by Donna Sealy
Minister of Education Ronald Jones says he is not changing the names of schools just for the sake of it.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning after the launch of Crop-Over 2013, Jones reiterated he was not about dismissing or dismantling the history of any particular school.
Since the renaming of three secondary schools recently, discussions and talks of protests and petitions have been gaining momentum on the social networking site Facebook as old scholars of other schools speak out against the names change.
Ellerslie Secondary is one of them.
“I know there’s been some talk about schools being renamed and I must confess Ellerslie came to me by persons who were historically associated with the school, but I have not taken Ellerslie under review at this time and I’m not about just willy-nilly renaming schools at this time so persons who go to Ellerslie or have gone to Ellerslie can rest assured that is not under my gaze at this time just like so many others are not,” Jones said.
The minister noted that Barbados was still divided along grammar school and newer secondary schools, which he described as “very strange kind” especially “after all of these years of looking at the historical evolution of the older secondary schools, previously called grammar schools set up after the British model … and persons here say you can’t change their names.
“In fact, schools such as Foundation, Combermere, Coleridge & Parry, The Lodge, all of those were schools established by philanthropic gestures and therefore they carry the names of the philanthropists and I think it would be wrong to dismiss what they did within the context of the period and of the time.
“I have changed the names of newer secondary schools because there was a haste and we needed that haste to build those schools so persons said let’s build a school in St. James and call it St. James, let’s build a school in St. Lucy and call it St. Lucy and there was not a lot of thought put into the naming culture for those schools. One which went in the 1990s was the St. Thomas Secondary but then that became before it was completed, the Lester Vaughan School, celebrating the name of an outstanding Barbadian. That has been part of my agenda rather than seeking to create or dismiss or dismantle any of the history of any particular school,” the minister emphasised.
He also said the six new nursery schools being constructed in Holder’s Hill, St. Alban’s, Sayes Court, Gemswick over the next two to three years, would all bear the name of outstanding citizens, and not necessarily people from the area.
“I am not persuaded that persons have actually analysed what has been taking place rather than some getting into what I called partisan bickering, this is the time for it. Some are being caught up with nostalgic bickering; this is also the time for it. But rather, what I want to see is persons coming forward making positive suggestions for the development of education, development of the country, development of the society.
“I have not been daunted. I’ve not been overly concerned and yes I have some concerns especially when a significant number of persons start to speak. We have to, as a country, look pass the narrowness of our own minds and look at the greater picture,” Jones said.
The minister noted in the renaming of the Garrison School to Graydon Sealy “there was hardly any noise” and the old scholars welcomed it. The same thing with St. Lucy because people understood the contribution made by the principals.
“I wrote every board, had conversations with persons of interests and they said what they did. I told them to direct their comments to the school and the school would relay it to me,” he explained.
From there the ministry undertakes more research and then it goes to Cabinet for final approval, he added.
Jones said that the next school to be renamed would be St. George Secondary for which two people — one male, one female — were being considered.