The name Eastlyn Errol Dasent is synonymous with education in Sangre Grande. He was one of the pioneers of secondary education in the eastern counties of Trinidad. Dasent established St Andrew's High School which later became St Andrew's College in Sangre Grande, the first private secondary school in that part of Trinidad.
Dasent was born in Mayaro in December 1916. In 1928 he was second in the island at the College Exhibition examinations and entered Queen's Royal College the same year.
But within two years he lost 70 per cent of his eyesight. Undaunted, Dasent continued his studies, obtaining a grade one school certificate in 1932.
The QRC principal commented that the only reason the college did not win an Island Scholarship was that its brightest pupil had defective eyesight.
Dasent's poor eyesight, coupled with his financial limitation put an end to his academic advancement, but became a catalyst and boon to the people in the eastern counties and eventually to the nation as a whole
Seven years later, Dasent established in his hometown a private secondary school.
In the early days, there were but a few pupils, a mere handful and the fee was three dollars a month. Many a month some of the already few pupils could not pay the fee and rent for the building was often in arrears. But Dasent persevered and they survived. As a private school back in the 60s and 70s they charged $10 a month and $40 a term.
The first of his pupils to achieve tremendous success was Dr Indarjit Dial, who became the first male doctor to come from Sangre Grande, passing the Cambridge School Certificate Examination with a grade one.
The school also has the distinction of another student, Dr Mabel Matthew-Joseph, the first female doctor from Sangre Grenade, winning the first island scholarship in the town.
Since then, thousands of his students have gained distinctions in education from Dasent's humble school—often called the Breadfruit Lodge because of a large breadfruit tree which occupied a special place in the yard—and have gone on to become island scholarship winners, lawyers, doctors, successful businessmen, teachers, administrators, and politicians.
Dasent was one of the few people who went about his daily life untroubled by the desire for public acclaim. But after 40 years of dedicated service, his commitment to education was recognised in 1986 when the Government awarded him the Public Service Medal of Merit Silver for education.
Dishonesty, however, was Dasent's enemy, his past student, Cecil Quamina who worked in the public service said.
"He was a very honourable person, a principled man," he said.
Quamina said Dasent was interested in moulding a sensible character in his students and education to him was for life and to develop you morally.
Dasent, the father of 18, had ten children from his first marriage—eight with his second wife, Mena, now 84. Dasent's children have been successful in all spheres of life and are well placed in society, Mena said.
Their daughter Renee, who is now a lawyer, followed in the footsteps of her parents and spent many years teaching at a government secondary school.
He was very strict with his children, he had a fantastic brain, his wife said.
Mena also taught for many years, over 40 years, and she enjoyed it.
"I was like a mother to the children...the parents were so very interested in their children and in the work of the school."
She said they prepared breakfast and lunch for some children.
"The rapport was excellent and strong, it was about building relationships with parents and the extended family."
On the education system today, Mena said, "I think it depends on the teachers and their love for education. Some just do it for the money, but there must be a great love and passion for it.
"It also starts with parents and some of them are not well educated so they do not know their priorities or the benefits of education." She said both teachers and parents must work together for the betterment of the education system in T&T.