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or nine feet long, must always have been unmistakably ugly. The small-eyed face is dominated by a sensitive and mobile muzzle, whose nostrils act as valves, closing when the animal, having fed, submerges once more and drifts along, just below the surface of the water. Catching them alive is difficult since they can break any but the strongest net; knowing this, the local animal-catchers, having enclosed one in a net, set up a vibration through the net which is so delicious to the manatee that he remains happily in captivity until he can be properly landed.

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On the same side of the town as the Botanic Gardens lies a large area of palm-covered land which forms one of the largest cemeteries in the world, a place of considerable beauty where the ornate tombstones of planters who died in their prime— the death-rate among the English in the old days was highstand beside those of humble soldiers, but always some distance from the simple crosses or the unmarked graves of the Negroes. For some time there has been controversy over the necessity of having so vast a cemetery when building space is needed. On two sides of the cemetery new housing schemes have been completed. One is a series of long blocks of wooden flats, designed by an architect apparently unaware that even in living-places for the poor some sense of the pleasantness of form is both desirable and possible.' These buildings, which were built before the Government's recent increase in building activity, are drab -yet even so they appear like palaces when one comes across them after the appalling slums of adjacent Albouystown. The slum clearance of Albouystown, a priority of the administration, has met with much quiet local opposition. Most of the district is owned by East Indian landlords who, having no wish to lose their properties and their rents, thwart the attempts to clear the slums. Some of the people of Albouystown will eventually move to the new Government town of Campbellville, where small but brilliantly designed houses are being built, using as much concrete as wood. When I commented to their designer, James Walker, on the use of concrete in a country

1 This is a personal view. I am told that the buildings have become drab by neglect since their erection and when new were perfectly reasonable in appearance.

where wood is the one thing which is in abundance he told me that the enormous increase in the consumption of wood has meant that the Government Housing Department can only accept 23 per cent of the timber offered them; the rest is too green and would quickly warp. No profit is made on these excellent houses, which are intended for poor people. The contract price is £360 and the buyers pay down 5 per cent of that price and pay off the rest at three pounds a month.

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The danger of some of the housing is that schemes which were intended to alleviate the miserable conditions of the very poor have turned out to be more expensive than intended, attracting the middle-classes, who have always been decently housed. The one hundred excellent Government houses at La Penitence cost £700 and their disposal has proved so embarrassing to the Government that they have lain unoccupied for a year. This was partly due to the fact that they were completed before any provision whatever had been made for water or electricity supply.

The whole question of the intense housing drive in British Guiana is controversial. Clearly, in a country where slums are so general, welfare-state housing which is not solidly based on

the economy of the Colony is desirable per se. Yet, if it is a question, for financial reasons, of choosing between housing and other vital and costly matters which are necessary to the economic development of the Colony it seems to me that housing is a luxury which is too much tainted by the desire of the U.K. Government to be able to show the Guianese that something is being done for them, that the administration is active. The Robertson Report1 has said

'the great majority of the ordinary people of British Guiana have for the moment a common outlook in that they are dissatisfied with their conditions and are anxious for swift and sweeping improvements which they believe can only be achieved when they have an increasing say in the management of their affairs. Only a very small minority have any understanding of the economic realities of their country or of the difficulties which must be overcome before there can be any substantial betterment of the general standard of living.'

It was psychologically percipient to pander to the majority by giving it a visible proof of good intentions, but it is plain that the minority mentioned in the report sees that the deep-lying economic modifications have suffered from this insistence on house-building. It should be remembered, too, that a slum shack in a tropical country does not produce the same degree of 1 Report of the British Guiana Constitutional Commission, 1954. H.M.S.O.


2 There are two economic aspects to the housing situation. On the simple level, the actual provision of houses is not as uneconomic as it might appear, since the housing loans are repayable to the Government within a comparatively short time and the element of subsidy appears in the free provision of roads on the estates and other public facilities. The other, more complicated aspect, is concerned with the economic wisdom of the emphasis on housing. The figures for development expenditure on housing for 1950-4 are as follows: 1950, £2,988; 1951, £189,475; 1952, £67,848; 1953, £153,921; 1954, £163,052. The great increase in 1951 shows that the Government was aware of the necessity to do something in this direction before the crisis in 1953. It is only fair to point out that in all these years the development expenditure under the heading 'Agriculture, Drainage and Irrigation' has been greatly in excess of that on housing (£436,713 in 1953), but nevertheless the psychological emphasis has been on housing, and the results of expenditure on Agriculture, Drainage and Irrigation-though difficult to assess-have not been striking. The constant difficulty is to ensure a high standard of work by means of trained supervision, and to induce highly trained engineers to come to the Colony-and to remain for more than one or two years once they have come. The British Guiana Government does not wish to be unfairly judged on the results of the two-year Development Plan of 1953, which it realizes was not fully achieved. But there is certainly the desire and determination that the five-year plan of 1955 shall be a complete achievement.

misery as its equivalent in a cold country. Most of the shackdweller's life is spent out of doors, and the Negro normally keeps even the most squalid-looking shack clean and in decent order. This does not mean that I am attempting to excuse the existence of these slums and would deny those who live in them the benefits of new houses under a welfare system. But I do believe that if the economic development of the country were put first the living standards would eventually improve without the necessity for this aspirin from the Government.

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Beyond Campbellville, towards the Sea Wall and the charming suburb of Kitty, the buildings become more thinly spread and there are open spaces of green where, at most times of the day, boys can be seen playing cricket with enthusiasm and skill. In one of the open spaces stands Queen's College, an excellent modern building in wood and glass. It is the first school of the Colony and the social advantage of having been educated there is great, though many of its former pupils have told me that the failing of the school is that it is, or was, biased almost exclusively towards the humane studies and that those who might have benefited from a technological or scientific training found little encouragement. Queen's College is not alone in this; the whole education of the Colony's schools has always been on the same lines, and the result has been a remarkably low illiteracy rate,1 but much technological deficiency. When I discussed this with Guianese they would suggest that it has been the policy of the British in the past not to allow the Guianese to become eligible for technological and scientific jobs. There may once have been truth in this, but under the new colonial dispensation there is certainly no gain-only loss—in not giving colonial peoples an opportunity to learn the scientific skills which were once the prerogative of the expatriate British. Whether or no it is entirely the result of their education the Guianese, particularly the Africans, give a strong

1 Comparative figures will clarify this point. The last census (1946) showed Barbados to have an illiteracy rate of 7.29 per cent against British Guiana's 21.36 per cent. This last figure, however, includes East Indians and Amerindians. Among Negroes and other communities the illiteracy rate was staggeringly low-less than 3 per cent. With the increased interest in education among East Indians during the last decade it is likely that the general illiteracy rate would today be much lower than it was in 1946.

general impression of having artistic natures. Shakespearean quotations are always at hand to illustrate a conversational point and the letter columns of the three newspapers often contain fine, rolling sentences and references to classical authors.

It is unfortunately far from certain that present standards of education can be maintained in face of the immense pressure on the system built up by the rapid growth of the population. Almost all the primary schools of the Colony are run by the various Christian denominations there. A small Government subsidy is given to the churches for that purpose. Local teachers staff the schools and the clergy undertake the school management as part of their duties. In 1954 there were 297 primary schools with an enrolment of about 70,000 pupils. Nineteen of those were Government schools and nine Government-aided schools without religious denomination. The Government pays the teachers' salaries in the denominational schools and makes annual grants for equipment and upkeep. Government inspectors visit all the schools. There is good co-operation and coordination between the Education Department and the church schools. A scheme for pupil-teacher training has been in existence for some years and has produced many of the 2,000 primary-school teachers. Others have received their training at the Training College in Georgetown.

It is thought that this dual control of education, excellent as it may be in some respects, cannot continue indefinitely. Already the schools are desperately crowded and educational standards are declining. It was estimated in the 1951 Report of the Comptroller for Development and Welfare of the West Indies that the section of the population of school age (five to fourteen), which numbered 85,000 in 1946, would reach 133,000 by 1961. The cost of educating them would be over £833,300 in that year, teachers' salaries accounting for 80 per cent. Such rapidly increasing expenditure, said the Report, is alarming; and it is clear that the Government must shoulder an ever greater responsibility not only for paying teachers but also for building schools.

Primary education has been compulsory since 1876. Few of the pupils go on to secondary education. The majority who leave school spend some years before they settle into an

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