By Stephen Kangal
March 23, 2019
On the occasion of the observance of 150 years of Canadian Presbyterianism introduced by Dr John Morton in 1868 into Trinidad to rescue the rurally- isolated and marginalised sugar- working indentures from educational neglect and English illiteracy it is right to celebrate, emulate and imitate this rich template of multidisciplinary excellence achieved by the high- performing schools administered by this small and dwindling denominational organization.
However while the educational platform built by this small church largely through volunteerism is a success story its primary evangelical component suffers from increasing statistical decline.
I attended Warrenville and Caroni Pres (1945-55), Naparima College (Tunapuna Branch from 1955-59) as Hillview was known up to 1962 and then Naparima College in San F’do (1960-61).Therefore I am qualified to assess the foundations of this legacy of galloping successes achieved by seventy-five primary and five high performing secondary schools.
Up to the mid-60’s the state system (QRC and St George’s) and the Catholics were in total unassailable ascendancy. But the Presbyterian model of multidisciplinary and total development of the individual education delivered in a religious and morally pervasive and uplifting ambience gained strength, traction and took the scholarship fight to the previous urban dominance and monopoly.
When the current national system of education is under close scrutiny from, HE The President down the Presbyterian model of schooling and education deserves close positive analysis as an antidote to stem the crisis in the classroom.
There are little or no drugs, weapons, incipient gangsterism, bullying, damage to school property, less absenteeism and attacks on the faculty members. High and persistent parental involvement in a tri-partite approach to education with the dedicated and loyal teachers (PTA’s) and the well-administered schools (local school boards of management) are the not-so secret bases for this success story of relatively cheap denominational training and development.
Let us look at the recent sporting/cultural events working backwards. Naparima Combined and Guiaco Pres won the Junior and Primary Schools Panoramas respectively. Hillview chalked up the historic unprecedented triple championship in cricket, swimming supremacy and aiming for a credible cricket inter-col win while Naparima Boys won the 2018 Schools Football Championship.
All the Presbyterian secondary schools including the sisters at SAGHS and NGHS except Iere High won more than 30 CAPE Scholarships each annually while the primary schools produced scores of the top 200 SEA students.
The Minster of Education The Honourable Anthony Garcia a proud and loyal graduate of Hillview College whom I taught there, must not re-invent the wheel. The wheel of quality education and multidisciplinary development of our human capital is well-oiled, established and producing model productive citizens at Presbyterian Schools of Excellence leaving no one behind.