Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, MAY 1, 1905. TEACHERS' SUPERANNUATION.
At all the important meetings of householders held la3t Tuesday night for the election of school committees, resolutions were passed in accordance with the request of the N.Z. Educational Institute, recommending the early establishment of a superannuation fund for aged and infirm teachers to the favourable attention of tha Government. The Premier himself announced on Tuesday that he will introduce a Bill providing for such a scheme during the coming session. Mr Seddon has not adopted this decision a day too soon, and it would have been discreditable to his Eeaae of justice if he had postponed tho matter any longer. The injury that has been and is still being done to the teaching profession by the inadequacy of the salaries paid to its members has boen pointed out repeatedly. i Frpin a national standpoint, the education and instruction of the rising generation is one of the most important callings a man can undertake, and yet in New Zealand it is one of most poorly paid of a'l. Under the scale of ptymoot at present in force, a teacher finds himsolf after several years of steady and arduous preparation for his important duties, rewarded with a smaller remuneration than falls to the lot of many of those engaged in ordinary trades. The condition of the profession has been described by one of its members as " gentlemanly beggary." That this should be so, would be a reproach to any country; but that it should be so in a country whose Treasurer is able to boast of half a million surplus annually, is hardly to be characterised as anything but uisgracefu'. New Zealand is rightly proud of its system of free and compulsory education, and the educational facilities provided in this colony are probably equal to the best to be found anywhere in the British Empire. But the present high standard cannot be maintained if those on whose talents and labour it depends, continue to receive such, a comparatively miserable remuneration. The result of the present system has now for some tirae roaio itself felt unmistakably. Large numbers of the teaching profession have abandoned that occupation in favour of more adequately remunerated callings, while those among our youths who might be espocted to take up teaching, are turning their attention in other directions. The consequence is that there is a scarcity of male teachers all over the colony, and the profession is becoming crowded with a number of ill paid women. The women teachers of New Zealand are an eminently well qualified and hard working class, and the colony owes a great deal ro their patient labours; but in this line of life as in others there comes a time when women's services are not equal in value to those of men, and consequently the standard of education in New Zealand cannot but deteriorate in the long run, unless the condition of the teachers is so altered and improved as to induce the brightest and best educated youths to join the profession. Teachers as a clasp, being so poorly paid, are not in a position to make adequate provision for their old a^e by insurance or other means,' and the prospect that the teacher has to face when he becomes too old or too infirm to labour any longer is not a pleisant one. The final' remedy for the evils which are at present threatening to undermine ohe efficiency of our educational system ip, of coutsp, to increase the salaries? paid to teachers, especi ally those teachers below the rank of first, assistants. But in the meantime it is tho duty of the Government to establish a superannuation scheme as a preliminary means of relief. Mr Seddon says that he has already ordered the Government actuaries to prepare a scheme, and the details will be awaited with interest. The I'remier occupies a unique position in this matter, since on the one hand he is Minister for Education, in which capacity he must be well acquainted with the solid reasons that support the complaints so frequently made in this connection, and on the other hand he ia Colonial Treasurer, in which capacity h9 is able to announce a surplus of half a million. Ihe way in which he has treated the teaching profession in regard to their remuneration is one of the most serious reproaches that attach to his long administration, and we are glad that he intends to do something this year towards remedying the evils that have been the subject of so much complaint.