Editor: In today’s fraught society, the repugnant connotations of the word ‘elitism’ surpass its denotative meaning.
So when these connotations collide with baked in resentments towards the GHS, we get the explosion which came about as a result of the introduction of Mandarin in the first form. So let’s step back a bit. Why is GHS branded as being hatefully elitist despite the stark reality of its being an old school which has evolved into a community school which represents St Vincent and the Grenadines in the 21st century?
Within the last 60 years, the CCE, then the CPEA, have presented a measured performance differential which determines who enters this school. Sometimes, sensitive, impressionable little girls, at a formative stage in their lives, are deeply bruised when they fall below the requisite standard for entry. While most of those who do enter tend to regard themselves as having entered a tradition of excellence which demands no less of them. These little girls who enter represent the length and breath of SVG. Most Vincentians are by no means wealthy, therefore most of these girls are by no means wealthy. Generally, they do not represent a superior class that is removed from the rest of society. They represent a meritocracy: a group of girls who have, on the basis of fact based measurement, earned their place in GHS. They understand their placement and they strive to maintain this placement long after they have graduated. They, by and large, adhere to standards which strive for academic, co-curricular and extracurricular excellence. They strive to move themselves and their societies forward.
Does this thrust for excellence diminish others? Does this thrust come at the expense of others? If it does then it is elitism. But it does not. Let us be honest with ourselves and with the history of this school. The GHS, like all other government and government-assisted schools, receives its allotments from the government on the basis of the school’s enrolment. The GHS alumnae and PTA supplement these allotments on a regular basis. These supplementary funds are not taken from any other school. The GHS has competed fairly in all spheres on an interschools’ level despite the perception that the school functions on the basis of ill-gotten privilege. What privilege does this school have? The privilege of determined past and present students who are committed to using their abilities in their best interests.
Don’t other schools have these privileges as well? Of course they do; but do they have a vibrant tradition of self-belief? Sadly, this is often lacking and may be a remnant of the bruising experience of the CCE/CPEA trauma. But this response to trauma does not make GHS elitist.