

Here’s what he had to say about plans to re-purpose a new secondary school in Five Islands, Antigua into a university. Short answer: he disagrees. Here’s why.

Simply put, I’m not in favor of turning the Five Islands Secondary School (FISS) into a University. I’m going to attempt to explain why I disagree with the decision, while trying to be as fair and as balanced as possible, using as much hard data as possible, and Feel free to agree or disagree – BUT please back up your opinion with relevant data and information Background of the FISS – The decision that led to the creation of the FSS was due to the noted overcrowding of a number of schools in the St. John’s vicinity – notably the Princess Margaret School and the Ottos Comprehensive school, both of which were over the threshold of the maximum recommended number of students (http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Antigua%20and%20Barbuda/Antigua-Draft-Ed-Sector-Plan_2013-2018.pdf). A study was done by UWI/Profiles Inc, commissioned by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, to develop a draft Education Sector Plan from 2013-2018, which will be simply titled “the study” (http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Antigua%20and%20Barbuda/Antigua-Draft-Ed-Sector-Plan_2013-2018.pdf) . The study noted that PMS, OCS, and other “town” schools such as the Clare Hall Secondary School, Antigua Grammar School, and Antigua Girls High school had little space to accommodate additional structures. The study also noted that major secondary schools are currently accommodating 2.5 times (250% capacity) the students they were originally built to hold. As a result, it was deemed necessary to build new schools to accommodate the overcrowding issue. Using national census and other population data, it was found that there were two areas which would benefit the most from new school plant: the Grays Farm/Greenbay/Hatton area and the Clare Hall, Cassada Gardens and Potters Community. The decision was made to place the Grays Farm/Greenbay/Hatton School in the Five Islands community. It was funded by the Chinese government to include a gymnasium, IT and science labs and Olympic sized swimming pool. The decision to place the school in Five Islands was made allegedly due to lack of space within the communities it was intended to serve, with Five Islands being the closest point where sufficient land space was available (http://antiguaobserver.com/baldwin-spencer-displeased-with-decision-to-re-purpose-five-islands-school/). A statement was also made that another secondary school to serve the Clare Hall/Potters/Piggots community would be built in the near future at Tomlinsons (http://antiguaobserver.com/new-five-islands-school-soon-to-come/).

1. The decision to transition is not based on any relevant, country specific information or data – From the outset, the reasons given for turning FISS into a University seemed to lack any sort of relevant, country specific information, data, or study. It was noted, according to one technical official, that even after meeting with Cabinet, there has been no study commissioned that would provide any hard data or evidence that a university is more necessary, important, or urgent for the development of Antigua and Barbuda than a secondary school (http://antiguaobserver.com/npta-places-its-objection-to-repurposing-five-islznds-secondary-school-on-record/) . While there have been various justifications for the change coming from the Minister of Education and the Prime Minister, none of these have been backed up with any sort of data. It is especially concerning that no country-specific information or data has been produced to justify the decision with the ability of data driven decisions to optimize resources, reduce costs, increase accuracy and accountability, and in general create effective and efficient policy decisions (http://www.journalcra.com/article/role-data-strategic-decision-making-process).

2. Technical officials not in support of the change – A number of well known, respected, and learned technical experts and authorities have clearly articulated reasons for not transitioning the school into a university. These include Alistair Thomas and the National Parents-Teachers Association (NPTA) (http://antiguaobserver.com/npta-places-its-objection-to-repurposing-five-islznds-secondary-school-on-record/), Ashworth Azille and the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (ABUT) (http://antiguaobserver.com/abut-supports-idea-of-five-islands-facility-remaining-a-secondary-school/), educator and former principal of the Antigua State College Pecheeta Spencer (http://antiguaobserver.com/education-stalwart-favours-five-islands-school/) and others. What is concerning is that there is a notable lack of other non-governmental affiliated officials who are in support of the project. Public and technical buy in is extremely important in making effective policy decisions.

3. The move will cost tens of millions of dollars – The move to transition the FISS to a university will cost the population of Antigua and Barbuda tens of millions of dollars. As the facility was built for a secondary school and not a university, millions of dollars will have to be spent to upgrade the facility. PM Browne estimated that at least US $18 million (EC $50 million) (http://www.mnialive.com/articles/five-islands-school-in-antigua-to-be-expanded-to-become-university-of-antigua-barbuda) will be necessary to upgrade the facility into a university. Whether this is in the form of a loan, grant, or mixed funding has not yet been revealed. In addition, an additional EC$ 10 million has had to be budgeted to allow schools to accommodate additional students (http://radiozdk.com/main/2016/04/government-works-to-tackle-overcrowding-in-secondary-schools/) . It could be argued that at least some of these funds could have been saved if the FISS had been opened to accommodate some of these students.

4. Economic and social benefits mentioned are not the whole picture – Much of the argument around turning the FISS into a University has been centered around economic and social benefits to local Antiguans and Barbudans. These economic benefits include shops, restaurants, accommodation, and other businesses to provide goods and services to those working and studying at the university (http://www.caribbeantimes.ag/minister-browne-university-antigua-must/) in particular within the Five Islands community. It is undisputable that a university will provide significant employment and economic opportunity, especially for Five Islands and other surrounding communities. However, Universities often incur a negative cost on the society, particular with regards to UWI with which the University will be affiliated with. For example, the Barbados government is at least US$100 million (Bbs $200 million) in debt to their UWI branch (http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/13/uwi-crippled/) and other UWI territories such as Trinidad have had to make significant cash injections just to keep the university afloat (http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,205968.html). While it should be noted that there are other benefits to social capital that universities can provide that are not easily quantified, there must be a cost-benefit analysis done to ensure that government will be able to support any University that may be established in Antigua.

In short, the decision to establish a university in Antigua and Barbuda is commendable. However, instead of making rash policy decisions that are not supported by data and may cost the taxpayers of Antigua and Barbuda hundreds of millions of dollars, it is imperative for the policy makers to listen to the advice of technical officials and make sound decisions that are best for the long term future of Antigua and Barbuda.

Please note – if you would like to copy or quote me, please feel free to do so as long as I receive proper attribution.

Thanks, Daryl, for giving us permission to share; and for being a part of the conversation.

As a reminder, this site is not about politics but about young people and the arts (including nurturing, education); comments that veer from that will not be approved.


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I dug this from the 2014 Wadadli Pen submission files recently and thought it was worth sharing. It’s an article by Karen James, a teacher at St. John’s Catholic Primary and contender for the Lead by Example Teachers Prize. The first round judge assessed it “interesting, well researched, but not relevant for the purposes of the competition.” Keep in mind that the Teachers Prize Challenge was about producing a creative piece they could share with students as a model of what they themselves can do. There was also an issue with the length of the piece. That said, it definitely seemed like the kind of knowledge that should be passed on to other teachers and parents as well, which the judge also said. So, I thank Ms. James for giving permission to post it. In giving such permission, she said, “the research has paid off  and my son is now doing really well in secondary school”; and expressed the hope that it would be helpful to others as well. Each one teach one, we say, as we pass it on.

For some time now, I have been struggling to lead my child, a student in primary school, to a place of total success. Misspelt words, writing ‘b’ for ‘d’, copying wrong information and acquiring low grades in other subjects because of wrong spelling have become very depressing and tiring. The quest was on. I was determined to find out how to bring my child to a place of success. Through interviews, research, observations and discussion, I was surprised to find out that school attendance is not the only determinant for a child’s success but there are other surprising contributory factors.

A child’s attitude or perspective towards life can determine his success. According to the view point of the school, this originates in the home. Parental and family attitude about learning is one of the most significant factors that influence a child’s ability to succeed in school and society. When children know that their parents expect them to attend school consistently, earn good grades and complete their homework, they frequently live up to those expectations. However, children without those familial expectations do not tend to see the importance of education and are more likely to skip school, ignore homework and perform poorly. Families can create a culture of high academic expectations by ensuring that their child has adequate time and space to do his homework, and by regularly discussing the topics he is learning in school (www.livestrong.com/article).

Results from a research done by a group of teachers from the Teacher Training Department, Antigua, showed that children whose parents model good behaviour and reinforce positive attitudes in them tend to be successful in life. In addition, they are better individuals to associate with in society.   On the other hand, children whose parents model bad behaviour such as negative language towards life and their children, disrespectful attitudes and poor problem solving skills (e.g. fights and arguments) tend to be unsuccessful in life. Hence, parents should therefore ensure that they model good behaviour and problem solving skills, reinforce the rules given and give suitable punishments or rein forcers to guide students. These will help to mould or shape students’ attitude into a positive one, thereby allowing them to have a positive outlook on life and fulfil positive goals.

Society believes that in terms of socializing, the influence a child’s peers have on him and his reactions to such influence are vital in determining his success. Psychologists have recently studied the powerful role of ‘peer cultures’ in children’s success. These are a shared set of activities or routines, values, concerns, and attitudes that children produce and share in interaction with peers. In other words, they are a set of rules that groups of students live by. These rules can be positive or negative and have proven to have powerful impact on children’s success.

During a five-year enrolment in a secondary school in Antigua, it was observed that there were different groups of students who would socialize all of the time. The groups had the following basic commonalities: eating together, walking home from school together, mostly associating only among themselves and doing a lot of other things together. However, what set the groups apart was their decision to do or be part of negative or positive activities.

In terms of negative activities, these included vandalism, bullying, stealing, inappropriate dress code and use of indecent language. Before the end of the five-year period, the majority of the members in the negative group (“the ring leaders”) were expelled from school due to their lack of progress. The members from that group who were given a second chance joined positive groups and graduated with distinction. Twenty years later, they can be seen in different business places contributing positively to society. The others, who were expelled, are either in jail, addicted to drugs or basically live on the street.

On the other hand, some of the positive activities included studying together, respecting each other and each other’s property, getting involved in educational clubs, and volunteering in community projects. All of the members in this group graduated within the five-year period and went on to pursue higher studies. Twenty years later, all of them can be seen in different work places contributing significantly to society.

This therefore shows that in order for students to succeed, they should ensure that the norms in their groups are positive and support achievement in school and everyday life. Parents should also ensure that their children are interacting within positive peer cultures since they are more powerful in defining issues of style, socializing and motivation.

Similar to attitude, the school and society think that motivation originates in the home. Positive motivation, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, plays a vital role in a child’s success. Motivation is usually defined as an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behaviour. A child needs to be motivated daily in every aspect of his life. This will promote his interest, energize him to work harder and enhance behaviour. Studies show that when motivation is present at home, children are more successful in life.

Parents can motivate their children in many different ways and thereby enhance their success. Accomplishing a task, receiving good grades, and portraying good behaviour are some of the actions that children can be rewarded for in order to enhance their motivation.   They could be allowed to take their favourite snack, watch their television show or game, or have ‘free time’. Parents could praise their efforts, give them an allowance or even give them special privileges or responsibilities like choosing what will be for dinner.   Parents have observed that children enjoy being rewarded and when this is done on a regular basis the children have a desire to succeed and will succeed.

Additionally, society believes that time is another important factor to becoming successful from an early age. On a whole, society operates on time and in order for anyone to cope in society and be successful, he should be able to manage time properly. Research has shown that a child whose parents have good time management skills and therefore model it, grow up being able to do the same. They are high achievers in different aspects of their life. However, a child whose parents struggle with maintaining time schedules, or basically have poor time management skills, become under achievers. They tend to fail at different points in their life. The school also joins with society in support of this point.   Teachers suggest that parents should teach their children the importance of time management, make a time schedule of their child’s daily activities and most importantly model time management. This modelling is done by getting them to school on time, being on time for their appointments, completing assignments on time and any other activities which involve the child.

Another important factor influencing a child’s success, according to the school and society, is socioeconomic status (SES). This is a measure of a family’s relative position in a community, determined by a combination of parents’ income, occupation and level of education.   It is important that a child should generally be in good health to aid in his success. Most children are very active in life and need to maintain good health in order to succeed. SES influences success through basic growth needs such as nutrition and medical care. A lack of either can contribute to health problems, which in turn hamper their achievement. Parents with high SES are more likely to take their children to the doctor and dentist regularly than parents with low SES (Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (1992). Educational Psychology: Classroom Connections. New York: Merrill).

At a primary school recently, teachers were allowed to meet with parents whose children were underachievers to determine the reason. After individual and group discussions, the finding showed that 25 out of 30 students came to school each day without breakfast and went through the day without any thing wholesome or nutritious to eat.   It also showed that the same number of students had not visited the doctor or dentist in over three years. Further investigation showed that 20 of the 30 parents had low SES. Teachers suggested that students receive a balanced meal daily, eat healthy snacks and receive vitamin supplements.   A plan was put into action to ensure that this was done. The teachers also suggested that the parents take students to visit the doctor and dentist regularly. When students are in good health, they tend to be more successful in life.

In the view of parents, the availability of educational resources at home and school will aid in a child’s success. From a recently held Parents Workshop, which was conducted to inform parents of strategies they could use to enhance their child’s performance and their integration into the school system, parents observed and experienced the importance of using different manipulatives to solve problems in and out of the classroom. The idea was supported by all present and they pledged to use these manipulatives at home and also provide those needed for school.   Experienced resource individuals speaking at the workshop stated that students who used different resources such as additional workbooks, hands-on materials, or visited resource centres such as a museum, are more successful in life that those who do not use them.

Educational programmes or extended learning programmes have a similar impact on a child’s success. The school and society believe that enrolling a child into different educational programmes can enhance his success. Some of these programmes are the library, summer camps, sports clubs, reading clubs, or even extra classes in one or more subjects. Parents should observe their child’s weaknesses, strengths, likes or dislikes and discuss it with them, then select the right programme which will enhance their performance. Educational Programmes can be used to strengthen a child’s weakness, provide hands-on experiences, teach them a lifelong skill, form lifelong relationships with other children in these programmes and, most importantly, they contribute significantly to their success in life. According to Ohio’s Resources for Extended Learning Opportunities, a good extended learning program will help students improve self-confidence, reduce harmful behaviours including alcohol and drug abuse, and improve reading and math test scores. Extended learning opportunities may be school-based or community-based and provide fun, constructive activities after school, on weekends and during summer breaks (http://www.livestrong.com/video/2994-prepare-child-school/). It has further shown that students who grow up to succeed greatly in life have been a part of some sort of educational programme. Parents are therefore urged to reap the benefits of these programmes by enrolling their children.

Every parent’s dream is to have a successful child. Every child’s dream, no matter how low his achievement rate might be, is to do better or be successful in life. The key or secret to children’s success is not only the school they are enrolled in but the incorporation of beneficial factors which have been questioned, researched and tested. The integration of these factors will help to create or mould a child to become successful in life and they will be able to contribute greatly to society.

IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE, you might also be interested in reading ‘One Model of Effective Parenting’.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and, forthcoming, Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Education News Round-up

Well, it’s Education and Sports since these disciplines are wedded under one Ministry. But, hey, writers can be sports fans too plus I thought there were some points that could be made re the literary arts and culture as a whole, so I thought there’d be much of interest worth sharing here. I found particularly interesting…

  • The info on the National Sports Award…always a pleasure to see people striving in their fields…and little as it’s known I do follow quite a few sports locally and internationally…still not big on cricket and football, though, sorry; don’t hate, to each his own.


  • The Minister’s visit to the Public Library and his charge to the library staff to: “maintain a high level of professionalism and view their service to the public as a very important one.” I’m hoping that they’re getting the resources and support needed to measure up to that standard but as the library remains cramped upstairs a Market Street store nearly 40 years after the original library on High Street oldlibrarybuildingwas destroyed by earthquake then demolished altogether in the 1990s, I’m not as optimistic as I perhaps should be. A bit of trivia: one of my high school summer jobs was working under Chief Librarian Phyllis Mayers in that library upstairs the Market Street store front. They do a lot, against the odds.


  • The article on the acting Education Minister’s discussion with the Curriculum unit on: “what it means to be an Antiguan and Barbudan and how this sense of identity can [be] further communicated to citizens through the education curriculum” in which it was said that “while the National Education Curriculum does provide for the integration of cultural heritage, customs and life styles into a student’s everyday learning experience, more must be done by not only teachers but parents to make it a way of life for children in the classroom and home environments respectively” and suggested that “the message could be amplified, including the establishment of an Education for Cultural Identity Policy, the strengthening of the visual and performing arts to include the creation of culturally based school competitions with local music and food themes, the regular staging of exhibitions of local arts, crafts and foods in easily accessible places, the reintroduction of theatre at the community level and continued education and training of key stakeholders on the importance of maintaining our national tangible and intangible cultural heritage.” That this suggestion positions the art as a priority is something I, Wadadli Pen,
    Image from our first Wadadli Pen awards ceremony in 2004 with Education Chief Jacintha Pringle and then Culture Director Heather Doram seated in the front row, alongside some of our sponsors, with the first year's winners standing.  From the get-go Wadadli Pen has been about nurturing and promoting literary expression with a decidedly Caribbean aesthetic. (Photo by Colin James)

    Image from our first Wadadli Pen awards ceremony in 2004 with Education Chief Jacintha Pringle and then Culture Director Heather Doram seated in the front row, alongside some of our sponsors, with the first year’s winners standing. From the get-go Wadadli Pen has been about nurturing and promoting literary expression with a decidedly Caribbean aesthetic. (Photo by Colin James)

    and so many of the artistes and activists have been shouting into the wilderness for a lifetime. Will we see the kind of investment in and prioritizing of the arts that will turn this talk into action? Will we see a cultural policy – not solely one that speaks to education – but every aspect of our lives? That’s something else we’ve been clamouring for for years. Ah well, we live and dream.


  • The article on a grant writing workshop, which mentioned: “As part of the Ministry of Sports’ 2013 Year of Sports activities, the National Institute of Sports is partnering with the Antigua Barbuda Coalition of Services Industries (ABCSI) to build capacity of its key stakeholders through training in writing proposals to seek grant funding for projects in the business of sports and recreation.” I think this is applaudable. I would like to add that creating a data base of available grants and prompting and assisting stakeholders to access them would be a natural next step. Too many opportunities are missed through lack of awareness and effort. This applies to the creative arts as well. I make a second job of trolling the internet for all kinds of opportunities in the literary arts, culture and creative arts. I go for some, I share what I can…I’ve written grant proposals with mixed results…I’m very proactive on this point…I don’t have a choice as I’m a living working hustling striving writer who also happens to run a non profit programme but admit that funding when it comes to both Wadadli Pen and my own writing life is an area I could use a lot of help in…and I’m happy to see Sports doing for athletes what Culture hasn’t yet seemed inclined to do for us (and I suppose I mean especially the literary arts here since we do see more effort in other areas), assist in accessing opportunities to help us and our art thrive and our programmes grow.    


  • The article attesting to the Minister’s engagement with the media: “The Senator appeared on the Good Morning Joe Joe show on Radio Observer to share on sports related issues and on the Good Morning Antigua and Barbuda and Media Round Table with host Mickel Brann to respond to questions on key areas including the Universal Secondary Education Initiative.” As a media person who knows it can be like pulling teeth to get this kind of engagement on topical issues, never mind the Freedom of Information Act, I applaud this moves as well; and hope that it will be ongoing.  


  • Then there was a picture of the Education Chief under a headline about the first six grade national assessment leading up to the implementation of the Universal Secondary Education. I know from my own interaction with her that the Chief is convinced that this programme, which removes barriers to secondary education based on ability as decided by a win-or-go-home Common Entrance exam, will not only proceed this September as planned but that it must. I’m for the USE but…I can’t decide though if the Chief is being naïve about the growing pains it’s going to face and the potential for failure given the existing resource challenges in the system and  public and education stakeholders who are not fully behind the initiative and with whom the Ministry has had communication breakdowns as recently as earlier this year when the teachers withheld service due to late payment, or if I’m being overly pessimistic. Time will tell.  

All in all, interesting reading and important reading if we want to stay plugged in with what’s happening in education in our country, so kudos to the publishers for that even if the issue is heavy on the Minister’s activities and short on gender and youth information though we know there’s much to report in gender and youth and the publication is the umbrella publication for the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth and Gender Affairs; and even it is now June 18th and I’m only now getting around to reading the June 12th issue. Better late than never, right?

Read the whole issue here: Education Sports NEWS ROUND UP VOL 1 ISSUE 4

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse(author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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