THE COMMONWEALTH CARIBBEAN/BRITISH CARIBBEAN is the term applied to the English- speaking islands in the Carribbean and the mainland nations of Belize (formerly British Honduras) and Guyana (formerly British Guiana) that once constituted the Caribbean portion of the British Empire. This volume examines only the islands of the Commonwealth Caribbean, which are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada), Barbados, the Leeward Islands (Antigua and Barbuda, St. Christopher [hereafter, St. Kitts] and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and Montserrat), and the so-called Northern Islands (the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands).
Education was the great social elevator of the British Caribbean masses. From the middle of the nineteenth century, public education, expanded rapidly. A primary education combined with some knowledge of languages was useful in commercial concerns because most of the British Caribbean states conducted much of their commerce with neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. A secondary education was helpful in getting into the lower ranks of the bureaucracy and essential for entering the professions. A system of scholarships enabled lower-class children with ability to move into secondary schools and into the professions. The number was never large, but the stream was constant, and the competition for scholarships was fierce. Studying for these scholarships was more than an individual effort--it was a family enterprise. Moreover, by the early decades of the twentieth century, this process of academic selection and rigorous preparation for the British examinations--uniform for both British and colonial students--was controlled by predominantly black schoolmasters, the foundation of the emerging "certificated masses." Before the middle of the nineteenth century, education throughout the British Caribbean consisted of three types:...
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