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Edwin Allen unveiled

JIS

Tuesday, June 14, 2005    

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FRANKFIELD, Clarendon - As part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, the Edwin Allen High School 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 held Thursday at the school, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture Maxine Henry-Wilson, described Edwin Allen as a visionary who, through his policy document, 'The New Deal in Education' published in 1965, gave children 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," said the education minister.

"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."

Andrew Holness, Opposition Spokesman on Education, said too, that during Allen's career, which spanned 34 years (1949-1983), he helped to make secondary education available to the poorer classes.

"Edwin Leopold Allen, serving as Minister of Education in the JLP administration of 1962-1972, launched a true revolution in education in Jamaica," said Holness, adding that at the time secondary education was seen as an elitist pursuit.

"Teacher Allen's vision was to expand access to secondary education throughout Jamaica and make it a basic right, instead of an elite reward," Holness said.

Clovis Nelson, sculptor and past student of the Edwin Allen High School, explained the concept behind the bust, which is mounted on a pedestal of the Encyclopedia 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 symbolises accomplishment," he said.

Allen first represented the constituency of North West Clarendon in the House of Representatives between 1949 and 1959. He served in the Legislative Council from 1959 to 1962 when he was elected Member of Parliament.

He served as MP 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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