Jamaica (Education)

Oral Answers to Questions — West Indies – in the House of Commons on 9th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of elementary scholars registered in Jamaica and their percentage of attendances; whether the provision of school meals and milk is adequate; what provision for adult education exists; and whether plans for education expansion are being prepared for early application?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

As the answer is long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Are all steps being taken to secure for the school children of the West Indies a milk supply commensurate with that given in this country?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

That point is dealt with in the reply.

Following is the answer:

The total enrolment for the year ended 31st March, 1941, the latest period for which figures are available, was 163,699. There was some decrease in attendances as compared with the previous year when the percentage was 66 of those enrolled; this appears to be due in the main to adverse economic conditions resulting from the war.

The provision of school meals is being extended and has resulted in a marked diminution in malnutrition.

Hitherto it has been the principal aim in Jamaica to secure the maximum value from the limited resources available and to ensure that the essential requirements of children of school age are satisfied before other schemes are initiated. There has, however, in recent years been an awakening to the more fundamental problems of education and increasing efforts are now being made to provide in some measure for organisations which stimulate an interest in the problems of life, social values and obligations of good citizenship. Experience in Jamaica has shown that adult education is best provided through voluntary or semi-voluntary associations. These organisations include the Institute of Jamaica and a body known as Jamaica Welfare Limited. The former of these provides courses of the University extension type, which have proved decidedly successful, and has launched a vigorous campaign to popularise its library. The latter has opened community centres and has specialised in the showing of films of an instructional nature; it co-operates with the Institute of Jamaica in helping villagers in rural areas to improve themselves. In general, the increase in the number of parent-teacher associations and community centres, the extension of library facilities and the extended use of films and broadcasting are gradually bringing the schools into better relation with the community and with the economic life of the Colony.

A notable development in Jamaica has been the extension of the 4-H Club movement, so called because of the fourfold pledge taken by each member, which is akin to the Young Farmers movement in the United Kingdom. The pioneer work carried out in Jamaica through this movement, which is designed to carry training into the homes on the basis of voluntary effort, has been of great value and proposals to ensure the successful establishment and progress of these Clubs are now under review.

Schemes for the expansion of education are being considered by the Comptroller for Development and Welfare and his expert advisers but have not yet reached the Colonial Office since Jamaica was the last of the Caribbean Dependencies to be visited.- Several applications for assistance with a view to improving existing educational facilities have already been received and approved.