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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social change and high school opportunity in Guyana and Jamaica: 1957-1967 Bynoe, Jacob Galton

Abstract

The approach to nationhood and democratic government in Guyana and Jamaica during the 1950's and 1960's was characterised by a determination to reduce inequalities in the distribution of goods and services among various socioeconomic groups. The thesis examines efforts made to lessen inequalities in educational opportunity, and assesses the results achieved. Specifically it enquires into the results of measures instituted during 1957 to 1967 to reduce inequalities in representation of different groups among high school free-place winners. The hypothesis examined is that despite legislative and organisational changes, formerly deprived groups still remain at a considerable disadvantage in their chances for high school selection. For both countries, groups are classified on the basis of four separate differentiating characteristics: parental occupation, regional background, sex, and type of previous school attended. For Guyana ethnic background is included because of peculiar ethno-historical problems in that country. Analysis of Ministry of Education records of all free-place winners in 1967 reveals that the position of the traditionally less privileged rural, and skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled groups remained far below public expectations and official claims. However, the disadvantages suffered in Guyana by East Indians as a group were rapidly and almost completely eliminated with increased participation of this group in the governmental machinery. The thesis also seeks to explore some of those social and economic factors that seemed historically to have frustrated efforts for the general expansion and equalisation of high school opportunity in the two territories. A study primarily of official records, speeches, reports, and other documentary evidence suggests that not only the scarcity of economic resources but the system of rewards, the kinds of employment opportunities available, and commitment on the part of various sections of the community to traditional elitist educational values were contributory factors. Equalizing educational opportunity requires not merely increasing the quantity of school places available, but diversifying the school programme to relate to various curricular interests and occupational aspirations. The success of such diversified programmes is affected by the actual patterns of curricular interests and occupational aspirations. The success of such diversified programmes is affected by the actual patterns of curricular interests and occupational aspirations of students, the investigation of which forms a subsidiary part of the thesis. Implications of findings for the further expansion and equalisation of high school opportunity in the two countries are discussed, and proposals for promoting these objectives outlined.

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