Challenging Times
Dr. Fraser- Point of View
October 20, 2023

Challenging Times

The Headmaster,

The St. Vincent Grammar School,


15th November 1976,


Dear Sir,

We the undersigned teachers of the General Paper would like to place on record our deep concern over the frequent attempts by the Ministry of Education to interfere with the teaching of that subject.

In particular we refer to the real case of Friday 12th November when the Minister found it necessary to invite you to his office to express his misgivings about a particular topic given to the Sixth Form. The fact that this was a topic set in the University of the West Indies Scholarship Examination of 1975 shows that the Minister is out of touch with the requirements of these examinations. Furthermore, the different attempts at interference by the Ministry, in fact, represent the questioning of the integrity of ourselves as teachers. It also suggests a lack of confidence in the ability of sixth form students to discuss rationally any matter, whether it affects them directly or not, and therefore places doubt on the maturity of students and teachers alike.

This atmosphere is undoubtedly not conducive to free expression, an essential ingredient to meaningful class discussion and hence to effective learning. Finally, we must say, that as Teachers of the subject in question, we are in the best position to know the requirements for the examination and by extension what topics would best aid in the preparation of students to meet those requirements.

We must say too, that as teachers we do not feel that our duty lies in the propagation of any particular doctrines or creating antagonisms but helping to develop maturity and the creation of skills, which would lead to a critical approach to learning and therefore to life in general. Students are thus taught to arrive at their own conclusions after a process of critical examination. It is in this manner that we approach our task.

We consider the matter outlined extremely important and therefore hope that it will be so treated. We have taken the privilege of sending a carbon copy to the Sixth form since we realise that they are directly involved.

Thanking You,
Adrian Fraser

CC Sixth Form,
Members of Staff,
Education Officer

I was trying to reorganise or rather organise my personal archives and came across this letter which reminded me of some of the challenges I faced as a teacher. I cannot remember who was the other Sixth form teacher of General Paper. I believe I taught that subject to both Upper and Lower Six, but there were other persons who had in the past taught that subject and I got them to sign that letter that I drafted. I cannot remember the topic in question, but it was taken from the last examination and given to the class to discuss. Some student must have brought it to the attention of a parent, and then to the Minister of Education or some member of that department. The letter was written, it must be noted in 1976, a year after the Teachers Strike of 1975 when some of us who were active in that Strike were being harassed and victimised. While most other teachers were paid after the Strike had ended, I was not among them. I wore sandals to school because of an infection that was beginning to affect my feet. Some persons in the Ministry didn’t like that. I didn’t back away.

In 1977, I was invited by CADEC (an arm of the Caribbean Conference of Churches) and the Christian Council to take up a position as Coordinator of the Glebe Development Project that they were starting in Barrouallie. I accepted although hesitating at first when friends of mine asked if I was willing to give up a permanent job with pension to move to one that was temporary. I was still a young person, beside I welcomed the opportunity to work in my home town.

So far so Good! The harassment however continued since an influential member of the St Vincent Christian Council with ties to the then governing Labour Party, assumed that I made that decision because I was interested in contesting the constituency of Century Leeward as a candidate for the opposing party. It got more serious when three persons associated with the governing party met with my mother urging her to prevent me from contesting the election. That became a laughing matter for me. I was not a child. I made my own decisions, but being a candidate in any election was certainly never in my mind. The harassment did not end but was interfering with the job I was doing. I had the confidence of CADEC and the Caribbean Conference of Churches but the day-to-day operations over which the Christian Council had charge made things difficult for me. After four years I refused to renew my contract and made the decision to continue my studies. My only regret was for the people of the Glebe who had hoped for titles to the land they occupied and assistance in the development of the whole area. I had assisted in the formation of different groups, the most active being a Young Women’s’ Group and a Farmers Group, which I got to join the newly formed National Farmers Union. The young males had been making wooden toys and the women had been involved in different activities that would have assisted them and the community. Challenging times indeed!

  • Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian