Our Readers' Opinions
March 7, 2014
Historical Notes

Letter to the Headmistress of the Girls High School, February 9, 1931

Dear Madam,

“I learn that you are this week having a trial week of the proposed introduction of a change in the school hours at your School (8am to 1pm) on which matter as a parent I have already given you my views which I now reiterate.{{more}}

I am sorry I cannot make it convenient for my children to be in time as they have certain engagements such as music lessons, etc, and domestic matters to attend to before getting away for school at nine o’ clock as obtains at present; and I beg to say that during this trial week I shall not expect to see ‘late’ recorded against them nor to learn that they have been deprived of such marks as they might have obtained had they been at school at eight o’ clock.

Following are reasons why all the parents with whom I have discussed this matter are opposed to the change-

1. From eight o’ clock in the morning to one o’ clock in the afternoon, with a break of only twenty minutes at eleven o’ clock, will be too much of a mental strain on the children and will certainly ruin their health.

2. Children who do not live in Kingstown will find it more difficult to arrive at school in time, especially on rainy mornings.

3. The milk system not being a reliable one, many children will often find themselves at school without tea

4. Many children who are boarders in Kingstown will either have to go to school without a morsel or their parents are required to meet higher charges for additional attention entailed. And it is known that parents of many such children are already having a hard fight to maintain them in town.

5. Many pupils have to help their parents with domestic duties and to despatch them earlier would mean more work for the poor mothers, especially in the case of large families.

6. In the case of homes with children of different ages who go to different schools at different hours, such homes would be like regular hotels as far as meals are concerned – a condition that would be most embarrassing.

7. I might add that I notice in an article appearing in a recent issue of the Investigator on this matter that in Trinidad, at schools similar to yours, with the same number of working hours, the recess time is 1 hours on the average.

8. I understand the bad housing condition at this School is the cause of the desired change. If this is correct, it is therefore a matter for Government to remedy and not for them to try to throw the burden on the parents, thereby ruining their pockets, and moreover jeopardising the children’s health.

9. The Health Department is lacking in its duty in permitting this

School to be held under such conditions as is reported, and not calling Government’s attention thereto; and they would certainly find it all the more difficult in getting the requirements of the Health Ordinance observed if Government does not recognise even the common principles of health.

10. As this is a community matter I am getting this letter published in the local newspapers which I hope you will have no objection to”

C.D McDowall (The Times, February 12, 1931)