TbS question of Technical Education is at the present time being seriously considered in the centres of the Colony. Prior to 1895 the various technical -schools carried on by private associations derived their funds from'three sources—moneys raised locally, Government subsidy of £1 for £1 on these, and class fees. That much excellent Work was done by these voluntary Associations, and that the money at their disposal was wisely spent, are beyond question. The Manual and Technical Elementary Instruction Act, passed in 1805 by Mr Reeves, 'was intended to put this allimportant subject on a more satisfactory footing. It gave the Education Boards the right to control technical instruction within the limits of their several jurisdictions ; hut while having the right, the Boards did not, for obvious reasons, care to undertake the responsibility. We do uot blame thorn. So long as the capitation grant remains at the rate fixed by the Act there is very little chance of the Boards undertaking the work. As we pointed out in 1895, when Mr Rhbves’s Bill was under the consideration of Parliament, the change from subsidy to the capitation fixed by that measure has had the effect of seriously hampering the operations of the Associations by reason of the material reduction of their revenues. In Dunedin, for instance, it ’has panned out something like this
The Government subsidy for last year includes a grant-in-aid of £l5O, without which the revenue of the local Association would have been less than half of that of the previous year. The Associations in the' other centres have presumably been affected in like manner. While giving every credit to these voluntary associations for stepping into the breach till the Education Department was prepared to take up this important branch of education, and for the good work they have been able to accomplish, we consider that the time has arrived wheu it should be made obligatory on Education Boards to take over and maintain the existing technical schools, and to establish new schools where their presence is actually needed. But this must not be done at the expense of the primary schools. These latter must, at all hazards,'be maintained at the highest point of efficiency, to do which requires the expenditure of the whole of tho funds placed by Parliament at the disposal of tho Till the whole question is fully and comprehensively dealt with by Parliament, which, we are afraid, will not happen this session, the existing organisations ought to continue their work; but to enable them to do so it is necessary that they should bo provided with more funds. The position has been well gauged by the Minister of Education, who, with a view to moving Parliament at an early date to take action in that direction, has invited suggestions from tho Boards and tho managers of the Associations. From the Auckland Association comes a proposal that tho capitation granted under the Act of 1895 should bo raised from Is 3d per head per quarter to Ss 9d per head, and a variety of suggestions were put forward for, testing tho efficiency oftheinstmetionimparted. Weare inclined to think that, as a temporary measure, pending the Boards taking the work over, Parliament would be acting wisely in following the lead of the Dunedin Association, who urge that this year’s grant should bo raised to £4,000, leaving the allocation of the money entirely to tho Minister, who should take whatever stops may appear to him desirable to test the value of the instruction given. The question of how far technical instruction, as popularly understood, should form part of the curriculum of the primary schools is too large to be fairly discussed within the limits of this article ; and, therefore, we refrain from doing so. We would, however, direct the attention ot those interested in this phase of the question to the last report of the North Canterbury Board, wherein the relation of technical instruction, as defined in the Act of 1895, to the common schools is stated in these terms:— Technic il Instruction bears a relation to primary education, inasmuch as primary education is required for its foundation, especially in arithmetic, drawing, elementary geometry, and elementary science ; but it cannot be regarded as in any way a substitute for primary education. Nor is it suited to any but a few of the oldest of the children in attendance at a primary school.
In the above excerpt the matter is very clearly put, and a plea is put forward for the existence of “ continuation schools,” as the Auckland and Dunedin institutions are to some extent, or for provision being made for the department recognising literary and commercial subjects taught in such schools as fairly coming within the scope of the parliamentary grant. Unless some such provision ho made, how many of the boys and girls who now leave the primary school after passing the Fourth Standard would be able to take advantage of the technical classes ? But “manual instruction,” as defined by the Act of 1895, stands on quite a different footing, and is especially applicable to the primary school. “Manual trainingas the North Canterbury inspectors prefer with good reason to call it —may well be undertaken in our primary schools.
_ In the infant department, where freer conditions of method and subject, due to the absence ot a prescribed syllabus, exist, the beginnings are most easily made; and little more difficulty should be found in adapting suitably graduated exercises to the First and Second Standard classes, where the prescribed programme is limited to a few subjects, and much time must now be wasted in profitless repetitions. All this may be expected to be done during the usual school hours, and in intimate relation with existing subjects.
The North Canterbury inspectors do not encourage the introduction above the Second Standard of additional work during ordinary school hours ; and we are very pleased to observe that they strongly advocate, as has been repeatedly done in these columns, that the girls should be instructed in cookery and the kindred occupations of housewifery. In reference to the last-mentioned subjects they say very pertinently ; The subject has, indeed, quite as much claim to be recognised as a subject oi elementary instruction as readiny-and writing, and is equally necessary for at least onc-half of the community. At any rate, to be able to cook a dinner fairly is much more important for our girls, as a preparation for the business of life, than the skilful manipulation of vulgar and decimal fractions, or a knowledge of the operations of the bill discounter and the stockbroker. Practice in cooking is,.indeed, only the corollary of the bookish instruction in domestic economy, which already forms part of the school course, In larger school
at least,, and facilities for the practice should, in our View, form an essential feature of a school’s equipment. We do not even think it necessary that practice of the kind should be taken outside of the usual school hours. When practical lessons on the subject are regulatly given—that is, lessons in which the pupils contribute a share of the work—we are inclined to believe the inspector might fairly be permitted to make some allowance in other respects. Wo are fully aware that the Minister of Education sympathises deeply with the movement for the extension and permanent endowment of Technical Education, and we are hopeful that the lion, gentleman will succeed in placing the question on a thoroughly satisfactory footing! He has at his elbow, as it were, the best advice possible, if he chooses to avail himself of it, and ought to have no difficulty in devising a scheme which will be satisfactory alike to Parliament and the country. And we are equally confident that Mr Walker will not in the meantime permit the existing technical schools to hare their efficiency endangered on monetary grounds, for he has at all times shown a disposition to deal with them with all the liberality that the funds at his disposal for the purpose allow.
Locally Gor't Raised. Subsidy, Fees Total 1894-95 £ £ £ £ 89 250 255 595 1695-96 . 74 500 344 918 1896-97 . 60 212 310 582 £223 962 910 2.095
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TECHNICAL EDUCATION., Evening Star, Issue 10437, 5 October 1897