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The Mico History

The Mico History

Beginning in 1835, four teacher training institutions and hundreds of elementary schools were established in the British Colonies in the West Indies, Mauritius and Seychelles by the Lady Mico Trust. This followed the successful efforts of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton to direct the resources of the Trust to the education of the children of the ex-slaves in these British Colonies (in the West Indies, Mauritius and Seychelles) where slavery was in the process of being abolished. In an era where denominational education was the norm, the defining feature of the Mico institutions was that they were of Christian influence but non-denominational.

Except in St Lucia, most Mico elementary schools did not survive the discontinuation of the Negro Education Grant in 1846 which was provided by the British Parliament (which ended in 1846). Those that survived were overtaken by the twin forces of denominational education and the entry of the Government of Colonies into providing elementary education. The elementary schools in St Lucia survived the longest until the 1890s.

The only teacher training institution to survive into the 20th Century and that remains until today is The Mico University College in Kingston, Jamaica. Its founding in 1835 makes it the oldest teacher training college in the Western Hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world rivalling the famed Battersea College in England.
The survival of The Mico University College in Kingston is rooted in four characteristics of the institution:

  • First, remaining true to its character as a Christian but non-denominational institution.
  • Second, its capacity to respond to the changing developmental needs of the Jamaican and Caribbean society.
  • Third, its ability to attract able and ambitious students and to provide them with high quality education.
  • Fourth, the performance of Mico graduates in society.

The Mico University College was founded in 1835 as a co-educational institution training British volunteers to teach in Jamaican schools. After the cessation of the Negro Education Grant, when it was determined that it was more economical to train native teachers, The Mico transformed itself into a single-sex male institution training elementary native school teachers. In the 1950s it became co-educational again and remains so. When the Government of Jamaica expanded secondary education in the 1960s, the junior secondary schools were introduced. The Mico included in its portfolio the training of teachers for the junior secondary schools. By the end of the 1970s, The Mico further expanded its training of teachers for secondary schools to cover the entire range of secondary education. By then, it had become the institution, which was training the largest number of secondary school teachers in the country. Read More