§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)
moved, "That, in the opinion of this House, the system of primary education in Ireland is fundamentally defective, and has proved injurious in its operation." He said it was clear that all the schools for primary education in Ireland were antiquated and inadequate, and complaints came from north, south, east, and west as to the deficiences of the system. At the recent conference, held at the Mansion House, of managers and teachers this question had the primary place, as the first resolution carried was as follows—We believe, that no system of secondary, technical, or higher education can ever be successful unless a thorough and sound foundation be laid in the primary schools, that the primary schools in this country are in most instances unsuitable for accomplishing this object, being defective in sanitation, equipment, staffing, heating, and accommodation, end in their general attractiveness and comfort. We are, therefore, of the opinion that these defects must be remedied immediately if any real educational advancement is to be looked for.The statements in this Resolution had since been repeated, in an authoritative document laid upon the Table of this 398 House, by Mr. Dale, the gentleman appointed by the Chief Secretary to investigate the condition of the primary schools on behalf of the Government. Irish Members were determined, as far as primary education was concerned, that this system should not be allowed to go: on without a serious protest. It might be asked how were they to bring about a reform of that system. His only answer to that question would be, by reforming the whole system. He wished to draw attention to the authority to which the education of the children of Ireland was committed. That authority was known as the National Board of Education. It consisted of twenty gentlemen, ten representing Catholics and ten Protestants. It was not necessary for him to go into the names of those gentlemen, because every person acquainted with the educational question in Ireland was familiar with their names. While he admitted that those gentlemen might be very good citizens, he wished to ask had they the confidence of the people of Ireland? Did they represent education in any manner or capacity? They were not an elected but a selected body. They were anti-Irish in their tendency, and if the education of the children who were to he the future manhood and womanhood of Ireland was to be placed upon a satisfactory footing the whole system of education would have to be changed, and all those gentlemen now sitting on that Board would have to be replaced by educationists who had a thorough grasp of the needs of education in Ireland. Primary education would have to be made such as would appeal to the people of Ireland, and under the rule of the present board that was absolutely impossible. Something would have to be done to make the schools more attractive to the children. The children would have to be attracted to, instead of being repelled from, the schools as they were at the present time. Unless this was done the Irish child would make very little educational progress. They could not escape the conditions of their day, and they had to face the competition of the civilised world. How-was it possible for the children of Ireland to do this if in their early days they were denied the 399 advantages of good primary education? At the present time their schools were in such a state that (hey were absolutely prejudicial to the health and comfort of the children.
With regard to the staffing of the schools they should be made so efficient that the teachers would not have to face an impossible task. There were two classes of schools in Ireland, namely, the vested and the non-vested schools. The non-vested schools were each in the hands of a manager. He knew of an instance in a very poor district where the manager had been called upon to provide new equipment and materials, and the result was that the teacher had been deprived of his salary. Who were the sufferers? Why, the unfortunate children attending the school who, between the two, were the victims, for they would not get the opportunity of learning that for which the school was supposed to exist. The president of the Teachers' Congress, speaking on this point, said—With the scanty appliances now available, it is extremely difficult for even the ablest teachers in most of our schools to produce excellent results. In too many instances, rather than allow his skill and energy to remain unproductive, the teacher, out of his limited income, has to supply the means of carrying on his work. It is a grave reproach to a system which allows this injustice to he perpetrated. It is impossible for them to give efficient teaching under present conditions.Those were the views of the president of the Teachers' Congress which showed that the teachers were fully alive to the importance of this question, and they called upon the Government to provide a remedy in order that they might discharge their duties in a proper manner. The hon. Member for South Antrim said last year that in his opinion the Chief Secretary for Ireland ought to take up the question of the state of the national schools in Ireland because even in the North of Ireland the schools were not lit places for the children to he confined in; and he also complained of the bad ventilation of the schools, and said that more playgrounds ought to be provided. Such was the opinion of the representative of what they were led to believe was the prosperous North. In the matter of education he was afraid the North suffered just as much as the South. He would also like 400 to give the opinion of a Protestant headmaster who had made this statement—The majority are extremely unsatisfactory and quite unsuitable for teaching purposes. In hundreds of cases, especially in rural districts, the floors are earthen, and the roofs so bad that the rain is freely admitted. There is no local: aid as in England and Scotland for keeping the schoolhouses in repair, for heating and cleaning them, and for equipping them. All this responsibility devolves on the local manager who really cannot get funds for these purposes. In most cases the managers do what they can, but very frequently the burden of repairs, heating, equipping, etc., falls upon the teacher.In order to educate the children the teachers of Ireland were prepared to make these great monetary sacrifices. They had recently had the. Report of Mr. Dale on the condition of the schools of Ireland which must be fresh in the minds of many hon. Members, and he did not intend to quote very much from that Report. He rather preferred to give the opinions of teachers who lived in Ireland and who were as much conversant with the defects and the conditions of the schools in Ireland as Mr. Dale. The evidence of the teachers proved that the National Board and the Government had allowed this state of things to go on for such a number of years that it was high time that something should be done to put a stop to it. Dr. Moran, speaking of the Belfast schools in the report for the year 1900, said—Out offices, instead of being an advantage, are in some instances a dangerous source of disease and death.Mr. Hynes, writing of the Dublin schools in 1900 said—There are a good many which are defective in one or more of the following essentials—space, lighting, ventilation.Mr. Ross (Newry District, 1900) said—The most common defects are badly chosen sites, insufficiency or absence of playgrounds, and objectionable sanitary arrangements. In seven instances, schools attended by children of both sexes are without privies.Dr. Alexander (Cork District, 1899) said—The ventilation of the class rooms is often very imperfect. The great majority of schools are by no means as efficiently equipped as is desirable."…"In many schools I found no tire even when the weather was very cold.Dr. Beatty (Newtownards District, 1899) said—Another most serious defect arises from the almost indecent, and with little doubt insanitary position of the out-offices. Their restricted 401 use is sowing the seeds of disease in after life."…"The school-houses no doubt help the work of disease. I can count up fourteen monitors who have retired through ill-health, and have, I imagine, all since died. Two young monitors employed in an overcrowded school have died within a year.Those were the views of the inspectors and he was sure they were worthy of credence. He wished to show the House how the Government or the National Board had failed to remedy this state of affairs. The last extract on this subject which he wished to quote was that of the president of the teachers, who, speaking at Belfast this month, said—Some of the most serious blots in connection with primary education in this country are undoubtedly the unsuitability of the majority of the school buildings, the wretched condition of the furniture, the lack of the necessary teaching appliances, and the general want of any regular provision for heating and sanitation.Would the Government disregard the views of these representative men who knew the requirements of education in Ireland? The Chief Secretary, in a debate, which took place recently, threw a slight on the people of Ireland because of their want of education. The right hon. Gentleman was dealing with the question of technical education, and stated that, in consequence of the want of the necessary education, it was impossible to find men in Ireland qualified for that class of teaching. The obvious answer was contained in the reports he had read. Under the circumstances it was no wonder that children, were disinclined to attend the schools in Ireland. In many instances they had to tramp long distances to school. When they got there they were wet and begrimed, and they were often in a famished condition. The schoolhouse was not such as was to be found in England, and it was hard to compel the child to go where the conditions were so uncomfortable. Would the Government permit that state of things to go on much longer? The staffing of the schools also required consideration. The Chief Secretary stated the other night that he would favourably consider the advisability of reducing the average number required to be in attendance, so that there might be a second teacher provided for those schools where the average number at present required could not be obtained. 402 At certain seasons of the year when work could be got in the fields teachers had the greatest possible difficulty in getting the children to attend school. A headmaster wrote to him as follows—At present one teacher only is allowed in schools with an average attendance of less than sixty. Even with an average of forty, actual attendance sometimes sixty or over, one teacher cannot give anything like effective instruction in seven standards -six and infants—at the same time. The time of the children is wasted, and, what is worse, they acquire the habit of wasting time. There should be a second teacher in every school with an average of forty or above.Surely this was not unreasonable, especially considering the diminishing population in many districts in Ireland. He hoped the Government would take note of this gentleman's suggestion.
There was another substantial grievance in connection with the educational work in Ireland under the present system. That was in reference to the status and remuneration of the teachers. The average salary of all teachers, principals and assistants, was £80. The salaries of the 4,689 headmasters in Ireland were—twenty-three of these headmasters were paid under £50 a year, 2,751 of these headmasters (nearly (50 per cant.) were paid between £56 and £86 a year, 1,253 of these headmasters were paid between £87 and £116 a year, 420 of these headmasters were paid between £117 and £138 a year, 186 of these headmasters were paid between £139 and £174 a year, fifty-five of these headmasters were paid £175 or over. The salaries of the 3,565 headmistresses in Ireland ware—five of these were paid under £44 a year, 2,286 of these were paid between £44 and £72 a year, 799 of these were paid between £73 and £96 a year, 278 of these were paid between £97 and £113 a year, 197 of these were paid £114 a year or over. All the teachers in Irish national schools were fully qualified and certificated teachers. He wished to contrast these salaries with the remuneration given in England. In this country the average salary of headmasters was £148 17s.; the average salary of headmistresses £98 7s. 10d.; the average salary of assistant masters £108 l1s. 5d.; the average salary of assistant mistresses £78 13;. 7d. In Scotland the average salary of head masters was £175 2s. 9d.; the average salary of headmistresses was 403 £85 14s.; the average salary of assistant masters was £115 5s. 10d.; the average salary of assistant mistresses was £70 18s. 8d. He appealed to the Chief Secretary to do something to improve the status of remuneration of teachers in Ireland. As an example of the way in which the Treasury dealt with teachers in Ireland, he would mention a matter which had come to his knowledge in respect of the teachers in model schools. About 1875, the Lords of the Treasury demanded that one-third of the school fees paid by the children attending model schools in Ireland should be handed over to them, and further stipulated with the Commissioners of Education that in case of a diminution in the amount of fees collected the Treasury portion should not fall below £2,000 per annum. At that time the fees collected in model schools amounted to over £7,000 a year, and the balance of £5,000 was divided among the teachers of the respective model schools in proportion to the amounts collected in each. Owing to the Education Act of 1892, which practically abolished school fees in Ireland, the fees in model schools became so reduced that now only the bare £2,000 could be collected, and the Treasury insisted on receiving the entire sum. As a consequence, the teachers in model schools got now not one penny of the fees paid by the public under the belief that they were contributing to the incomes of those who instructed their children. In this way a sum of £56,000 had been levied off Irish parents during the past twenty-eight years. This was a tax imposed on the Irish people without their knowledge, and he was certain if the parents of the children attending these schools knew what became of the fees, they would forthwith refuse to pay them, feeling as they did that they were already so largely overtaxed. Speaking at Belfast a fortnight ago, the president of the teachers said—I unhesitatingly declare that the responsibility for the serious defects in our educational system rests entirely on His Majesty's Government. It must be remembered that our system of primary education is a State system; and that everyone connected with the system is directly or indirectly appointed by the State; and, therefore, the duty is cast upon the latter of making adequate provision for the education of the children of Ireland. That duty is rendered still more imperative by the recent 404 action of the Government in denying us the money which would relieve a largo portion of our educational needs, and place our schools in a position something nearer towards equality with the primary schools of England and Scotland. You are all aware that the passing of the English Education Act gave an addition of £1,400,000 to the primary schools of England. In accordance with established custom the equivalents of £212,000 and £185,000 became available for Scotland and Ireland respectively. In Scotland the equivalent grant was at once applied to the purposes of primary education; although, as everyone acquainted with the conditions existing in both countries is well aware, the Scotch schools in respect to the buildings themselves, to equipment, heating, staffing, and sanitation, were miles and miles ahead of those of our own unfortunate land. But the crying needs of Irish education were ignored, and the Irish equivalent grant was diverted from its legitimate purpose on the plea that the money could not be usefully applied to the purposes of primary education.He hoped he had not wearied the House, but he had endeavoured to put his case in the best manner at his disposal. He felt deeply the want of education in Ireland. He knew that if their people were to progress and face the battle of life in competition with other nations they must have more and better education. They did not wish their people to be for ever hewers of wood and drawers of water; but to give them an opportunity, by means of education, to come to this country or go across the Atlantic and enter upon the struggle for existence on equal terms with their fellow citizens.
§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL (Kerry, W.)
said that his hon. friend who had moved the Motion now before the House had done so in an elaborate and detailed manner in which he did not intend to follow him. It was a matter of satisfaction that the Irish Party had got this opportunity of discussing the education question at so favourable a time as the present; and they should not be doing what was just to, and wise for, their country if they did not descend into both the details and the policy of the Irish educational system. It had been said "Give me the education of the people of a country and I care not what its Government may be." His argument was "Give us the control of the education of our own people and they will be better off: and then our demand for the other will be stronger and assured of success." He 405 did not know whether or not that argument would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He wished to deal with the question of education in Ireland from a broad, national, and progressive point of view; and to show that in the past seventy years, during which the so-called National Board of Education in Ireland had been in existence, no real progress had been made in education; that nothing had been done for the progress of the country; and that the time and money spent on the existing system had been practically wasted. What was the cause of all this? Were the Irish so incapable of benefiting from a properly devised and properly administered system of education? No one who knew the history of the Irish race and the progress which they had made in America and in the British Colonies, where they had a fair field, could say that the failure of the system of the National Education Board was due to the people themselves. Unprejudiced witnesses, including even Mr. Dale, had unanimously come to the conclusion that the failure was due at first to the manner in which Ireland was governed; and to the refusal to give the Irish people some right to control the education of their children. It was from that point of view that he wished to criticise the work of the National Board of Education.
From 1537 to the present year the same undermining policy had been continually adopted in the treatment of education in Ireland—the English Government had sacrificed education to the interest of sectarian strife and supremacy. The Irish Parliament in 1537 established parochial schools all over the country and insisted that the English tongue should be taught in them. An Act of Elizabeth established diocesan schools in every diocese under the direction of the Protestants in Ireland; and then there were the charity schools intended to bring up the poorest and most neglected Catholic children as Protestants. Then there were various societies engaged in the useless task of trying to make converts of Catholics to Protestantism. Those who knew what had been done since the National Education Board was established were perfectly well aware that the same policy had been continued in the national schools as had 406 prevailed in the parochial, diocesan and charity schools. Archbishop Whately in his diary wrote:The education supplied by the National Education Hoard is gradually undermining the vast fabric of the Irish Roman Catholic Church.'The Archbishop did sot care whether it was improving the condition of the Irish people. That was not in his mind. What was in his mind was "If we cannot get the Irish children educated in our creed, we give up the only hope of winning the Irish people from Popery." Was it any wonder that the Irish people objected to the existence of a National Education Board whose declared policy that was? But Archbishop Whately added—I cannot venture openly to express this opinion.The hope, that was, of using this means of winning the Irish people from Popery. He had not quoted these words from any idea of embittering controversy between Englishmen and Irishmen on this education question, but to show the necessity of endless vigilance in proving the futility of a policy which sacrificed real education to sectarian purposes. He claimed that while that policy was continued the existing educational system in Ireland could produce no good or fruitful results for the Irish people.
The National Education Board had not only no true educational policy; it had an anti-national policy. In 1841, when the Board was established, four-fifths of the Irish people spoke the Irish language. One would have imagined that, as was done in Wales and in the Highlands of Scotland, and in every country in Europe, the language which the children lisped at their mothers' knees would have been the language used as the medium of education in the schools. But that was not the method of the National Education Board. Because it was the Irish language, and lest its use might foster in the young Irish children a love of their own country, and make them true citizens and loyal to their native land, it was banned; and the only educational system adopted for teaching the children was through the medium of an unknown tongue. Everyone must be aware that such a policy must inevitably have in future generations a most wretched 407 effect upon the people on whom it was forced. An authority from the Party opposite, in speaking of that policy of the National Board of Education, used words as strong as could possibly have been employed by any Irish Member. Attacking the lamentable lack of moral fibre on the part of Irish children, that Gentleman said, was it any wonder that the Irish nation had—as, undoubtedly, they had—the characteristics which they exhibited?The national factor in Ireland has been studiously eliminated from national education, and Ireland is perhaps the only country in Europe where it was part of the settled policy of those who had guidance of education to ignore the literature, history, arts, and traditions of the people. It was a fatal policy for it obviously tended to stamp their native country in the eyes of Irishmen with the badge of inferiority and to extinguish the sense of healthy self-respect which comes from the consciousness of high national ancestry and traditions. This policy dulled the intelligence of the people, impaired their interest in their own surroundings, stimulated emigration by teaching them to look on other countries as more agreeable places to live in, and made Ireland a social desert.The same author said further—Nothing is more evident to the student of Danish education, or I might add of the excellent system of the Christian Brothers in Ireland, than that one of the secrets of their success is to be found of their national basis, and their foundation upon the history and literature of the country.The Irish people were now determined to tolerate this national insult no longer. They meant to insist on getting educational systems which would draw forth all that was best in their race, which would give character as well as information. The Gaelic League, during the ten years of its existence, had done more for the interests of education, for the true advancement of the nation, than all the Boards that ever cursed their country. It had awakened an enthusiasm which would not tamely submit to insult; and even Sir Horace Plunkett would find that the Irish people would have sufficient moral fibre to insist that Irish education should henceforth be national and administered by themselves. The system imposed on them over severity years ago, and continued unaltered ever since, should now be able to show exceptional results to justify its continued existence. On the contrary it had been a hopeless and 408 disastrous failure, and, if even the semblance of justice was to be done them, if their country was not to be kept for ever in the background, radical changes must be immediately effected. Education, from the national school to the University, must be nationalised—both as to control and curriculum.
A foreigner at first sight would think from the number of boards of titled, men who were charged with the educational welfare of Ireland that it should be the most progressive nation on earth. They had the National Board, the Intermediate Board, the Local Government Board, the Technical Education Board, the governing bodies of the Queen's Colleges, the Senate of the two Universities all charged with giving good education out of the public funds, each board independent of the other, and all independent of the Irish people and even of this. House. The Irish parent whose, child's future was at stake, whose taxes supported the whole fabric, whose country's welfare and prosperity were concerned, was given no voice or control whatever. Such a state of things could not be paralleled in any country in Europe. In this twentieth century it would be a disgrace, to the government of the Czar. England, Scotland, and Wales had long ago left this antiquated stage. In America, in France, in Germany, the greatest public interest was taken, and public control given, in the education of the young. Public men, ministers of religion, parents, all united in interest and zeal for their proper training. The father felt that his children were his greatest charge, that it was his duty to fit them for life's battle. He felt that this could only be done by giving them, while at school, such a training as would lay open to them all the fruits of knowledge, and therefore it was that, in those countries, no cost was spared in getting the best possible teachers and in equipping the schools suitably for their great work. It was ungenerous and absurd to charge the Irish people with taking no interest in the education of their own children when by law they were practically excluded from this part of a free citizen's national duty. The same charge was made when technical education was administered from South Kensington. Yet how great 409 had been the interest aroused, how widespread the desire to devote the rates to this important branch, since control was given to the people. There were no people who valued education more than the Irish, none would more cheerfully give their time and money for so laudable a purpose as the Irish people; yet of all European nations they alone were denied this elementary right. The time had arrived to remedy this indefensible unconstitional anachronism. Irresponsible hoards must be swept away and one central authority responsible to the people put in their place. Much money was yearly wasted by the system which prevailed at present of one board acting independently of the other. Why should primary, secondary, technical, and University education be carried on in watertight compartments? Why could not one education authority unite the functions of all, giving at the same time large local control and encouraging local initiative? Why could they not de-vise one scheme leading from the national school to the University, so as to draw forth the rich native talent of the Irish peasant, at present lying dormant because of his poverty and lack of effort? The system of nominated boards had proved a disastrous failure in Ireland. Nobody could now defend it. There was nothing to justify its continued existence.
Mr. Dale's Report was more sweeping in its condemnation than the most advanced Irish Member had ever been. He saw nothing but schools badly built, wretchedly equipped, insanitary and cheerless, children shivering in the winter with no lire to warm them, teachers poorly paid and with poorer prospects of promotion or recognition of service, and, what was most important in this Report, he recognised that neither teachers, managers, nor people were to blame for this deplorable state of things, but rather the system which centred all authority in Dublin and deprived the nation of all power whatever. This Report, read side by side with the eleven volumes on the educational systems of Europe and America published under the direction of Mr. Sadler, showed a state of things in Ireland which no English Government, pretending to take any interest in the future welfare of 410 that country, could contemplate without feeling that they had hopelessly failed in their duty. They made the Irishman feel that so far had his country b3en kept behind the rest of the world through being denied proper systems of education, that nothing but the most enthusiastic application on the part of the people, guided and encouraged by a fostering Irish Parliament, could ever repair the mischief of the past. A change, revolutionary and immediate, was required. The whole system should be torn up by the roots and education from the national school to the University placed on a proper basis. The systemscould not beconsidered apart. They reacted and interacted on each other, and that scheme would be most successful where they were all considered as part of one whole. The influence of the University helped to supply good teachers, while the good teachers afterwards supplied good University students, and thus from the lowest to the highest class was felt the influence of University training. As it was in the prim try school that five-sixths of their boys got their first and only education it was evident that this must be for them their University. If this school was badly managed, if the teaching given therein was of a low order, it was a poor consolation for them to know that the children of their richer neighbours could get University education in Dublin.
How were they to get the blessings of University education? They could not all send their children away. He would make two suggestions, which, if carried out, would, to his mind, go very far towards bringing the University to every man's door. He would place the teaching profession on an equality with other professions in this country, give them an equally high educational training and give them a salary commensurate with the importance of the work they had to discharge. He would remodel the present system of training teachers, and would give the teacher a position in the University which would enable him to avail himself of all the social and intellectual advantages which were amongst the greatest boons of University training. He would do everything in his power to fit him—and it was a difficult and slow process to train a competent teacher—for the very important work of shaping the youth of the 411 nation. President Garfield said of Professor Hopkins of Williams College, where Garfield was a student, that "he considered it a liberal education to sit at one end of a log with Mack Hopkins at the other." So it was with every true teacher. His influence in forming the character, in shaping the destiny of those who came under his control was a thing which could scarcely be realised. They spent £54,000 a year on training Irish teachers who got no opportunities of the University training as in Scotland or America. Half the Scotch teachers were University graduates. Everybody was aware that the system of educating one particular class or profession entirely apart from the general education and wide contact given in a University was educationally unsound, and tended to produce characteristics which did not mark a "liberal education." Professor Munsterberg of Harvard University, writing in 1900, said—That was the secret of German schools; the most elementary teaching was given by men who were experts in their field, whose scholarly interest filled them with an enthusiasm that inspired the class. To bring that condition about must be the aim of every friend of American school life. That is the one great reform which is needed, and till this burning need is removed, it is useless to put forward unimportant changes. Just as it has been said that war requires three things—money, money, and again money—So it can be said with much greater truth that education needs not forces and buildings, nor pedagogy and demonstrations, but only men, men, and again men. The right kind of men is what the schools need; they need teachers whose interest in the subject would banish all drudgery.Professor Russell, of Columbia University, said—No one will deny that the interests of public education are as great and as urgent as the interests of law, medicine, or engineering. The University is true to itself, therefore, when it undertakes the professional training of teachers.These eminent authorities recognised the essential factor of progress in national education to be the well-trained teacher. If he had availed himself of University training he dispensed his knowledge, and, what was more important, his culture and character, to those who were entrusted to his care.
The second point to which he wished to direct attention, and by means of which he hoped to further facilitate the advance 412 of the clever, but poor, boy, trained under the teacher he had described, was a scheme of county scholarships which would give free admission to, and a free education in, the University. To do this thoroughly he would establish in suitable centres, say the central town of three or more adjoining parishes, a higher national school. The teachers in those schools should be, of course, University graduates of distinction. To every primary school within those parishes, he would allocate one, two, or three scholarships to be competed for yearly, the winners to have free entrance to the higher national school. The pupils of those higher schools would compete for the county scholarships giving free admission to the University, or to the technical college attached thereto.
If permitted he would now sum-marise what he had just said and put | to the Chief Secretary what he considered the most important points. He had proved that the present sys- tern should not go on any longer, it had ruined and blighted the men of Ireland and kept them fifty or a hundred years behind the rest of the world, and no reason could be brought forward for its continuance. What was to be submitted for it? The Chief Secretary and his colleagues took on themselves the right to govern Ireland, and said the Irish were better off now than they had ever been. But if he might express an opinion he would say that the Government of Ireland by this House stood condemned by its attitude to the education of that country. In every other civilised country in the world the people had the right of managing the education of their children, and the possession of that right created an interest in, and awakened an enthusiasm for, education which were of the greatest value. Why should Irishman be refused that right? In America they had not proved to be incapable of administering education or of benefiting by it. Their capacity could not be denied, and the Government which held them to be unworthy, itself stood hopelessly condemned. Education in Ireland required to be nationalised and modernised; nominated boards should be swept away; the people should be granted the 413 right of training their children; primary, secondary, technical and University education should be so coordinated as to bring it within the reach of all children with the necessary ability to profit by it. It was equally essential that the position of the teacher should be raised in importance, that his salary and prospects should be enlarged, and his training connected with the national University. To carry out these reforms and to repair the consequences of past neglect it would be necessary for a considerable sum to be spent on education in Ireland, far more than would be her proportionate share as compared with England and Scotland, a demand the justice of which could easily be proved. Steps should be taken to teach the Irish language as a compulsory subject, to inculcate patriotism, civic duties and responsibilities, love of home and fatherland; to banish corporal punishment; and to pay more attention to the formation of character than to the mere giving of information. Suitable playgrounds should be established in connection with every school, special facilities afforded for the retirement of men who had grown old in service under the present system, and the initial salary of £56 a year increased so as to attract younger and better men. Finally, boys and girls ought to be taught together as was the ease in America and as used to be the case in Ireland. All authority in America heal come to the conclusion that the greatest possible advantages accrued to the nation by the co-education of the children. The young men were less rough and more courteous, the girls were, more virile, and from a moral point of view the most excellent results were achieved. He hoped that at last Ireland would be relieved of the system of nominated boards which had wrought so much evil in the past, and that Irish parents would be granted the elementary right of assisting to train their own children. It was often alleged that Irishmen were incapable of filling positions in Ireland, or abroad, because of their lack of education, but if the taunt were justified it was the fault not of Irishmen but of the English Government. A heavy responsibility would rest on Parliament if it continued a system which had produced such wretched 414 results in a people who were anxious to secure, and capable of benefiting by, the full advantages of education. He begged to second the Motion.
To leave out from the word 'that' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in the opinion of this House, the system of Primary Education in Ireland is fundamentally defective, and has proved injurious in its operation.'"—(Mr. Nannetti.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said it was impossible for the House of Commons not to sympathise with the demand for a proper system of education in Ireland. As far as education went, he did not think the record of the English Government was a very creditable one, and unless they took steps to legislate for the needs of Ireland in this respect Parliament would show a singular indifference to the valuable asset which the Empire possessed in the peculiar qualities of the Irish people if only they were properly developed and trained. He hoped, therefore, that the debate would result in serious steps being taken to give to Ireland similar opportunities to those now enjoyed by England, Wales, and Scotland. But when one passed from the general demand and light of the Irish people to the desirability of reforming the present system, it was necessary to step with the greatest diffidence and caution. He knew enough about education to be aware that it must be adapted to the peculiarities, and even to the prejudice, of the people it was intended to benefit, and that it was impossible to force one rigid system upon all the peoples inhabiting the various parts of the United Kingdom. If he might make one or two general remarks as to the principles on which Irish education should be conducted, he would say that the first thing was to bring it under popular control. At present it was impossible for any body of Members to exercise any influence over the matter, inasmuch as, under the present system, Irish education was taken entirely out of Parliamentary control. The Lord Advocate had to answer the 415 criticisms made in this House on behalf of the Scottish Education Department, but when they came to Irish education the Chief Secretary for Ireland had to answer for the National Board of Education. Considerably more than ten years ago he was invited to visit one of the most admirable chools he ever saw in any part of the world, and it was a school for poor boys at Cork. It was admirable in every way and the teaching and discipline were excellent. It was a school conducted by the Christian Brothers, and, although a debate took place in the House of Commons upon the question, the then Chief Secretary was obliged to state that he was unable to grant this admirable school full assistance from the fund for Irish education.
He wished to impress upon the Chief Secretary that in any scheme brought forward for remodelling Irish education they ought to put a stop to the multiplicity of boards in Ireland. There were, at present, three great boards in Ireland administering education, namely, the National Board of Education, which dealt with elementary education; the Intermediate Education Board, which dealt with what was called in this country secondary education; and the Board for Technical Education. The work of these three boards was so closely connected that it was quite impossible to have a proper system unless the three were amalgamated. The principle of technical education was one which should provide the whole of the instruction from the kindergarten to the University, and the elementary school could not be properly carried on unless the principle of technical instruction, and the supervision of the persons versed in technical instruction, was made use of during the whole course of elementary training. Elementary education ought to lead directly on to intermediate, and it was absolutely essential that these three kinds of education should not be kept in water-tight compartments with no connection the one with the other.
Another thing they required in Ireland was the encouragement and establishment of some kind of local interest in education. That was one of the great advantages of the English Act of 1870, for it aroused in every part of the country a keener 416 local interest in education. That local interest had always been the key-stone of the Scottish system. The reason why Scotch education had been so successful and why it was so far ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom, was that there had always been in Scotland a greater local interest taken in education. In those parts of England where there had formerly existed this local interest, and where the parents had taken an interest in education, the schools were the best and there they made the best use of those schools. No doubt one difficulty in applying the system of England and Scotland to Ireland was the extreme poverty of the people. In England three-fourths of the cost of education was paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and one-fourth out of the local rates. He believed that something like the same proportion was contributed in Scotland, but he did not think they ought to ask the people of Ireland to pay as much as one-fourth. If some official body was formed responsible for the general direction of the education of the district, he did not think they needed to despair because the people were incapable of bearing a substantial part of the cost of education. He had been very much struck by what he had read of something that was done sixty years ago in a small parish in Somersetshire, which contained a population of 1,125, composed almost entirely of agricultural labourers receiving between 6s. and 9s. a week, which was about the same rate of wages as was now being paid in some of the districts in Ireland. There were no rich people in that parish, and yet the rector, by enlisting the interest of the people, succeeded in establishing a most remarkable model school supported entirely by the small Government grant and the fees of those poor people. He succeeded in establishing in that school a system of education something like that which sixty years afterwards they were striving to obtain with the assistance of all the inspectors and machinery of the Education Department. But although Ireland was very poor, and although it might be incapable of giving any considerable rate aid to the elementary schools that was no reason why a local interest should not be created. They could have excellent schools in a poor parish with a keen local interest, and 417 quite as efficient as the schools in an indifferent parish where they might have a considerable sum to support education out of the rates. There was another thing which should be considered by the Irish people and their representatives, namely, that there was a considerable body of opinion which held that the cost of education should be an Imperial and not a local charge. There ought to be a very small margin of the mere local cost of administration and so on, which ought to fall upon the locality, and the great bulk of the cost should fall upon the Imperial funds on the ground that education was a national and not a local concern. What he wished to impress upon the House was that they should not wait for the possibility of exacting local contributions before they took some measures to secure local responsibility and interest in education.
Perhaps the House would think he was going beyond his province if he criticised in any detail the Report which had recently been made by Mr. Dale. Mr. Dale was a gentleman who, from his long experience, knew the state of the schools in this country, and nobody could be more qualified to report upon the Irish schools. His Report was perfectly conclusive that there was in Ireland a great defect in the education, that it was not at all up to the English standard, that it was not what it ought to be, and that it was absolutely necessary, in common justice to the Irish nation, that it should be brought up to the English standard as soon as possible. He should like to call the attention of the House to what was stated in the Report as to the great superiority of the convent schools, and of the Protestant schools which were managed on the same sort of principles. There they had a very valuable local agency in Ireland which was possessed only to a very small extent in England and scarcely at all in Scotland. As the Irish idea of an educational system might differ very largely from that in this country, it might be a question whether more use might not be made of those Irish schools, and whether some part of the Irish educational system could not be applied to them. He was particularly struck ten years ago by those Christian Brothers' schools, some of 418 which he saw in Cork. He was told, and he believed it was true, that they had succeeded in establishing in the cities and the great centres of population in Ireland schools which really got hold of the young people of the Roman Catholic religion. There were very few Protestants in them, but their doors were not shut to them. These schools got hold of the Roman Catholic children, and brought them up in a way in which no other institution in Ireland had ever succeeded in doing. A respected Member of this House, who was brought up in a Christian Brothers' school, was a distinguished ornament of the House in his time. If some system of that sort were adopted it would give a very excellent body of local managers more interested in education than perhaps any other, because they were interested on religious grounds. It was part of their religion to carry on these schools and to do the best they could for the children. He, therefore, rose to say that he thought there ought to be a real root-and-branch reform of Irish education, and he was quite sure that all Parties in the House—not only Irish but English and Scotch Members—would do their best to help the Irish people to have a really proper and valuable scheme established. That scheme should be one responsible to Parliament, and the Department which had charge in Ireland of education should undertake the whole education of Ireland—elementary, intermediate, and technical—and should be responsible to this House for the mode in which the money voted by this House was expended. The responsibility for the organisation and administration of elementary education should be entrusted to some Irish body either elected by, or representative of, the people, with responsibility in the first instance to the Irish Education Department, and therefore to this House, and in the second place to the people of the locality out of which it was chosen. He was quite sure that any system of that kind—a really good Irish educational system—whether it led to Home Rule or not, would certainly lead to the Irish people being happier, and to the development of those extraordinary talents they possessed, and which were so valuable an asset to the people of the United Kingdom. Whether 419 it ended in Home Rule or not, it would end in making a much happier Ireland, and in much greater credit to the United Kingdom.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he only rose to intervene for a few moments in the debate, and he must state to the House his reason for speaking now. First of all, he wished to thank the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken for the interesting, valuable, and sympathetic speech he had made and for which they were all most grateful, and he thought that the representatives of the Irish people in this House who had been for so many long years preaching the doctrine of reform in primary education in vain, had reason to congratulate themselves upon the position in which they stood at the present moment; because he did not think that when the Chief Secretary came to speak it would be possible for him to deny that the present system had been universally condemned. As the right hon. Gentleman had properly said, the Report of Mr. Dale in itself was a condemnation, complete and overwhelming, of the Board of National Education and of the whole system at the present moment in Ireland. He therefore thought they had reason to congratulate themselves that at last they had come to what looked like the beginning of the end of a system which had to a large extent kept the Irish in ignorance and militated against progress in every department of life in that country. He had not risen to emphasise the case against the present system. If that rested solely on the speeches made in this debate it would be unanswerable. But it rested upon more than that. It was unnecessary for him at this stage to emphasise the view now practically universally entertained by every one, that the present system was rotten and must go. But he had been induced to rise now by some of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University. If they had in Ireland a Government of their own the settlement of this question would be perfectly easy; then the settlement would be a natural and logical settlement by a Government Department responsible to the Parliament of Ireland. But that was not the position in which they stood at the 420 present moment, and he desired before the Chief Secretary spoke to warn him that so far as the sentiments entertained by the Irish Members were concerned, they did not approve and would not tolerate, so far as it rested with them, the creation of a new Castle board to take the place of the present Board of National Education. They had no confidence in the Government of Ireland by Dublin Castle; they had no confidence, in the centralised nominated board of Dublin Castle; and the creation of what they called a new Government Department in Ireland to take over responsibility for primary education in that country would not receive their sanction, and most certainly would not receive the confidence of the mass of the Irish people.
He confessed it was very difficult to suggest what the remedy ought to be. Of course it would he, as he had said, easy if they had their own Government; and until they had their own Government there would be, in his opinion, no satisfactory or logical settlement. But it was not their province, sitting in opposition in that House, without responsibility for the Government in their hands, to suggest a way out of these difficulties, and therefore he did not propose to suggest a scheme for remedying the difficulties. What he did say was that the scandal and disgrace of the system was now admitted. There was no proof of the failure of English government in Ireland so overwhelming as that which was to be found in the neglect of education, and there was no argument, therefore, that was stronger in favour of Home Rule. When they came to propose a remedy for this question all he felt bound to say was this, that the National Board as at present constitute I was absurd, unrepresentative, and irresponsible, and whatever they did they must change the character of that board, but further than that he had only to say that he was not in favour of a new Department in Ireland responsible to this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University said that that was all very well. Would he allow him to point out the difference between the responsibility of an Irish Castle board to this House and the responsibility of the ordinary Board of 421 Education in this country to this House. What was the meaning of the responsibility of the English Board of Education to this House? It meant that it was responsible to an Assembly where the public opinion of the country was paramount. That was to say it could never do anything out of sympathy with the opinion of the majority of the people of England. But the Education Board in Ireland might be responsible to this House, and yet in its every action flout and defy the unanimous public opinion of Ireland, and, therefore, to tell him that this case would be satisfactorily met by the creation of a new Government Department which was to be responsible to this House did not satisfy his mind at all, because so far as the Irish people were concerned it would be absolutely irresponsible. Therefore he was not to be taken as in favour, in any sense, of such a board. That was what he had risen to say. He had intended to wait until later in the debate and to speak after hearing what the Chief Secretary had to say, but so impressed was he by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University that he thought it well to intervene between that speech and the speech of the Chief Secretary, so that there might be no misconception upon this point, and that the Chief Secretary might know that this scheme for creating a new Department in Ireland was not one that they approved, and that they would resist that proposal. It was one that would not receive support from the great mass of Irish people.
§ MR T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said he did not think it was necessary that the House should trouble itself discussing the enormities connected with such matter; as equipment, sanitation, and school buildings. In a debate of this character, which, in his opinion, was clearly going to result in a revolution in the Irish educational system, it was not matters like these that the House ought first of all to consider. These ought to be taken as matters of course, for no system which allowed such equipment, sanitation, and school buildings as now existed deserved to be tolerated. That was clear. They were alongside of one of the biggest Irish questions the House of Commons could be called upon to 422 consider. The whole matter went so deeply into the root of things in Ireland that he wished to state at once what he thought about it. There could be no defence of the National Board. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen opposite in that, but while they condemned the Board they ought to have the courage and the frankness to say that it was formed at a time when no other system was possible, and that, under the conditions which were then existent, it had done a substantial and good educational work of a kind. He admitted that the Board was utterly defective and ought not to be allowed to exist, but he did not think they should bury it without some funeral service over it of a decent character. The Board was non-representative. He had had something to do with it in past years. He was a Presbyterian. Whether a man was competent or not was never taken into account. It all depended on Parliamentary influence. He supposed the other churches were in a similar position. He was not at liberty to discuss this question from the Home Rule standpoint, but he maintained that the Board was educationally incompetent. It had done its best but it ought to be ended. But when they came to ask what should take its place they found the great difficulty. He could see nothing, if they abolished the Board, but an Education Department as it existed in England or Scotland. That would be a Department responsible to that House. He agreed that that was an imperfect responsibility, and that many things would be done which would be repugnant to the general sense of the Irish Members. Let them make no mistake. They were really treading upon very thin ice in this matter. The question of education in Ireland occupied a wholly different position from what it occupied in England and Scotland. The religious difficulty was bad enough in England, as had been shown during the past two sessions. The Scotch people, with the remarkable good sense they generally displayed, had managed to get rid of the educational difficulty altogether. He heard not long ago that when the Lord Advocate in 1872 took the Scotch Education Bill as it had been settled by a Committee of the Cabinet to Mr. Gladstone, he rather prided himself on telling Mr. Gladstone 423 that religion was not mentioned in it from beginning to end. That might do for Scotland, but it would not do for Ireland.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that that was said at the time; but in Ireland it was different. At all events they should face the question at once, and the House might depend upon it that the religious difficulty would be a real difficulty, and that any effort to get round it or behind it would not be of the slightest, use. It would be no use setting up an Education Department unless there was a system of local management to accompany it. They had now the county councils. The county councils had done excellent work and they had not got into conflict with the people or with any class, and he confessed that, with an Education Department and the control of education given to the county councils, with perhaps boards of management for localities on which the clergy of the denominations would be represented, they might possibly get over the difficulty. It would be absolutely impossible to get education under popular control without taking into account the claims which the religious teachers of all classes urged with regard to it. It would be perfectly impossible to deal with this question as it was in Scotland by mere school boards and to shut out all clericalism from the county councils. He should rejoice if they could find a way out of the difficulty. He entered that House many years ago with very Nonconformist views on education—namely, that the State ought not to touch religion at all. But what was the use of attempting to stand on that ground now? His hon. friends from Ulster knew the strong feeling that existed about the endowment of religion by means of education. What was the good of standing there now when they knew that the Scotch Bill would enable the Scotch school boards to endow Roman Catholic schools in Scotland and when they knew that the Education Act for England last session absolutely endowed Roman Catholic education throughout England? What was the use 424 of a handful of Ulster Unionists standing up for a principle that had been swept away. He stood up for it as long as he could, but he was swept away, and he was not going to stand up for it any longer. Clergymen must be taught that children did not exist for them but clergymen for the children. If they could offer popular control giving the clergy of every church fair representation on the board of management they would see daylight in this matter. He should not like to be the Chief Secretary with this duty ahead of him, and although he stood no longer by this principle of the State not interfering, he did not believe that he represented the great sentiment of the Ulster people in this matter. The Ulster Unionists represented that but all he could say was that he did not think they ought to be allowed to stand up for a principle which was stopping the real education of the people and which the people of England and Scotland, who were as Protestant as the Ulster Unionists, had swept out of their path in the true interests of the education of their children. The Chief Secretary had done some work in the past but he would find that this education question would be the biggest matter he had ever had to deal with and was likely to do more to disorganise Parties than any- thing that had gone before.
§ * MR. SAMUEL YOUNG (Cavan, E.)
said that everyone who took an interest in his country must know that education was the greatest, factor in a nation's greatness. It was now about seventy years ago, when, for the first time, the State set up an elementary system of education for Ireland, when there were about 80 percent, illiterates of the whole population. The national system did much in its time, for illiteracy was now only about 18 per cent. This progress was to be expected in a quick-witted race omnivorous for knowledge. But during that period, science, art, and literature had passed many milestones. So that elementary education to keep pace with the age of progress must undergo many changes in subjects and methods. In his opinion the whole system should be revised and brought up to date by adding subjects to the curriculum such as lessons on hygiene, on which the 425 happiness or misery of life depended; lessons on thrift, which, if acted upon, there need be, as in France, no workhouses; classes for the promotion of laundry and cookery and the industrial arts; and Irish history, which was thought at the inception of the system inadvisable to teach, because of the confiscations and cruelties that had been perpetrated in the country in early times. The Commissioners should be changed for a tribunal chosen by the franchise of the country. Here was an educational machine set up. Was it a fine machine, well equipped for its work? The United Kingdom was a great rich nation that could spend £42,000,000 yearly on her Navy. What was she doing for the intellectual health of Ireland? Had she Universities and fine elementary schools well adapted for the health, happiness, and progress of the people of Ireland? Was this machinery which was so necessary for the progress of a nation manned with a highly educated staff? Were the attractions in status and salary such as to induce men from the Universities to eater on its business? Were they in such easy circumstances as to free their minds from all corroding cares, so as to be in a position to concentrate their whole time and thoughts on educational pursuit? If these questions could not be answered in the affirmative, then there must be a total revolution in the system. The State seemed not to realise the position of 'a teacher in the creation of good citizens and the elevation of a nation. Children were handed over to his care from the age of seven to fourteen. He occupied the place of the parents. The moral and intellectual development of the child all these years was in his hands. The man of toil, and even the business man of affluence, had neither time nor inclination for this all-important work. The schoolmaster had the making of the man. If the State interfered on national grounds to educate, it appeared to him that it was the duty of the State, which had taken the work in hand, to supply well paid, highly qualified teachers in a fit frame of mind to devote their energies to the important work of training the young for the battle of life. Before, however, elementary schools could be thoroughly efficient, there must be a fully equipped college or University established, accept- 426 able to the majority of the people of Ireland, from which could be drafted men qualified to raise the standard of education in the country. In the meantime he might truly say, few, if any, were satisfied with elementary education in Ireland, which had really undergone five changes in five years, whereas it was well known that continuity was best calculated to produce success—the managers were not satisfied, the teachers were not, and the parents were not. It appeared to him there was great need for reconstruction as regarded popular control, the nature, literature, and extent of the subjects to be taught in the text-books, the status and salaries of teachers, and the improvement of and mode of conducting the business of schools. He hoped soon the people of Ireland would have in elementary and higher education suitable arrangements made so as to give the inhabitants of the country a fair chance in the race of life.
§ * MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid)
said no one who had really examined the subject could deny that the system of primary education in Ireland was fundamentally defective. He presumed, therefore, that there would be general assent to the terms of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite. The defectiveness of Irish education had, indeed, been realised by many people in Ireland for a long time past, and the Report of Mr. Dale, which had recently been issued, would convince many more, and particularly English Members, that reform was urgently necessary. Directly they tried to give practical shape to their ideas of reform, they discovered that primary education could not stand by itself. It was, in his opinion, closely linked with secondary and technical education. They were therefore, confronted with a very large question, which could only be settled satisfactorily after a full and careful consideration of the special needs of the Irish people, and the peculiar social and other conditions which differentiated the Irish from the English and the Scotch. His study of the defects of their educational system led him to one conclusion, which ha regarded as of the first importance. It was that they needed a strong and efficient central authority, responsible to the British House of Commons for the 427 organisation and effective control of Irish education generally—not only primary, but secondary and technical education. He felt that mere denunciation of the National Commissioners or the other bodies who had the supervision of different branches of education could serve no useful purpose. No doubt they had done their best within the limits of the powers and the means at their command. But still the fact could not be disguised that many of the gravest defects in their existing system of primary education were due to the want of efficient control by a competent central authority. Such an authority, with ample powers, would be able to prevent overlapping in educational work, i.e., they could attain greater efficiency without increased expenditure, simply by the better utilisation of funds already allocated for the purposes of education. A competent central authority would also check the undue multiplication of small schools, which had been one of the most glaring defects in the present system. Of course they could not ignore the fact that the religious differences which so sharply divided the Irish people were largely accountable for this sub-division in school work. But it had been carried very much further than there was any justification for on the ground of religious prejudice. Mr. Dale, in his Report, had drawn special attention to this point. He said—To an observer accustomed to the single village school seen in the English rural districts, nothing is more astonishing than the manner in which the children of an Irish village are often divided among small separate schools, each under its own head teacher.Not only were hoys and girls so divided, but—he again quoted Mr. Dale—Older girls are separated from younger girls, the younger girls from infants, the male infanta from the female infants.He found in Mr. Dale's Report a striking case to illustrate the extent to which this principle of partition had been carried. At the little country town of Swords, near Dublin, he stated—The Roman Catholic children were divided into no less than five schools—one for the boys, one for male infants, one for female infants, a preparatory school for girls and a school for older girls."In England," said Mr. Dale—The female children would certainly have been organised as a single school under one 428 headmistress; as it is they form three separate schools, with an annual average attendance respectively of sixty-eight senior girls, fifty junior girls, and forty-six girl infants.Obviously this system of sub-dividing schools was, and must be, grossly extravagant. As Mr. Dale pointed out—In hundreds of cases in Ireland two—and even three—head teachers were being employed and paid at ordinary rates for head teachers where in England only one teacher would have been employed and paid in that capacity.The Commissioners of National Education had not only permitted this system but had actually encouraged it by their method of distributing grants. One manager—a parish priest and a wry worthy man, he understood; a very able manager of schools—candidly admitted that the reason he had sub-divided a small school into three departments was that he wished to get as much money as he could out of the Commissioners. He ventured to say that that had been the motive underlying very much of the sub-division which had taken place. It seemed to him that the first step towards remedying the admitted defects in Irish primary education was to organise a strong and efficient central authority. That, he suggested, could be carried out by a separate measure—as was the, case in England—and without arousing much controversy. By the establishment of such an authority the way would be prepared for a scheme of local management and control, which everyone would admit must be undertaken in the near future. He did not think it would be denied that many of the most obvious defects of The existing system arose from the absence of popular interest in educational matters. Education in Ireland had been almost entirely separated from popular responsibility and control, and it would be necessary to devise some means—suited, of course, to the very peculiar conditions of Ireland by which the Irish people might be interested in the education of their children. The problem would be one of some difficulty and would need very careful consideration. In the meantime there was no reason why they should not make some advance towards entire reorganisation by constituting an Irish Board of Education responsible to Parliament. Even before that was done he thought the Government should supply the means for more 429 adequately staffing the primary schools, by reducing the average necessary to qualify a school for the services of an assistant teacher. It must be obvious to anyone that a school of fifty-nine children of all ages could not be efficiently taught by a single teacher. There were many such schools in Ireland and there was no doubt that the younger children especially were neglected just at the time they most needed attention. He trusted the Government meant to remedy this detect immediately, and that they would have from his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary a statement of the intentions of the Government in regard to the general question of educational reform.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
said he felt it would be imprudent to rise until every hon. Member who might be said to represent a definite shade of opinion entertained on the subject had had an opportunity of addressing the House. The prudence of his course had been justified by the trend of the debate because, had he risen an hour before, he would have addressed an audience—speaking for the English Members—who might have received the impression that all was plain sailing and that reform in Irish education could be carried out on lines which had come to be regarded as normal in respect of the English Education Act and the Scotch Education Bill. But a; he listened to the hon. Member for West Kerry, whose courageous and eloquent speech made him feel that all the difficulties were beginning to vanish, and when he heard the hon. Member for Cambridge University not only ignore the difficulties but sketch a solution, he began to fear that his announcement that he was not prepared to produce a complete reform of Irish education would be received with a good deal of reprobation by the House. The Leader of the Irish National Party, however, had warned him that under no circumstances need he entertain the idea that the creation of a central Educational Department would be accepted by him, and that revived his old view that this was a most thorny and intricate subject. The hon. and learned Member frequently criticised the National Board of Education, and com- 430 plained that it was not directly held responsible to the House. He (Mr. Wyndham), however, did not believe there was any alternative between a board which was not responsible to the House and a board which was a Government Department. If that fundamental part of the scheme, as put forward by all those who had spoken with any confidence in that debate, was to be abandoned, it was clear they could only discuss this matter in a tentative spirit that afternoon. No complaint had been made against the Government for not having come forward with a policy of educational reform this session. It would be admitted on all hands that it was the turn of Scotland this session. Last year was Ireland's turn on a subject of deep interest, and one that had priority even over education. But no one who had listened to that debate—no one who had read Mr. Dale's Report—would deny that there was room for reform in Irish education, but everybody who ha I listened to that debate ought to admit that it was extremely hard to find a scheme of reform which would be generally acceptable in Ireland. The criticisms to which they had listened that afternoon were not directed against the gentlemen who had served on the National Board, and he felt it his duty explicitly to say that those gentlemen had done a great deal of good work, especially during the last three or four years, in Ireland. They had done away with the paralysing and pernicious system of payment by results; they had enlarged and diversified the curriculum they had advanced elementary training, and had made equivalent grants to 5,000 schools. Under their auspices elementary evening schools, which four years ago numbered twenty-one now, numbered 1.329.
§ MR. CHARLES DEVLIN (Galway)
It is three or four years since the Archbishop of Dublin loft the board.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
retorted that those gentlemen gave their services for nothing and laboured hard, and not in vain, for many years. That had nothing to do with the retirement of the Archbishop of Dublin, which they all regretted. The average attendance at Irish schools which had been going down, and had fallen from 431 511,000 in 1896 to 459,000 in 1900, rose to 465,000 in the next year, and last year it was 475,000. Criticisms should be directed mainly, if not wholly, against the system in which the National Board had been so conspicuous a feature. They had nothing to do with what took place at the beginning of the last century or with the proselytising efforts of Archbishop Whately. The creation of the National Board by Lord Stanley marked the abandonment of the policy of Archbishop Whately. Lord Stanley instituted a board, consisting of a certain number of Roman Catholics and a certain number of Protestants, and for some years past the board had been composed on the principle of half and half. Some such board was the only alternative to a Government Department. The features of denominational representation must remain until, or unless, they introduced a central Department responsible to that House, and until that was acceptable no one would rashly undertake to carry through a fundamental reform of primary education in Ireland. The features of the board were dictated by the peculiar difficulties which the problem of primary education presented in Ireland. To-day Ireland was said to be so poor a country as not to be expected to contribute so much as was the ease in England. The difficulties which were peculiar to Ireland made the National Board what it had been, and that board remained in the same condition because those difficulties still existed.
He would ask hon. Members to consider how difficult the problem Was in Ireland—how much more difficult that in England. They had these profound religious divisions. They were dealing with a country which, unlike England or Scotland, had very few large towns in which local effort could be obtained. There were some large towns, like Dublin and Bellast, but the condition of house property was not the same as in great populous centres in England, so that they did not get the natural pontaneous standard set by local opinion in England and Scotland in favour of educational advance. There were in Ireland large tracts of moor and mountain land sparsely inhabited, where the children had to go eight miles to 432 school, and the problem there presented difficulties unknown in this country. In consequence of that difficulty they had not compulsory education in Ireland, and it was doubtful whether they could get it in the immediate future. And then, again, in Ireland there was no aid from the rates at all at present. The whole charge was borne by public money. What a change must be introduced if they were to have popular control! He did not believe that they could have popular control. He was sure that they would not have popular interest if it were financially possible to defray all the cost out of the pocket of the taxpayer. Then they had no co-ordination between primary and secondary education. There was a certain amount of co-ordination effected by giving prizes and scholarships, but in the true sense of the word there was no co-ordination at all; and when they came to intermediate education it was wholly a system of examinations based entirely on payment by results. Technical instruction had advanced rapidly, but it only became possible five years ago; it was still in an embryonic stage of development, and it could not be said to be coordinated with intermediate education. At the end—last but not least—there was in Ireland no Universities of the type familiar to Scotland and Germany, and which was growing up in England—of the type which inspired the ambition of the people and set another standard of academic enthusiasm which ran through, and was worked up to by all those who were charged with tuition. One might say. Could those dry bones live? With some hesitation he said, Yes. Ireland had one asset. In Irish children—in the young manhood of Ireland—there was a sincere desire for knowledge and education, and there was a remarkable aptitude for using adroitly any information which had been acquired. They wanted larger opportunities of education. They had many examples of that. They knew that the Civil Service was full of Irish servants who did a great work for the Empire, and he would mention Mr. Coyne, whose name all who cared for Ireland would remember. He was a man who with very slight opportunities performed a life-work of the greatest interest and use to his country.
433 There was another paint: although the religious divisions were deep and wide, there was not over by far the greater part of Ireland any denominational difficulty at the present moment. That brought them to the question—could they risk, or give people the occasion of saying that they were risking, the denominational equilibrium in order to secure larger opportunities for the development of the indisputable aptitude for education in Ireland? That was putting as shortly as he could the question they were discussing that afternoon in a preliminary debate. They could, and up to a certain point he thought they ought to, spend more money—even if it were found impossible to introduce any drastic reforms. That could be done, thanks to the Development Grant, without placing further burdens on the general taxpayer. He mentioned that in order that hon. Members should not suppose that he was playing the usual role of an Irish Chief Secretary, and asking for more money. But look at the demands which had been made? If they gave as he had said that they intended to give, two teachers to schools with an average attendance of fifty instead of sixty, that would cost £24,000 a year. If they came next to the remedying of a great material defect, that was, if they put the school-houses of Ireland into a sanitary condition it would cost £40,000 a year to bring them up to anything like the standard which prevailed in England. If they gave proper heating appliances throughout Ireland that would cost another £24,000 a year, so that they got £90,000 a year before they began to talk of what might be called reform. Then it was essential to take into account the necessity there would be of developing technical instruction, which seemed to hold out more promise that any other branch of education at the present moment; £25,000 a year was asked for and needed for that, bringing it up to £80,000 a year. Thus they came to a considerable sum without having cone to the question of co-ordination. That they could do only by giving more prizes and scholarships. To do that on such a scale as to give hope of any palpable result would cost another £50,000 a year; and he had not touched on other suggestions which had been made; such, for 434 example, as the setting up of higher grade schools of a primary character, which he had no doubt was most desirable. If they left the system as it was that must be all that could be done, otherwise they got into such sums as would not be sanctioned for the mere purpose of pouring money into the existing watertight compartments of Irish education. If they could get some organic reform the case for expenditure would be mush stronger, but where there was no rate-aid the case for expenditure would not carry them beyond the point of remedying obvious material defects, effecting a certain amount of co-ordination in the way of giving prizes and scholarships, and doing something more for technical instruction.
It was important to keep in view the financial aspect of the matter, and for that purpose he would compare the position in Ireland with that in England and Wales. Taking primary and secondary (or intermediate) education and technical instruction, in England rate-aid was given to all three branches, but in Ireland to technical instruction only, and then to an infinitesimal amount. In 1902–3 the amount of public funds devoted to education in England was £9,753,000 in round figures, rates provided £6,830,000, and if local loans—which were really financed by the locality—were to be included, another £2, 750,000 must be added. Therefore, in England, while £9,750,000 came from public money, more than £9,500,000 came from local money, or nearly £1 for £1, and if local loans were excluded two-thirds of the money came from public funds. With that he would contrast the financial picture in Ireland. Public funds provided £1,305,000; and building grants amounted to £27,000. The amount of building grants for 1902–3 was very low; they sometimes ran as high as £36,000 or £40,000. Two-thirds, and in some cases the whole, of the prime cost of building Irish schools fell on the public exchequer. For intermediate education £78,000 was voted, and there was no local aid; and for technical instruction the amount voted was £88,000. The total amount for public money was therefore £1,498,000, while the amount from local funds was only £72,900. Instead of being £1 for 435 £1, as in England, the amount was nearer 1s. to £1. He fully admitted that Ireland was a very poor country; he agreed that her poverty in addition to her religious difficulties had made the system of education in Ireland what it was; but could any large and drastic reform be hoped for if it only meant pouring more public money into these water-tight compartments? Without requiring any local assistance, without admitting any local influence, without effecting any co-ordination between the different branches of education, they would not be able to proceed very far along that path. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had expressed the hope that he would see the day when the general taxpayer would defray all the cost of education, and the opinion that if the Government began in Ireland they would be setting a very good precedent. What would the Chancellor of the Exchequer have said to such a proposition? He hoped to we a great deal more money expended on education in Ireland, but it was idle to suppose that an experiment of the character suggested by the right hon. Gentleman was going to be initiated at present in any part of the United Kingdom, and he would be deceiving the House if he held out any hope of its being done in Ireland.
But the financial comparison was not the most important that could be made. In England and Wales the three branches of education were coordinated; all were assisted out of the rates, and all were under popular control. In Ireland each was distinct from the other. Primary education, under the National Board, received a large amount of public money but no local assistance; schools were multiplied according to denomination, sex, and age, to such an extent that there were perhaps six or seven tiny schools scattered about a village or a collection of villages. This system made the schools not only expensive but inefficient, and it weighed most hardly upon all those who were engaged in the supervision of education. How could they expect any improvement when there was no hope of advancing by any efforts they might make.
Then the teacher was in a somewhat anomalous position; although as far as 436 his prospects in the profession were concerned he was practically under the Board, his appointment and dismissal were exclusively in the hands of the managers. Under those conditions what general development of education could they expect when they were absolutely at the mercy of the managers of some little twopenny-halfpenny school.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the teacher could only be appointed by one men and he could be dismissed by one man, and then he had to look to a board which was not responsible to this House for the development of his career.
He would now pass on to the question of intermediate education which had been called secondary education. Intermediate education was under a totally distinct board. It dispensed some £110,000 a year of public money and had done excellent work. The income from all sources was £111,000, the expenditure £93,000, and the number of children examined 8,379. But it could not be said that a system of secondary education existed; there was a great deal of examination pure and simple, but no counterpart to the real secondary schools, under the control of a Department, as in England and Scotland. Before he passed to technical instruction perhaps he ought to answer the question—How does it work? The system worked in this way: The clever boy in the primary school with plenty of initiative and determination might get one of those exhibitions from the Intermediate Board. Having got that he would go to a secondary school, and there work very largely by himself, and then he might present himself for a degree in the Royal University. That was not education at all in the sense in which it was given in this country, and it was a wonder to him that Irish boys ever succeeded at all under such circumstances. He had one particular instance in mind of a gentleman who belonged to the political views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who was one of a large Irish family who lived on a very small farm, and who was now a cultured man and would be an ornament to any society. That system 437 might work pretty well for the clever boys, but for the stupid or the average boy very little could be done at all.
On technical instruction £25,000 a year had been spent, and he thought that £25,000 ought to be added to that sum. Some attempt had been made to avoid overlapping with the Intermediate Board, but the success was partial. It was bewildering to contemplate the different sources from which money and advice were given to the people who were trying to give or receive education. Technical instruction ought to be more intimately bound up with primary education. As at present administered there were in the technical instruction the rudiments of rate-aid and of popular control, and they found, he believed in consequence of this, that it had vitality and was successful.
After this brief survey of the three branches of education which were so intimately bound up one with the other, and which ought not to be dissevered, he came back to the question which he first proposed, namely, the question of reform. He thought they ought to take the easiest path and follow the line of least resistance and endeavour to avoid all risks of disturbing denominational equilibrium. They should avoid all risk of touching the susceptibilities of existing managers. They could avoid all these risks but only at a cost of a good deal of money. They could devote another £100,000 to primary education and they could spend another £50,000 on co-ordination of primary and secondary education, and another £25,000 for technical instruction. Even these modest measures would cost £175,000—nay, more, by their expenditure they would confirm the divisions existing between primary, secondary, and technical education, and the overlapping between the Board of Agriculture and the Intermediate Board. It was quite clear they could not legislate this session. If they were to legislate next session, upon what scale should they legislate? He ventured to throw out a suggestion of a very tentative character. Since in technical instruction they required popular control and rate-aid, and as the arrangement against overlapping between the Board of Agriculture and the Inter- 438 mediate Board were unsatisfactory, it seemed to him reasonable to say that they could not exclude the consideration of technical instruction and intermediate education from any attempt at educational reform. This, at any rare, should acccompany any such attempt at reform, indeed it might prove necessary that it should precede any such attempt. Of the three courses that were open, the easiest was to pour Irish money into the three separate and uncoordinated receptacles afforded by the systems of primary, secondary, and technical education. This course, however, would not enlist local aid or interest, and he hoped it would not be adopted. Then a very ambitious and comprehensive attempt might be made to organise education in Ireland on sounder lines, but, if such an attempt were not fully successful, to have made it would delay the cause of educational reform for years. The third course, a less ambitious one, was to seek to co-ordinate technical instruction and intermediate education, to develop local control and rate-aid, though not on a great scale, and to accompany this first attempt at organic reform with the remedying of material defects in primary education, such as the provision of proper sanitary arrangements and fires in the schools. Personally he should prefer the more ambitious scheme. He did not know whether it would prove possible at the present time, and that being so the question arose whether it would be wise to proceed against the danger signal, and arouse opposition which must delay educational reform in Ireland. But in view of the Scottish Education Bill of this year and the English Act of 1902; in view of the educational progress of other countries; in view of the excellent material that existed in the ready hands and quick wits of the children of Ireland, the attempt must be made. The Government could not allow—and he said this with emphasis—a new disparity to grow up between Ireland and England in respect to opportunities for education, which were no less important in the twentieth century than were opportunities for commerce 200 years ago. The difficulties were great; but it was the duty of Parliament to get over them, through them, or round them, and in any 439 case to get beyond them, so as to prevent a new disability on the rising generation of a country for whose welfare they held themselves constitutionally responible.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said the right hon. Gentleman had made a comparison between the amount of money given by the State and the amount given by the locality in England and Ireland for education. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that in England the proportion was pound for pound while in Ireland it was a shilling to the pound. The comparison was not altogether fair for this reason. The best educationists in Ireland were the Christian Brothers. He understood that they had about 30,000 pupils in their schools, and they did an important educational work for Ireland without a penny of assistance from the State. There had also been strong testimony given to the efficiency of the convent schools in Ireland, and these also were carried on without the assistance of the State, so far as buildings were concerned. He thought any comparison made as to the amounts contributed for education ought not to exclude the very large contributions made by the people of Ireland for these schools. So far as the general principle was concerned his position was this. The financial relations between this country and Ireland required readjustment, and the Irish Members did not think it was right that a small and impoverished country should be treated on the same scale as a great Imperial and rapidly increasing country like this. The, contribution given by the Imperial Exchequer was but a small part of the amount due to Ireland under the fiscal relations between Great Britain and Ireland. The sum given altogether was £1,500,000, and it was a strange and sinister coincidence that this was the exact amount paid for policemen. He thought that certain changes, to which he would presently allude, would enable the Government to reduce to a quarter the payment for police, and to correspondingly increase the amount devoted to the purposes of education. There might be Gentlemen in this House and elsewhere who regarded the policeman as a wiser and more useful instructor of 440 youth than the teacher. He gathered as much from the observations he had occasionally heard from the Benches opposite, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman might well consider in his general survey of Irish education whether it would not be better to give more to education and less to the police. His own opinion was that all money given to Ireland which was divorced from responsible popular control was money which could not be expended to the best advantage. All over Ireland there were examples of this. The root evil was the want of local interest which was the child of local control. The House would perceive that it was impossible to have a good system of national education in any country where there was not popular control.
In regard to the national schools, education was paralysed to a large extent by some of the difficulties of the Irish situation. He would make this concession, that any English Minister responsible for the government of Ireland had a great many difficulties to contend with. His good intentions were sometimes frustrated, and even his best work sometimes proved futile because he had suspicion in front and no proper support behind him. Any proposal brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman which was in consonance with popular sentiment would receive the favourable consideration of the Irish Members. After all, was it not pitiable that the Minister responsible for the government of Ireland should get up seventy years after the so-called system of national education was established and begin his speech by acknowledging the breakdown of that system, and then go on to say that all his position allowed him to do was to propose, in the problematical event of his being in office next year, some peddling measure of reform? The school buildings in Ireland were insanitary, the equipment was bad, and, such as it was, it had to be paid out of the stipends of the teachers. The children had to carry their own fuel for the school fires. Reference had been made to the disparity between the condition of teachers in England and Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman would not bring in a Bill dealing with Irish education this year because Scotch education was 441 receiving the attention of Parliament. Scotland could demand that education should be dealt with this year, and Ireland had to wait. In Scotland a large number of the teachers were graduates. Only a few were graduates in Ireland because of the lack of opportunities for University education.
How was the problem to be met? Education was bad largely because of the suspicion with which English Governments were regarded in Ireland. How had they faced the religious difficulty? By the clumsiest of all methods of having a ridiculous board, half Catholic, half Protestant. In spite of all the praises of the right hon. Gentleman that Board had not a single man on it who had any claim to be regarded as an educationalist. If they were going to meet the religious difficulty by having men of different religious denominations on the controlling body, let them get there by popular election. There would be plenty of Protestants on any board elected in Ireland, and Catholics did not object to Protestants of the proper sort. The second course was to form a new Department responsible to this House. That was the worst proposal that could be made, because after a debate, if there should be a division, the Government majority would consist to the extent of four-fifths of English and Scotch Members who had not heard a single word of the debate. That was what responsibility to this House meant. That was an impossible situation. He really sometimes had a vague suspicion of the right hon. Gentleman. He openly-confessed that, like Louis XV.—he suggested no comparison—the right hon. Gentleman had come to the conclusion that he was the last monarch of a departing line. "After me the deluge" was the undertone that he heard in all the right hon. Gentleman's speeches. He hoped the House had noticed the very striking picture which the right hon. Gentleman gave of intermediate education in Ireland, and of the examinations connected therewith. He remembered a friend of his, now a member of the English Bar, when he went up for his "little go" examination, wondering whether he should take up a Greek tragedy or political economy, between which subjects he had his choice. His 442 friend thought it was better to take up the Greek tragedy, because he could get that up in a fortnight, and receive five marks for it; whereas if he took political economy it would take him six months to work up, and he would only get five marks for it also. That was the principle of Irish intermediate education ! It was all false, and failed to train the intellectual faculties, which was the true object of education.
How were they going to get popular control in Ireland? If that were granted he was sure a tempest would arise in that country which the right hon. Gentleman, with all his sweetness of temper, would not be able to withstand. These were questions which the Irish people alone were able to settle. He had been delighted to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that night. It was one of a remarkable series of speeches recently delivered in which could be detected the gentle and mournful cadence of the "swan song." If he thought the right hon. Gentleman was a Machiavellian statesman—which he did not think he was—he was much too candid and astute for that—he would be under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman was laboriously and deliberately breaking down the rotten fabric of English Government in Ireland in order to make it possible for some successor to level it off.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that the right hon. Gentleman had declared that next session, if he occupied his present position, he was pledged to deal with the Irish education problem. That was the best consolation they could get; and he supposed they must rest satisfied in the meantime. However, he had risen for the purpose of expressing regret that the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for Irish educational affairs had not paid a tribute to the splendid work done in Ireland by the Christian Brothers, who were not under the National Board, and who turned out some of the best educated men in the country. He begged the Chief Secretary, in considering the measure for next year, not to exclude the Christian Brothers from any settlement he might consider desirable. It was true that there were considerable difficulties in the way; but 443 they were worth meeting. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University had paid a high tribute, from his own observation, to the splendid work which the Christian Brothers were doing, and had done in the past. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for that tribute, because in his own constituency there was one of the largest schools of the Order in the country, and he was certain that all those who inquired as closely as the right hon. Gentleman had done into the matter would share his view, that the Christian Brothers deserved all the support that could be given to them. The schools of the Order were splendidly equipped and provided an education of a first-class character, equal to anything in this or any other country in the world, to many thousands of children; and yet they received no support from public funds. He knew that the difficulty was that the Christian Brothers taught religion in their schools according to their conscientious ideas; but that was no reason why they should be shut out from a participation in public money, which other public schools in the country received. So free were the Christian Brothers from anything in the shape of intolerance and bigotry, that many Protestant parents actually sent their boys to their schools, it was a monstrous thing, in the interests of the general education and well-being of (he country, they should be excluded from some share of the public funds because they taught religion as well as matters of general education.
§ * SIR. JAMES HASLETT (Belfast, N.)
said he had no doubt that the Christian Brothers' schools were excellently conducted and that their education was sound on their own principles; but it was scarcely the question before the House. He would remind hon. Members that the Motion was—That, in the opinion of this House, the system of primary education in Ireland is fundamentally defective and has proved injurious in its operations.He was not sure that any Irish Member would venture to say it had been injurious. It might not have been equal to everything they hoped for, but to say it was producing injury in the general education of the country seemed scarcely to admit 444 of proof. He himself had been honourably educated in a national school, and he could truly say it had not failed in doing a great work for the country. When they remembered the position of the education question seventy years ago, it was only fair to say that the National Board had done good educational work. It might not have given everything they wanted in respect of denominational instruction, but take it all in all—whether they referred to the teacher or the scholar, it had done good work for Ireland. The fact that they had reversed the position during seventy years and that at the present day not 20 per cent, of the people were illiterate showed that good work had been done, though not so good as was desired. He cordially agreed that there was a want of coordination in the ganeral principles of education. They spoke of primary education and gave it, by general consent, a lower position than secondary, technical, or University. In his opinion the most difficult school for any person to teach was the infant school. They had to dilute their instruction; they had to bring it down to the mind that was only budding out; and the country should be alive to the question that the highest position they could give to anyone in connection with the education of the country should be to the successful trainer of youth in what they called the elementary parts of their education. He spoke from experience. Take the case of the Sabbath school. It was generally considered that any adult could take charge of an infant. It required the highest intelligence and special adaptability to successfully conduct an infant class in religious questions.
What had been the improvements in the position of the teachers during the last seventy or eighty years? The old teacher who had the arduous duty of trying to thump into his own mind as much as he could from the A, B, C upwards enjoyed the splendid income of £18 a year. Similar teachers in a modern school would enjoy three or four times that income. He wished them all prosperity in the enjoyment of that salary. But even yet every 445 man had not risen to what might be called a good position. With regard to the schools themselves they must remember that they had been erected in Ireland almost entirely by private subscriptions. He honoured the people who wont through the country and desired to make improvements and give reports, but in some respects they reminded him of the man who went to New York, looked at the dock, and then came back. The idea of a man saying he could walk through a city of, say, 300,000 inhabitants, and in the course of two or three days form a correct estimate either of the buildings or the scholastic system seemed to be trespassing very largely on the credulity of the public. Speaking for his own town he did not doubt that there were some very poor schools. At the same time they were good schools fifty years ago. They had served their day, and in the natural course of events must all pass away. They had heard also that through the philanthropy and large mindedness of those who possessed money they had some of the finest schools in the State, schools which would compare favourably with any of the Board schools in England so far as the buildings were concerned. But what did they find inside those schools? The complaint he had to make about the Education Department was that they were not sufficiently equipped for higher education; that they were not sufficiently supplied in maps, plans, and things of that sort for educational work, unless the teacher or some generous person in the neighbourhood was prepared to pay for them. Surely if individuals had provided the buildings in which to carry on the school the State might in all con science supply the means for the education.
There was another class of schools put up by the State called the model schools. He was not prepared to say that he had changed his view with regard to them. He had never changed his view that that was the system of education that should prevail. Each church had placed a school at the end of its buildings—he did not say for what reason, possibly for the patronage it brought; possibly because the ministers of the particular denominations were the people who in former days were the educated people of the country. But 446 that day had passed, and they had fairly arrived at a time when they could have their educational work largely undertaken not by a single patron but by a mixed committee. With regard to secondary education in Ireland, they were told that the same sordid idea prevailed. That might be so, but the same sordid opinion and the same sordid objection prevailed in primary education up to last year. He as much as any one deprecated the system of cramming—payment by results in what may be a parrot repetition—which represented nopreparation of the mind for further education. The teacher received result fees for a considerable time, and a year or two ago the Board of Education said they would a bolish the result system altogether, and plane, the teachers in the position of getting a salary equal to the average of their yearly earning during the three years previous to the abolition order. And taking the case of a teacher who got £60, £70. £80, or £90 as an average, with the management of a school of fifty or sixty pupils, that teacher had been removed to a school of 150 pupils at the same salary. Their duties and responsibilities were tripled without any equivalent addition to their salary. This was looked upon as a very serious difficulty and a great injustice to the teachers.
With regard to the technology of the schools, this was the first time in the coarse, of education in Ireland that the general interest of the community in the form of mixed committees had been established. In Belfast they were: so dreadful that it was said they scarcely recognised more than one colour and that they were almost blind to all others, yet singularly enough men of different views on the religious question worked most harmoniously together and lent most valuable assistance in connection with the technology of the schools. Although the mixed committee in its general working did well in higher education, it was very difficult, where the committee was composed of business men, to get them to give the time fairly necessary for the general inspection and welfare of the schools which they had practically under their control. The minister who was constantly going in and out among the people was always available, but business men were so busy that they 447 could not devote their attention, to the general working of the schools. It came back to this. What wore they going to do? He quite agreed that a change must be made in the general control of primary education in Ireland, but he did not agree that the Board of Education had not done any good. Its day had gone by, but the men who comprised it had, without fee or reward, honestly, in his opinion, tried to discharge their duty on it. It had lived its day; education had become general and the desire for higher education more general still, and they must face the necessity for a change. He supposed the Board would be abolished, but what were they going to put in its place? The Chief Secretary mentioned an Education Board, but would that Board be chosen for its educational powers or because it represented various shades of religious opinion? Religious opinion was so strongly and so keenly held in Ireland that it could not be done away with except by common consent. Would they get that? He believed they were travelling towards it. By common consent the best school in Ireland was known as the "Christian Brothers" school. But that was not recognised as a Catholic school. The Catholics had other schools and looked upon this rather as a free lance. In fact, it was almost boycotted, and at: 11 events was not regarded as anything more than a stepchild.
Two or three difficulties had to be settled in Ireland. The religious element was strong and the educational element was relatively weak. They spent £20,000 on a church and £1,000 on the school at its side; £50,000 or £100,000 on a cathedral and £1,000 or at most £2,000 on the best school they desired to build. That must be reversed. His own strong conviction was that they must have a central Education Board composed, if possible, exclusively of educationists. I hey should take the men of the highest qualification for education, but that was what they were all afraid of in Ireland. They thought the more clever a man was the more likely was he to carry his point in religious as well as other education. He did not know that in the primary schools of Ireland it had ever 448 been sought to make a test of religion, so far as the teacher was concerned, a severe test in his appointment. If they had an Education Board then they ought also to have divisional boards. He would have a Council of Education for the four provinces of Ireland, and he would have on that board county representation through their county councils or their county borough councils, and he would have visiting committees in connection with each minor division, such as the district county council, and they would have some regard for the general education of the district and for the equipment of the schools in that district. One great detriment to education in Ireland was officialism. The inspector went to inspect a school and he was considered a dreadful piece of humanity in his (Sir James's) day. They had to get specially washed, their hair done, and be dressed in their best clothes, and he was not very clear, when he heard that the inspector was coming, what his height was or what particular kind of animal he was. But as they grew older they knew the inspector. He went to the school and he examined a class or two. He found the order of the school deficient and he wrote out a report. The unfortunate teacher did not see that report. It went to Dublin and all that he knew was that he got a rap across the knuckles for a particular deficiency in connection with education. It never dawned upon the inspector that in examining ten or more boys he should look up their history on entering the school and then estimate how much the teacher was trying to advance them. He had occasion to come across a case when he delivered himself of this idea—You, as inspector, are here to draw out the best that is in the teacher, to estimate how far he has been discharging his duty and brought out the latent talent of these boys, and when you have estimated thus to tell him of his defects and to come back again and see if he has clone what you have suggested to him. Then you have answered the great function of the inspector, which is not merely writing a report of the defects of the school.Well, what he wanted next was that the Dublin Board should be more in touch with every individual school in the country, with the four provincial councils which would be working for the welfare of education, and that the Board should 449 consider itself not the master but the servant of education. They should try to restore everything that would make for the general uplifting of the growth of their country. He trusted that in whatever form the Chief Secretary would give effect to his views he would not consider the pulling down as sufficient, but that he would show c instructive power which he very earnestly hoped would be for the welfare of Ireland.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said the speech of the Chief Secretary was a most despairing one from an Irish point of view. The existing system of education in Ireland was gravely and fundamentally defective, and the right hon. Gentleman showed in his speech that it was so, and then he proceeded to show that it was almost impossible to reform it. That was a pretty condition for Parliament to reduce Ireland to in the twentieth century. This country had had the education of Ireland in its hands for 300 years, and now the House was told that no practical suggestion could be made for any amendment in the immediate future. If they could not reform Irish education, the Government ought to give the control of it to the people themselves. It was not for the Irish representatives to make suggestions to the Government because, in the words of Mr. Gladstone, where the power lies there also lies the responsibility. He protested against the financial references of the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the efforts made by the Government in support of primary education in Ireland, but he had omitted to mention that the greater part of the money granted was Irish money which came out of the Church supplies, and that every single penny granted for the pensions of the teachers came out of the same fund. It was a great grievance that the right hon. Gentleman should have used language which led British Members to think that the money voted out of public funds was Imperial money, whereas as a matter of fact a large portion of it was purely Irish money. The hon. Baronet disagreed with the statement in the Resolution that the national system in its operation had been injurious. But how could it be denied? 450 If the national system had not equipped the people of Ireland with the knowledge necessary to enable them to compete with the people of other countries, that in itself was an injury. In America, France, and Germany, the school-going populations were taught the arts and industries by which they would earn their bread and endeavour to maintain the commercial and industrial supremacy of their respective nations; but that was not done in Ireland. Was not that a distinct injury to the country? So far from exciting the opposition of the Member for such a constituency as Belfast, the proposition ought to have secured his most cordial support.
A further point had reference to the education of deaf and dumb, defective, and epileptic children. For ten or twelve years the sum of £40,000 had been voted for that purpose in England, and in Scotland the amount was proportionately even greater, but in response to the demand for similar treatment for Ireland the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was unsatisfactory and evasive. If legislation was necessary to enable such a grant to be made, a one-clause Bill would be sufficient, and not a single Member of the House would raise any opposition to it. The impression left upon his mind by the debate was one of despair. He was entirely at a loss as to the right hon. Gentleman's intentions. What a state of affairs ! The education of a whole nation was in an utterly indefensible condition, and the Minister of a powerful Government was unable to devise a remedy Ireland was already far behind the rest of the civilised world; her industries had been crushed out by English legislation and competition; and yet when she asked for a remedy for this shocking condition of affairs, she was met by an abject confession of incapacity on the part of the Minister in charge. If that was not a strong argument in favour of Home Rule he did not know what was, but he would rather see something done than hear such an argument every session. If the Irish people had the means they would be justified, after the speech of the Chief Secretary, in ridding themselves by force of the Government which attempted to govern them.
§ MR. CHARLES DEVLIN,
in supporting the Amendment, urged that some assistance should be given to the institutions charged with the education of the blind. He thought Irishmen had reason to complain of the speech of the Chief Secretary. If the right hon. Gentleman were a Minister in any other country, his first duty after such a speech would be to resign his office, for he claimed to have a policy but was afraid to carry it into effect. The hon. Member for North Belfast had put forward a curious reason for disagreeing with the Motion. The hon. Baronet had said that while it was possible that fifty years ago the school buildings, even in Belfast, were in a dilapidated condition, a vast improvement had taken place, and the buildings were now up-to-date. The recent Report of Mr. Dale, who was sent over specially to inquire into this matter, entirely disproved that contention, showing as it did that the buildings in Belfast and Dublin were vastly inferior from the point of view of convenience for teachers, and of the arrangements necessary for the health of teachers and scholars, to the average school buildings in towns of a corresponding size in England.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.