• Home


With this introduction given by Dr. Christopher Clarke, everything from this point onward must be downhill. Being the last speaker, in the interest of time and seeing that it has been so oft repeated, allow me to say: all protocols observed. I wish only to draw attention to the presence of Senator the Honourable Ruel Reid, Minister of Education and to Dr. Mavis Gilmore and Mrs. Maxine Henry-Wilson (previous Ministers of Education), the empathy between them and the fact they are not all on the same political side. Both Dr. Gilmore and Mrs. Henry-Wilson presided over major reforms in teacher education which have had a positive impact on teacher education in Jamaica. One can only hope that Senator Reid will follow in the path of his predecessors. Further, we must note that Dr. Mavis Gilmore delivered the keynote address at the World Assembly in 1986 – Cultural Diversity and Global Interdependence: Imperatives for Teacher Education.

This morning, the city of Kingston is basking in glory. The sixty World Assemblies of ICET have been held in forty-five cities across the world. This is because ICET World Assemblies have returned to eleven cities: twice in eight cities and three times in three cities. The three cities that enjoy this remarkable triple privilege of hosting ICET World Assemblies are Washington DC in the United States, Rio de Janiero, Brazil and Kingston, Jamaica. As a fifth generation Kingstonian, allow me to express Kingston’s gratitude and pride. ICET first returned to Kingston after 15 years, and now again after 30 years. We hope that this is not an arithmetic progression. Kingstonians would be very disappointed if the next ICET World Assembly held in Kingston was 45 years hence.

I first met Dr. Frank Henry Klassen in 1971, introduced by my mentor, the late Professor Aubrey Phillips who was very involved in both the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) and ICET. Later, in 1983-84, it was my privilege and great learning experience, to have served with Dr. Klassen on the ICET Team that carried out the External Terminal Evaluation of the CXC/USAID Secondary Curriculum Development Project. Dr. Klassen was a titan of teacher education. In his 24-year stint as Executive Director of ICET, he became the voice of teacher education in the world. I am more than humbled to be delivering the Frank H. Klassen Lecture this morning and to receive the medal.


The Commonwealth Caribbean is defined linguistically by the English language; historically by British colonization, slavery, and indentured service; geographically by the Caribbean Sea which washes the shores of 17 of the eighteen states that are counted in its composition. The sub-region stretches from Belize located on mainland Central America through the islands of the Caribbean Sea to Guyana located on the South American mainland. The Commonwealth Caribbean is marked by a unique set of cultural and demographic features.12The basic demographic is peoples of the Old World of Africa, Europe, India, China and the Mediterranean forming the mainstreams of Commonwealth Caribbean societies while the earlier arrivals, the Amerindians, where they continue to exist, are invariably marginalized.

The body polity consists of marginal majorities of descendants of Africa and/or India and dominant minorities of European, Mediterranean, Chinese and mixed ancestries.

The cultural milieu is that of a swirling vortex of creolization which has compromised the distinctive verities of tribe, caste, class, and dynasty of the Old World, thus increasingly unfitting Old World peoples of the Caribbean to return to the continents from which their ancestors came and increasingly fostering common bonds of Caribbean identity, solidarity, belonging, civilization and destiny. Sex, rum, greed, Christianity, the Bible, heroic resistance and music are catalysts of creolization. Like the rest of the Caribbean, the Commonwealth Caribbean is a front-runner in multiracialism in the world and in understanding the common humanity of all mankind.

They are modern societies of modest means. Criteria defining modernity include representative democracy, public education, capitalist market economy, civil service bureaucracy, and values of freedom, individualism, and equality. Representative democracy in the Commonwealth Caribbean has evolved in sync with Britain itself. Barbados has had an elected Assembly that has operated continuously since 1639 with the holding of General Elections as prescribed by its constitution. Similarly, Jamaica has held General Elections, with the exception of 18 years, since 1661. The creation of the sugar plantation economy ensured that Caribbean colonies were part of capitalist market economies since the latter half of the 17th century. Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean dates back to the latter part of the 17th century, hence there are several schools that have operated continuously for more than 250 years. Public education systems and provision for the mass of the population dates back to 1834. The values of freedom, individuality, and equality have characterized every era of Commonwealth Caribbean societies. Lands of different sizes with a shared history, common language, and similar demographics separated by various amounts of the sea and marked by different dialects and generous doses of insularity.


Milestone anniversaries are times to reflect upon genesis and essence in order to renew identity and contemplate destiny. At this 60th Anniversary World Assembly, we can do no less than to reflect, if even briefly, on our antecedents, take account of the dynamic forces at work in our time and to seek to determine what should be the focus of our assertions and exertions that are consistent with our genesis and essence.

The title of this lecture is: Teacher Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean: The Power of the Marginalized. The intention is four-fold. First, to relate the theme of this Assembly to the genesis and essence of the education of teachers as it evolved over the first hundred plus years of its creation. Second, to establish that teacher education in the Commonwealth Caribbean has been connected to the genesis and essence of teacher education since it began to spread beyond Germany and France just under 200 years ago. Third, that Commonwealth Caribbean teacher education tells a story of teacher education from the perspective of the marginalized and not the powerful countries. Fourth, to share some lessons learned from Commonwealth Caribbean teacher education that may have relevance with respect to the current challenges facing teacher education in contemporary global society.

Writing was first invented in a temple of ancient Sumer around 4,000 BCE as priests sought means of maintaining their integrity as they presided over barter exchanges between linkages living in proximity but wary of each other. Economic exchange required divine sanction and sacred vow, invoking trust. Priests came to find that trust needed to be bolstered by objective verification. It took another 1,000 years, around 3,000 BCE, before the first edubba of Uruk, Sumer was invented to teach the scribal art as kings required their own scribes to administer and document affairs of their courts, including accounting for tributes and taxes. The edubba admitted children and graduated adults. The edubba was a school, a scriptorium and a library rolled into one. Teaching, publishing and the storage and retrieval of the script were the trinity that marked this fundamental transformation in the history of civilization. The medium for writing was clay tablets.

Teaching became one of the occupations of priests schooled in the scribal art, and schools became an institution within the clerisy of every religion with a written script. All available evidence indicates that didactics and pedagogy have their genesis in religious orders, of men and women who devoted themselves to teaching. Exact dates and definitive histories of teacher training within religions are still problematic. However, it would appear that for centuries, or even thousands of years, scribes and scholars taught without any preparation for teaching. Royal schools for courtiers and grammar schools preparing students for universities were taught by scholars or clergy with a classical education but no training to teach. The common view which prevailed was that those scholars and priests who taught were born teachers.

The history of formal teacher training for laymen is more certain. Institutions were created in the closing decades of the 17th century which educated and trained laymen as teachers. In the 230 years since then, teaching has become a predominantly layperson occupation and formal teacher education the modality for educating the teaching profession. It is important at this 60th ICET World Assembly to recite the emergence of formal education for the teaching profession.

In 1684 Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, Roman Catholic priest and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, founded an Ecole Normale in Rheims, France for the sole purpose of training laymen to teach in free schools for the poor, in order to deliver to the latter good quality education. De La Salle’s motivation came from his inability to meet the growing demand for teachers from among priests. He encountered great opposition from his aristocratic family because, he, a member of the second estate, fed and boarded young men of the third estate in the family residence. Violating these social barriers was a scandal too much to bear. His family took him to court and evicted him and his Institute. De La Salle also encountered strong resistance from the ecclesiastic authorities of France and Rome because his rule for the new order barred priests, and anyone intending to be a priest, from being a Brother. A new religious community was being formed that usurped an occupation that was within the priesthood. Teachers of the Christian schools serving the poor would be taught by dedicated laymen trained and committed to teaching. De La Salle persisted despite the opposition. The Christian Brothers and the Ecole Normale survived his death because of continued demand for quality teaching in service of the poor and marginalized.

The spread of the Normal School as the worldwide institution for educating and training teachers, however, is most accurately traced to Saxony, Germany and to the work of Augustus Hermann Franke of the University of Halle. Banned from lecturing at the University of Leipzig and expelled by the civil authorities of the city of Erfurt because of the evangelist fervor of his preaching, in December 1690 Franke accepted the non-salaried post of Professor of Greek and Oriental Languages at the University of Halle and, for income, the post of pastor of the Lutheran Church at Glaucha.

Starting out of concern for orphan children of the city, some of whom were engaged in crime, and in response to demands by parents of different social ranks, between 1694 and 1697 Franke established an educational complex consisting of:

  • An Orphan Asylum and a day school for outcast children offering elementary education.
  • A Royal School for children of rich and noble families, the profits of which helped to fund the Orphan Asylum.
  • A Latin school for boys of the city of Halle, which was self-financing.
  • A German school for parents who did not desire a classical education for their children, which was also self-financing.
  • A Teachers’ Seminary to train poor young men to be teachers of the lower levels of all schools of the complex. In return for their board and training, teachers trained by the Seminary committed to teaching for three years in the complex.
  • A book establishment which published the classics and school books for the complex and the general trade, the profits of which also helped to finance the orphanage.
  • A printing press that published Bibles at an affordable price.
  • A library of over 20,000 volumes for use in the schools of the complex.
  • An apothecary’s shop started as a medicine chest for the poor, but which served the general community, the profits of which helped to support the complex.
  • A house for widows. Franke’s education complex had the appearance of ‘edubba 2.0’. It incorporated the evolution in schooling from being single level to being multiple levels as well as the technological invention of printing. The complex had schools at the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels and served all ranks of society. The printing press and book establishment had replaced the scriptorium as the mechanism of publishing. The library housed books made of paper and not clay tablets or scrolls of parchment.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Teachers’ Seminary created by Franke at Halle, Germany in 1697 was an imitation of the Ecole Normale established by de la Salle in Rheims, France thirteen years earlier. Coming from different circumstances, both de la Salle and Franke appeared to have organically devised almost identical solutions to the demand for teachers who were not clergy. The core elements of the new paradigm were: residence in an educational institution designed to meet the norms for schooling and teaching for two to three years; advanced instruction in the disciplines taught in schools; instruction in education as a science; instruction in methods of teaching as an art; and increasing practice of teaching skills in a school that modelled the norms of schooling. Modeling norms of schooling were at the heart of training laymen to become teachers.

Franke’s complex became the template for the public education systems that were developed in German states over the course of the 18th century, led by Prussia. The series of religious wars in Germany which culminated in the Thirty-Year War 1618‒1648, which is estimated to have killed up to 40 percent of Germans, ended in détente between Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists. Going forward, the German language, religious pluralism, and piety, the inner religion of the heart, would take precedence over intolerant denominational orthodoxy and Latin as the glue of living together peacefully. It would be possible to be German as well as to be Roman Catholic or Lutheran or Calvinist. German, the vernacular language, would be the medium of instruction and the principal national solvent in which all else would be dissolved, and schooling and teaching would be the chief mobilizing agents of German citizenship, irrespective of Lander and denominational allegiance. Public education would be denominational having Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Calvinist streams which mirrored the same elements.

The legal framework for the public system of education in German states also established teaching as a public profession with teachers being held in high esteem. The following were stipulated by law:

  • Compulsory elementary schooling, different types of secondary schools and access to tertiary education.
  • Teacher training in Teachers’ Seminaries prior to employment in any school or university.
  • The establishment of sufficient numbers and types of Teachers’ Seminaries to provide the required training for elementary, secondary and university teachers.
  • Preparatory schools or courses to bridge the gap between elementary schooling — which ended at age 14 years — and the minimum age of entry to Teachers Seminary, which was 17 years.
  • A system of examinations and inspection to ensure that teachers were competent and were of good character and conduct.
  • Remuneration for teachers had to be commensurate with compensation in other fields that employed educated labour.
  • All year employment and security of tenure for life for faithful teachers.
  • A system of promotion by which faithful teachers could rise, with appropriate pecuniary reward.
  • Financial allowance in times of sickness or infirmity, pension in old age and death benefits for the family.
  • Exemption from military service in peace time and recognition as public functionaries.
  • Frequent attendance at conferences and association meetings for mutual improvement and exchanges for professional development.
  • Books and periodicals to ensure that teachers kept abreast of advances in teaching. Courses on Didactics and Pedagogy were common in German universities and theological colleges. In some German states such courses were mandatory for students of theology, since clergymen of the different denominations served on school committees. By 1735, the state of Prussia had established 51 Teachers’ Seminaries. In other words, in about 40 years after Franke’s experiment at Halle, Prussia had established a comprehensive, coherent, cohesive and integrated system of public education, inclusive of mandatory pre-service education for teachers. Other states such as Hanover, Wirtemberg and Saxony followed Prussia. By the end of the 18th century there were more than 100 Teachers’ Seminaries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Europe.

During the opening decades of the 19th century, the German system of education became the object of international interest and observation, as well as imitation of several of its aspects, particularly education for teachers. This was because the verities of traditional society had been disrupted by the American Revolution; the French Revolution; the Napoleonic War that loosened Spanish and Portuguese hold over their colonies leading to wars of independence in Latin America; the industrial revolution starting in Britain; manhood suffrage and massive immigration into the United States; extending of voting rights to the middle class men in Britain; and the abolition of slavery in Haiti and in the British Empire. These all demanded expansion of democracy; the creation of citizenries with individual rights; expansion of literacy; and nation-building. Schooling and teacher education was indispensable to all of these.


Following the Napoleonic War when, ironically, French officials decided to reform and expand education (including teacher education) in the republic, they turned to Prussia, their adversary in war, rather than to Brothers of the Christian schools. The first estate of the aristocracy and the second estate of the clergy had collapsed into the third estate, causing some disruptions in how education was previously structured and provided. French officials looked outside of France for answers and found them in the Prussian state system, including teachers’ seminaries. It must be noted that the schools of the Brothers, including their Ecoles normale, had declined as a result of the turmoil and secular orientation of the revolution, but had not disappeared. They showed resilience in the aftermath of the revolution. By 1833 there was 43 Ecoles normale in France — secular, except for ten which were run by Brothers of Christian schools. There was also the famed Ecole Normale Superior founded in Paris in 1797. In the 1830s, Germany and France were leaders in teacher education in Europe. However, it was not only the translated French name, Normal School but the German structure and experience that were adopted and adapted by the Anglophone world.

The Anglophone world came late to elementary education for the mass of the population and also to formal teacher education. In England, in 1805, elementary schools were established for children of the working classes. The monitorial system was the first attempt to prepare teachers. An adult taught some of the most able students, who then taught a number of their peers. At best this was a very primitive form of peer-tutoring. This was Britain’s first attempt at teacher training. Normal schools were first grafted onto the monitorial system. However, faced with the paucity of qualified students to enter the normal school, the pupil-teacher system was implemented in 1846. The essential feature of the pupil-teacher system was that bright youngsters of thirteen years were apprenticed to headmasters for a period of about four years. The normal school became the terminus of a closed system of education for the working class whereby able elementary school students, at age thirteen years, were apprenticed to headmasters for four to five years ― after which some entered normal schools to be formally trained as teachers, while others remained as untrained teachers. In 1838 there were only three Normal Schools in England: Borough Road, Home, and Colonial Normal School and the Central Schools of the National Society of Westminster. The famous Battersea Normal School was founded in 1839.

England adopted the normal school as the modality to produce professional teachers for elementary schools but did not adopt the Prussian template of teaching as a profession that required formal education and training for elementary, secondary and university teachers prior to employment. Formal training was only required for elementary school teachers. Secondary school teaching was an occupation for untrained university graduates and grammar school leavers prior to entry to university or other employment.

This pattern for teaching, which was devised in England, became the norm in the British Empire. Elementary schools were staffed mainly by pupil-teachers and some trained teachers supplied by normal schools. Grammar schools were staffed by untrained university graduates and a generous number of their most able school leavers. Not to be missed is that England, a much richer nation, adopted a much cheaper approach to staffing its schools than Germany and France.

The United States adopted and adapted state normal schools to prepare professional teachers for the common school. The first normal in the United States was founded in Concord, Vermont by Samuel Read in 1823 as a private institution. The first state-funded normal schools were founded in Massachusetts in 1839 under the leadership of Horace Mann, the father of the Common School movement. By the end of 1839, Massachusetts had three state normal schools: West Newton, Bridgewater, and Westfield.

Sources of Normal Schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean Normal schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean came from two separate sources. The first source was through the Moravians who started a normal school in 1833 in St. Elizabeth in rural Jamaica. It was established to train white and brown ladies as teachers as a hedge against concubinage. However, this school was soon closed and the resources redeployed to establish the Fairfield Normal School to train black and brown male teachers for the elementary schools established following an apprenticeship in 1834 and leading up to the abolition of slavery in 1838.

The Moravians were the first to send Protestant missionaries to the New World, first to the Danish colonies in the Caribbean in 1735 and the English colonies in North America and the Caribbean beginning in 1754. The instigator of this development was Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony German, Bishop of the Moravians. Count von Zinzendorf had been a student of the Royal School of Augustus Franke’s complex at Halle. In other words, Commonwealth Caribbean teacher education has a direct connection to Franke’s experiment in Halle, Germany, through the Moravian Church.

The second source was the Lady Mico Charity in England. Sir Samuel Fowell Buxton, an Anglican, was chairman of the Charity. He was later called the Great Emancipator, because he was the member of the House of Commons who, in 1823, tabled the first Bill to abolish slavery in the British Empire. With the passage of the abolition Bill in 1833, Buxton succeeded in re-directing the resources of the Lady Mico Charity in England to establish elementary schools and normal schools to educate the children of the newly freed in the Empire. Between 1836 and 1837 four Mico Normal Schools were established: one each in Antigua, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Mico elementary and normal schools were Christian but non-denominational. Their Boards included Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Moravian, and Baptist clergy. Teacher education in the Caribbean, through Mico, has a direct connection to the abolition of slavery. This connection to emancipation tied normal schools to marginality, as was the case in France, Germany, Britain, and the United States.

In 1839 there were five normal schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean: two in Jamaica and one each in Antigua, Trinidad, and Guyana. The Commonwealth Caribbean had more normal schools than England and the United States and was on the frontier of the spread of normal schools from their origins in France and Germany to the rest of the world as the main institution for providing professionally trained teachers. The Commonwealth Caribbean normal schools followed the paradigm. They were residential, accepted students who were 17 years or older, were of two years duration, followed the standard curriculum of normal schools and had attached to them at least one model school in which trainees practiced pedagogy.

Hopefully, I have established that institutions for the formal education of laymen as teachers were invented out of a moral imperative to foster citizenship as the glue of living together peacefully. Further, Normal schools and the teaching occupation were avenues of upward social mobility for those from among the poor and marginalized sectors of the society that they were designed to serve. What normal schools were designed to do, and what they were, reinforced each other. Being and doing comingled in the normal school.

Normal schools and elementary education were employed to transform warring believers into German citizens of non-political faith and former members of the third estate in France into citizens with rights, duties and patriotic spirit similar to those of the landed aristocracy that had been displaced. In Britain, normal schools and elementary education became tools to address the social fallout of the Industrial Revolution and to expand the franchise to all middle class and most working-class men. In the United States, Normal and Common Schools became tools of expanding manhood suffrage and governance beyond the aristocrats of learning and making Americans out of immigrants from Europe. In the Commonwealth Caribbean, normal schools and elementary schools were employed in creating citizens with rights in proposed free societies. In 1838, the enslaved were property by law. As of August 1, 1838, the former enslaved legally became citizens with rights. Elementary and normal schools were part of the infrastructure of freedom and the means of effecting the social transformation. Education for teachers had its genesis and essence in addressing societal transformation, particularly in relation to the marginalized.


The theme for this 60th Assembly is Teachers for a Better World: Conditions for Quality Education, Pedagogy, Policy and Professionalism. Hopefully, it has been established that quality education, professionalism, and pedagogy are aboriginal in the genesis and essence of teacher education. They are the technical foundations of education for teachers. ICET World Assemblies have implicitly acknowledged this fact by explicitly addressing these aboriginal elements directly: Quality Education in Rio in 1963, Cairo in 1989, Singapore in 1990, Muscat in 1997, San Diego in 2007 and Muscat again in 2009; Pedagogy in Glasgow in 2011 and Oshawa in 2014; Professionalism in Vancouver in 1967 and Hong Kong in 2004. Further, almost all 60 World Assemblies have addressed these foundational elements indirectly.

The uniqueness of the theme of this World Assembly rests in its stem: Teachers for a Better World. However, while a policy is included in the sub-title of the theme, the social imperative is unclear. The policy question becomes: Teachers for a better world for whom? The policy is never neutral and is largely outside the control of teacher educators. It is this question that I wish to explore from the perspective of the Commonwealth Caribbean experience.

The policy is the twin brother of power. The policy is the back side of the coin of power. Power is the capacity to prevail, even against opposition and dissent. Power serves its own unless constrained by a moral imperative. Power is not what power says, but what power does. The soothing voice of power often comes with brutal and bloody hands. Power must always be understood in social context and within timeframes. Power is invariably the resultant of global and local vectors. Policies shaping teacher education are directly related to the intersection of global and local power in a particular place at a specific time. The history, sociology and governance of the Commonwealth Caribbean, including teacher education, counsel caution and wariness in dealing with power and policy in order to better understand their intentions and to enter upon strategic engagement.


I am fully aware that we are in the era of opinion polls, focus groups and word clouds striving for instant answers, and that there is great impatience with history. However, throughout my professional career, I have found great wisdom in applying to social systems the observation of Alfred North Whitehead, philosopher of science and education, about systems of electrons. Whitehead claimed that if you wanted to know where any system of electrons was going, you needed to take account of at least two vectors. First, where that system of electrons was coming from and second, what were the dynamic forces presently impacting that system. I, therefore, crave your indulgence in applying that approach.

At the end of the 18th century, Commonwealth Caribbean states were colonies in the British Empire, which was then the dominant global power. Called the West Indies, they had been prized possessions of the Empire because of sugar. However, that golden era of sugar was coming to an end. Senior members of the English Cabinet warned the nabobs in the West Indies that the end of the age of free trade was on the horizon. West Indian sugar would no longer enter the British market on preferential terms. With the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807, the signs were clear that slavery would come to an end in the 19th century. Slave labour had been the principal factor in the bottom line which made West Indian planters among the richest men in the Empire. However, economists, led by Adam Smith, maintained that free labour would be more efficient than slave labour.

In the first three decades of the 19th century, the battle lines were drawn between contending groups in England and in the West Indies. In England plantation owners, merchant houses that financed plantations, those who lived their leisured lives funded by annuities from plantations and the West Indian lobby in the House of Commons and the Lords, lined up against humanitarians, evangelicals, radical and liberal politicians and economists. The contending groups in the West Indies mirrored England except that they were multiracial. English plantation owners and their Scottish managers formed the ruling elite in the colonies. They were equal opportunity exploiters of labour beginning with English, Scottish and Irish bond-servants and continuing with enslaved Africans. They firmly believed that the colonies belonged to them because their predecessors had made the colonies what they were. At the beginning of the 19th century, this ruling elite was increasingly opposed by English and Scottish missionaries of dissenting Protestant denominations as well as by Jews, free Coloureds, and Blacks seeking their civil rights.

Further, the ruling elite exercised strong hegemony in governance over white small settlers and that segment called free people: Jews, Blacks, and Coloureds. Seizing the moment, the free people mounted a sustained movement for their civil and political rights in the second and third decades of the new century. Hoping to co-opt them on their side, the oligarchy conceded these rights. In Jamaica, free Blacks and Coloureds gained those rights in 1830 and Jews in 1831. Jamaica became one of the first states in the world in which White, Black, Coloured and Jewish men 21 years or older were entitled to vote and be elected to political office based on the same common criteria of property ownership. Britain enfranchised middle-class men in 1832.

The enslaved decided the timeframe for the end of slavery in the British Empire by an unprecedented strike in Western Jamaica in Christmas 1831 in which they demanded payment for their labour. The strike turned into rebellion and rebellion into the passage of the Abolition Act in Britain in 1833, a period called Apprenticeship beginning in 1834 and the abolition of slavery in 1838.

Although like the British constitution, it was never written, West Indian planters came to the belief that the continuation of preferential duties for West Indian sugar into the British market was the quid pro quo for the abolition of slavery. Slavery was abolished in 1838 and West Indian sugar continued to receive preferential treatment.


Three periods defined power and policy in the Commonwealth Caribbean: first, emancipation in 1838; second, the Morant Bay riot in 1865; and third, self-government beginning in the 1944 general elections in Jamaica, conducted on the basis of universal adult suffrage and representative government. Each of these three periods requires some brief outline of broad policy in teacher education.

post-Emancipation policies: Denominational and Secular Teacher Education, 1838-1944 The newly freed in 1838 embraced emancipation with joy. They sought no revenge for their abusers. Rather, they moved forward enthusiastically to make full use of the promise and the possibilities of freedom and citizenship. The planter elite moved forward looking backward, with malice, seeking to re-create the conditions of slavery in the free society in attempting to make sugar great again.

At emancipation Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, and the Leeward Islands had been British colonies for one hundred to two hundred or more years. They were predominantly Protestant. Grenada and St. Vincent had become British colonies in 1763 but had rebellions against British rule in the 1790s and were largely Roman Catholic. Trinidad, a Spanish colony settled by the French, became a British colony in 1797 and was largely Roman Catholic. Guyana and St Lucia had become British colonies in 1814. St Lucia was French and largely Roman Catholic. Guyana was Protestant but had Dutch heritage.

Imperial policies in the post-emancipation period had to take account of Caribbean diversity, as outlined, as well as make situational adjustments related to the contending factions in the different colonies. However, there were three overarching imperial policies which obtained throughout the colonial period. These were: Anglicization mainly through the English language; creating loyal British subjects mindful of their station in society; and maintaining public order. It must be noted that the English equated the newly freed to the working class in Britain and did basically the same to both.

In 1835 the British parliament approved 20,000 pounds, the Negro Education Grant, to establish elementary and normal schools in the colonies. The grant was disbursed in even amounts over the first five years, starting in 1836, and then phased out by decreasing amounts over the next five years. The expectation was that governments in the respective colonies would phase-in funding for their public education systems and then assume ongoing responsibility. Interestingly, the British Parliament approved the exact amount for advancing public education in Britain.

Given the fact that emancipation was imposed against objections from the planting elite and obstruction from colonial assemblies, the Imperial government partnered with Christian denominations in implementing public education through the Negro Education Grant. The Anglican Church and the Mico Charity received lion shares of the grant, while denominations such as the Moravians and the Methodists received modest amounts, while Baptists in Jamaica refused the grant and embarked on self-financing of their elementary schools, theological college and later normal school through a combination of fees, regular contributions from local churches and grants and personnel from their Missionary Society.

In Jamaica, for example, planter opposition to emancipation morphed into an obstruction at every point. The Colonial Office came to the conclusion that the old white oligarchy was incapable of governing the free society and recommended Crown Colony Government. The British Cabinet recommended to the House of Commons the suspension of the Jamaican Constitution. The West India lobby in London engineered the defeat of the Bill. This brought down the government of Lord Melbourne in 1839. Chastened, the Colonial Office retreated from imposing on decision-making by assemblies. When the Negro Education Grant began to be phased out in 1841, colonial governments only provided token amounts for public education. The gravamen of their position was that the Imperial Government had imposed abolition despite their objection and had partnered with denominations. The education of the newly freed was not in their interest. The Imperial government and denominations needed to continue what they had started.

While the Imperial government continued to fund public elementary education in England, it opted out in the colonies. The Negro Education Grant was a one-time provision that was never repeated. The Anglican church and the Mico Charity, having been the greatest recipients, were most adversely affected. Many Anglican schools closed. Mico resorted to its resources and closed its normal schools in Guyana and Trinidad in 1841 as well as all its elementary schools, except in St. Lucia.

To their great credit, the missionary societies of the dissenting Protestant denominations remained in partnership with the newly freed. They became the architects of public education in the sub-region. The Baptist example of funding their elementary schools, a theological college, and normal school through contributions, grants, and fees became the default.

Antigua and Jamaica have had an unbroken record of teacher education up to the end of the colonial period. In both islands, teacher education was predominantly denominational and Protestant, with Mico and Moravian institutions being central to continuity. By 1865, Jamaica had six normal schools: two Moravian; one Anglican, one Mico, one Baptist, and one Presbyterian. Jamaica became the centre for teacher education in the western Caribbean. Up to 1899 the Mico and Moravian normal schools in Antigua were the sources of formal teacher education in the Eastern Caribbean. After the Mico institution was closed in 1899, the Rawle Training Institute was created by the Anglican Codrington Theological College in Barbados in 1912 to fill the gap. The Rawle Training Institute served the Eastern Caribbean in the same manner as the Mico Normal School had done. Barbados joined Antigua in serving teacher education in the Eastern Caribbean. The Anglican Rawle Institute was superseded by Government Erdiston Teachers College in 1948.

After the Mico Normal School in Trinidad closed in 1841, Trinidad then sent teacher trainees to Mico Normal Schools in Antigua or Jamaica. However, in 1852 the Governor established a Government Normal School in Trinidad, and Ward Schools at the elementary level, which offered free secular education. The seeming contradiction of imperial policy supporting both fees paying denominational public education in Antigua and Jamaica and free secular public education in Trinidad is best understood with respect to the imperial policy of anglicizing the peoples of the colonies. Even dissenting Protestant denominations could be relied on to execute the anglicizing imperative; but not the Roman Catholic Church, still holding to French connections, as was the case in Trinidad and St Lucia. As would be expected, the Roman Catholic Church in Trinidad objected to secular schooling and operated its own schools without government support.

By the closing decade of the 19th century, the Catholic church accepted the anglicising policy of the Imperial government. The Mico elementary schools in St. Lucia, which had continued to operate with support from the Imperial government, were closed. The Crown took over the closed Mico schools and handed them over to the Catholic church to operate as denominational schools. This is one of the rare cases where non-denominational schools, with state support, were converted into denominational schools run by a denomination.

Denominational teacher education was pioneered in Trinidad by the Canadian Presbyterian church in the 1890s. Indian parents did not support the free secular ward schools. The Canadian Presbyterian church started missions to serve and convert the expanding Indian population. From about 1868, the church founded mission schools that taught both English and Hindi. In 1892, the church established a Presbyterian Theological Seminary to train Indian pastors for their missions. In 1894, the Canadian Presbyterian church, with government and planter support, established a Normal School to train teachers for its mission schools. Denominational teacher education in Trinidad, at its founding, served children of indentured Indians in the same manner as it had done for freed enslaved Africans in Antigua and Jamaica. The normal school offered the first avenue of entry to a non-manual occupation.

The Roman Catholic church, which had operated schools for decades, was permitted to establish a normal school to train female teachers in 1895. In 1902, the church was allowed to found a normal school to train male teachers. Secular and denominational normal schools then formed the structure of teacher preparation in Trinidad.

After the Mico Normal School in Guyana was closed in 1841, Guyana sent teachers to be trained in Antigua, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados. Teacher education in Guyana did not resume until 1928 when the colonial government established a non-residential teacher training centre for in-service teacher education. This training centre was updated in 1942 to become the Government Teacher Training College, later renamed the Cyril Potter Teachers College. Unlike the other colonies, Guyana had no history of denominational teacher education. Guyana came late to teacher education and when it did, offered secular teacher education.

The significance of normal schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean, which were rebranded as Teachers’ Colleges by the turn of the 20th century, is that apart from theological colleges, they were the only form of tertiary education that existed in the sub-region prior to the era of self-government. Unlike Latin America and North America, no liberal arts colleges or universities were founded in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Elementary school, normal school, and theological college became articulated and formed the major avenue of upward social mobility in the sub-region to children of African and Indian ancestry. Further, after the secondary education system was established for the children of middle and upper classes, elementary school teachers and ministers of religion leveraged their education to gain further education for themselves or to facilitate their children in gaining access to higher schooling — leading to access to university education outside of the region in England or Scotland or Canada, in the case of Trinidad.

The Failure of Elected Government: Failure to Govern for the Common Good of All Knowing that some of the enslaved had accumulated capital through income earned from markets selling provisions as well as from artisan trades, a Baptist and Quaker alliance in England in the 1830s started to purchase lands in Jamaica, with the agreed intention of making these lands available to freed slaves on a not-for-profit basis. The alliance also developed a holistic concept of sustainable Christian communities separate from plantations. The foundational elements of these communities, called free villages, were: land tenure; home ownership; a church which often doubled as a school; family based on marriage; small farms supplying the domestic market; and participation in the democratic process. The Baptist/Quaker free village idea was adopted and implemented by all dissenting Protestant denominations. By 1844 there were 116 free villages across the island with 18,365 houses which housed approximately 90,000 or about 30 percent of the newly freed. The most ardent participants in and supporters of denominational public education — elementary school, normal school, and theological seminary — came from this new segment of the society. Moreover, following the planter-inspired defeat of the Melbourne Government in England in 1839, missionaries of dissenting denominations in Jamaica, led by Baptists, mounted a massive campaign to register smaller settlers and free villagers to vote in general elections for the assembly to replace the white planter oligarchy.

Free trade became a reality in 1846 with the Sugar Duties Equalization Act. The price of sugar declined sharply. Several merchant houses in London financing the sugar trade went into bankruptcy. Inefficient plantations went into foreclosure. Some were either sub-divided and sold by lots or sold at rock bottom prices. London’s loss was Kingston’s gain, as local merchants gained market share in financing the sugar trade. Moreover, Kingston’s merchants imported cheaper goods from North America to supply surviving plantations and the newly freed who had left the plantations. Free villagers bought lots, more affluent coloreds and Jews bought plantations. Local ownership increased at all levels.

The voter registration campaign succeeded. As a result of the General Elections of 1849, Coloureds, Blacks, and Jews became the majority in the Assembly, and Whites the minority. However, the planting interest prevailed. Many Coloureds and Jews had become planters and merchants, whose economic interests depended on the export of sugar. The only major change was that a Jew became the Speaker of the Assembly.

In the 1840s, Black artisans, Coloured shopkeepers and Jewish retailers in Kingston formed a coalition — labelled ‘the Kingston Rabble’ by their detractors — that was successful in electing Jewish, Coloured and Black men to the Kingston Common Council who effectively loosened the monopoly of the White and Coloured ruling elite on making patronage appointments. Emboldened by this success, in 1850 the Kingston Rabble moved into the neighbouring parish of St David, formed an alliance with some of the leaders in free villages with the aim of ousting the white planting elite from the vestry and local government, and to elect Coloured and Black men to the Assembly.

The new ruling multiracial elite in the colony was determined to maintain the status quo it inherited. Similarly, the rival multiracial alliance of the Kingston Rabble and free villagers was equally determined to change the status quo. The two were on a collision course. The crash came in October 1865 when a protest march ended in a two-day riot in Morant Bay, the capital of the Parish of St Thomas-in-the-East. Eighteen people were killed on the first day, including several officials of the Parish, including the white Custos of the Parish and the second Black man to have been elected to the Assembly. The Governor responded by declaring martial law for 30 days, authorized a reign of terror by British troops and local militias and empaneled military tribunals which ordered the execution of hundreds. In addition, the troops destroyed over 1,000 homes, many chapels, schools, and numerous shops. They also seized the cash, goods, horses and other possessions of those alleged to be rioters or supporters. In effect, the reign of terror decapitated the free village leadership and political opponents in St Thomas-in-the East.

The leaders of the protest-turned-riot who were killed, those summarily executed, and those humiliated by flogging or detention, all shared the same characteristics. They were formerly enslaved, but twenty-seven years after emancipation were in the prime of their lives. There were several elementary school teachers among them. They were the success stories of emancipation. They were literate and educated men, comparatively well-off economically, politically active, socially conscious, community-minded, outspokenly critical of corruption in central and local government, bias in the legal system, the corrupt administration of the justice system, unfair taxation, manipulation of the electoral system and malpractices in land tenure. They were the political opponents of the oligarchy in the parish and the colony, including the governor. Many were Baptists and Methodists motivated by deeply held religious beliefs. They risked the success they had achieved for themselves, against the odds, in order to give those who had been left behind the opportunity to do the same for themselves. They rejected second-class status for themselves and demanded equality for all.

It is obligatory to note that the two contending groups did not remain homogeneous over the period 1840–1865. Several leaders of the Kingston Rabble were seduced by patronage appointments by governors. Charles Price, the second black man elected to the assembly, was a contractor and became the beneficiary of government contracts. George William Gordon, son of a Scottish planter and slave mother, became one of the richest men in the country as a result of the economic fall-out following emancipation and the Sugar Duties Equalisation Act. In his second coming as a member of the Assembly from St Thomas-in-the-East, Gordon became the de-facto leader of the opposition against the ruling elite and the most vociferous and strident opponent of the governor. Price was killed by the rioters at Morant Bay. Gordon was executed by the state by order of the governor and without a fair trial. Indeed, it was Gordon’s execution that caused the outrage in England.

The governor was recalled to England in December 1865. A Commission of Enquiry was set up which reported promptly in April 1866. The only fact in dispute was the number of people killed and executed. The most conservative counts were those of the Commission of Enquiry of 439 killed, 97 percent male, and a newspaper, which had correspondents embedded with the troops, which put the number at 1,013. Up until the Morant Bay riot in October 1865, and inclusive of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, the English followed the Roman practice with respect to rioting — flog the rank and file and fling the ringleaders off the Tarpeian Rock. This was power exercised in the personalist idiom: open, transparent, honest and brutal.

Governor Eyre defended his actions on the basis of insurrection by black and mixed-race men challenging British rule. The fact is that all involved were loyal British subjects. Further, the oligarchy and their sympathizers, and rioters and their sympathizers were multiracial, only varying in the average shade of pigmentation.

A robust and vigorous debate followed in England, as to whether Governor Eyre was a champion who had saved Jamaica from becoming another Haiti or should be charged for murder. The English intelligentsia was very deeply divided. Protagonists demanding the prosecution of Eyre included Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mills, Professor Goldwin Smith of Oxford and Charles Buxton of the House of Commons. Defenders of Eyre included Charles Kingsley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and John Tyndall, eminent Physicist. The debate centred on race and the rule of law in the Empire. It ended on a stalemate. Eyre was never prosecuted, but his career ended. However, going forward there were three Caribbean and empire-wide outcomes of the small town riot at Morant Bay:

  • Beginning with Jamaica in December 1865, and with the exception of Barbados, elected assemblies in the sub-region voluntarily relinquished governance and invited the Crown to govern directly through single-chamber Legislative Councils comprised of Crown-appointed members.
  • Crown colony government immediately embarked upon an agenda of reforms to address the grievances expressed by the Kingston Rabble and the free villagers but applied across the sub-region. These included: significant funding for public education; major reforms of the judiciary, policing and public health; the creation of civil services; and the disestablishment of the Anglican Church.
  • No governor in the British Empire employed martial law to eliminate political opponents of the ‘darker’ races within the colonies. Power shifted to the materialist idiom: covert, manipulative, anonymous, allowing deniability while using material means to ostracize and punish opponents.

The Failure of Crown Colony Government: Failure to Govern for the Common Good of All Increased funding for public education from 1870 to 1900 was a great boon for public education. Elementary education and normal schools were expanded. By 1900, Jamaica ranked 14th and Barbados 15th in the world in the provision of elementary education to their populations. These two colonies were only surpassed by nine countries of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada. High school education was fully established across the sub-region, with students sitting examinations set by Cambridge University. High schools across the sub-region relied heavily on teachers recruited mainly from Britain. The disestablished Anglican Church took on a socially activist role and became one of the leaders in girls’ education. The Roman Catholic Church, previously excluded, also became a significant education provider, especially in the education of girls. While previously, colonies established boys’ high schools, by the turn of the 20th century the orientation was to establish high schools for girls.

Dissenting Protestant denominations, which had partnered in and had pioneered public education, were experiencing division from within as ‘native’ teachers and ministers challenged missionaries concerning policies and purse. For example, in 1892 the government in Jamaica introduced free elementary education which meant that the state paid the costs of operating public schools. However, because of ownership of the plants, denominations continued to manage schools and had the power to hire and fire teachers. However, elementary school teachers, who were 90 percent male, objected to the power of school managers to fire teachers for not doing church work. They founded the Jamaica Union of Teachers in 1894. These trophies of missionary grace now challenged their main partner in empowerment. Missionary societies retreated.

In 1865 Jamaica had six normal schools, five training male teachers and one training female teachers. By 1900 there was only the Mico Normal School training male teachers and three training female teachers: one government, one Moravian and one Roman Catholic. The Mico Normal School in Antigua, which trained male teachers, was closed — leaving the Moravian Female Teacher Training School. The Rawle Training Institute in Barbados was coeducational. In 1902, Trinidad had four teacher training institutions: one owned by the government which had one section training male teachers and another section training female teachers, the Presbyterian institution which trained male teachers, one Roman Catholic institution which trained female teachers and another that trained male teachers. The Commission on Education, 1914 to 1916, recommended the closure of all institutions training male teachers. This was in exchange for offering black, brown and Indian boys bursaries to attend high schools. A similar scheme had been introduced in England in 1907. The government college did not close its male section. The Presbyterian Normal School finessed the situation by starting to admit female students in 1916. The Roman Catholics closed their male college in 1831 after its principal died. By the 1930s, the three centres of teacher education in the Commonwealth Caribbean — Jamaica, the Eastern Caribbean, and Trinidad — were all structurally biased against training male teachers. The parsimonious states sought no financial advantage from this shift in the gender of teachers. From as early as 1900, male and female elementary school teachers in Jamaica were paid the same salaries.

Crown colony government started out by addressing the agenda that had been advocated by those who embraced the promise and the possibilities of free societies premised on citizenship and equality. Many of the leaders of this movement had paid with their lives in 1865 or had been humiliated by flogging and unjustified detention. However, by the end of the 1880s, the Crown had reversed itself. The basis of the reversal was the posture of the Colonial Office on the inferiority of the darker races of the Empire. This was eloquently expressed by James Anthony Froude in his book the English in the West Indies’. The rebuttal, Fourdacity, by J. J. Thomas, an elementary school teacher of Trinidad, made no difference to imperial policymaking.

The economic downturn of the 1890s provided the opportunity for the Crown to change sides. The Crown assumed greater responsibility for public education in the colonies by introducing free elementary education across the sub-region by 1900. However, expenditure on education was capped to no more than ten percent of government revenue. Many small schools were closed. Policies were implemented to bend education to serve the interests of agriculture, particularly sugar. The curriculum of elementary schools was amended to include agricultural and vocational training. In Jamaica, the Government Farm School was established in 1910 and in Trinidad the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture was founded in 1921.

However, by the 1930s Crown Colony Government had alienated many of the graduates of teachers colleges and the high school system that it had created. Central to their grievance was that the Crown imported talent from Britain to head and hold the vast majority of senior posts in the public service. British recruits were the headmasters and headmistresses of secondary schools, the principals of teachers colleges, the heads of departments and senior ranks of the civil service and of the police force. This essentially placed ceilings on how far educated locals could rise in their aspirations for upward social mobility.

Across the sub-region, teachers’ college graduates and high school leavers, who had gained access to university education abroad, became the chief nationalists stridently advocating sovereignty for colonies. When riots related to the fallout from the Great Depression occurred across the sub-region in the 1930s, the Crown confronted general disorder. This, plus the diminution of its imperial power as a result of World War II, prompted the Crown to voluntarily concede constitutional reforms to return to elected governance in the colonies through universal adult suffrage, representative government and the hand-over of the leadership of the civil service from British officials to nationals.

Crown colony government faltered for the same reason that elected assemblies did after 1865. It failed to govern for the common good of all by choosing to serve itself and the ruling elites of the colonies. As was the case in Jamaica in the period leading up to the riot in Morant Bay, the chief political opponents of the Crown were those who had been successful in the education system created, including teacher education.


The era of democratic governance in the Commonwealth Caribbean began with general elections in Jamaica in December 1944 — conducted based on the principles of universal adult suffrage and responsible government. All persons 21 years or older were eligible to vote and to offer themselves as candidates. Only Britain and New Zealand had universal adult suffrage at that time. Other colonies in the sub-region followed on the same constitutional basis.

In the 72-year period since elected representatives had to face an electorate of all the people, education policies have been implemented every five years, resulting in the following:

  1. The establishment of university education in the sub-region, beginning with the University of the

West Indies in 1948. 2. The creation of indigenous capacity to train secondary school teachers, first through UWI in

  1. 3. Almost every state without a Teachers’ College established one, and those with colleges expanded existing colleges and in Jamaica and Trinidad founded new colleges. 4. Teacher education became the supplier of trained personnel for almost every occupation requiring educated personnel, as thousands of trained teachers left teaching for opportunities that opened up in the new nations. 5. Sub-regional teacher education capacity was created to meet demands for all levels and for all types of teachers. Teacher education and the teaching profession in the sub-region is fully ‘Caribbeanized’. 6. From being a new importer, the Commonwealth Caribbean has become a net exporter of teachers. Its graduates have proven to be effective teachers internationally. 7. The Commonwealth Caribbean is on the global frontier of the changed status of women in society. Over the last 50 years, girls and women on average have performed better than boys and men at every level of the education system. Education credentials have been leveraged into jobs, jobs into income, and income into homeownership and other symbols of socioeconomic advancement. Women have shattered glass ceilings in the public sector and in several areas of the private sector. The middle classes across the region are predominantly female. Between the 1950s — when a ministerial government was inaugurated — and the 1980s, public education and teacher education were propelled on a trajectory of policies which expanded schooling at all levels, improved quality and integrated and articulated all levels of education. Government became the major provider of teacher education. Secular education became the primary modality. Denominations retreated to chaplaincies in colleges and schools.

Since the 1980s, public education and teacher education have been confronted with declining public resources, in real terms, to fund education. Governments faced with annual fiscal deficits, rising national debt, economic downturns, IMF structural adjustment programmes with their pre-conditions, now place increasing priority on policies premised on the notion that fixing the economy and curtailing rising crime takes precedence. Further, while the school-age populations have been declining over the last 20 or so years, the savings have gone to subsidize budgets and not accrued to the benefit of public education or teacher education.

As a result, only some countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean have attained the goal of all teachers entering the teaching profession being previously trained as teachers. Some of the countries achieving this goal have had setbacks along the way. For example, in the mid-1980s Jamaica reached 95 percent and was in full sight of having 100 percent of its primary school teachers being college trained. This coincided with the implementation of rigid IMF structural adjustment programmes. The college training the largest number of primary teachers was closed. It took 10 years from this capacity to be reinstated and another 10 years before the goal of a full college trained primary teaching force was achieved. The Bahamas, Barbados, and Trinidad are the other countries of the sub-region which have achieved fully college trained teachers at the primary level. In these countries, new graduates from colleges training teachers are faced with unemployment.

Widening Faultlines in Democratic Governance in the Sub-region Faultlines emerging in democratic governance in the Commonwealth Caribbean can be summarized briefly as follows:

  1. The failure of the development paradigm. After 50 years, the result is almost unpayable public debt, persistent fiscal deficits and increasing determination of national policies by external agencies, despite protestations to the contrary. b. The recurring impotence of elected governments to keep faith with their electorates.

The Commonwealth Caribbean pattern is to regularly change the political parties forming the government through the ballot box. However, changes between governing and opposition parties often mean more for the persons elected than those who elected them. c. Increasing inequality. Surveys of living conditions across the region show that the education gap between the richest and the poorest quintiles is narrowing, while the income and wealth gap is widening. Tertiary education is fast becoming the principal differential at the same time that the cost of colleges and universities place access outside the reach of the poorer quintiles. d. The steady delinking of education from upward social mobility through the escalation of credentials required for jobs, downsizing in the public and private sectors, and unemployment among highly qualified mature adults. e. High unemployment among educated young people, especially those from backgrounds of social disadvantage. Many students are leaving from the geographical and socioeconomic origins of their parents, taking and more elevated educational routes, but ending at the same socioeconomic destination. f. Warring inner-city communities, over which states have minimal control, with alarming rates of annual carnage. g. A growing underclass of young men, many of whom embrace a culture of death.


Since 1953, when the ministerial government began to be inaugurated, the sub-region has devised paradigms to isolate and insulate the education and certification of teachers from direct political influence and control as well as to ensure high standards. Consistent with their history, ten states in the Eastern Caribbean and five states in the Western Caribbean have formed separate partnerships with the University of the West Indies (UWI), the regional university. The main elements of the partnership are:

  • Ministries of Education retain policy direction and management of their national colleges.
  • Ministries have devolved matriculation requirements, duration of the programme, curriculum, quality assurance, validation and award of credentials to UWI Schools of Education at the Mona and Cave Hill Campuses.
  • UWI has created, through its Ordinances: Joint Boards of Teacher Education comprised of principals of colleges, representatives of Ministries of Education, representatives of Teachers Unions and of the UWI. The chairmanship of Joint Boards resides with the UWI.
  • UWI provides leadership, research and development, and policy advice in support of teacher education in these states These partnerships have existed and evolved over the last 60 or so years and have created significant social capital in the sub-region. This includes collaborative relationships between both Joint Boards.

Consistent with their histories, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana have created national partnerships for teacher education. While they share some features of the functional cooperative partnerships in the Eastern and Western Caribbean, their spheres of operations are national.

Trinidad and Tobago started in the 1950s with a Ministry Board of Teacher Education with members from colleges training teachers, the Teachers Union and the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. Teacher education has now been devolved to three universities: The University of Trinidad and Tobago; the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine campus); and Southern Caribbean University, a Seventh Day Adventist institution.

In Guyana, the Ministry of Education has maintained the mechanism which validates teacher education offered by the Cyril Potter College of Education established in 1942. Teacher education programmes offered by Cyril Potter are fully articulated with the University of Guyana, next door.

THE COMMONWEALTH CARIBBEAN: LESSONS LEARNED WITH RESPECT TO POWER, POLICY, AND MARGINALIZATION The optimistic slogan for teacher education when it was first established in the Caribbean in the 1830s could well have been ‘Teacher education for a better Caribbean: Conditions for quality, pedagogy, policy, and professionalism’. With the benefit of 183 years of hindsight, there are numerous lessons related to power, policy, marginality, and marginalization that are crystal clear. These lessons are best categorized and listed succinctly.

Imperial and Local power

  1. Imperial power is fickle. Despite the galvanizing force of imperium, its agents are not monolithic, and hence its actions are highly unreliable because its interests change with the imperatives of different times and situations as well as personnel. Accordingly, imperial power will abscond from coalitions, change sides more than once, is vulnerable to its own internal contradictions and prone to believe its own propaganda. The most effective approach is to make the best use of imperial policy support when and while it lasts. 2. Local power is always the outcome of contestation between contending groups. The default is for those having the advantage to hold on to that advantage for as long as feasible. Patronage is a principal means of rewarding supporters and of seducing or silencing opponents. Local power will accept the hegemony of imperial power if this allows it to retain control. Further, when a contending group succeeds in grasping power from its holders, while its initial action may promise change, a common tendency is for the new holders to quickly cave into the perquisites and privileges of the status quo. Accordingly, hopes of transformation pinned on ascriptions of a place of birth, race, colour, class, political party and political ideology most often disappoint. These are all vanity. 3. The decisive force for change has been the agency of the marginalized in carving out their own space for advancement, despite the odds. Free villagers set up parallel communities to plantations. Elementary school teachers socialized and assisted their students in setting their sights higher than manual agricultural labour. Some teachers used the education provided by the teachers’ college to access occupations outside of teaching. Some teachers and students used their education to migrate and to find opportunities elsewhere. Others became activists who confronted the powers that be at Morant Bay and as nationalists demanding independence. These are all examples of cross-purpose between policymakers and participants in education. Terms such as dysfunctionality, inefficiency, brain drain, disloyalty, and ingratitude reflect the perspective of power and not of the marginalized in society. 4. The most reliable partners of the marginalized in society have been persons of different social stations who by reason of conviction and conscience find common cause and commit to working with them in hurdling the obstacles they face. In this circumstance, place of birth, race, color, class, gender and all other such ascriptions are immaterial. However, when constructive, collaborative, cooperative and meaningful actions are undertaken across these social divides, which invariably involves real risks and dangers, bridges of understanding, bonds of solidarity, shared identities emerge that manifest our common humanity and embrace the common good of all. Further, people of conscience and conviction are more likely to sustain their efforts and therefore provide sources of continuity across political regimes and generations. 5. The most effective coalition for transformation is between those enjoying social advantage who live their lives for more than themselves and those of the marginalized who, having advanced in society, decide to use their success not as a symbol of superiority, but as a means of improving the life chances of those who have been left behind. This coalition seeks to change the play and not just the players. 6. The timeframe required for social transformation goes beyond policy timeframes of five, ten or even fifteen years. Real societal transformation is oft timed outside the lifetimes of the individuals who initiated them. Institutions are needed to connect individual contributions across generation and policy time frames. To contemplate education for teachers without an institutional framework is to engage in abstraction. The genius of de la Salle and Franke was to connect individuals and institutions. The lasting contribution of dissenting Protestant denominations and Mico in the Commonwealth Caribbean is the institutional structure they created.

The Nature of Marginality

Like all other social and societal phenomena, marginality is neither absolute nor necessarily permanent. It is an aspect of society with which to contend.

  • Marginality does not define our humanity or determine who we are.
  • Marginality presents obstacles but is not the final arbiter of becoming.
  • Marginality is not a social disease or a terminal condition.
  • Marginality is a social condition of society that can be changed.
  • Marginality is rooted in inequities and injustices in society that must be confronted by people of conscience determined to achieve justice and equity.
  • Marginality is not a justification for evil.
  • The great pitfalls of marginality are helplessness, hopelessness, meaninglessness, and alienation because these make marginal people vulnerable to manipulation by the centralized.
  • Almost all Caribbean peoples have roots in marginality. The history of Commonwealth Caribbean peoples is most accurately written from the perspective of the rise of the marginalized.

Collaborators perpetuating Marginality

Perpetuation of marginality in any society is the consequence of all or some of the following:

  1. Political parties and governments that use political power principally for the benefit of their members, supporters and financial backers. b. Corporations run by their directors and managers primarily for their own benefit despite rhetoric to the contrary. c. Schools and colleges run for the benefit of principals, teachers, and lecturers. d. Churches run for the well-being of their bishops, pastors, elders, and deacons. e. Unions that serve mainly the interests of their leaders and delegates. f. Multilateral and bilateral agencies run primarily to serve their own agendas, despite their lofty rhetoric.

The power of the Marginalized

The power of the marginalized exists in:

  • An indomitable spirit that refuses to be broken by circumstances.
  • Embracing life and a culture of life, and rejecting a culture of death.
  • Confounding stereotypes of marginality by not conforming to them.
  • Confronting assertions of inferiority by a commitment to competence.
  • Engaging with contemporary challenges constructively and creatively.
  • Seizing opportunities with integrity, imagination, and inventiveness.
  • Taking the moral high ground in transactions with the powerful.
  • Persevering despite setbacks. The experience of Commonwealth Caribbean teachers and teacher education is that sustained exertion of the power of the marginalized prevails. Commonwealth Caribbean societies today have been built largely by the strivings of those who were initially marginalized. In this regard, teachers and teacher education have been principal agents, and this is particularly so with respect to peoples of African and Indian ancestries.


Human civilization is at Edubba 4.0. Microchips, digital technology, fiber optics, and satellite technology have combined to create information technologies with internets, intranets, and clouds. Schools and learning can take place online, synchronously or asynchronously or some mixture of both, given the playback modality. Documents and data can be stored and retrieved almost instantly. Online libraries are vast, allowing easy access to a store of knowledge without leaving home. Books, periodicals and other materials can be published and distributed globally, even without editorial filter or fact check. These new technologies are disruptive, offering possibilities to both the centralized and the marginalized, given the fact of any time and anywhere connectivity. Teaching, librarianship, and publishing are being fundamentally restructured. The question arises, to serve what ends?

Two hundred years after teacher education began to spread outside of Western Europe, global power has changed fundamentally. The British and French empires are no more. Colonies have become sovereign nations, which currently number about 196. Democracy is now the default paradigm of governance. The United States is the reigning superpower among nations alongside regional powers in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. However, not even American democracy can dictate the actions of multinational corporations and banks providing international financial services. The sovereignty of the people is almost at the mercy of corporations. There is a great divide between electorates and multinational corporations and banks operating within national borders. While communication, news, money, learning, publishing, document and data transfers, entertainment and rockets now cross national borders with amazing speed, the movement of most people is constrained by national requirements for permits and visas, involving months or years to process. Wealth can be transferred in minutes but poverty is imprisoned locally, even in the powerful nations.

At the same time, within many nations power, wealth and resources are being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. As Fareed Zakaria has written, there is the Rise of the Rest and the Decline of the West. Socioeconomic inequality is galloping, especially in the older modern societies, including the Commonwealth Caribbean. Sanitized terms such as the ‘working poor’ and the ‘new poor’ dull the reality of what is taking place in the suburbs. Those in Western countries who believe that these countries belong to them by reason of ancestry blame aliens for their plight. The fact is that more and more people — aged and young, especially young men — are being marginalized, although they are better educated. Nationalism as the glue of peaceful living together appears to have run its course. Citizenship is constantly being compromised by those holding power and wealth. Many are retreating from public secular education, which is the prime instrument of nationhood. Moral clarity is in retreat as might and wealth is deemed right and good.

What of teacher education in this era? Are there any insights from the Commonwealth Caribbean experience that may be useful? Allow me to merely list a few.


Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and Augustus Hermann Franke were right on a number of levels. Teacher education must prepare teachers for schools providing education for all social ranks of society and must be inspired by the highest ethical vision of human society and human personality. Teacher education must be part of an institutional framework that reinforces and concretizes what it is and what it does. Institutions preparing teachers and the essence and mission of teacher education are inextricably linked. However, teacher education is reconfigured in relation to new information technologies, colleges, and universities; preparing teachers must be what they do. They must advance the life chances of students, inspire hope, be sources of connecting students to meaning in their lives and society; and be instruments that motivate students to take on the challenges of their time and place.

The Prussians appear to have been right nearly 300 years ago in implementing a comprehensive, coherent and cohesive system of public education with pre-service teacher education being mandatory prior to employment and where teaching as a public profession had high social standing. Countries that have followed this route seem to have fared better than those that cherry-picked Franke’s framework and selectively transplanted elements into their own systems.

Advances in human civilization usually have two principal sources. First, empirical assessment of facts about what is and the application of logic and conceptual schemes to explain the facts. Teacher education must be evidence-based. However, evidence-based teacher education is necessary, but not sufficient. The second source of advance in civilization is equally important. It is critical to transcend the fact of what is, in order to visualize what should or ought to be. Reason and moral imperative must act in concert. The dangers to be avoided are absolute confidence in impeccable logic and absolute certainty that God has spoken and consequently using either to justify fatal and final actions against others. For it is life and not death that ultimately triumphs.

All would do well to emulate Commonwealth Caribbean audacity toward marginality and marginalization, and understand the agency of those who are marginalized and the power of the marginalized. Overcoming marginality is the engine and energy of societal transformation.

Teacher educators must exemplify values that are consistent with the vision and the mission of teachers in their societies because it is a virtue that persuades. Teacher educators must employ reason in applying teacher education to their specific circumstances because facts and logic matter; but they must also transcend facts and logic in order to apprehend what ought to be in their specific circumstances. However, being human we must employ reason and transcendence with humility, leaving room for error in our logic and doubt in our revelations.

To God be the Glory.

SOURCES Barnard, Henry. (1851). Normal schools. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Applewood Books.

Beuttler, Fred W. (2012). Render to the Kaiser: Protestantism, education and the state in German history. In W. Jeynes and D. Robinson (Eds.), International Handbook on Protestant Education. New York and London: Springer.

Bacchus, M. K. (1980). Education for development or underdevelopment: Guyana’s education system and its implications for the Third World. Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Campbell, Carl C. (1996). The young colonials: A social history of education in Trinidad and Tobago: 1834 to 1939. Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago: The University of the West Indies Press.

Campbell, Carl C. (1997). Endless education: Main currents in the education system of modern Trinidad and Tobago: 1939-1986. Jamaica: The University of the West Indies Press.

Dick, Devon. (2009). The cross and the machete. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers.

EWTN: Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle Confessor.

Fergus, Howard A. (2003). A history of education in the Leeward Islands: 1838-1845. Barbados: University of the West Indies Press.

Froude, James Anthony. (1887). The English in the West Indies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hall, Catherine. (2002). Civilising subjects: Metropole and colony in the English imagination, 1830-1867. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.

Heuman, Gad. (1981). Between black and white: Race, politics and coloured in Jamaica 1792-1865. London: Greenwood Press.

Hutton, Clinton A. (2015). Colour for colour skin for skin. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers.

Knight, Kevin. (2012). Normal schools. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle.

Miller, Errol. (2015). Marking milestone: 21 Keynote speeches about successful institutions and outstanding leaders. Kingston, Jamaica: Minna Press.

Miller, Errol. (1994). Marginalisation of the black male: Insights from the development of the teaching profession. Kingston, Jamaica: Canoe Press.

Miller, Errol. (2003). The prophet and the virgin: The masculine and feminine roots of teaching. Kingston and Miami: Ian Randle Publishers.

Robinson, Wendy. (2006). Teacher training in England and Wales: Past, present and future perspectives. Education Research and Perspectives, 33(2), 19-36.

Thomas, John Jacob. (1890). Froudacity: West Indian fables by James Anthony Froude. Philadelphia: Gebbie and Company.

Un, Yong Jeong. (2009). Teacher Education Policy in England: An Historical Study of Responses to Changing Ideological and Socio-economic Contexts. (Ph.D Thesis). University of Bath, United Kingdom.


Verified by MonsterInsights