Degradation of Education

Jamaica Kincaid obviously loves the library, and she makes this clear in the lengthy descriptions of it and the words she chooses to do so. Libraries are places of learning and knowledge, and that is why in this work the library represents the education system in Antigua. During the days of English colonization, the library was in pristine condition, absolutely beautiful, and a place of refuge for those, like Kincaid, who wanted to learn and do better for themselves. It was a sanctuary of learning and information until the earthquake, for the library was moved to a small, dingy building over a dry grocery. This change represents the change from a good, English education system to one governed by Antiguans. This education system was clearly inferior to the previous one, and Kincaid describes how people are basically illiterate and butcher the English language. Also there are limited opportunities for higher learning, besides the hospitality school, so the education system does not do its job, just as the library can no longer do its job. Most of the books are inaccessible either because they are packed away in boxes or the new librarians are incompetent.  Kincaid reflects on how it used to be, and say if you could see “the fairy tale of how we met you, your right to do the things you did, how beautiful you were, are and always will be, you would see why my heart would break at the dung heap that now passes for a library in Antigua.” (Kincaid 42) Just as her heart breaks at what now passes for a library in Antigua, her heart breaks for what passes for an education in Antigua.



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One response to “Degradation of Education

  1. Sophi

    For the most part, I agree with the parallel you draw between English Rule and the library, but I feel like it can be further developed by including that the “superiority” of the English education system to that of the Antiguan people is most likely the English’s various exposures to many mediums of education and learning in Europe. Because Antigua is an island, its physical isolation encourages its educational isolation as well.
    The point you make about the unavailability of higher education aside from the hospitality school is a good one to bring up. Things would probably have been different in Antigua if there was only a library as a means of education, but the availability of a different kind of learning — the kind that comes with attending a hospitality school — influences the type of interests the people of Antigua develop later. This school may have actually been the reason so many Antiguans are submissive to the government and are unwilling to make a difference. Just like your point on how the library’s current condition is the result of English rule, the unwillingness of the people in Antigua to promote change is also the result of English rule.

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