HC Deb 09 March 1955 vol 538 cc441-2
31. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the anxiety felt in Mauritius over the changed educational policy in this Colony, resulting in 10,000 children being refused admission to the schools in January, 1955; if he is aware that English, formerly taught in infant classes and first standard, has been abolished and replaced by French; and what steps he proposes in these matters.

Mr. Hopkinson

I am informed that there is no evidence of general anxiety. The reorganisation of the primary school course was unanimously approved by the fully representative education committee. There is no foundation for the suggestion that 10,000 children were refused admission; 10,000 is the number of new pupils admitted to primary schools in January, 1955, which represents an increase of 2,400 over the corresponding intake in January, 1954. The replacement of the English syllabus previously used in infants and standard I classes by oral work in English is a change of method to meet the difficulties experienced by very young children in attempting to study three languages on their entry to school.

Mr. Johnson

While not accepting some of the Minister's statistics, may I ask if he is aware that there is the keenest feeling on these and many other matters, including constitutional advance? Does he not think that it is time he invited to London a deputation or a delegation from the Legislative Council to discuss these topics?

Mr. Hopkinson

My information is that there is no general dissatisfaction at these new arrangements, but that it is limited to one or two people. In fact, the matter has been very clearly explained to the population by the director of education. It is certainly in the best interests of the children themselves that these new arrangements have been brought into force.