King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
‘The paradise of the world’: conflict and society in the Caribbean


Table showing a scheme of books for a schoolRichard Rawle. A report of the assembling of church schoolmasters at Codrington College ... [Bridgetown], Barbados: printed at ‘The Barbados’ office, [1849] [FCDO Historical Collection LE17.B373 RAW]Before emancipation educational provision in Britain’s Caribbean colonies was very poor. Several grammar schools had been founded in the eighteenth century, but enrolment levels were low, most white planters sending their children to Britain for their schooling. Missionaries were reluctantly tolerated, at best, by the local planter-led legislatures, but were forbidden to teach slaves to read or write.

After emancipation, thanks to the work of the churches, the missionaries and the British government, which invested heavily in educational provision, rapid progress was made. By 1838 over 73,000 pupils were attending day or Sunday schools, with Barbados leading the way.

Teacher training colleges were also established, but the demand for places outstripped the supply of teachers, and children were taught in large classes, often ill-equipped with books and other teaching materials. The pamphlet on display documents a meeting called to address these deficiencies by Richard Rawle and includes a list of essential equipment and books for each school.

The meeting took place at Codrington College, founded in 1745 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel from the bequest of Christopher Codrington (1668-1710), governor-general of the Leeward Islands, who left two plantations and part of the island of Barbuda to the Society to found a college for the study of medicine and divinity.

Codrington College, which became affiliated to the Universityof Durham in 1875, was the West Indies’ only institute of higher education until the foundation of the University of the West Indies in 1948. It can claim to be the Anglican Communion’s oldest theological training college, having exclusively trained candidates for the ministry since 1830. Rawle (1812-89) was one of its most eminent principals and later became bishop of Trinidad.

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