An editorial in yesterdays Stabroek News on the 175th Anniversary of Queens College seems to have upset the mouthpieces of the ruling APNU+AFC. Some of them took to social media to deride the editorial, with most questioning what point the editorial was making.
The editorial was but merely the casus belli or the occasion for waging resentment against Stabroek News. The real cause was the slight which the Government felt at that newspapers failure to report on the Presidents visit to Queens College last week. The newspaper had explained that there were a number of reasons, which could be adduced for a newspaper not carrying a particular story on any particular day.
One government official wrote a letter to the media highlighting the fact that Stabroek News did not report the 175th Anniversary of the school. But it does not take a genius to appreciate that the implicit grouse was that the Presidents address was not carried.
Against this background, the mouthpieces of the government should have been pleased that the anniversary of the school was the subject of a long editorial yesterday in the very newspaper which was accused of snubbing the schools 175 Anniversary. However, the political flunkies were not pleased.
And the reason they were not pleased is because the editorial exposed the plot by Forbes Burnham to undermine Queens College. Forbes Burnham, the Founder Leader of the Peoples National Congress, was a Queens College alumnus, a distinguished one at that.
But at a time of growing domestic isolation, he made an indecent proposal to a former Headmaster of Queens College. He wanted the name of the school to be changed to Presidents College and for the school emblem to have elements of his presidential standards.
The school would have none of it and given the fact that many alumni were outraged at the assassination of Walter Rodney, QC essentially was never interested in changing the name of the school to idolise Burnham.
Burnham never took personal insults or slights kindly. He never forgave Queens College for rebuffing him. As such, he set about establishing another school which he hoped would have superseded Queens College as the countrys premier school of excellence.
Burnhams plans, however, went beyond changing the name of the school.
The former President was interested in creating elite students who would benefit from socialist political indoctrination and trained to become the future leaders of the country, to replace those who had traditionally be churned out by Queens College.
This is how Presidents College was born. Presidents College was created to fulfill the ambitions of Burnham to control the countrys future intellectual elite. Burnham wanted to ensure that his government would never have to face another Walter Rodney.
Presidents College was created to undermine Queens College. It took away from QC students who would have ended up there.
The contributions of Presidents College, however, must not be discounted.
The school must be credited with providing opportunities to bright students from rural areas who without the residential dormitories provided by the school, would never have been afforded the education they received.
Many students from the countryside received a good education because of Presidents College.
Their parents would have been unable to send them to the city to attend Queens College because they would not have had relatives or friends willing to take care of the boarding and lodging of these children.
Presidents College was therefore created as a special school. This was to be no ordinary school. It was situated on a large piece of land and a great deal of resources was pumped into the institution.
So much resources were pumped into this institution that after the economy went into a tailspin, it was discovered that Presidents College one school was utilising 25% of the expenditure on general secondary and community high schools in the country.
It was the editorial’s suggestion that Burnham undermined Queens College, which has irked the lackeys of the government. But if this country is going to avoid making the same mistakes which were made in the past, it is important that people understand how bad policies, under Burnham, destroyed the countrys education system to the point whereby at one stage only about 4% of students sitting the CXC examinations were passing five subjects or more subjects.
Free education was never free. The people of Guyana paid for free education in high taxes, poor pay, national service and ultimately the decline in educational standards.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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