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January 5, 2023

An Old Idea 

There was no single event in the Caribbean to match the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The Caribbean had nothing to match the US Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), or the No Child Left Behind Act, passed by the United States Congress in 2001.

Yet, the idea of education as a natural, non-negotiable right of children is rooted in Caribbean history.
That history magnifies how the lives of children in the region improved beside billions of other lives worldwide in the wake of high expectations expressed in the UDHR.

This opening Q&A pinpoints the origin of English-speaking model schools in London and their prototype in Britain's West Indian colonies.

What is a model school?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is a school intended to be exemplary in organization, teaching methods, etc.

Was there a model school in the Caribbean?

Yes. A model school was a necessary part of the Mico Institution, soon renamed Mico Teachers College, now known as Mico University. Opened in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1836, Mico was among the first schools of its kind in the English-speaking world.

Was there only one model school in the Caribbean?

Mico was among hundreds of schools opened in the Caribbean in the immediate post-emancipation era.

Other Mico teacher training schools started in Antigua and St Lucia.

The Governor of Trinidad and Tobago created a variant of the Mico model school.

Further development of model schools in the region anticipated efforts to assure universal provision in the age of independence.

Which, conceivably, is the most underdeveloped model school in the region?

British colonial subjects who formed the, first generation of post-independence West Indians became a phenomenon in cricket. Given the immense pride regional cricket teams generated, it is notable that no leader has brought together persons who coached those early players to institutionalise teaching of their skills.

The continuing absence of cricket in schools' curricula reflects the untapped potential of former British West Indian colonies.

At the highest level of the game and of teaching, a self-confessed, failed cricketer, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is founder and Director of the CLR James Centre for Cricket Research at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. A former member of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Sir Hilary founded and became the inaugural Chairman of the High Performance Cricket Academy of the WICB, the most underdeveloped, indigenous model school.

Which was, or possibly is the ultimate model school in the region?

As the answer immediately above suggests, it will be possible to understand the answer to this question only after thoughtful study of the course of the last four centuries in the Caribbean. Courses at modelschool.live promise to clarify that answer.

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