PAYMENT BY AVERAGE.
Clutha Leader, Volume VI, Issue 304, 1 August 1879, Page 6
PAYMENT BY AVERAGE.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir, — It would appear that no small commotion has been excited by certain of the teachers having falsified their school records. It would seem as if, in consequence, a certain amount of suspicion existed over the whole fraternity regarding the same thing. It is a pity that those who hold the responsible position of training the youth of our country should be placed under any such doubt or suspicion. No doubt, our teachers are not immaculate, nor can it be supposed that they are all equally honourable ; yet, I have not a shadow of doubt that the vast majority of them are. gentlemen possessing honour and a conscience above £s. d. — above stooping to commit such a contemptible breach of trust as to falsify their school records for a " mess of pottage," in a country having so many other outlets of earning an honest and honourable competency besides teaching. Can it be wondered at if they feel annoyed and indignant ? Now, what is the cause of aIL this 1 It must obviously be the present
mode of- paying the salaries of the teachers by the average daily attendance — a mode so precise, that if a child be absent from school for only half-a-day, the salary of the teacher is thereby proportionally reduced. Examining the Education Board's Annual Report, and comparing the number of the pupils enrolled with that of the average daily attendance, I find the latter number far below what I consider it ought to be under a Free Education scheme. Many parents, no doubt, keep their children at school with a punctuality that is praiseworthy ; then, again, it must be evident that many others are highly blameworthy for the irregularity of the attendance of their children. May it not be possible that a number of careless parents may be less punctual in the regular attendance of their children than if they had to pay school fees 1 Irregularity in the attendance of his pupils musb be a cause of much vexation and extra labour to a teacher. Now that inspectors examine the schools by a method called "Standards" how. trying to an earnest and energetic teacher must those pupils be who are present at, or absent from, school as it suits the purpose, or no special purpose, of their parents to send them. The teacher exerts every means to pull up such to be somewhat on an equality with their compeers in their standards ; such pupils, on their side, are a drag — decidedly injurious to themselves, the school, and the teacher — not to mention that he, the teacher, must sustain the additional infliction of a corresponding reduction in his salary. No one will deny, then, I think, that the present mode of paying the salaries is one that places a strong temptation in the way of a teacher not sincerely honest in making up his school records. The question then is : What is the remedy, to remove the temptation and suspicion, and not to increase the cost to the country 1 Certainly not some of the plans which have been suggested ; merely checks — impractical, troublesome, and degrading to a teacher. Neither would the mode of payment by " results " be fair towards the teacher unless, under certain limitations, it were accompanied by a strictly enforced compulsory attendance. The fairest and simplest remedy I can suggest, is, that teachers be paid a fixnd sum, according to their status, or rank as teachers. Such a plan, if adopted, would remove all suspicion and temptation, and could be i*egulated so as not to increase the cost to the country. An expected visit from the inspector warns the teacher that the efficiency of his school work will be strictly looked into. Regarding the compulsory clause in the Education Act, of which some talk as if it wore really enforced, certainly there is some such clause in the Act ; but when, where, or by whom is it enforced 1 ? Are the majority of the schools in Otago overcrowded 1 If the object of a Free Education be that every child in the Colony shall receive a liberal education, I am much afraid the desired object will not be realised, unless the Compulsory Clause is stringently enforced. — Yours, etc., One who sees and hears.