The time is “ripe” for Government to increase its subvention to private schools on the island, as parents who are facing the challenges of the economic climate are seeking to transfer their charges to public schools.
Veteran educator Matthew Farley has revealed that he was aware there had been no change in the quantum of funds allocated to private schools since 1984, though initially the subvention used to be increased every five or six years.
“While funds allocated to the public education have been exponential increases, for 30 years these schools, many of which have been forced out of existence, have not benefited from an increase,” he said.
Farley sent out this SOS as he addressed the Barbados Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Secondary School’s 2014 graduation ceremony themed Our Dreams Our Reality at Hilton Barbados Resort.
The outgoing principal of Graydon Sealy Secondary indicated that schools outside the public sector, including denominational or church schools, had made an outstanding contribution to the development of Barbados, and cognisant of this, the Government since 1965 had provided private schools with a subvention to assist with operational costs. He said the Government must be lauded for its foresight and vision in this regard.
“The retrenchment of workers in the public and private sectors has forced many parents to seek transfers to public schools. Perhaps the time is ripe for the Government, which has not been unmindful to the importance of education, to revisit the amount of money allocated to what is referred to as “the assisted schools”. It is important to note that the children in those schools are Barbadians too,” Farley said.
The educator also explained that over the years, public and private schools had co-existed, operating side by side in the delivery of education. He suggested that it might be argued that public secondary education had its beginnings in church or denominational schools.
Giving a brief history, the principal said the first private grammar school, the Codrington Grammar School which was established in 1745, is now known as The Lodge School, and was established through the resources of the Society For The Propagation Of The Gospel. On this note, he stressed that the development of Barbados owed much to the early establishment of a relationship between church and state, and between the public and private sectors.
“I make bold to say that the denominational or church schools have been undoubtedly the pioneers in making the education available to the masses and not just the classes.”
Turning his attention to the 45 SDA graduands, Farley encouraged them, as they opened a new chapter in their lives, to take inspiration from black hero Dr Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement which he led valiantly with determination, hard work, perseverance, fearlessness, moving from the dreams, hopes and aspirations of his people to the reality which Blacks around the world now enjoy.
“With that attitude like Dr King’s, your dreams, your hopes and your aspirations will become reality; and like him you can say, ‘I’ve been to the mountain top; and I’ve seen the promised land. For your mountain top and your promised land will have been achieved when those dreams, hopes and aspirations birthed in your mind and thoughts become one with your reality.
“While you are too young to be able to say “I’ve been to the mountain top, or that you have seen the promised land at this point, it is my hope that the past five or six years you have spent in the corridors of the SDA school would have brought you some distance from the imaginary state of dreams, hopes and aspirations and closer to their being your reality; for there is a sense in which true education can be described as the convergence of dreams with reality,” Farley said.
Pastor Danforth Francis, chairman of the school’s board of management, congratulating the graduands, told them the church organization was happy to have provided them with an environment that exposed them to a holistic education. Francis also urged them, as they made their decisions for the next level of their education, to remember that the church had made full provision for their tertiary needs, noting that right here in Barbados there was an extension campus of the University of the Southern Caribbean.