Secondary education and public initiative joined hands at Nassau Court on April 27th, 1925 when the Colony formally opened its first fully government-sponsored secondary school, aptly naming it the Government High School. Prior to 1925, only privately organized institutions offered access to secondary education. Their school fee requirements essentially limited enrolment to students drawn from middle and upper socioeconomic classes. These secondary schools commonly applied racial and gender restrictions, moreover, excluding black or female pupils. In launching the Government High School the Colony took an important step towards meeting a pressing need for secondary education for both black and white students of both genders within the society. As well, in placing the school at Nassau Court it exposed students to sociogeographical norms, settling a predominantly black student population within a stone’s throw of racially segregated establishments in the community.

The Government High School began with only a handful of students and its population would remain low throughout the early years of the school. Access to the school required students to meet certain conditions including a satisfactory score on a competitive entry examination; a certificate of good character; and the payment of a school fee which in 1925 amounted to ten pounds, ten shillings. Also in the early years, all applications for admission had to be approved by the Colonial Secretary, who was the senior administrative official of the Colony. A small number of government scholarships were available each year, split equally to meet the needs of deserving students from New Providence and from the Family Islands. Although resources were limited, the school employed a well-trained staff and met its mandate to provide a quality education for students who passed through its doors. The school’s curriculum focused on topics such as English, Math, and Geography, preparing students to pass the University of Cambridge’s Senior Certificate examination and later to embark upon careers as civil servants or as teachers. In many cases, students attending this highly selective school would go on to attain ranking positions in business and the professions, in political and religious life, and in other areas of private and public endeavour.

The year 1959 saw the first major geographical transition for the school. It migrated from its Nassau Court campus to a new campus on Thompson Boulevard and Poinciana Drive, which is today the home of the University of the Bahamas. By 1961, the school that had opened its doors with but 5 pupils had grown to cater to 329 students, a population trend which would continue throughout the 1960s. The Education Act of 1962, Majority Rule, Independence, and more lenient admission policies, including the elimination of the school fee in 1967, would continue to promote an increase in enrollment. In the 1970s, the Government High School assumed the form of a senior high school to accommodate the changing structure of education in The Bahamas. In the middle of the same decade the institution also moved again geographically, this time to its current location in Yellow Elder. From the start, the school had moulded itself to fit the evolving academic and social needs of The Bahamas. By the 1970s, the institution’s flagship role in expanding educational opportunity and opening the doorway to socioeconomic mobility for many of its students as well as the stellar calibre of its graduates had cemented its place in the history of education in The Bahamas.



Former educator Nora Dorsett recalls the entrance requirements at the Government High School and her teaching career.
Source: "From Dat Time": The Oral & Public History Institute Archive ~ Date: March 15, 2016
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