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STATE EDUCATION.

XIII. When Sir Robert (then Mr) Peel was Chief Secretary for Ireland, it is interesting to learn that, at the very time—between 1812 and 1818—when the governing classes considered education, even in its rudimentary sense, a highly dangerous commodity for the English lower orders, that illustrious statesman, and then model Tory, insisted upon its necessity among the ignorant and lawless Irish. He remarked, on one occasion, that " It was the peculiar duty of a Government which felt the inconvenience which arose from the ignorance of the present generation to sow the seeds of knowledge in the generation which was to succeed." In 1816, at the close of the protracted struggle with Napoleon, when a full year of peace had begun to give men leisure to think of other matters than righting, Brougham succeeded in obtaining a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the educationalconditioaof London, Beforethat Committee, which sat for nearly four years, with the usual intervals, it was shown that out of a total population of not more than a million—or less than that of Manchester and Liverpool at the present time put together—there were no fewer than 120,000 children entirely ignorant—deprived of every means of education. The chairman (Lord Brougham), together with his fellow-reformers, made energetic but vain efforts during the protracted labors of this Committeo to gain the sanction of Parliament for the appropriation of at least a portion of the magnificently endowed public schools of the metropolis as the Charter House and Christ's Hospital—to the original purposes of their founders, the provision of a liberal education to the children of the poor—an object not yet, after the lapse of seventy years, within apparent reach of attainment. One very important consequence, however, eventuated from this Committee on national education, the appointment of tho Charity Commission only recently, I believe, dissolved after a long course of, on the whole, most valuable reforms effected in educational and general charities. The services of this Charity Commission were supplemented, more than twenty years ago, by those of the Public School Commissioners, who reformed and revivified a large number of the decayed grammar schools of England, and of the University of Oxford and Cambridge Commissioners. I venture, sir, earnestly to recommend some of our own Parliamentary members, who discourse so eloquently on higher education, including university colleges in New Zealand, and all the rest of it, to peruse the records of these Commissions, It might possibly afford those doubtless learned gentlemen a good deal of useful information on a question bound, before very long, to come to the front. Lord Brougham, in introducing his resolution before the first Parliament of George the Fourth, in IS2O, for tho establishment in England of State education for the nation, proved, among other startling facts, that v/hile the children requiring elementary instruction were about one-tenth of the entire population—assigned for the following year, I notice, in the census of 1821, at 11,978,875 for England and Wales—the children actually provided with any sort of elementary instruction, ineluding dames' schools, were less than one sixteenth of the population, Largo districts, alike in town and country, were, he showed, utterly destitute of any means of education. The Sunday schools—at that time almost entirely confined to the Dissenting bodies—if we except the Evangelical clergy of the establishment here and there provided, indeed, for some of these neglected children, whatever instruction they enjoyed. Unfortunately, as almost invariably had happened before, and has since happened over and over again up to this very year, so formidable an obstacle was raised by the Established Church, especially its bishops and higher clergy, in their jealousy of the Nonconformists, to every attempt to meet this disgraceful educational destitution, that Brougham's Bill had to be abandoned. That sagacious woman, Harriet Martineau, in a work of hers, now, it is to be feared, little read, 'The History of the Thirty Years' Peace,' remarked that " No scheme of popular education can ever become national in England which gives the management of schools and the appointment of masters to the Church of England, while Dissenters constitute a large proportion of the inhabitants "—words uttered half a century ago, and yet apparently almost as much needed as ever as a warning, if one may judge by the recent accounts given by the English newspapers of the attitude taken up by the Episcopal and Roman Catholic clergy, or at least a very considerable proportion, on the latest phase of the education question. To all such unwise zealots, both in the Mother Country and elsewhere, may be commended a letter of Lord Derby one of the most experienced and sound-minded of our statesmen, especially on social and educational topics—in which he Btrongly advises those who desire to disturb, in the interests of sectarianism, the educational compromise of 1870, to let well alone if only for their own sakes. His Lordship drily observes, in the course of his remarks : " Even a temporary success, supposing they could obtain one, would be dearly bought at the cost of reopening a controTersy in which it is as certain as anything well can be that they must be ultimately defeated. In their own interests they had better let the matter rest." —(See the Manchester • Weekly Times,' January 12, 1889.) It is stated in the report of Brougham's Education Committee, presented to both Houses of Parliament in 1818, that there were at that date jn England and Wales 18,500 schools of all grades, educating 614,000 children. That of this number of pupils 166,000 were educated at endowed schools, and 478,000 at unendowed, during six days of the week. That there were 5,100 Sunday schools, attended by 452,000 children, many of which attended the above day schools. Let us compare with this the official returns of the report, now before me, of the Committee of Council on Education in England and Wales for the year 1887 88, the returns, be tt carefully noted, necessarily including finly the elementary schools, not the higher schools of any description, as in the Parliamentary Committee's returns of 1818. Iu the year 1870, when, after Jifty years of ppaseless effort on the part of the friends of national education against every kind of

opposition, Mr Forater'a measure was finally passed, the estimated population of England and Wales was 22,090,163. The number of schools-day and night schools—under inspection was 8,281. Accommodation was provided in day schools for 1,878,584 pupils ; in night schools—not connected with day schools—none. Present at examination: Day scholars, 1,434,766; night scholars, 77,918. Average attendance : Day scholars, 1,152,389; night scholars, 73,375. Number of teachers certificated, 12,467 ; assistant, 1,262 ; pupilteachers, 14,304; pupils in training colleges, 2,097. In the same year there were— Voluntary day schools, 8,281, with acornmodation for 1,878,584 children; average attendance, 1,152,389. In tho year 1887, out of an estimated population of 28,247,151, the number of inspected schools had risen to 19,208, wi|h accommodation for 5,278,992 children ; the number of night schools connected with the above was 10,977. The average attendance at these day schools was 3,527,381; at tho night schools, 30,504. Tho number of certificated teachers reached 48,628; assistants, 18,070; pupil teachers, 28,930; Training College pupils, 3,272. In the same year—lßß7—the number of voluntary schools was 14,662, with accommodation for 3,513,098, and an average attendance of 2,211,920 pupils. At page 7, my Lords of the Privy Council on Education tell us that "The schools in England and Wales, visited by the inspectors for the purpose of annual grants, which in 1870 provided tor 1,878,554 scholars, or for 8.75 per cent, of the population, were in 1887 sufficient for 5,278,992 scholars, or 18.69 per cent, of the population." They add that the additional amount of accommodation in aided schools has been provided since 1870 to the extent of 1,631,514 scats by voluntary effort, and 1,765,894 in Board schools.

In tho city of Manchester, wherein the writer of these papers long resided, the state of educational destitution was something appalling not moie than twenty years ago. It was in the year 1867, if 1 correctly remember, that a scries of letters signed "E. 8." first appeared in the 'Manchester Guardian,' calling attention, in language which roused the public effectually from its lethargy, to the|]fact that many thousands of children in Manchester and Salford were attending no school whatever—growing up without elementary training, either intellectual or moral, of any sort. The author turned out to be Edward Brotherton, brother of the late M.P. for Salford, a friend of Cobden's, and himself a gentleman of large educational experience. A committee of inquiry was after a while appointed in connection with tho Manchester Statistical Society the oldest in the kingdom —to go into the whole question. A house-to-house visitation was organised, to be carried out in certain selected districts of the city, the results of which more than confirmed Mr Brotherton's statements. The Committee was composed, among others, of I)r John Watts, not long ago deceased —a poor Coventry weaver's son, who devoted every moment of leisure from a very active business career to the improvement of the class from which he sprung; of the highly-esteemed pastor of the Presbyterian Church, the late venorable Dr M'Kerrow, an ardent educationalist for more than half a century ; and of Edward Brotherton, whoso life, not many months subsequently, virtually fell a sacrifice to his ardent labors in the cause he had so deeply at heart. The Manchester Education Aid Society was tho result, followed in the winter of 1868 69 by the Education Conference, held in the same city. At this Conference were assembled, in addition to the abovenamed gentlemen, the Right Hon. W. E. Forstcr, whoso speech did not make the most favorable impression on some of his audience ;'the Right Hon. Goschcn, James Standsfeld, M.P. for Halifax, Mundella, and Bruce (the late Lord Aberdare); by Professor Huxley ; by the late Dean Hook, then Vicar of Leeds, whose striking personal appearance and burning eloquence electrified his hearers; by the Marquis of Ripon; by the late Dean Howaon, then Principal of the Liverpool Church Institute—that, I think, is its title—a remarkably successful grammar Bchool; by tho late Samuel Greg, a millowner, who had, at his own cost, provided munificently for tho education of his "hands" at Macclesfield—the accomplished brother of the late well-known author, William PiathboneGceg; and by a large number of other friends of education, whose names, at this distance of time, I unfortunately forget. This Manchester Conference resulted, after a fresh and hardly less arduous contest, in the carrying of the celebrated Education Act of 1870, an Act which, with all its faults—and they are not slitjlit—has produced so strongly marked, and, upon tho whole, so beneficial a revolution in English primary education, as well as indirectly throughout the British colonies. Perhaps it may be permitted an old Manchester man a good deal concerned in local educational movements to present, in conclusion, a brief statement of what has been accomplished in Manchester since the year 1871, when this Act came into actual force—during the fifteen years which elapsed up to 1886. In 1871, with a population of 351,189, the total number of children on the registers of the Manchester elementary schools—denominational and Board schools—amounted to 38,922, with an average attendance of G2 4 per cent. Ten years afterwards, out of a population diminished by large emigrations of the working classes to the suburbs, beyond the boundaries of the Mtnchester School Board, to 341,508 (year 1881), the number of children had risen to 58,641, with 72.8 per cent, average attendance. In 1885 —or fifteen years after the passing of the Act—with a population yet further slightly decreased to 341,453, thenumberof children on the registers had again risen to 65,091, with a percentage in attendance of 75.2, Including tho town of Salford really a part of Manchester, but under separate municipal and school board government—in the year 1871, the number of inhabitants in both towns being 475,794, the total number of children on the registers was 55,553, with 62.5 per cent, average attendance. In 1885, the inhabitants of Manchester and Salford being 531,635, the number of pupils on the registers of the elementary schools was 97,514, with an average of 74.2 per cent. In Manchester and Salford the weekly school attendants were : In 1871. 1 in 11.5 of the population; in 1881,1 in 7; in 1885,1 in 6. In the year 1872, it is worth noting, the number of juveniles arrested for various offences was 1,052; in 1831 the number had fallen to 614. The average rate covering the entire expenditure of the Manchester School Board for the above period of fifteen years was 2.94 pence in the £ on the assessment of the city. The above figures are taken from a paper read in the month of April, 1886, before the Manchester Statistical Society by the late Dr John Watts, member of the Manchester School Board. Dr Watts remarks, in conclusion : " W. E. Forster, the pleasure and honorof whose acquaintance I have had for thirty-nine years, will live in my memory sb the author of the greatest Act of Parliament in the nineteenth century. May he have many successors."

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STATE EDUCATION., Issue 7952, 6 July 1889, Supplement

Word Count
2,181

STATE EDUCATION. Issue 7952, 6 July 1889, Supplement

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