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Caribbean Journal of Education

English Language Education Policy and Divergent Realities: A University of the West Indies Case Study

Publication Date: 
September 2007

The political dimension of English language education in Commonwealth Caribbean colonial societies has been widely recognised both within and outside of the Caribbean (Bryan 2002; Pennycooke 1995; Ricento 2000). In the article: “The Most Important Agent of Civilisation: Teaching English in the West Indies, 1838–1986”, Drayton (1990) refers to an 1847 Colonial Office Despatch revealing that, in the absence of slavery, a deliberate language policy was formulated to ensure the maintenance of social control via the indoctrination of a coloured middle class into the culture and values of the mother country. The means to this end was instruction in English language, characterized by Drayton as "the main cultural form of oppression" (201), and by Gordon as “the cultural subject par excellence" (1968, 3).

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