School Days
50th Anniversary of Government Education on Pitcairn Island
 
 
 

School Days

        15 February 1999                20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00                Mint and CTO        $5.90
                                                                                                        FDC                       $6.40



Technical Details

    Release Date:                        15 February 1999
    Tablet Values:                       20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00
    Artist:                                    Lesley Harraway, NZ
    Printer:                                  House of Questa Ltd, London
    Process:                                Offset Lithography
    Paper:                                   102gsm non-watermarked
    Stamp Size:                           50.8 mm x 35.17 mm horizontal
    Perforation Gauge:                 14 per 2 cm
    Pane Size:                              50 stamps in 2 panes each of 25 stamps
    Mint and CTO:                      $5.90
    First Day Cover:                    $6.40



Once more, drawing upon her intimate knowledge of Pitcairn and having been so closely linked to the island, Lesley Harraway has skilfully produced this outstanding, colourful stamp issue.  Lesley, married to Garth Harraway, Pitcairn's last Commissioner, lived for two years on Pitcairn in the early seventies when Garth held the joint posts of Education Officer and Government Adviser there.

On a white First Day Cover,  the stamps  give three dimensional images, each showing illustrations in a book, of Pitcairn Schooldays of the past.

Although in 1838, Pitcairn Island became the first British territory to make education for children compulsory, it was not until 1949 that education became state funded.

Formal education on Pitcairn, perhaps commenced when Midshipman Edward Young taught his fellow mutineer John Adams, to read using a Bible from the Bounty.  This is likely to be the Bible displayed in Pitcairn's church today.  Following Young's death, Adams continued to instruct the children of his former crew mates, until the arrival in 1823 of John Buffett.  Buffett took over the roles of pastor and schoolmaster.  However, five years later, George Hunn Nobbs arrived and being both better educated and more confident, soon led both the church and the school.  The 1830s was a turbulent period in Pitcairn's past, during which time the community which now numbered 87, were removed to Tahiti.  Within six months they had returned to Pitcairn, having lost 17 of their number to disease.  The 1838 Constitution and Code of Laws set the stage for a gradual recovery of self respect and confidence for the community.  Included in this Constitution were two firsts in British Legislative history; the right of both men and women over the age of 18, to vote and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 16.  The law required the payment of one shilling per month per child or its equivalent in produce or labour.

By 1856, when the community was again removed, this time to Norfolk Island, George Nobbs had become an ordained Anglican priest and continued to lead the school and the church on Norfolk.  Within three years, a group of 16 had returned to Pitcairn, followed by two further groups and by 1864, Pitcairn's population had reached 43.

Simon Young became the community's schoolmaster, later assisted by his daughter Rosalind.  By 1890, following the total conversion of the population some four years earlier to Seventh-day Adventism, the school was reorganized under the influence of visiting missionaries, most notably perhaps, Hattie Andre who worked unceasingly for three years from 1893.  While Rosalind Young taught a class of 20  7 to 13 year olds, Miss Andre taught some 42 14 to 39 year olds.  Interestingly, Hattie Andre's preference for wearing striped dresses is remembered on Pitcairn through the local name of a striped fish known as "Hattie's Gown".  Our 90c stamp shows an ageing Simon Young being greeted, as he arrives at the school, by his daughter Rosalind and Hattie Andre.

The church continued to influence education on Pitcairn throughout the first part of this century and some of its teachers included visitors who came and never left, including Roy Clark.  Roy had arrived as a 16 year old, with his father Lincoln in 1909.  Agnes Ross was another, although she did return to New Zealand as a frail, old lady in the early sixties.  Brother Fred and Sister Myrtle Ward taught for two terms.  There were many locals who served the community as teachers in the school at Niger, including Lucy Christian, Roberta Warren and Andrew Young.  Supplies of pens, copybooks, ink, slates, chalk, pencils and books often came as gifts from well-wishers.

In 1948, the Government formally assumed responsibility for education an A.W. Moverley was appointed as Education Officer in 1949.  A year later the school at Pulau was completed.  While the school and residence remain basically unchanged, the educational activity within its walls, has kept pace with the rest of the world.  Education Officers continue to be appointed from New Zealand serving two year contracts teaching the island's children aged from 5 to 15.  Secondary school children normally study through the New Zealand Correspondence School, with the Education Officer, supervising their work.  The Pitcairn Miscellany, a monthly newspaper edited by the Education Officer, has a world wide distribution of some 1,500 copies.  Income from the Miscellany contributes significantly to the purchase of library books, computer and other audio visual equipment for the school.