Celebrating An Educational Template of Presbyterian

By Stephen Kangal
March 23, 2019

Stephen KangalOn 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.

5 Responses to “Celebrating An Educational Template of Presbyterian”


  • My mother and her brothers and sisters had their primary education in the Presbyterian school. So to my wife and her family. She taught me a few Christian Hindi Bajans. The Presbyterians had the right model when it came to education. The schools carried indigenous names and moulded students very well.

    Many of my family became school teachers, principals, educators, engineers due to high level of education in these schools.

  • The PNM has a clandestine agenda to erode the successes of the church schools by changing the criteria for awarding scholarships

  • Now they are planning to withhold the results of the 4th April SEA Examinations so that no one in the public knows who won what and the schools’ performances cannot be compared. They have an ethnic agenda to promote because they are not comfortable with the current results of this competitive examination. They want to make an ethnic paradigm shift by tinkering with the current practices because it does not merge into their favouritsm mould. Try as much as they want they have to face the music and try to get the urban schools to up their tempo in the examinations. The performance of the Presbyterian Schools is upsetting to them

    • The publication of private examination results is one of the most destructive practices in T&T.
      The concept of competitive examinations is also archaic educational practice.
      The collective performances of schools should be compared with the goal of creating action plans for improvement not for publication in national newspapers.Educators should be involved in analysis of results to identify weaknesses and strengths.
      Instead of focussing on the identification of the top 100, educators should be creating improvement plans for the vast majority who fail.

  • Your analysis is quite accurate if you ignore the failure rate in these schools. No sound and empirical evaluation of a school should take place without examining the success/failure rates.
    I suspect that like other schools in T&T, primary or secondary, the failure rates are surprisingly very high.
    What constitutes success?
    Is it merely the highlighting the number of top students who pass examinations?
    Is it the development of good citizens equipped with skill sets which will ensure desirable values and behaviour?
    Proper analysis using available data on total school population would surely discover that most schools, including Presbyterian schools in T&T ,are failing schools.

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