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Irish schools. In the report of the committee of 1902, it is stated with reasonableness that, under such conditions, satisfactory work cannot be done, and that the health of the teachers and pupils must suffer.
We recently called for reports from our inspectors on the condition of the schools in the cities of Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, and we were informed that the overcrowded state of some of the schools in Belfast is so aggravated as seriously to endanger the health of the pupils and teachers.
One of our senior inspectors, in reporting upon the condition of the schools under his charge in that city, states as follows: “ There are forty-six schools under my charge within the City boundary.
In about tourteen the floor space is more than ample. In about fourteen the floor space is ample or fairly so. In about five the floor space is limited. In about thirteen there is marked congestion."
Of the fourteen in which the floor space is ample he states :
6. The school-rooms are almost universally too large, and the class-rooms are insufficient in number, and, with very few exceptions, wuch too small. The following are the dimensions of some of the class-rooms:–18 feet by 10 feet, 16 feet by 7 feet, 11 foet by 71 feet, 16 feet by 12 feet, 14 feet by 11 feet, 14 feet by 11 feet, 15 feet by 10 feet, 10 feet by 9 feet, 13 feet by 15 feet, 19 feet by 9, feet, 14 feet by 9} feet, 131 feet by 10 feet, 20 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet by 7) feet, 16 feet by 11 feet, 12 feet by 11 feet, 13 feet by 10 feet, 11 feet by 10 feet, 13 feet by 11 feet, 11 feet by 10 feet, 15 feet by il feet, 15 feet by 12} feet, 15 feet by 9} feet, 15 feet by 94 feet, 13 feet by 11 feet.
"A glance at these figures will show that these twenty-five class-rooms are far too small for teaching purposes.
“There are about twenty class-rooms, in which there are no facilities for heating.”
Going on to write of the overcrowded schools he states :
“The school buildings on the County Down side of the Lagan are the most
"The average daily attendance at ihis school was 329 for the year ended 31 :12:04. But much worse remains to be told. I found seventy-eight infants in a room 19 feet by 9} feet, sixty-four First Standard pupils in a room 14 feet by 9} feet (with one window admitting of being opened), and thirty-three First Standard pupils in a room 133 feet by 10 feet Surely disgraceful' is at best a mild adjective to describe this condition of things which loudly calls for attention.
“The congestion is so great that lavatories, cloak-rooms, halls and passages are utilised for class purposes."
While overcrowding is the chief defect in the centres of population, many of the school-houses in rural districts are mere hovels.
Uneven earthen floors, broken roofs, through which the rain freely enters, windows incapable of admitting sufficient light or air, are common defects. Even in schools that afford sufficient accommodation, and that are not defective
on sanitary grounds, improvements are required to provide proper class teaching. It is no uncommon thing to find three or more teachers instructing the children in one large room. Really satisfactory work cannot be accomplished under such conditions. In many districts where we hope to see managers uniting to form central schools in place of small and badly equipped buildings, we are precluded from pressing our views since we cannot hold out any hope of aid towards giving effect to them; nor can we give a grant, for the purpose of effecting necessary structural alterations, to those managers who have been called upon to amalgamate adjoining boys' and girls' schools.
We are at present engaged in preparing a complete return of unsuitable schoolhouses as well as of schools which might with advantage be replaced by a central school, and we hope shortly to be in a position to forio an estimate of the amount that would be required to place the majority of the defective school buildings in a satisfactory condition. While doing so, however, we are convinced that no fixed total grant can be accepted as a final settlement of this question, inasmuch as, after the lapse of a number of years, buildings at present in a satisfactory condition will require to be improved, or entirely new school-houses will be needed in localities where none exist at present; and, owing to increased attendance, others will require enlargement.
In concluding our remarks on the subject of building grants we would earnestly press upon your Excellency the urgent necessity of enabling us to place this 'portion of our administration on a sound and satisfactory basis. An equivalent grant for purposes of education amounting to about £185,000 per anuum was voted for Ireland in 1902, but this money was converted into a Development Grant from which various Irish interests, quite distinct from education, were provided for; in particular, the flotation of land stock was hereby expedited in such unfavourable circumstances of the pioney market that, as the Treasury have said, the fund will probably be exhausted before long. In England, the new education grant was employed to assist the rates; in Ireland, where, as the Government have said, “there is no immediate prospect of eliciting any material amount out of the rates,” this grant has been laigely diverted from education.
The consequence of this policy has been that this immense annual grant, which might have placed Irish primary education on a satisfactory footing, has been a positive disadvantage to Ireland, at least in respect of the provision for school building. In 1902, the Treasury were inclined to treat Irish educational claims in a liberal spirit; there was a prospect of the building grants being converted into “grants-in-aid "; the allowance in necessitous districts was proposed to be increased from twothirds of the expenditure to three-fourths, and there was no threat of terminating the grants after a short period.
Since the voting of the Development Grant, the Treasury have repeatedly proposed that building claims should be placed upon it, and, when it was evident that it was well-nigh exhausted by non-educational services, that the rates should be charged. But we cannot strike a rate, and the Government hold out no prospect of legislation, such as the Treasury desire, being introduced. Hence there seems to be an absolute dead-lock, and we appeal to the Irish Goverument strenuously to endeavour to remove it in the only way feasible, viz., by inducing the Treasury to abandon the attitude which they have taken up since the committee reported in 1902.
In order to enable us to deal with the large number of cases that have accumulated in consequence of the practical suspension of grants for the past four years, it is necessary that a sum of £100,000 per annum should be placed at our disposal for the next five years, and that after that date a reduced sum, which can be decided upon beforehand, should be voted each year in the estimates.
Cookery and Laundry.
The need for greater attention in the National schools to the future domestic duties of girls has long been recognised by us, and we are much gratified that the Treasury have been pleased during the past year to sanction the employment of a permanent staff of organizers in cookery and laundry work in addition to the staff of experts for the teaching of needlework to girls. It is expected that the interest in house management amongst girls attending National schools will be stimulated, and that their usefulness in domestic work will be largely increased by the efforts of these specially trained teachers.
For the encouragement of instruction in cookery and laundry work we propose to pay a fee of five shillings per pupil—for two years in cookery and for one year in laundry work—but in order that the full fee may be earned we must be satisfied that suitable instruction is also given in hygiene. It is expected that these fees will fully recoup the teachers or managers for any expenditure which they may incur in providing the material necessary for instruction in these branches.
The startling increase in the ravages of consumption during recent years is a matter which has occupied the serious consideration, not alone of the medical profession, but of all persons interested in the public welfare. From statistics which have recently been compiled it appears that during the year 1904 about 13,000 persons died in Ireland of some form of consumption, or in other words that 2 out of every 13 deaths were due to this disease. The increasing importance of a knowledge of the elementary principles of hygiene and of the simple precautionary measures to be adopted become at once evident on consideration of these figures. In April, 1903, a little pamphlet on consump
tion and its prevention, prepared by the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, was forwarded to the schools throughout the country. Towards the close of the year 1904 a circular was sent to the managers and teachers impressing upon them the importance of the adoption of precautions so as to reduce the excessive mortality from consumption, and the teachers were urged to take frequent occasions of explaining to the pupils the necessity for the observance of hygienic rules. Quite recently we issued a further publication of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, to be posted in each school. All candidates for admission to the Training colleges are now required to be possessed of a knowledge of the principles of hygiene, and in many of the Training colleges special courses of lectures in hygiene are provided. The inspectors have been strictly enjoined to pay particular attention to the sanitary and hygienic conditions of the schools and out-offices, and they have been informed that promotions should not be recommended in the cases of teachers whose schools were not above reproach in sanitation. The use of slates by the pupils has been largely discontinued, on hygienic grounds, and the substitution of paper for the work of the pupils encouraged.
We have recently decided that formal lessons on hygiene should be given in the National schools, and with this object in view a syllabus of "simple lessons on health and habits” has been included in the latest programmes of instruction issued by us. These deal with questions of domestic and personal cleanliness, fresh air, pure water, food, illness, the evils of intemperance, &c., and it is confidently hoped that the elementary instruction imparted with regard to these matters will be useful to the pupils, not alone in their youthful years, but also in after life. all schools are expected to teach these lessons, and, in schools in which science is included in the curriculum, instruction in hygiene should be given in conjunction with the science teaching.
We are pleased that our new scheme of appointments of Monitors
and monitors and pupil teachers--to be recruited from successful in perpi!
teachers. students at Intermediate examinations_has met with the favourable consideration of the Treasury. Details of the scheme appeared in the report for 1903. It is hoped that, with the cooperation of the managers, a large number of young persons will come forward for these positions, and as all such candidates will have a more liberal education than can be obtained in the ordinary National school, it is expected that considerable improvement will be observable in the educational status of the teachers after the system bas been in operation for some years. The Training colleges, too, will be able to give more attention to the art of pedagogy than at present, inasmuch as the large amount of time which is now taken up in teaching the King's scholars subjects with which they should have been familiar before entering upon a course of training will no longer be required.
Means have now been found to enable managers to appoint Develop- assistant teachers in every school with an average of fifty pupils
or over by the assignment of a share of the Ireland Develop(New ment Fund to this purpose, in addition to the ordinary ParliaAss'stants, etc.)
tary Vote for primary education. We have also been enabled by a grant from that fund to increase in some of the Training colleges the number of King's scholars preparing to become teachers, and also to provide improved residences for the students of the Commissioners' Training college in Marlborough-street, Dublin.
In small mixed schools under a master it was possible hitherto to recognize a manual instructress (now junior assistant mistress) for the purpose of teaching the junior classes, as well as instructing all the girls in needlework. The great necessity for an increased staff in all small schools was set forth in last year's report, and the representations made to the Treasury in the matter have met with success.
In every school with an average attendance of between 35 and 50 pupils a second teacher (a junior assistant mistress) can be employed after 1st July, 1906. This provision refers to schools whether attended by boys and girls or by children of one sex only. It is expected that the services of this new class of teachers will prove very valuable, especially in regard to the care and education of children of very tender years. We consider this to be one of the most important educational reforms introduced into Ireland in recent years. In order to derive the maximum benefit from this new class of teacher, we are of opinion that a means should be provided of giving the junior assistant mistresses a suitable training in kindergarten and object-lessons, and we have recently submitted proposals which would enable us to use our present staff of kindergarten organizers for this purpose. We trust Your Excellency will further our wishes in this matter by strongly recommending our scheme to the favourable consideration of the Treasury.
Kinder- Two new assistant organizers of kindergarten have been apgarten pointed during the past year, and we have now a permanent Organizers.
staff of five fully qualified teachers (a head organizer and four assistants) engaged at this important subject. We trust that by means of this staff, and also through the increased attention given to the subject in the Training colleges, the methods adapted for the teaching of young children will be better understood by our teachers. Young children should be made to look upon the school as a pleasant place and not to regard it, as in most cases they must at present, as a dreary place of confinement in which they spend a large portion of the day standing in front of a tablet; often in charge of a child very little older than themselves. How best to occupy these little ones and to direct their natural acquisitiveness in right channels are problems which all engaged in teaching should thoroughly master.