St. Andrew’s Primary Teacher Kirk Roach and Infants A pupils view a display on the life of late politician Dacosta Edwards following the ceremony. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

A. Dacosta Edwards Primary School is the new name of the St. Andrew’s Primary School, located at Belleplaine.??

It has been renamed in honour of the late educator and politician, familiarly known as Dacosta "Joy" Edwards who, from 1961 to 1967, represented the parish of St. Andrew in Parliament.

In a recent ceremony to officially rename the school, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, reminded Barbadians that Mr. Edwards was also the owner of the now defunct Federal High School at Collymore Rock that "made men and women, who today occupy spaces in Barbados’ society and economy."

Mr. Jones noted that the ???poor barefoot boy from Dark Hole’ as Mr. Edwards regarded himself, had assisted many despite the pressures of his own circumstances, that included finishing school at age 14. He said; "Imagine… coming out of that circumstance! You had the chance and ability to establish a place of education and to offer scholarships! When you give a scholarship there is no money coming in.

"But, there he (Mr. Edwards) was; his own circumstances being the charter for his spirit and for his personality and courage, granting scholarships all around the place to those who, like him, were poor and barefoot."

Remarking that everyone should be given a chance to be great, Minister Jones told students of the rural school: "Every school develops its own being and its own purpose…

We have to give each of our schools that opportunity and that space that those who have gone there; who have worked [there] and those who have or have not excelled [can] continue to make a mark on the history of Barbados."

Stressing that Barbadians should embrace young people with the same "abundance of spirit" as Mr. Edwards radiated, Mr. Jones observed: "These are the men and women that we should truly celebrate. These are the men and women that we should honour."

The Education Minister, who is also responsible for Human Resource Development, recalled the era of Mr. Edwards’ political career and noted that "he was part of the social evolution that sought to bring about change." He recounted: "He was part of that journey, between 1961 and 1976, when many of the important social institutions of Barbados were implanted in the structure of this country – difficult times and difficult periods – but where men because of their revolutionary purpose were men driven by hope and faith and were able to make a substantial difference in the life of people."??

From left: Sen. Irene Sandiford-Garner; Minister of Education, Ronald Jones;??Principal Cheryl Watts; and one of the??daughters of the late??educator Dacosta Edwards,??Kristin Edwards, admire the plaque erected in??his honour.
(A. Miller/BGIS)

Also, remembering the life and times of Mr. Edwards was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner. ??Acknowledging his contribution to the rural setting, where she grew up, Senator Sandiford-Garner said, "His was a political presence that was larger than life in St. Andrew."?? She recounted that he had risked his life during a flood to assist constituents "to nail up their homes" and had relocated some to the extent that "many, if not all are on those spots today".??

It was also revealed that he had designed a specific type of chattel house that was built to suit the terrain of the Scotland District and ultimately it "ensured that the people of this parish were afforded the opportunity to own a house."

Students heard that the man immortalised at their school had transformed the political landscape with progressive social welfare programmes and policies which he had pioneered. They were told of the "hundreds" who went to Federal High School, free of cost, the personal loans and of the uniforms and books Mr. Edwards bought for those children whose parents could least afford them.

As Senator Sandiford-Garner praised Government’s decision to name the school after Mr. Edwards, she added, "yet much of what Mr. Edwards achieved has gone unheralded until today." She outlined: "He was humbled, yet he was accomplished; he was a politician, yet he was the down-to-earth friend of his constituents…he was born poor; He was born black; he was male; he was forced to leave secondary school before his time."

She contended: "Sociologists would today tell you that he came from the most at-risk group in our society – he was destined, if we go by what they say, to become a drop-out and to become a failure. But he did not drop out and he was not a failure.

"And, what I find most compelling in Mr. Edwards’ story is that he decided to fight the odds and taught himself, History, Latin, French and qualified himself to the stage where he could start a school, own a business and become a creditable and credible member of Parliament; an outstanding Barbadian politician who left St. Andrew better than he found it."????

While noting that the recognition was "long in coming" but "much deserved", she said: "He is a real life motivational story of one of our own that needs to be told – a story that reinforces our theories of our people’s resilience and our innate drive to succeed."

In a further show of respect to the Education Ministry, Senator Sandiford- Garner observed, "Let us hope that in renaming this school the children who attend it will be afforded the opportunity to learn of and follow the example of this outstanding Barbadian who achieved so much through hard work and a commitment to educating not only himself but others."

Together, Minister Jones and Senator Sandiford-Garner unveiled the plaque bearing the name of the educator and politician, Arlington Dacosta Edwards who was born in 1933 at St. Sylvan’s Village (Dark Hole), St. Joseph.?? At different points in his political career, he was a Minister of Social Service and a Minister with responsibility for Housing. He died in 1996.


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