Rev. Henry Ward

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Biography - An Account of his life (1879-1981)

Reverend Henry Ward was born in Golden Grove, St. Ann. He received his early education at Clapham Elementary School, and then moved on to St. George’s Elementary in guys Hill. There he passed the Pupil Teachers’ Examination with distinction and gained an exhibitioner’s scholarship to the Micro Teachers’ College. He distinguished himself at Mico, and his personal conduct was exemplary throughout his college career. In 1900, he graduated from Mico as an honor student. He first taught at Ebenezer School in Manchester. There he demanded and achieved excellence.

In 1910, at the age of 31, Rev. Ward was elected president of the then Jamaica Union of Teachers. One year later, he answered the call to Christian ministry and from 1911-1913 studied at the Woodlands Theological College in South Manchester, Jamaica. In 1916, as a minister of the Presbyterian Church, he accepted a job to teach at the Hope Waddel Institute, Calabar, South Nigeria. He was also responsible for the establishment of Meadowbrook and Cayman High Schools. Rev. Henry Ward worked with the local Parish Council, and he was also a Justice of the Peace. He also loved the farm and helped subsistence farmers to own land through the Nutfield Land Settlement Scheme in St. Mary.

Writing for the press was his hobby, and education his favorite topic. He maintained that education was not for the privilege few and that every child had a right to proper education. Reading, for him, was a priority subject and so it occupied his mind and his pen. He dared persons to read, he demanded response, and he was successful. Rev. Henry Ward worked closely with Rev. Madge Saunders of the Presbyterian Church. He established some institutions for young children at Salem Church Hall, Rose Bank and Hampstead (area were Rev. Ward had ministered). Rev. Ward returned to Jamaica in 1923 and took up the pastorate at Salem Presbyterian Church in Islington, St. Mary. His involvement in education was both intensive and extensive. He served in many capacities – manager of schools, member of the Board of Education, and convenor of the Education Committee in 1941. This appointment led to rapid establishment of play centers throughout the island. He remained in Islington throughout his retirement, and until his death.

His Contribution to the pioneer to the development of Early Childhood

I
t was not until the 1930s’ that an attempt was made to formalize the system of schools caring for young children. Rev. Henry Ward is credited with developing community schools that later became known as "basic schools." In 1938, Ward alerted the Jamaican government to the critical need for a more organized system of care and training for preschool-age children. Years later, in an interview for the Jamaican newspaper Daily Gleaner, Ward recalled establishing a school for 3-to 6-year-olds who had been "left unprotected, running about the streets while their parents went to work……a pathetic picture with dangerous possibilities. The situation was a challenge and we felt that something should be done" (Bernard van Leer Foundation, 1972, p. 12). The first community-organized school for children under 6 was established in Islington, in the parish of St. Mary in 1938.

In 1941, Ward and his associates presented a report to the Jamaican Board of Education calling for the establishment of "play centers" as an integral part of the Jamaican education system. These centres were to include "organized play/stories; action songs; lessons on children's pets and other familiar creatures; care of a children's garden; foundation work in reading, writing and number work; handiwork a far cry indeed from the sterile, repetitious routine of chanting and memorizing, governed by the threat of corporal punishment that in fact became predominant in schools" (Bernard van Leer Foundation, 1972, p. 12). The Ward report included additional recommendations concerning teacher...
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