HC Deb 27 November 1958 vol 596 cc544-5
23. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many African children of school age in the urban areas of Northern Rhodesia do not attend school; and what steps are being taken to provide education for them.

Mr. Profumo

Some 45,000 children of school age in the urban areas of Northern Rhodesia do not attend school. The steps taken to provide increased educational facilities include the allocation of £230,000 for capital expenditure on school accommodation in urban areas and schemes to enable a greater number of children to attend existing schools.

Mr. MacPherson

Is not it a fact that there are more children not attending school than there are attending school and, since that situation has lasted now for several years, is not this a case of trying to supplement the ordinary provisions by some sort of emergency or experimental provisions? Will the hon. Gentleman give his mind to that possibility?

Mr. Profumo

In reply to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I think that the proportions are about equal. As to the second part, under the general heading of accommodation, which I have announced in my Answer, are included arrangements to use classrooms for half-day schools and all other school accommodation during the holiday periods for additional classes.

Sir A. Baldwin

Can my hon. Friend say how many children are attending school in the urban areas compared with the number that were attending school when the Federation took place? Is he aware that the limit of the increase of education is decided not only by the rate of school building but also by the number of teachers who can be recruited?

Mr. Profumo

The answer to the last part of the supplementary question is "Yes", Sir. As to the first part, I have no doubt that there have been substantial improvements since those earlier days.

Mr. Callaghan

Is not it important that we should get the facts right? Are not they precisely the opposite to what the hon. Gentleman suggests because of the increase in urbanisation over the last few years? Is not it rather shameful that we should be drifting into the position in which fewer children are attending schools in these areas now than was the case two, three or four years ago? May reinforce the plea of my hon. Friend because, as the Under-Secretary is aware, there is a growth of juvenile African delinquents in these territories because at least half of them, if not more, have never been to school at all?

Mr. Profumo

I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that the substance of the supplementary answer which I gave is correct. We are well aware of the problem. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel on reflection when he reads the answer that some progress is being made.