School Time in Tobago

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This plaque photographed in 2013 at Moriah, Tobago notes how, like royalty, the “majestic and imposing presence” of a samaan tree “dominated the landscape” for a century and a half.

The plaque encapsulates the pace at which schools developed in Trinidad and Tobago. The process started formally in Tobago when Scottish settlers “allotted land for a school and a teacher in each parish” in 1783.

The plaque marks where a Coronation Tree was planted over half a century later, to mark accession of a new queen, Victoria, to the British throne  in 1837. When this tree was five years old, the Moravians, who “first brought education to Tobago” established a church and the “first chapel school” in the village of Moriah.

Progress continued to be slow. A century after the tree planting, the first government school in Tobago opened at Mason Hall, mid-way between Moriah and Scarborough in 1938.

The pace of school development quickened at independence as the Moravians surrendered control of their pioneering “top school, bottom school.” These reopened, alongside a third building in 1962 in large, modern accommodation as Moriah Government School.

That occasion marked the beginning of a a new phase of education and potentially, development of Trinidad and Tobago.

Plaque erected, courtesy Mr Lloyd Warner of Moriah.

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