Sep 06, 2010 News
QUEENSTOWN, NEW AMSTERDAM – The Berbice High School (BHS), which produced many of Guyana’s most respected citizens, celebrated its 94th Anniversary yesterday.
Principal of the school, Jennifer Rollins said her dedicated staff members continue to ensure that their Carpe Diem (seize the opportunity) Motto is achieved. This can be seen in the consistent performance of students at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) examination, Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE), in the allied arts and sports,
“We strive to ensure that our children make full use of all opportunities available, be it academically, in the field of sports, culture or by molding them to be role models. The results are evident. My Deputy, other teachers and other members of staff go above and beyond the call of duty and at all times keeping the well-being of our students at heart. My students are rounded.”
The 2009 academic year recorded an 849 student population with 37 teachers.
According to her, at the 2010 CAPE, BHS was ranked third among the ten schools to enter for the examination. This was the first time students were sent up after a four-year absence. Charlisa James was the school’s top performer. She secured three passes with a grade two, three and four.
The institution gained an 83 percent pass rate at this year’s CSEC examination in grades one to three and with grades one to four passes a 96 percent pass rate. A total of 151 students entered in 22 subject areas. They attained 149 passes with grade one, 526 – grade two, 421 – grade three and 178 – grade four passes.
Elizabeth Dianne Fraser achieved 12 subjects, three of which are with distinction, five with grade one passes; three grade two and one grade three. Besides being the school’s best student, this landed her in a tie for the sixth top performer spot in Region Six.
Head Teacher Rollins said that not only does discipline play a pivotal role in the development of the children but the importance of learning that life is not made up of all sunny days,
“We teach them to learn from the mistakes of others and their own and use that as a stepping stone.”
The Berbice High School is the reigning Secondary School Chess Champion in the Berbice Cricket Board of Control competition. The institution is known for its outstanding cricket, football, debating and quiz teams. During the last academic year, BHS walked away with the first, second and third prizes at the essay competition sponsored by the Berbice Cricket Board of Control.
Besides producing prominent past students such as Sir Edward Luckhoo, Lionel Luckhoo and Sir Shridath Ramphal among others, she said, in more recent times to grace the institution were Magistrate Chandra Sohan, Kirk Alphonso, UK based Sheila Seepersaud Jones, Personal Trainer Rob Singh, Proprietor of the Future Vision DVD Club Tariq Bacchus who are some of those who continue to offer their unconditional support.
In giving a brief history of the institution, Ms. Rollins said that in 1916 a group of Canadian Missionary Teachers made a decision to establish a top rate education institution for those in Berbice. It was owned by the Canadian Presbyterian Church.
She pointed to the school’s manual where it states that the institution’s aim was to prepare boys and girls for the important tasks in life, to seek after truth and righteousness and to build a character worthy of emulation.
On September 5, 1916 the Berbice High School for boys was established on the bottom floor of Reverend J. A. Scrimgeour’s residence. Mr. C.A. Pugsley was the head teacher for the nine students. Due to a growing population and the generosity of both the public and Government, in 1920 the Boys Building was erected. As a direct result to this the Canadian Mission Council of the Presbyterian Church made the move to set up a school for girls. This was housed on the lower flat of the Missionary’s residence under the charge of the Minister’s wife Mrs. McLeod.
The manual further states that the Berbice High School for Girls and the Berbice High School for Boys continued until 1924 when the students of the fourth and fifth form were placed together for the first time to work for their Cambridge Junior and Senior School Certificate Examination.
By 1941, the manual states that, the student population had reached 190 and a complete amalgamation was effected. It was then the name – Berbice High School came into being.
In order to adequately accommodate the growing number of students on role, the Canadian Presbyterian Church in Canada decided to send a representative to British Guiana to assess the situation and examine whether any assistance could come from Government. According to the document, Dr. E. H. Johnson, Secretary for the Board of Overseas Missions was able to influence the Government to throw in 50 percent of the cost for the construction of the building in the master plan. In April 1919 Government made their first financial contribution towards salaries of teachers. The rate was $100 per month.
Names such as the Honorable Joseph Eleazer, Honourable E.A. Luckhoo, Honourable Peer Bacchus and the Honourable T.T. Thompson played a fundamental part in bending Government’s arm to release more assistance to the school.
According to the document, “In 1951, Honourable W.O.R. Kendall convinced Government of the need to increase its grant to the Berbice High School from $8,000 to $13,000. In 1955 government was again approached for an increase in the grant and as there was a consciousness of the value of education among the ranks of the government, the annual block grant was increased to $27,500.”
After 50 years of producing some of the finest students in the country, the school on the 16th of January 1967 was passed over to the Government of Guyana and no more were tuition fees charged. The Minister of Education, who was then Winifred Gaskin, announced that the school would hold status similar to that of Queens College and Bishops High School.
Another page in the school’s history was written in 1919 when J. I Ramphal became known as the first candidate to pass the Cambridge Senior Examination. “Mr. Simon Mook Sang obtained the medical degree at Edinburgh after gaining university standing from the Berbice High School in 1926.” The
document states that in 1954 the Oxford examination was introduced to the school and later the G.C.E.
A sixth form was established at the institution in 1954 but due to poor response the idea was abandoned. It was subsequently re-introduced and lasted a few years. In 1971 the Berbice High School was twinned with the St. Rose’s High School, however, according to the manual, no known visits were made since 1976.
The school is situated at the intersection of North Road and Princess Elizabeth Road in New Amsterdam. The population comes from several sections of East and West Berbice.
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