Biographical entry: Auki Experimental School
In the 1940s and 1950, Auki was the scene of the boldest early government experiment in education. The government had until the late 1940s been totally dependent on mission schools to provide education for the Protectorate. However, it was clear that this situation would have to change. An Education Department was established in Honiara in 1947, with a small staff and a brief to open government schools as well as supervise mission schools. Auki Experimental School, also known as Aligegeo School and later as King George VI School (q.v.; commonly called KG VI), dates to 1947, when Director of Education Coleman Porter began recruiting staff. The site of Aligegeo was chosen because it already had buildings used for agriculture, since Agriculture Officer Jock Beveridge had inaugurated an experimental station there in 1937. The Aligegeo name was adopted by his assistant Fred Angie. About five acres were cleared and an experimental farm begun for soya beans and rice, which later became an Agricultural Research Station. (NS 7 Mar. 1967)
In June 1948, a Colonial Development and Welfare Grant of £21,875 was made to enable an Experimental School to be established at Auki. The school's objective was to provide a supply of boys for entry into teachers' training establishments and for all government and other services, to provide experience for the Education Department in the practical problems of education, and to answer criticisms of government neglect of education. Staff quarters, classrooms, dormitories, an assembly hall, dining room, kitchens and a store were all constructed during 1948-1949 and books and equipment purchased. One of the first on the school staff was Norman Kitchener Palmer (q.v.), later Anglican Archbishop of Melanesia, who began work there as a clerk-typist in that year. (AR 1949-1950, 24, AR 1955-1956, 5) Some staff was recruited during 1948, but because of shortages of building materials and staff the school did not officially open until May 1950, when there were eighteen students. The school was intended to enrol twenty-four students annually with a maximum of seventy-two for a three-year course of study. All instruction was in English and applied a broad curriculum that included handicrafts, physical education and agriculture. The agricultural component was important and within a few years students produced one-third of their own food needs. (AR 1949-1950, 7, 23) Unfortunately, the New Zealander recruited to run the school left after a month because he said there were insufficient funds. He was temporarily replaced by the acting Director of Education, who was based in Honiara.
The concept was to begin an experiment that could inaugurate mass education. The students were in their teens to early twenties, and chosen from villages out of their willingness to attend rather than their abilities. The Experimental Primary School reopened in 1952, and the capacity for seventy-two students was reached by the end of the year. (Interview with Geoffrey Anii, Honiara, 5 Mar. 2005) After the King died in February 1952, the High Commissioner renamed the school King George VI School (q.v.), on 25 September.
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details