|AdminHistory||The BFSS in South America|
The British system was remarkably popular in South America. The spread of the system was largely the work of James Thompson, a missionary with the British and Foreign Bible Society and an agent of the BFSS. His accounts in the Annual Reports tell of founding schools one step ahead of the Spanish army, or returning to rebuild or reorganise schools that had been destroyed in the battles between the Spanish armies and the insurgents. Thompson arrived in Buenos Aires in 1818 and remained there for 3 years, making several journeys to Montevideo during this period. He organised a school in Mendoza which he left under a committee of ladies. He established a school for girls in Santiago in Chile, and induced the Patriotic Society of Lima to consider establishing a school for girls. [See AR 1823 p46-49]. He was supported by Don Bernardo O'Higgins, the Chilean Patriot and many Catholic clergy. The Annual report for 1824 includes Thompson's description of his school in Lima which is in a college belonging to the Dominican Friars. In contrast to the attitudes of the European clergy, many South American Catholic priests showed strong support for the system.
AR 1825 records a number of Lancasterian schools for boys and girls established in Buenos Aires, and an extract from a report on education in Columbia stating that the executive power had been authorised to establish monitorial schools in the capital. By the following year schools had been founded in Bogota, Antioquia, Carthagena, Santa Martha, Panama and Guayaquil. Also in 1826 the Lancasterian Society of Buenos Aires was founded, the first Lancasterian school was established in Mexico, with further schools in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela.
AR 1827 pp115-117 reports on a decree by the Peruvian Govt ordering the establishment of Lancasterian schools throughout the country.
The reception of the Lancasterian system in South America was so favourable, just when interest was beginning to wane in other countries, that the BFSS announced that they had 'discovered a new field of usefulness'. It recommended a separate fund for South and Central America and sent Henry Dunn and his wife to Guatemala to establish schools there. However, the AR 1828 (p14) recounts the failure of this venture, owing to the opposition of the Catholic church. As patriotic fervour evaporated the Church regained control, and there is an abrupt silence on South America after the AR for 1828.
McGarry thesis 1966, abridged PJC Nov 2011