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It depends on who you are talking about educating. There were private schools for rich white landowners, and nearly nothing else but a few missionary schools. Slaves were not allowed to attend school at all. Yet by the mid-19th century, the slaves were freed and there was an establishment of schools for the lower classes.
Many people were worried that the end of slavery would bring the civilization into chaos.
Education was looked to as the mechanism for averting this impending catastrophe and ensuring the continued existence of the white planter class. (educoas.org)
Thus while the lower classes had education, it was designed to keep them lower class. It was not intended to promote equality, at that time.
Slaves and their offspring were given little more than religious instruction. Indeed, in 1797 a law in Barbados made it illegal to teach reading and writing to slaves. (mangabay.com)
There were basically three classes of people in the Caribbean Islands in the 19th century (1800s). These were wealthy English whites, poor whites and non-whites, slaves. The slaves were forbidden education except for religious precepts, reading and writing being outlawed as late as 1797. The wealthy whites most often were sent to England to be educated at "public schools" (elite private schools) for sons or other boarding schools for sons and daughters. Some young men traveled to the North American colonies to be educated there at one of the colonial charter schools like Harvard or the College of William and Mary. Poor whites and non-whites were educated at local religious schools, while the sons and daughters of moderately wealthy whites were educated at elite schools on the islands.
Later, after compulsory education was mandated in England in 1880, a wave of educational reform swept the Caribbeans when school boards made primary through limited secondary education available throughout. Teacher colleges were established and examinations were standardized and authorized. Education fell under the control of competing religious churches of Protestant and Catholic belief. Texts, subjects and examinations continued to be exclusively British in origin and content as in all British colonies.
Education in the Caribbean in the 19th century was limited for those of lower economic classes.Wealthy plantation owners primarily sent their children overseas (Britain, Europe) for premier formal education. Some sent their children to the United States. Slaves and their children received religious education only, in the Caribbean during this century.
However, tertiary, or third-level education was strong in the Dominican Republic. It had strong, established connections with Latin America. The University of Santo Domingo established in the 1500s. In the Dominican Republic, the early childhood, primary, and secondary sectors were weaker.
The first college in the English Dutch Caribbean was Codrington in Barbados (1745). The next was Mico in 1836. There were small theological schools in English Dutch Caribbean in the 1900s.
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