HC Deb 04 June 1891 vol 353 cc1622-4
MR. M. HEALY (Cork)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the attention of the Board of Intermediate Education in Ireland has been called to the general complaints which have been made as to the tendency of their new rules to restrict the benefits of intermediate education to students of the better class who obtain a classical education at Board schools to the prejudice of the poorer class of students who by the operation of the system as previously administered were enabled to obtain a good commercial education in the various day schools which sent forward pupils for examination; and whether they will re-consider their recent rules, so as to secure that the public moneys which they administer will benefit the poorer class of students who most need education assisted by the State; whether book-keeping, though hitherto a subject of study in the junior grade, is now omitted as well from that grade as from the new preparatory grade; whether natural philosophy and chemistry are omitted from the preparatory grade, though these subjects were hitherto included in the junior grade, and though the proposed preparatory grade includes five languages, Latin, Greek, French, German, and Italian; whether the new preparatory grade, being only provided in the middle and senior grades, is thus practically restricted to students in their 17th year or older, though youths intended for a commercial life generally leave school in Ireland in their 15th or 16th year; and whether the Board will re-consider the new rules, with a view to giving greater encouragement to commercial education; whether the Board of Intermediate Education in Ireland, in fixing the subjects of study in the new preparatory grade, have excluded Celtic, though Celtic has always hitherto been one of the subjects for students, no matter of what age, entered for the junior grade, and all the other languages hitherto prescribed as subjects in the junior grade, namely, Latin, Greek, French, German, and Italian, have been now prescribed as subjects for the preparatory grade; for what reason Celtic has been put on a different footing from the other languages mentioned; whether he is aware that the exclusion of Celtic has caused great dissatisfaction in the schools where Celtic has been studied; and whether the Board will consider the danger that students, if precluded from the study of Celtic for the two years while in the preparatory grade, will not make it a study at all? I beg further to ask the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to the increasing tendency of the Board of Intermediate Education in Ireland to give their examinations a purely literary direction to the detriment of students desiring a commercial education; whether, in the new preparatory grade, purely literary subjects (Greek, Latin, English, French, German, and Italian) between them are allowed 5,500 marks out of a possible total of 7,300, while the commercial subjects (arithmetic, Euclid, algebra, and drawing) get only 1,800 marks, and book-keeping, natural philosophy, and chemistry are entirely excluded, though always hitherto included in the curriculum for boys of the age for whom the preparatory course is intended; whether, in the other grade, the same disproportion is observed between literary and commercial subjects, and the new commercial course only comes into operation for youths in their 17th year, an age at which very few youths intended for commercial pursuits can continue to remain at school in Ireland; and whether the Board will reconsider their new programme, with a view to making it less unfavourable to commercial students?


The Assistant Commissioners of Intermediate Education report that the Board have fully considered all communications addressed to them in reference to their rules, and have embodied their views in draft rules now before the Lord Lieutenant for consideration, and which, if approved, will be issued in due course. The Board do not propose to make any further changes in the rules and programme of 1892. The rules and programme for 1893 will, in the ordinary course, come before the Board in November next, when they will fully consider any communications which may be laid before them in reference thereto.