HC Deb 21 March 1956 vol 550 cc1239-40
42. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a statement upon the new comprehensive proposals of the Government of Mauritius to house the 10,000 children who were refused entry to the primary schools at the beginning of the present term.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

A comprehensive plan has been prepared providing for construction of 528 new class rooms and accelerated training of approximately 550 new teachers within the next two years. By these means it is hoped that there will be no children awaiting admission by January, 1958, when approximately 100,000 places, compared with 72,000 at present, should be available.

Mr. Johnson

Is not the position of the pupils quite a scandal? Since 1946, the number has gone up from about 42,000 to 72,000, an increase of 70 per cent. while the budget has gone up from a little under 2 million rupees to more than 12 million rupees, or 600 per cent. Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that there are officials enjoying sinecures with whom we might dispense, in order that we might have more schools built and more youngsters in those schools?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that there are other difficulties in the matter, such as the willingness of parents to send their children to school, the absence of any powers to see that the children leave school when they reach standard six and the fact that the growth of population in Mauritius is 47.5 per thousand, compared with 15.9 per thousand in the United Kingdom and even only 25.8 in India. I do not think it is unreasonable to say that, as 75 per cent. of the children in Mauritius are in the primary schools, the Mauritius Government have done a good job; but they are not satisfied with it.