JIS News

As part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, the Edwin Allen High School in North Clarendon has unveiled a bust of the late Edwin Allen, founder of the school and the first Minister of Education in independent Jamaica.
At the ceremony, which was held yesterday (June 9), at the school, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson described Mr. Allen as a visionary who, through his policy document, ‘The New Deal in Education’, published in 1965, empowered children to have access to the “best education that the country could afford”.
She added that he pioneered his vision by establishing the Edwin Allen High School in his own constituency, which was then known as the Frankfield Comprehensive High School.
“The school was founded .to provide equal access to secondary education by all students. Not just students who live in Frankfield but those who live in the environs. The concept of the comprehensive high school was to allow children to move seamlessly from primary to secondary education, without having that barrier of the Common Entrance Examination, as it was then. He ensured that there was equality of opportunity,” the Minister said.
“Mr. Allen recognised that for the principle of equality to prevail, it had to be embedded in policy.so he made sure that through ‘The New Deal in Education’, there were adjustments, fundamental changes to our education system, which would entrench concepts such as the comprehensive high school,” she added.
In his address, Andrew Holness, Opposition Spokesman on Education said that during Mr. Allen’s career, which spanned 34 years (1949-1983), he helped to make secondary education available to poorer classes of persons.
“Edwin Leopold Allen, serving as Minister of Education in the JLP administration of 1962-1972, launched a true revolution in education in Jamaica. In that time, secondary education was viewed as an elite pursuit and the number of secondary school spaces were limited, concentrated in a few areas, mostly Kingston and St. Andrew. Teacher Allen’s vision was to expand access to secondary education throughout Jamaica and make it a basic right, instead of an elite reward,” he said.
Clovis Nelson, sculptor and past student of the Edwin Allen High School explained the concept behind the bust.
“The bust is erected on a pedestal of Encyclopaedia Britannica.the metaphor behind all of that, is that this was Mr. Allen’s internet in his day. The complete volume spirals upwards, which is suggestive of upward mobility, different levels of achievement and the bust sits on the ultimate volume, the 19th volume, which symbolizes accomplishment,” he said.
Mr. Allen first represented the constituency of Northwest Clarendon in the House of Representatives between 1949 and 1959. He served in the Legislative Council from 1959 until 1962 when he was elected Member of Parliament. He served until 1976 and again from 1980-1983, during which time he also served as special advisor on education to the Government. He died in 1984.
The school was founded in 1964 with 356 students. It now caters to about 2,400 students and has 109 members on the academic staff.

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