The legacy of Louis Lynch

It was rather encouraging to hear the Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, declare that a new secondary school would be built at Searles in Christ Church. There is no doubt that many of our secondary schools are overcrowded and I have always held the view that the average secondary school roll should not exceed 800 children.

As the Minister alluded to, the closure of the Louis Lynch Secondary School had compounded the large number of students at our secondary schools. The Minister was quick to point out that he was not in a position to disclose the name of the new school. However, it is the naming of the proposed new secondary school at Searles that I am concerned about.

There is no doubt that the still controversial closure of the Louis Lynch Secondary School was a setback in terms of the provision of adequate accommodation of our secondary aged population. It must have been an exasperating decision bearing in mind the fact, in the words of Jones, that it will take between $28 million and $30 million to construct the new school. However, there were very compelling environmental and health reasons that forced the closure of the Bridgetown school.

Renaming of schools in Barbados after outstanding Barbadians, particularly eminent educators, has been a common feature especially with the construction of new schools whether primary or secondary. As an educator, I have a particular bias towards the renaming of schools after outstanding educators since their contribution to the social and economic development of Barbados is almost immeasurable.

I believe therefore that the naming of schools should be reserved for the memories of these men and women who were the architects of our educational system. I am therefore of the view that although there is no longer a Louis Lynch Secondary School, that the name Louis Lynch should not be descended into oblivion. It is here that I am recommending that the new school at Searles be named the Louis Lynch Secondary School.

There is no doubt of the tremendous impact Mr Lynch has had on the development of Barbados. While his contribution was felt in the areas of athletics, community organizations and politics, for this article I would concentrate on his outstanding work in education. Nationally known for his establishment of the Modern High School in 1944 with two students, this institution filled an educational void that saw thousands of black working class Barbadians being able to pursue a secondary education.

It was in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s that members of the Barbados Parliament were yearly advocating for increased places at the secondary level. The situation was then that there were too few places being offered by the island’s older grammar schools. It was therefore to the foresight of Mr Lynch that he established a learning institution nicknamed “the Harrison College of Roebuck” that eventually became the leading independent secondary school in Barbados.

The enterprising Mr Lynch was able to achieve a school roll of some 1,700 students, in addition to the provision of sixth form facilities. In fact, speaking recently to Sir Richard Cheltenham, he informed me that he was part of that academic class of persons who taught at the Roebuck Street institution. In fact, former Modernite Clyde Griffith, in commemorating the contribution of Lynch to education, had this to say:

“As part of his plan, he ensured that every year, those boys who won the Barbados Scholarship and waited a year to go abroad for continued study, would be employed as teachers. Thus Sir Henry Forde, Professor E.R.L. Walrond, Dr Jean Holder, Dr G.R.
DaC. Maynard, Sir Lloyd Sandiford, Sir Richard Haynes, the late G.E.T. Brancker, Senator R.O. Marville and N.G.A. Maxwell were all given an opportunity to demonstrate their brilliance and exhibit the discipline which eventually marked them for success in their lives.”

It is remarkable that the person who introduced the resolution to rename the Roebuck Secondary School was himself a product of that institution, no other than the then Member of Parliament, Mr Richard Byer. The former parliamentarian remarked that as an underprivileged youngster, he could not have been sitting in the House of Assembly were it not for the establishment of the Modern High School.

The Independent Secondary School movement, led by the Modern High School, included such schools as Lynch’s Secondary, The Ursuline Convent, Codrington High, Industry High, The Barbados Academy and the Unique High among others. They completely revolutionized secondary education in terms of increased access. In the academic year 1956-1957, the total private school attendance was 5,488, which went to 6,733 in academic year to 1962 -1963; 8,013 in 1972-1973 after which there was a gradual decline as more newer secondary schools were constructed.

Only this year, I attended the 24th annual Louis A. Lynch Memorial Lecture and must commend the Modern Old Scholars Association for commemorating the legacy of Mr Louis Lynch in the form of this annual series of lectures. On this occasion, a very inspired lecture was given by Dr Patricia Saul on ‘The Quest for Parity between Academic and Technical Education in Barbados’. The packed Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, was a clear indication of the respect and adoration held by Barbadians for Lynch’s legacy.

My advice to the Old Scholars Association would be to ask the Government to consider the idea of such a proposal. A glance at some of the names on the Board of Trustees that I am familiar with – a former colleague of mine in education, Mrs Cora F. Waldron MBE; former Minister in Government and Diplomat, Mr Clyde Griffith; former Parliamentary Secretary In the Ministry of Education, MP Cynthia Forde, constitute a formidable voice that could persuade the government that the name Louis Lynch be given to the new school.

(Dr Dan C. Carter is an educator historian and author)

6 Responses to The legacy of Louis Lynch

  1. Sylvis Shuffler May 26, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I think that’s a brilliant idea to name the school at Searles ” The Louis Lynch secondaire school”

    Reply
  2. Sylvis Shuffler May 26, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Correction, should be secondary not secondaire

    Reply
  3. Tony Waterman May 26, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I am in Total Agreement, and it would be bordering on Criminal if that Names is NOT kept ALIVE in Barbados.

    I am NOT an Alumus of that institution, i am a Combermerian, and has ALWAYS had Great Respect for Mr.Louis Lynch, and The Modern High School.

    Reply
  4. hcalndre May 27, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Mr. Louis Lynch`s (aka the Bomber) name should not or never be forgotten in Barbados, not only a school but in sports and politically too. What about England where many of his student went for a better life. The man deserves a national hero`s status.

    Reply
  5. D. Grantley Elcock May 28, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Why preserve the legacy of such an institution? A few facts should serve to suffice:

    The Modern High school -founded by Louis Albert Lynch on March 27, 1944, could not have been more fittingly named: Established in the decade generally considered as marking the beginning of the ‘modern era’ of education in Barbados (and throughout the Caribbean as a whole) represented the vanguard of efforts to provide secondary education to a wider cross section of Barbadians at that time. Within two years, it attained status as the largest independent Secondary School in Barbados, and by 1950 had fully established itself as an academic institution to be reckoned with. Among other accomplishments it became the largest secondary school in the island, was Registered and Approved by the Department of Education, saw its Principal accorded title of Temporary Inspector of Independent Schools seeking approval, and in November 1950 was granted was granted permission for its students to write examinations with the Oxford and Cambridge General Certificate of Education. In addressing the school’s Annual Speech Day on December 18,1953, the Chief Justice -Mr. J.W.B. Chenery, asserted that even though the institution was only a few years old, it had clearly asserted itself as indispensable part of the educational machinery of the island.

    As such, why should the name Louis Albert Lynch, associated with that educational legacy, be allowed to quietly fade into oblivion in Barbados now that we have achieved new heights? I think the pioneers that have brought us this far richly deserves to be remembered.

    Reply
  6. D. Grantley Elcock May 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Why preserve the legacy of such an institution? A few facts should serve to suffice:

    The Modern High school -founded by Louis Albert Lynch on March 27, 1944, could not have been more fittingly named: Established in the decade generally considered as marking the beginning of the ‘modern era’ of education in Barbados (and throughout the Caribbean as a whole) represented the vanguard of efforts to provide secondary education to a wider cross section of Barbadians at that time. Within two years, it attained status as the largest independent Secondary School in Barbados, and by 1950 had fully established itself as an academic institution to be reckoned with. Among other accomplishments it became the largest secondary school in the island, was Registered and Approved by the Department of Education, saw its Principal accorded title of Temporary Inspector of Independent Schools seeking approval, and in November 1950 was granted was granted permission for its students to write examinations with the Oxford and Cambridge General Certificate of Education. In addressing the school’s Annual Speech Day on December 18,1953, the Chief Justice -Mr. J.W.B. Chenery, asserted that even though the institution was only a few years old, it had clearly asserted itself as indispensable part of the educational machinery of the island.

    As such, why should the name Louis Albert Lynch, associated with that educational legacy, be allowed to quietly fade into oblivion in Barbados now that we have achieved new heights? Truly, recognition of the pioneers that have brought us this far richly deserves to be remembered.

    Reply

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