Clarence Edward Beeby is described as the ‘father of New Zealand’s modern education system’. He had an enormous influence on the development of the education system in New Zealand, as director of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NCER), and head of the Ministry of Education.
He dedicated his life to fulfilling the egalitarian creed he wrote:
Every person, whatever the level of his academic ability, whether he be rich or poor, whether he live in town or country, has the right, as a citizen, to a free education of a kind for which he is best suited and to the fullest extent of his powers.
Beeby enrolled at Canterbury College in 1920 and was awarded with honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury, University of Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington.
Beeby’s influence was not confined to this country – he played a large role in shaping the work and purpose of UNESCO. His son, Chris Beeby, was the distinguished New Zealand diplomat and international lawyer who was portrayed in Ben Affleck’s film, Argo.