HC Deb 12 June 1855 vol 138 cc1909-10

MR. T. KENNEDY moved an Address to Her Majesty, praying that a Commission may be issued, to inquire into the arrangements most desirable for rendering National Education in Ireland more comprehensive and complete—first, by means of industrial instruction adapted to the wants and circumstances of the several districts of Ireland; secondly, by securing the most efficient teachers by an adequate scale of salaries commensurate with their important and engrossing duties. The hon. Member said that his object was to increase the industrial system of education which had been for some time adopted in Ireland. There were 5023 national schools which were attended by 550,000 children; but a million children ought to be attending school in Ireland, to secure the proper education of the people. The reason why the full proportion of children did not attend the schools was mainly this, that the sort of education which the schools afforded was not adapted to the wants of the people; there was ample provision for literary education, but not that industrial education which the people wanted to enable them to earn their livelihood. The principle of industrial education was recognised in the Irish national system as necessary to the people, and a certain amount of aid was given to promote it; but the provision for it should be considerably extended, and should be applied to districts where no such facilities were at present afforded. There were, upon the average, 111 children upon the books of each national school in Ireland; but in forty-three schools where industrial training was afforded, though of the most meagre kind, the average was much greater, being nearly 400. This was a striking proof of what the people desired. One-third of the industrial training was given in the workhouse schools, and out of 69,000 children receiving industrial education 21,486 were in the workhouse schools. In his opinion it would be far better to give these children such instruction as might enable them to keep out of the workhouses and gaols, than to make that instruction, as it were, the reward of pauperism, or even of crime. He admitted that the Irish Board of National Education had made great exertions to promote industrial teaching; but that Board was originally constituted rather to promote literary education, and the industrial branch was a graft on their institutions. It consisted of such personages as the Lord Chancellor, Archbishops and Bishops, and high functionaries of state, and out of fifteen persons, six were of the profession of the law, but the aid of men like Dargan, or Professor Sullivan, would be more efficient in advancing and directing industrial education. He thought a beneficial change might be effected by placing on the Board men who were conversant with the subject, and who had already proved themselves capable of developing the resources and promoting the industry of the country. In speaking of industrial education, it would not be fair to pass over the good which had been done by independent institutions which were unconnected with any board or grant—such as the school at Bonmahon, where, in the course of two years and a half, twenty boys had left a balance in their favour of 500l. He believed the system acted upon in Belgium was perfectly applicable to Ireland. In Belgium a grant was made by the State towards education, and another by the district in which the school was situated. The contractor was left free to manage the institution, but the Government reserved the right of inspection, and the result had been most remarkable. In Flanders there were sixty-five establishments of this kind, called workshops, and the result had been that in fifty-three of the districts in which these establishments existed wages had increased, and in twenty-five cases these workshops had led to the establishment of factories and other workshops.

Notice taken, that Forty Members were not present; House counted; and Forty Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at half after Eleven o'clock.