Should we still be using ‘Master’?

Dear Editor,


The reported move by Ivy league universities, Harvard and Princeton, to discontinue use of the title ‘Master’ as in ‘Master of the Residential College,’ instead of ‘Head of the College,’ on the grounds that terms like ‘Master’ are too poignant reminders of the distasteful history of slavery, is quite interesting.

It makes me wonder if the world of higher education should now be reviewing the award of graduate degrees which carry the prefix ‘Master’ as in MA or MSc or MBA, MPH, MPhil, etc, etc.

Should we as Guyanese with our own history of slavery and indentureship allow such moves to go unnoticed? Should we be questioning, for example, the apprenticeship agreements we execute which refer to the provider of the training as ‘Master’?

Should we continue to refer to our male teachers as ‘Sir’ this or that (first name), another colonial vestige, while we refer to the female counterpart teachers as ‘Miss’ so-and-so (first name), instead of the appellation used during my time as a student/ teacher, ie, Mr or Mrs or Miss so-and-so (surname)?

Titular misnomers might be considered superficial or unimportant concerns to some, but what cannot be ignored is the continuation of anachronistic attitudes, beliefs and behaviours which have their genesis in times, situations and contexts long, long ago; these must be dealt with frontally and expeditiously.


Yours faithfully,

Nowrang Persaud

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