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EXPATRIATES IN MAURITIUS
» 01 Jan 2010
CLIVE BARNES

It is common these days for people to change jobs fairly frequently during the course of their career - football players are perhaps an extreme example of this phenomenon. But there are still individuals around with a strong sense of loyalty and duty, people who do the job for the job’s sake.

Clive was born in London in 1950 to Jessica and Clifford Barnes. He spent most of his
formative years there, but the family moved to South Africa, briefly, before finally settling down in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe).


Tragedy struck Clive during his high school years, when his mother unexpectedly died, but his academic career and later attended Natal University in South Africa studying English literature, history and economics. His plans to continue his education in England
were scuppered by the devastating news that his father had cancer, and so Clive moved back to Rhodesia and attended university in Harare to do a PGCE (diploma in education), while travelling three hundred miles every weekend to visit his terminally ill father.

By 1974 Clive had a masters degree in education from the University of Zimbabwe and decided to return to Rhodesia, beginning his first job there as an English and history teacher for a small,boys only, secondary school in Harare. By 1979 he had become deputy headmaster of the school and in 1980 he met Jane, a young and attractive teacher whom he was later to marry. By the age of thirty two, Clive had become the school's headmaster. Being very fond of cricket and rugby since childhood proved to be fortuitous, as in 1985 Clive became headmaster of the prestigious Prince Edward school for boys - a famous international rugby school. He held this post for the next twenty years and during that time toured Britain,Australia and Africa with the rugby team and celebrated the school's centenary in 1998. He also became the "headmaster in charge of cricket" for Zimbabwe and eventually found himself working for the ICC (International
Cricket Council) on the audit and security committees.

By this time Rhodesia had become Zimbabwe and Clive came to know Robert Mugabe quite well - the president was very supportive of
the school and sent all of his nephews there. Unfortunately the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated, it became clear to Clive that it would be wise to start earning some foreign exchange - being a trillionaire in Zimbabwian dollars does not hold much currency in other countries.

So, on the eighth of May, 2005, Clive and his family, which now included two daughters - Jessica and Harriet, moved to Mauritius. Clive became headmaster of Northfields International High School and his mandate was to expand the institution as rapidly as possible.The school is co-educational, with student ages ranging from eleven to eighteen. In 2005 there were only 75 students and no exam system was in place. Clive quickly introduced the Cambridge IGCSE and 'A' level exams and over the past five years the number of pupils has increased to just under three hundred. Originally comprising mostly local children, there followed a strong influx of English speaking expatriates' children, but there is now a good mix of children from different backgrounds. More French speaking parents are sending their children to Northfields, as they realise that a good knowledge of English - the world's lingua franca - improves their children's career prospects, especially at the international level.

Indeed, Clive has galvanised the school into acknowledging its internationalism, "Kids must think internationally and globally, they mustn't think narrowly..." As part of this perspective, the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams have been running alongside the 'A' levels for the past two years and are now replacing them. It is a system which is growing worldwide, with two thousand seven hundred and fifty IB schools globally and estimates predicting ten thousand by 2015.Northfields is now a member of the Conference of international British Schools, of which there are three hundred and fifty around the world, and the African International Schools Association, further establishing its international credentials.

Extra curriculum tuition is common in Mauritius and is something which Clive sees as, "... a sort of deadly disease. It doesn't encourage children to play sport or do anything cultural. Debating, drama, music...These are very good ways of developing children in a world where it will be demanded that they be team players and people who have
something - just a little bit extra."Therefore, the majority of children at Northfields are free to expand their horizons and take part in what would be considered normal behaviour in other countries, such as the eighty to ninety boys who have become keen rugby players.


New horizons are no stranger to Clive, and over the past thirty five years he has visited India, A u s t r a l i a , Europe, China, America, Canada, Sri Lanka, Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Morocco, Gambia, the Seychelles, Rodrigues, Kenya, Uganda and Egypt.

The only continent he has not visited is South America. In July 2010 Clive will be leaving Mauritius as he would like to manage one more school before retiring. He is currently contemplating offers from Calcutta in India and Beijing in China. He would like to be remembered as being a passionate educator and seems to be well on his way to achieving that goal.A quick perusal of the Facebook fan page created by ex-students and dedicated to him, really says it all.

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