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Celebrating outstanding citizens

Ronald Jones (File photo).

by Donna Sealy

Minister of Education Ronald Jones says he is not changing the names of schools just for the sake of it.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning after the launch of Crop-Over 2013, Jones reiterated he was not about dismissing or dismantling the history of any particular school.

Since the renaming of three secondary schools recently, discussions and talks of protests and petitions have been gaining momentum on the social networking site Facebook as old scholars of other schools speak out against the names change.

Ellerslie Secondary is one of them.

“I know there’s been some talk about schools being renamed and I must confess Ellerslie came to me by persons who were historically associated with the school, but I have not taken Ellerslie under review at this time and I’m not about just willy-nilly renaming schools at this time so persons who go to Ellerslie or have gone to Ellerslie can rest assured that is not under my gaze at this time just like so many others are not,” Jones said.

The minister noted that Barbados was still divided along grammar school and newer secondary schools, which he described as “very strange kind” especially “after all of these years of looking at the historical evolution of the older secondary schools, previously called grammar schools set up after the British model … and persons here say you can’t change their names.

“In fact, schools such as Foundation, Combermere, Coleridge & Parry, The Lodge, all of those were schools established by philanthropic gestures and therefore they carry the names of the philanthropists and I think it would be wrong to dismiss what they did within the context of the period and of the time.

“I have changed the names of newer secondary schools because there was a haste and we needed that haste to build those schools so persons said let’s build a school in St. James and call it St. James, let’s build a school in St. Lucy and call it St. Lucy and there was not a lot of thought put into the naming culture for those schools. One which went in the 1990s was the St. Thomas Secondary but then that became before it was completed, the Lester Vaughan School, celebrating the name of an outstanding Barbadian. That has been part of my agenda rather than seeking to create or dismiss or dismantle any of the history of any particular school,” the minister emphasised.

He also said the six new nursery schools being constructed in Holder’s Hill, St. Alban’s, Sayes Court, Gemswick over the next two to three years, would all bear the name of outstanding citizens, and not necessarily people from the area.

“I am not persuaded that persons have actually analysed what has been taking place rather than some getting into what I called partisan bickering, this is the time for it. Some are being caught up with nostalgic bickering; this is also the time for it. But rather, what I want to see is persons coming forward making positive suggestions for the development of education, development of the country, development of the society.

“I have not been daunted. I’ve not been overly concerned and yes I have some concerns especially when a significant number of persons start to speak. We have to, as a country, look pass the narrowness of our own minds and look at the greater picture,” Jones said.

The minister noted in the renaming of the Garrison School to Graydon Sealy “there was hardly any noise” and the old scholars welcomed it. The same thing with St. Lucy because people understood the contribution made by the principals.

“I wrote every board, had conversations with persons of interests and they said what they did. I told them to direct their comments to the school and the school would relay it to me,” he explained.

From there the ministry undertakes more research and then it goes to Cabinet for final approval, he added.

Jones said that the next school to be renamed would be St. George Secondary for which two people — one male, one female — were being considered.

3 Responses to Celebrating outstanding citizens

  1. Chad Mckenzie November 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    What’s In A Name?

    Lets rename Barbados….Narnia.. cause in recent months a whole heap of things have been falling out the proverbial closet…if i see a talking lion i am on the next B.W.I.A flight to Pelican Island….I hope the preceeding paragraph sounds as ridiculous as it did to you as it was to me typing it. But the nature of this discourse is by its very nature is ridiculous. What’s in a name? What images does your mind conjure up when you hear Barbados…i think pride, industry, a people who constantly strive for betterment. We are supposedly an educated society with a rich history of producing some of the best minds in the world, yet you would think we can come up with a better way to honor those who have made significant or sterling contributions to their respective fields or Barbados on a whole. I know lets rename a bunch of schools no one cares about with some well deserving ” heroes” names. The last school renamed in a series of what i can only liken to the joker attacking Gotham city was St.James Secondary now forever know as Frederick Smith Secondary…in his obvious over exuberance Sir Smith stated it was a privilege to have the highest honor in the land bestowed on him, clearly “Sir” isn’t high enough, would you care for my first born as well? Does your own home bare your name Sir? But i digress.
    I came up with three possible theories used in the renaming of schools
    1. The ability to disregard the feelings of others
    2. Drinking Copious amounts of alcohol ( rubbing included)
    3. Blunt Force Trauma

    The aforementioned would render any seemingly reasonable person with a modicum of common sense and school pride instantly brain dead. It started off with Garrison Secondary, i don’t recognize the new name, then it moved unto St. Lucy Secondary, again i do not recognize the new name. When one takes a cursory look you would probably ask whats the big deal? And there in lies the problem, where does it stop? It begins with a name change, then what next the uniform, then the school song… Some of us are instilled with school pride, loyalty and a sense of belonging…a brotherhood if you will, this is being eroded slowing and consciously by a select group of individuals whose sole purpose is i believe to confuse the general public that they are doing some good on behalf of the school…how about replacing a broken desk, paint a wall, renovate a pavillion provide more of some basic necessity that is needed rather than a new name…rename alexandra while you’re at it, only a name change and Jesus could save that school now….oh i said the J word apologies….destroying a schools good name and reputation to replace it with what? Your opinion of a reward for a job well done?

    Does the renaming of the schools meet the general consensus of the schools alumni? What criteria is used to adjudge the new name as the most reasonable one for the school? Will all schools be renamed? Can i hope to see a school named after Rihanna, Obadele Thompson and Ryan Brathwaite? Will the untouchable Combermere fall victim, as will Harrisons College and Queens College? All i am saying find some other way to honor your heroes dont destroy legacy’s created by children who now are parents and would want their children attend their alma mater. Its about going to a school were people feel you wouldn’t or couldn’t amount to anything and rising above these hurdles and obstacles… I have a suggestion to honor the Minister of Education for his due diligence in this matter ( if only he showed some with Alexandra) a school named for him The Ronald Jones School of Sound Higher Intellect Technology and Enlightenment. I hope you appreciate the hidden acronym. People need something to believe in again it starts with school names and goes down hill from there, don’t let this continue R.I.P to the schools we’ve lost.

    Chad Mckenzie
    Free Thinking Barbadian

  2. Tony Webster November 27, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Live in Hope bro. Another time come, another very “Hon. Min. of Nomenclatures” will have a brilliant idea (at election time), and re-name everything in “honour” of flying fish; sugar-cane; Bussa; Morning star; Sea-Breeze; (including Bridgetown, clearly needing an “up-grade”, since no-one “respects” a bridge) and Mrs. Brathwaite’s cow. Thanks be to God, my old alma mater in Grenada, G.B.S.S., will be beyond reach. Strange, I thought that national honours were explicitly designed to honour deserving folks and to recognise their contributions.

  3. Gail November 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I totally agree with you. You of course missed the religious aspect. Our parishes named after religious saints is something Barbadians should be proud of and a school that bears that name clearly indicates the religious and community spirit of our forefathers.

    I believe they should name the pasture or the school hall after these human “heroes” or maybe the school library instead of elevating these persons and creating institutions to glorify their names. Instead of recognizing a religious St Lucy or St james day, will the schools be celebrating the birthdays of these persons?
    False gods for our children anyone?


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