Post-Colonial Education as Structural Violence in the Caribbean | Hakim Williams, Ed.D.

So, structural violence to me, when I try to
put it in my classes really simply, so, I tell folks there is physical violence, so, I look at school violence in schools, and so,
hitting and saying disrespectful things to each other, stabbings, shootings in schools. That’s physical violence. And then you have a
sort of violence that’s called structural violence. Part of that, if you disassemble, if you take apart those two terms, you’re looking at structures. And I try
to explain to folks that it’s violence that sort of happens because of structures in society. So, you’re sort of looking at the macro level. I did my research at a school where you
have lots of poor students going to and this was a school that was created in the post-colonial era. So, after we got independent from Great Britain in 1962, um, you had many schools created to facilitate mass education in the Caribbean. Um, but you find that a lot of these
schools that were created in the post-colonial era many kids that go to these schools come from poor backgrounds. And you find that they don’t get as good an
education as kids that come from richer backgrounds, and they go to the schools that were created in the colonial era. So you have an educational system that’s sort of divided in two. Um, typically one for students who are of means, who
are going to afford that sort of education, and those kids that go to schools in post-colonial schools,
where you find teachers are not as well trained, they have less resources. And then you find, in terms of educational outcomes, the kids at post-colonial schools in the Caribbean don’t do as
well. And, so, to me, that is structural violence. Structural violence is linked to our historical legacy of colonialism, and it’s linked to the way, the contemporary way,
that today’s educational systems are set up.


  1. Profound. Trinidad needs more discussions about this. The way we accept the educational structure needs to be questioned. Children at age 12 don't need to be sent the message that they are lesser than because of results of one test. This sense of inferiority leads to self-anger which can lead to violence. Well said, Dr. Williams!

  2. It is amazing that the plantation model is still very much alive. The education system here is still very much colonial even though new schools have been built. We now have schools that are 12 years old, built to accommodate each child who writes the 11 plus exam. This has lead to a conveyor belt type of education. The concept of structural violence is interesting . I would love to learn more about this and I am sure my colleagues in education here in Trinidad share the same sentiments.

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