Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

VIII
EDUCATION1

THE educational system of any country is in a large measure a reflection of its prevailing economic conditions and its social traditions. This is especially true of Newfoundland which because of its geographical isolation has been until recently less subject to external influences upon its life and educational system than the provinces of Canada or the states of the United States.

The basic difficulties in the development of an efficient educational system have been economic and will probably continue to be so indefinitely. As has been repeatedly pointed out, the productivity of the Newfoundland economy is relatively low; the government funds available for carrying costly public services, among them education, have, therefore, been severely limited. In addition, the distribution of population in small communities, often completely isolated from one another except by sea, makes for relatively high overhead costs and small operating units in social and educational services. Moreover, the predominance of extractive industries in the economy--fishing, mining, forestry, agriculture--which require manual skill rather than book-learning or technical training, has meant that Newfoundland people have not had the incentives to those forms of education which an industrial society develops. The fishing industry especially tends to interfere with continuous schooling, even at the elementary level; older children are useful in many operations in the industry, and there is constant temptation in the fishing season to employ them at the expense of their schooling; the

____________________
1
The editor is deeply grateful to the following committee of the Newfoundland Branch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs for assistance in preparing this chapter, the subject matter of which demanded an intimate knowledge of local conditions and opinions: Dr. V. P. Burke, O.B.E., Dr. A. G. Hatcher, Fred R. Emerson, Esq., K.C., Dr. H. L. Pottle.

-157-

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