Historian, Dr. Henderson Carter, addressing the audience at the BGIS’ Appreciation Reception

A nation that is moving to First World status must seek to document the history of its ‘craftsmen’.

That was the clarion call by Dr. Henderson Carter, the featured speaker at a Breakfast Appreciation Reception put on by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), at the Dining Club, Manor Lodge, Green Hill, St. Michael. It was held  to honour a number of sponsors and principals of primary and secondary schools, who contributed to the production and promotion of the BGIS publication: Shaping A Nation: Principals of Barbadian Schools 1900 – 1980s.

Dr. Carter, author and researcher of the text, alluded to the fact that documenting was done in the USA and Britain “where there are books, records and movies on past events”. He said: “The contribution of our principals should not only be spoken of, but recorded and kept and taught in our schools, colleges and universities.” 

He added: “Shaping A Nation highlights the principals, not merely as administrators who sat behind a desk, but men and women who actually taught and carried a sizeable portion of the work load.” Such community participation, he opined, “played a critical role in their success and the quality of the educational system …”

It was further noted that Shaping A Nation should serve as an inspiration to the current group of principals to create and maintain good schools with strict discipline, and in the process, shape the values and attitudes of this generation of Barbadian youth.

“At the same time,” said the historian, “it reminds us of the bold strides we have made so far. Our principals and teachers created excellent schools.”

Meanwhile, the acting Chief Information Officer, Erskine Callendar, while noting that the BGIS was contemplating a Volume II of the document, lamented the paucity of archival materials on the island. He said, the problem we face is that we are unable to locate photographs of many of those principals we would wish to include in future volumes. It would seem that Barbadians no longer keep family photographs as happened in the past.”

Explaining that some months ago, the general public was asked to lend the BGIS old photos, he said, “we indicated that with their permission, we would copy them and carry out some photo restoration if necessary. However, the response was poor. We got less than two dozen photographs.”  

Shaping A Nation: Principals of Barbadian Schools 1900–1980s was conceptualised and commissioned by former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, with the author, Dr. Carter, receiving assistance from the BGIS, Acute Vision, Professor Woodville Marshall, Dame Patricia Symmonds, Carl Moore, Euclid Jemmott and Sophia Carter.

A biographical sketch, accompanied by a photograph of 89 trailblazers and pioneers who served in Barbados between 1900 and 1980, the text includes expatriate Englishmen and women, and local educators at the primary and secondary levels. Several private schools that existed at the time are also mentioned. According to Dr. Carter, these were principals who “worked hard and with little reward”. 

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