|AdminHistory||The founding of the BFSS was contemporary with the growing anti-slavery movement in Britain, to which the BFSS had close links through its treasurer William Allen. He was a founder member of the African Institution (f. 1807), which campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade and for improvements in the lives of slaves in British colonies. In Jamaica the BFSS's efforts were particularly associated with the Baptist and Wesleyan Missionary Societies. At first any attempt at educating the native population was met with grave suspicion by the local planters and colonial assemblies. The situation changed dramatically by the Emancipation Act of 1833 which freed the slaves and created a wave of enthusiasm both in England and the colonies, for their education. A ten year "Negro Education" grant of £25000 pa was allocated to the missionary societies to supplement subscriptions raised for their school building plans in the West Indies. A "Negro Education Society" was formed in Jamaica by the Baptist Missionary Society on the inspiration of Knibb (ex BRC) and Phillippo (BMS) and new schools were opened in many parts of the island, including a normal school operated on the British system by Phillippo at Spanish Town and a new school in Falmouth conducted by Knibb. The Lady Mico bequest was made available for the education of emancipated slaves on undenominational lines, to be used for schools and also for four "normal institutions", one in Kingston, at which local teachers could be trained on the British system. The enthusiasm of the early years after emancipation was followed in the 1840s by an atmosphere of disillusionment which is reflected in the correspondence. The 10 year grant towards "negro education" ceased in 1845, the British government believing that the local populations should now support their own schools. The missionary societies and the Mico trust were faced with a crisis as the withdrawal of the grant meant that their schools were now almost entirely dependent on donations from Britain and contributions from the pupils' parents. The policy of the BFSS had always been to support with school equipment rather than money, and it supported the policy of parental contribution. But the economic and social problems following emancipation made it increasingly hard for parents to contribute to their children's' schooling, or to even afford for then to be in school. |
During the 1860s there was a gradual recovery. The correspondence shows that several former BRC students went out to Jamaica as teachers and missionaries. But the demand for teachers in schools in England increased after the Education Act of 1870, and it became increasingly difficult for the BFSS to provide for the need of education overseas, either financially or by providing teachers, as they were less willing to venture overseas.