May 28, 2008

THE 1962 STRIKE – EFFECTS ON EDUCATION

Posted in Education, Guyana, Lusignan, Politics tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:59 am by randallbutisingh

THE 1962 STRIKE – EFFECTS ON EDUCATION

Excerpts from ”MY STORY”, by Randall Butisingh –(unpublished)

In British Guiana’s (now Guyana) 1962 Strike many teachers stayed away from School for three months and got no pay then, however, when the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government got into power in 1964, they were paid for that time.

When the big strike occurred in 1962 during the premiership of Dr. Cheddie Jagan of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), racial animosity flared and violence erupted. Indians were forced to flee from areas where Africans predominated and vice versa. The African teachers, who were in the majority at Lusignan School where I was Senior Assistant, had to leave their posts and Indian teachers took their places.

Then followed a massive exodus of children moving from one community to the other: pupils from African or Indian communities migrated to where their ethnic groups predominated. Teachers, mainly Indians who did not strike were transferred temporarily to where Indians predominated. Lusignan school population swelled from over four hundred to over six hundred. There was not enough accommodation for all; the pupils sat on benches packed like sardines in a can. Proper instruction was impossible, sanitary conveniences were deplorable and teachers were frustrated. Dawdling and gross negligence were evident on the part of the teachers and there was general chaos.

At one time during the strike, a hostile band led by an African teacher from a neighbouring village, was heading towards the school. The children saw this and began running out of the school, I tried to restrain them, but a fellow teacher thought it wise to let them go. Seeing this, the hostile band changed direction and departed.

In the villages where Africans were in the majority, the pupils stayed away from school and joined marauders, some serving as cat’s paws for looters of Indian businesses. This was a sad state of affairs which did not augur well for Education in the country. From that time, the system downgraded in every aspect, the chief being the maintenance of discipline which is so vital a prerequisite for Education.

— Randall Butisingh

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2 Comments »

  1. nalini said,

    thank you for writing this. so much needs to be said about this period, and those with responsibility during this time, who are still alive, need to learn from your example and speak out …about their role and decisions.

  2. bhagwandeen ramroop said,

    Dear Mr. R Butisingh,
    Greetings, I am very happy to see that you are well and healty in Florida, I was a student of Lusignan Government School from small school until I finish six standard at which time you was our Headmaster. After finishing six standard I went to Guyana Oriental College of the late Mr. Shruti Kant. In 1973 I move to Canada and have been living here ever since. When I read your blog I was very happy that my headmaster was well and at age 96 still contributing to society, I wish you well in your endevour and may you live to see 100 years and beyond, you was a good Headmaster and I remember all the good things that you did for our school and thought us as student during the racial tenion in Guyana, hopefully I can meet with you in Florida and look back at life in Guyana. God bless and Good bye. Your former student B. Ramroop.


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