§ (3.) £329,868, to complete the sum for Public Education, Ireland.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he had no wish to delay this Vote; but before it was passed by the Committee he desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was charged with the administration of public education in Ireland, to the position of the Irish model schools. It had been his intention to address the House upon the whole educational system of Ireland; but he should not, at that period of the Session, occupy the Committee with the larger question. He reserved that subject for a future occasion, and should, in the meantime, confine his observations to the model schools. The educational system of Ireland was denominational. The schools had become thoroughly denominational in their character; and although that might be so far in harmony with the wishes of the Government, still, in a matter of this vast importance, where differences of opinion existed, they ought to bring it to the test of public opinion, because the will of the people ought to be taken as the proper verdict in such matters. But 577 that principle had not been acted upon in Ireland, and the result was that these schools were not in harmony either with local aspirations or the wishes of the Irish people. They were managed entirely by the Board of Education. Some time ago he had moved for a Return showing the number of model schools which existed in Ireland, the cost of their construction, and the annual cost of their maintenance. That Return had been furnished, and it showed that there were 30 of these schools, built at a cost of £2,000 each, and maintained at an annual expense of £36 each. Now, according to the last Census, the population of Ireland was thus divided. The Catholic population amounted to more than 76 per cent of the entire population of the country. Yet, notwithstanding that fact, it was found that scarcely 20 per cent of the children who attended the model schools were Catholics, the remaining 80 per cent being made up of non-Catholics; in other words, they found that out of a total number of 11,873 pupils in these schools, only 3,198 were Catholics. The anomalous character of the schools would be still further apparent to the Committee when he drew their attention to the fact that of the 3,198 Catholics who attended them, the vast majority attended in Dublin. That fact would show that the Provincial schools were entirely denominational. There was scarcely a Catholic within their doors. Again, when the question of their cost was considered, it was found to be out of all reason. In some schools so small was the number of pupils that it had amounted to £5 or £6 per head, and he found it now amounted to over £3 or nearly £4 per head. In England it amounted to 15s. a-head, as stated by the Vice President of the Council of Education. It was preposterous that such a cost should be incurred in Ireland, because it was in no way rendered necessary by the position of the people whose children were educated in the schools. This would be shown by the Return to which he had referred, and which showed that the persons who made use of the schools for their children were agents or managers of property, apothecaries, architects, attorneys, auctioneers, barristers, chemists, mill-owners, non-professional men, shopkeepers, and others. Out of 4,000 persons who made use of the schools 578 for the purpose of educating their children, 3,000 belonged to the classes named, and were, from their position in life, perfectly well able to pay for the support and instruction of their children. To such an extent was the present system carried, that, as was perfectly well known, carriages and other equipages were frequently seen rolling up to the school doors to drive to their homes children who were being educated at the cost of the State. Then with regard to the quality of the education given in these schools. They were, so far as that was concerned, the subject of constant inquiry, he was bound to say of constant disputation also; and it came to this, that on examination it had not been shown that they stood out in any degree of prominence as being exceptionally good in the matter of education. There had been conflicts with regard to the schools in several districts, and the outcome of those conflicts had been that these highly paid schools had not turned out exceptional in their teaching, nor were they found to excel in the class examinations which, in the great national schools, cost the country only 15s. or 16s per head of the children educated in them. It was reported of them by one Commission that they were not very successful in teaching, nor were they really mixed in attendance, so that they had really not achieved either of two objects which they were intended to secure. They were not successful in the matter of education, nor was a mixed attendance obtained. Mr. Kelan, who had lately got a title for his efforts, not only in Ireland, but in other parts of the Kingdom, in the course of his examination gave evidence against the Provincial model schools. He said they were not carrying out the object for which they were intended, and he recommended that they should be given up. In answer to a question as to whether he knew that in many towns the children of wealthy people were taught in these model schools, he said he was aware of the fact, and considered it a very objectionable arrangement. Then, again, in a Report of the Commissioners it was recommended that the model schools should be closed, so that there was a complete concurrence of testimony against the schools, and from no source whatever did he hear one word in defence of those expensive establishments, 579 Their extravagance was profuse; their utility nil; and, therefore, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would suspend their operations, which had been carried on at so great an expense to the country. When it was proposed to do away with any institutions, those who were in favour of that course were often asked what they intended to do with the buildings; and, no doubt, in the present case it would be said—"There are the schools; they are splendid structures; they were built at an immense cost to the State; what are we to do with them?" There was no encouragement to technical education in Ireland. During the debates which had taken place on the Land Bill in that House they had been told that the gravity of the situation in Ireland was due to the fact that there was no occupation in Ireland but that connected with the land. If that were true, he appealed to the Government to foster Irish art and manufactures. There were societies which spent the revenues which they derived from Ireland in promoting technical instruction in England; at any rate, if that were not so now it was the case a short time ago, because he had read their reports in connection with the prizes given by them to technical schools. But, however that might be, he suggested that these model schools, which had failed to achieve any of the objects for which they were intended, from which the general population of Ireland were absent altogether, whose benefits were confined to the children of well-to-do people, and whose educational results were of the poorest kind, should be turned into technical schools for the benefit of the Irish people. He would not detain the Committee any longer. He did not wish to embarras the present topic of the model schools with the question of the national system. He knew the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland must be convinced of their utter inutility and of the inability of the resources of the country to retain them in their present expensive form; and, therefore, without moving the reduction of the Vote, he would simply ask the plain question— what did the right hon. Gentleman intend to do with the model schools?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the supply of school books in Ireland was a monopoly, whereas in England the school 580 boards were allowed in every locality to choose their own books and designs. Now, he very much objected to the kind of instruction conveyed by these books, the whole series of which he had carefully gone through. The manner in which the character of the people of Ireland was described at a part of Book No. 4 was absurd, and no one could regard it as in any sense a production that did credit to the liberality or the judgment of the person who wrote it. It was ridiculous to single out two or three national characteristics in order to convoy an idea of national character. For instance, what would be thought of the fairness of his description, supposing he were employed to write an official school book, if he wound up by saying that "the English people were a very energetic and able people. Occasionally they beat their wives and got drunk?" Moreover, the instruction was not always conveyed in grammatical language. His second charge against these Departmental books was that they contained nothing whatever about Irish history. That was a very objectionable feature, because there was nothing more necessary than that children should learn the history of their own country. The children were taught to repeat "Ye Mariners of England;" and under the head of the National Anthem he found "God save the Queen," which, although it was the National Anthem of England, was not so of Ireland. There was, also, a good deal of information about Mungo Park and African manners and customs, as well as the Polar Sea, and other things very interesting in themselves, but which were certainly not so interesting to the Irish people as the history of their own country. This was a question which affected the well-being of all the children in Ireland, and he protested against the present system of supplying the Irish schools with books so deficient in the necessary elements of instruction. With regard to the model schools. There was a model school in the town which he had the honour to represent. He had attended this school himself, and at the time he referred to it was much more largely attended than now, for all the Catholic children, as well as the Protestant children of the town, went there. At that time the Catholic authorities in the town raised no objection to the school; but they did so afterwards, and 581 the result was that nearly all the Catholic children had been withdrawn. That was the case with other schools throughout the country. They were expensively maintained; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland knew that he could not force the Catholic children to attend them. Therefore, he asked, what was the use of keeping up these schools when they were conducted on a system opposed to the conscience of the people? And he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to give this question of education in Ireland his most serious consideration. He had no wish to weary the Committee by any lengthened remarks upon this subject, and accordingly he would not go into any statistics; but he said it was high time that the right hon. Gentleman should carefully consider the necessity which existed for compulsory education in Ireland. He cared not from what quarter opposition to his views upon this subject might come. At whatever risk to himself, political or otherwise, he would support any effort to make education in Ireland compulsory, with the single condition that allowance should be made for those seasons of the year in which sowing and reaping was done. If the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to establish compulsory education in Ireland, he could promise him not only his own earnest support, but, as he believed, the support of every Member of the Irish Party.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he regretted that this Vote had come forward at so late a period of the Session, both on account of its importance and the great personal interest which was felt in it by himself and other hon. Members. With regard to the statement of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), it was perfectly true that there was a difference between the English and Irish systems of supplying the schools with books, and no doubt a good deal was to be said for and against both systems. School books in England were by no means what they should be, any more than the books used in Irish schools; and a good deal of fault had been found that in England no attempt was made to prescribe books for the use of the schools. The advantage of having the books chosen by the Board was that, on the whole, a better class of books for educational purposes were obtained than would otherwise be the case; and, al- 582 though perhaps there was something to be said in favour of allowing managers to get what books they liked, for his own part, if they were to start in England, de novo, he should prefer the Irish to the English system. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) and the hon. Member who had just sat down, both made remarks upon the position of the model schools. He did not think that the model schools in Ireland had entirely answered, at any rate, in the Provinces, the expectations of those who established them, and to a certain extent he agreed with the observations of hon. Members respecting them. With regard to the whole system of Irish education, it had not been hoped by its first framers that it would be a secular system; but it was certainly hoped that it would be unsectarian. The hon. Member for Carlow had very properly stated that a large number of the national schools had become denominational schools. But it ought to be remembered that the model schools were, to a certain extent, at least in Dublin, training schools for teachers, and they had, therefore, a value quite independent of their use as mere schools; and, although it was possible that they did not meet the requirements of all the children around them, yet they were useful in the great system of education. But there was another question connected with the model schools which, undoubtedly, required great attention, and that was the amount of training which they afforded. It was said that they did not give all the training that was desirable, and he was ready to admit that the model school system did not provide as much training for teachers as was required for the purpose of a satisfactory system of education in Ireland. That was largely owing to the dislike on the part of a large portion of the population to resort to the model schools, and he agreed that this was a matter which demanded the closest possible attention from the Government. He had gone into statistics, and found that of the teachers and assistant teachers in Ireland only 31 per cent had been trained in the model establishments, whereas in England the proportion so trained was 60 per cent. It was, therefore, quite reasonable that these questions should have been raised, and it would have been a matter of regret to him if Irish Mem- 583 bers had not thought that the subject ought to receive the attention of the Government. He had listened with pleasure to the remarks of the hon. Member for Galway on the question of compulsory education in Ireland, and he hoped before long it would be possible to introduce that system. He was certainly very glad to find that so much unanimity existed with regard to this subject amongst hon. Members for Ireland. He did not wish to detain the Committee at any length; but there were a few figures in relation to the number of pupils in the Irish national schools that he should like to lay before hon. Members. The percentage of children in the national schools in Ireland, that was to say, on the school roll, compared very favourably with the percentage in English schools. In the year 1880–81 there was in Ireland an average number of pupils equal to 20¾ per cent of the total population of the country, whereas in England, even after the enormous increase due to the Education Act, the average number of pupils in England and Wales was only 15 per cent of the population. There was, consequently, a larger proportion of Irish children in the Irish national schools than there was of English children in the English national schools. It might be the case that there were more schools outside the national schools in England than there were in Ireland; but he did not think this was the case. The average attendance in Ireland was 9 per cent of the population; but in England, whore there had been every effort made to screw up the average attendance, it was 10 per cent; consequently, although there were more children on the rolls in Ireland, there was a less average attendance. He believed the Irish people cared a great deal about education; but what was wanting was a compulsory system. He earnestly hoped that in future such would be the condition of Ireland that they might attend to the education of the country more closely.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he was glad the right hon. Gentleman concluded with the admission that there was no want of desire on the part of the Irish parents to give their children, as far as possible, the advantages of education. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed to overlook one very important point in connection with, the question, 584 and that was that not only was there an absence of any system of compulsion in Ireland, but the means of education were not such as commended themselves to the great bulk of the population. One of the principal blots upon the present system had been referred to by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson), and it was one which certainly deserved immediate attention— he referred to the entire absence of any Government-aided Training Colleges in Ireland. The Training Colleges in England, no matter whether Protestant or Catholic, were aided by the Government; but there were nothing of the kind in Ireland; at least, the Training Colleges which did exist and received Government support were such as did not commend themselves to the consciences of the Irish people, and that was the secret why, while they had 60 per cent of the teachers in England who had passed through the Training Colleges they had only some 30 per cent in Ireland. The reason of this was that the Catholics objected to the Training Colleges at present in existence. The Irish people considered that to send their children to a school taught by persons trained in establishments which were out of accord with their principles and views and sympathies would be fraught with danger to religion and morals. The ideas Catholics and Protestants had with regard to education were as wide as the Poles. The ordinary British teacher would consider he had amply discharged his duty if he gave a child half-an-hour's instruction daily in some matter of Scripture history; but the Catholic teacher knew that religion should be the all-pervading influence throughout the day, that the atmosphere of the school should be redolent with religion. But they had nothing like that in the Training Schools of Ireland, and nothing less than that would content the Catholic population of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken about the books which were used under the National Board of Education in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that Archbishop Whateley, who was one of the men who drew up those books, and who sanctioned their use in the first instance, declared in his correspondence that the surest means of undermining the Catholic faith of the population of Ireland was to be found in the 585 national school books. The Irish people were perfectly alive to that fact, and that was the reason why, as far as they possibly could, they avoided having recourse to the present system of education. He thought it must commend itself to any right-minded man that in a Catholic country there should be Catholic Training Colleges aided to the same extent by the Government as the Training Colleges of England. That was the demand of the Irish Bishops, and, perhaps, between this and next year the right hon. Gentleman would find himself in a position to draft some scheme or other by which the point he had raised would be dealt with. With regard to the position of teachers, it could hardly be expected that the teachers of Ireland should be highly qualified men when it was considered what pay they received. In England, male teachers received on the average, £120 11s. 9d.; in Scotland, £139 3s. 0d.; and in Ireland they received something over £66. The Irish teachers had to do precisely the same work and produce the same results as the English teachers, and, in spite of the laxity of attendance, to which the Chief Secretary had referred, the results obtained in Ireland were more satisfactory than those secured in England. In reading in England there passed 87.53; in Scotland, 91.08; in Ireland, 91; there passed in writing in England, 80.08; in Scotland, 88.09; and in Ireland, 93; in arithmetic there passed in England, 73.87; in Scotland, 82.49; and in Ireland, 74.02. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER,: The examinations are not the same.] He knew very well that the Kerry boy was never found behind those who were in his nominal Standard in England. In reality, he believed the Standard was higher in Ireland than in England. He would not go over the other points which might very properly be raised if the Estimate had come on at the proper time; but he would direct the attention of the Chief Secretary to the position of national teachers in Ireland. The residences of these teachers were most wretched; they were small and dirty; in fact, it was clearly shown that in some of them the ordinary decencies of life could not, in any way, be observed. Some of the circumstances under which the teachers in Ireland lived were almost too painful to relate; and yet these were the people who were 586 responsible for the maintenance of discipline, and for the forming of the mind and character of the children committed to their care. How could children be expected to respect persons who were so housed? Surely, it was very essential that the surroundings and circumstances of a teacher should be such as to inspire respect. There was another point in connection with the question of education which had just occurred to him, and it was in respect to the Irish language. He saw that under the Scotch Code the extent of examination in Gaelic in these districts where the language was spoken was indicated. That might appear a very trifling point; but he assured the Committee it was a matter of real importance, and if those who were concerned in the examinations in the Gaelic speaking districts were allowed to do that in Ireland, one of the most serious and practical difficulties in the way of teaching the language might be removed. He would not detain the Committee with the numerous points which ought to be considered in connection with the question of popular education in Ireland; but he did think the Irish Members were justified in complaining that the Government had relegated to this period of the Session a matter to which they had a right to claim the respectful attention of Parliament.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was greatly in favour, not only of compulsory education, but of the school board system. He also considered that they ought to insist upon the local people paying the expenses of the education of their children. It would shortly be found to be the duty of the British Government to throw the education of the people of Ireland upon school boards, as in this country, and to thus take it out of the hands of any particular manager, who, of course, was now able to dictate what the education of the children should be. He had to complain very strongly of the intellectual stops the people of Ireland got to their mental improvement. He was at school until he was 13 years of age; but he was not taught a bit, and it was not surprising. Perhaps there were 150 boys at school, only one unfortunate man to keep them in order, and the only things the boys would learn would be sums in addition, and how to read. It was a most extraordinary education that was imparted to the 587 people of Ireland, and in his opinion the State did not get a proper return for the money it expended. He was rather practical, and he would ask the Government what was the good of compelling boys to learn the number of the slaves in Africa and the height of the mountains in Asia? As to spelling and arithmetic, the boys of Ireland simply got a smattering of them. He would like to see instruction given in such subjects as physical chemistry; and next year he trusted they would have an opportunity on this Vote of discussing in some better way than they could now the curriculum in the Irish schools. With regard to the reading books, it was surprising to find what silly books were given to the boys in the Irish schools, especially when they remembered that English literature teemed with beautiful subjects which were by no means controversial, but which were most suitable for compilation in a school reading book. In the Irish school books they read something of a Malch, or some little fable about Cain and Abel. Such were the sort of absurd things they got in the school books of Ireland. As to the teaching of the Irish language, he thought more ought to be done by the clergymen. If the clergymen cared to give their daily instructions to the people in their Native lauguage, if they cared to say the Common Prayers in Irish, it would be the best means possible of preserving the language. That was what was done in Wales, and it had proved a great success. The priests of Ireland were responsible for the decline of the Native language, for there was a large number of Prayers given in English which might very well be given in Irish.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, the State ought to say what the schools should be from a secular point of view; but it ought to leave the managers free to deal with religion as they thought proper.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that last year he had asked the right hon. Gentleman a question as to the average of 70 being required before a poor man could get the assistance of a pupil teacher in a school, and the right hon. Gentleman had promised to look into the matter, especially in reference to remote country schools. He wished now to know whether anything had been done in the matter; he wished to know how many managers of national schools had com- 588 plained of this injustice; and whether the right hon. Gentleman would modify this rule, which was so destructive of education in Ireland?
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
desired to know why a balance of £2,200 from. fees paid by children in Dublin was paid into the Exchequer?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the cost per child in Ireland was much larger than he had supposed. It was £1 10s. 6d., but the grant was £1 5s. 6d. In England the cost per child was £1 16s. 6d., and the grant was 14s. 4d. As to the question of proportion, having received a deputation upon this matter, he had gone very carefully into the subject; but his position was very different from that of the Vice President of the Council. He had always found the Education Board in Ireland most anxious to do their duty, and to consider fairly any suggestion brought before them; but he must remind the Committee that he himself had not the same power as the Vice President.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
explained that his question referred to the model schools in Ireland. The amount for teachers of model schools for 1881 was £5,100, and the remainder of the school fees, amounting to £2,200, was paid into the Exchequer as an extra receipt. Why was that?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the reason was that the model schools were expensive, and after the expenses had been paid out of the Government grant, whatever was made by the fees went back to the Exchequer.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £3,399, to complete the sum for the Queen's University, Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had been asked by several graduates of this University whether any of their rights would be interfered with by the new changes. Several of these undergraduates had left the Colleges to pursue other occupations, with the intention of returning to take their degrees, and they wished to know how they would be affected. Formerly, they could go up at any time to obtain a B.A. or an M.A.; but now there was a limitation put upon the period.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £1,276, to complete the sum for the Royal University of Ireland.
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £9,428, the granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882, in aid of the Expense of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that, while not desiring, at that hour, to enter into this question at any length, he should challenge the Vote, because these Colleges were to a large extent only schools whose initial examination lowered the standard of culture for the country, and because the non-dogmatic class were specially subsidized in proportion to their non-belief. Further, he held that the Irish nation was entitled to far more national institutions than these Colleges; and he hoped the day was not far distant when every national institution, and every other institution, would be thoroughly inspired by a greater spirit of Irish nationality.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he wished to point out that in the Queen's Colleges the most distant allusion to history was not permitted. As a result of the present system, education in Ireland was thoroughly bad, and most Irishmen knew more about English history than about their own. He could not agree in the opinion that the Queen's Colleges did harm to education; but he did think that the matriculation examination was ridiculously easy. These examinations were necessary, he was afraid, because of the educational condition of the country; but they were very much too easy. The salaries of the Professors were also too small.
§ MR. DAWSON
complained that, while there were three Colleges for the secularisation of Ireland, there was no College for the great mass of the people.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided—Ayes 53; Noes 11: Majority 42.—(Div. List, No. 406.)
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.