National Trust of Guyana

Berbice High School

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Location: New Amsterdam, Berbice 

Classification: Educational 

Period/ Year Built: Established 1916 

Historical Background / Description: 

Berbice High School, located at the junction of North and Princess Elizabeth Roads, was established in 1916, by the Canadian Presbyterian Church. The school which was initially an all-boys institution stationed on the lower floor of Reverend James Amos Scrimgeour’s residence. The first school building was completed in 1920, through the collaborative efforts of the Government, the church and the public. On September 5, 1916, the institution began with nine students and the first headmaster was Mr. Chester A. Pugsley. After the establishment of the Berbice High School for boys, the school for girls was established. The school for girls was housed on the ground floor of the Canadian Mission Council of Presbyterian Church of Canadian, Missionary’s residence. It was headed by Reverend George McLeod’s wife, Mrs. Frances McLeod. She served in the position of headmistress for approximately one year. In 1924, the fourth and fifth forms students of both schools were grouped together to work on their Cambridge Junior and Senior School’s Examination. 

By 1941, both schools were amalgamated and addressed as Berbice High School, under the control of the Presbyterian Church. The school however, received grants from the colonial Government for its up keep. The institution had a population of 109 students whose parents and guardians paid tuition for their education. In September 1966, the State was given ownership of the institution and on January 16, 1967, the school was formally transferred from the church’s care to the State at a ceremony held at the New Amsterdam Town Hall. In the school’s compound is a three-storey timber structure which is the refurbished 1920s building and it is considered the oldest building in the compound. The others which are single and two-storey buildings were built as the school expanded over its century long existence.