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The disadvantages of the single-teacher schools were fully Amalgamaset forth in our report for 1904, and we have since been top of continuing the policy of reducing the number of these schools. schools whenever a suitable opportunity has occurred. The managers of such schools in many cases resist the withdrawal of grants, but we trust that our efforts in this direction, leading as they do to increased efficiency, will in the end be under. stood, and that the conductors will ultimately realize the obstacles these small schools present to the advancement of the children attending them, and will co-operate with us in the reduction of their number.
The Treasury have recognised the hardship which was in- Model flicted on the teachers in the Model schools by requiring that about £2,000 of the fees collected from the pupils should be handed over to the State each year, and a scheme has now been sanctioned by which the fees will in future be distributed amongst these teachers.
According to the Census returns, the number of persons in Irish Ireland in 1891 who spoke Irish only was 38,192, and the number who spoke Irish and English in that year was 642,053. The corresponding figures for 1901 were 20,953 who spoke Irish only, and 620,189 who spoke both languages. While the number of persons who may be taken as bilingual remained much the same for this decennial period, the number of persons who spoke Irish only was reduced by nearly one-half.
We recognise the educational necessity for instruction in Irish in Irish-speaking and bilingual districts, inasmuch as children who are wholly or largely Irish-speaking do not adequately profit by the instruction given them in English unless they are instructed in Irish also, and unless this instruction is utilised in teaching them English. We have accordingly drawn up a bilingual programme for use in National schools in Irish-speaking districts where Irish is the home language of the majority of the children, subject to our approval in the case of each school in which it is proposed to introduce such system of teaching. We must, however, be satisfied that instruction in the ordinary day school subjects will not be interfered with or hampered by the adoption of the bilingual programme, and that the teacher of the school has a good literary and oral knowledge of Irish. We have also had under consideration your Excellency's proposals for the encouragement of the bilingual system of instruction in such schools by payment of special fees, and the details of this scheme have been recently published. Efficient teaching of the bilingual programme will, also, be favourably considered in connection with the grants of increments and promotions to the teachers.
Up to the present time the bilingual programme has been sanctioned in twenty-seven schools situated in the counties of Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry and Cork.
Instruction in Irish as an instrument of mental culture for Irish children who speak English as their mother tongue has long been recognised, and a system of payment of very liberal fees where such instruction has been given as an extra branch has been in operation for a considerable number of years. In the year 1901 fees amounting to £955 were paid for Irish as
an extra subject in 109 schools. In the year 1905 the number Subjects. of schools had increased to 1,204, and the amount of the fees
was nearly £12,000. The language was taught in 376 Evening schools in the 1904-5 session, and within the past ten years over 1,000 teachers have obtained certificates of competency to teach Irish.
In 1900, when results fees ceased to form a part of the incomes of the teachers, the consolidated salaries of the teachers in our service before 1st April, 1900, were fixed at their average receipts from all State sources for the preceding three years, and these salaries included the equivalent of results fees paid for all extra subjects taught outside school hours. In this way the abolition of results fees in 1900 implied the abolition of all extra subjects, and as a matter of fact the majority of extra subjects were removed from the programme. A few subjects, including Irish, were with the approval of the Lords of the Treasury, alone retained with certain limitations, and in order that the teaching of higher subjects should not be entirely discontinued it was provided in the revised programme of 1901 that the extra subjects might be taught without a fee as optional subjects during school hours. Correspondence took place with the Treasury in 1904 and 1905 on the subject of the continuance of payment for extras, and the outcome was that in March, 1905, their Lordships announced that after the school year ending in June, 1906, they could not undertake to provide funds for the teaching of any extra subjects at all. On consideration of the whole matter in June, 1905, we reiterated our opinion as to the educational importance of instruction in Irish, and of the teaching of English through the Irish idiom, in districts where Irish is the home language of the majority of the children. We also expressed our belief as to the educational value of the study of the language in districts in which Irish was not the home language, in view of the strong sentiment in its favour and the interest then taken by the teachers and the pupils in the subject. We did not offer any opinion as to the propriety of discontinuing the fees for all extra subjects as we were not asked for it, but we decided not to consent to any such policy except on the condition that the savings thereby effected should not be applied to reduce the Vote and should be applied to purposes of national education. It was by these means that we were subsequently enabled to provide for the appointments of junior assistant mistresses in schools with an average attendance between thirty-five and Sifty already referred to.
On the 30th June, 1906, payment of fees for Irish as an Special extra subject ceased, but we have recently been enabled to
Irish, make public the details of a scheme formulated by the Irish Government for the encouragement of the teaching of the language as one of the ordinary subjects of the programme.
We regret to have to report that the representations
Rejected which we have made as to the needs of the country proposals of and of the schools in many other matters relating to educa- the Comtion have not received the favourable consideration that we hoped for. On several occasions the great necessity for the provision of out-offices for all National schools, for the periodic cleansing of these out-offices, for the white-washing of the walls, the cleaning of the floors and windows of the school, for suitable seats, desks, maps, charts, and the supply of uel in winter months, was brought under the notice of the Government.
Sanction was also sought for the establishment of Higher Grade schools, in which it was expected that clever and industrious National school pupils of the higher standards should be afforded facilities for a better education than they can obtain at present, and we also looked forward to these schools to supply a link between the primary schools and technical and university colleges. The granting of special salaries and supplemental salaries to the teachers of large and important schools, and special salaries for the teachers employed in the practising schools attached to the Training colleges, was also proposed, as well as the granting of special increases of salary to teachers in possession of university degrees in order to hold out an inducement for the pursuit of studies beyond the subjects and range of the teachers' ordinary programmes.
The need of scholarships and school prizes, for which we have no fund at our disposal, was also brought under notice, as well as the question of the supply of books to the schools. We consider that, as a consequence of the introduction into Ireland of compulsory education, it would seem to be but reasonable that books should be supplied, as in Great Britain, at the public expense for use in the schools.
While it has been generally admitted by successive Governments that the need of educational reform in Ireland is pressing, yet it has been frequently urged that no constructive policy has been forthcoming from within. We have, however, for the past few years, repeatedly brought under the notice of the Irish Government schemes for the improvement of primary education, which would tend to remove many of the disabilities under which we labour, but with little effect. Notwithstanding our representations and warnings, the Development Grant
- which should have been wholly set aside for educational services-has been almost altogether sequestrated for other purposes, and, as already stated, has proved a hindrance to
educational reform. The Treasury, while tacitly admitting the justice of our claims, decline to place on the Estimates the sums of money necessary to give effect to our schemes, and the attitude which they have adopted has been fully set forth in our remarks on the question of building grants.
We would, again, earnestly press upon Your Excellency the urgent necessity of providing a fund for educational services proportionate, at least, in amount to that which was voted by Parliament for the relief of the education rates in Great Britain. We trust that the injustice of meting out unequal treatment to the Irish as compared with the British child in matters appertaining to education will be fully recognised by the Government, and that immediate steps will be taken to make more suitable provision for primary education in this country.
We now proceed to give Your Excellency detailed information under various heads.
School-houses and Teachers' Residences.
1. On the 31st December, 1905, there were 9,064 schools on our Roll, of which 8,659 were in operation.
2. Of the schools in operation, 3,594 were vested schools, the remainder were non-vested.
The vested schools were distributed according to Provinces as follows:
3. The non-vested schools include school-houses erected Non-Vosted
Schools, from funds locally provided, or, in a few instances, from loans available under the Act of 1884, 47 & 48 Vic., cap. 22, and schools formerly vested, the leases of which have expired.
4. The number of applications for aid to new schools con- Number of sidered in the twelve months to 31st December, 1905, was 62. Stunts to In 38 cases we made grants for building new premises, and in schools. 14 cases we made grants of salary and books. The remaining 10 applications were rejected.
The erection and improvement of vested school premises are Building carried out under the direction of the Board of Public Works. Grants. On the first of April, 1905, the amount for which that Board was liable in respect of grants already made by us and notified to them was £48,968 168. 8d. In addition to this sum, we had made grants amounting to £17,463 168. 4d., which had not been ready for notification to the Board of Works. The total liabilities, therefore, on that date amounted to £66,432 138.
As in previous financial years, we received in the year 19051906 a greater number of applications for such grants than the Parliamentary vote would warrant us in sanctioning. We made, however, building and improvement grants in 105 cases.
The following statement shows the condition of the grants and liabilities on 1st April, 1906 :