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The Classics

World leaders focus on education

Published:Friday | June 9, 2023 | 7:27 AM
Prime Minister, Michael Manley (left), and His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Florizel Glasspole, addressing the Sixth Commonwealth Education Conference at its opening ceremony in the National Arena on June 10, 1964. Against a background of the flags of the 34 participating Commonwealth nations are (seated from left) the Hon. Howard Cooke, Minister of Education; Mrs. Michael Manley, Mr. Arnold Smith, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat.

 Leaders from across the world gathered to discuss the problems facing education systems across the globe. Jamaica was highlighted for identifying and leading the discussion on prioritising and taking steps to fix the problems. 


Commonwealth Education Parley on

Delegates from 34 Nations, Observers in attendance

By Gleaner Education Reporter

Some 200 DELEGATES from 34 Commonwealth Countries and observers from eight accredited organisations joined a strong contingent of Jamaican educators, churchmen, members of the Government and the diplomatic corps for the opening of the Sixth Commonwealth Education Conference yesterday morning at the National Arena.

Flags of the participant countries were on proud display as the opening ceremony began with the arrival of His Excellency the Governor General, the Most Hon. Florizel Glasspole, O.N. C.D. Meeting him were the Hon Howard Cooke, Minister of Education: Mr Arnold Smith, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat: Dr. J. Maraj, Assistant Secretary General; and Dr Sam Cookey, Director, Education Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Opening the proceedings, Mr Smith said that as delegates to the Sixth Commonwealth Education Conference the political policymakers and professional administrators of education would be debating ways and means of dealing with the situation in which manpower needs remain unsatisfied at the same time as unemployment rates among young people are rising.  Taking as their theme “Managing Education – Innovation, Implementation.  Consolidation", they would be seeking to reconcile educational desirability with political and economic feasibility.

He thought it fitting that the conference in Jamaica should be opened by one who in his public life had done so much for the development of parliamentary democracy and had also had the distinction of two terms in office as Minister of Education – the Most Hon. Florizel Glasspole.

Responding to the Secretary-General’s invitation to declare the conference open, His Excellency reviewed the work of previous Education Conferences and noted how, through the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Scheme, regional institutions and the region in general had derived great benefit.  Mr. Glasspole noted that the Jamaica position would be stated by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education, but he personally expressed the hope that the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme could be extended from 1,000 to 1,500 per year so that greater benefits could ensue to countries short of technology.


By virtue of being the representative of the country hosting the last conference,  Mr. Ker Jones, leader of the Australian delegation, proposed the vote of thanks to the Governor-General. He reaffirmed the spirit of Commonwealth cooperation in education.  He said his delegation was enjoying a first visit to the Caribbean and welcomed the opportunity to understand at first hand the problems and attitudes of the Caribbean.  He thanked those who provide entertainment, congratulated those responsible for planning the conference, and thanked His Excellency for his welcome.

At the following session, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael Manley, delivered the keynote address in which he saw education as “always an extension of political purpose, perhaps the primary agent that is available to that purpose”.  By “political”, the Prime Minister referred to “the process by which long-term and short-term objectives and goals are set by the society itself based on some notion of what is good for the particular society.”

Mr Manley distinguished basic categories of purpose to which education must be put and suggested certain critical elements for his concept of the “total school, which would provide diversity of training within a single organisational frame.  These were involvement in the political process both internally and externally; extensive involvement in manual work to make work seem natural, equal in dignity, and devoid of overtones of status; involvement in economic production; involvement in the community and involvement in every form of creative activity."

For those referred to as “Drop-outs” and “those that never dropped in”.  Mr Manley proposed what he called “reclamation education.” Only in the evolution of society, which “creates the moral parameters with which expectation and possibility are reconciled” did he see hope for “an international community which substitutes a moral world order for perennial confrontation.”

Following a standing ovation, Mr Manley was thanked by the Hon. A. J. Sandy, Minister of Education for Sierra Leone, who said few politicians had a lot of problems facing education today and Jamaica was fortunate to have leadership capable of analysing educational problems.

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