The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1890. SCHOOL BUILDINGS.
In the general retrenchment that has been effected m Committee of Supply we are sorry to see that £5000 has been docked oft" the vote for school buildings. .In the present House there is a strong party whose aim it is to cripple the State system of primary education, not because of any defects m the system, but simply because of its cost, and because it is feared that the general body of the rising generation will become over-educated. Onslaughts have been made by these members at various times and m various ways to reduce the cost of primary education, but m every case unsuccessfully. The will of the people has been stronger than the prejudice of a certain faction m the House, and the system of compulsory education, which birds of ill-omen frequently state will topple over with its own weight, has been allowed to proceed m its channel unmolested. A little retrenchment has been effected by the various Education Boards m the shape of reduction of salaries, but without impairing the efficiency of the system j or prerenting the establishment of schools m sparsely settled parts of the colony, where the children of pioneer settlers may reap the benefits of a I fairly liberal, but not extravagant I education. Advantage has now, however, been taken of retrenchment m Committee of Supply, and the antieducation party, assisted by Government supporters and the '• Skinflint" party, have lopped off £5000 from the school building vote, while other extravagant votes ,have been allowed to pass holus bolus without even a murmur being raised against them. For this the Government are primarily responsible. When Sir Harry Atkinson brought down his budget this year it will be remembered that a proposition was made to shift the school building vote from the consolidated revenue directly on to the shoulders of the people by means of continuance of, the primage duty. The Premier, knowing the tenacity with which the people will cling to the advanced system of free compulsory State education which obtains m the colony, selected the education vote as a means to continue the primage duty m order that, he mignt meet the country with a surplus, squeezed from the pockets of the people at a time when it could j-be ill afforded. This astute move having failed, the Government havo now joined issue with the extreme economists, and the education vote has been substantially reduced. The friends and supporters of free State education are not so blind, however, but that they can see through tins sub rosa method of breaking down the State school system, and we may expect to bear constant murmurs from the sever.il educational districts throughout the colony during the incomingyear as to the insufficiency of funds for school purposes. When these cries arise the cause will bft sufficiently apparent, and our object m thus early calling attention to the matter is to place the responsibility m the proper quarter, and not upon the moderate retrenchment party, whose aim lias been to cut down extravagance—not to abolish necessaries.