صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

will be established under superintendence, schools for training teachers- what are called on the Continent Normal Schools. For the establishment and regulation of those the greatest care is required; and the expense, for some years at least, must fall upon the State. A year's instruction at least, with the help of a good model school, will be necessary to qualify teachers. If these have not already made some progress in their studies, two years may be required for this purpose. There seems no reason to apprehend that any want of competitors for the places of pupils at these normal seminaries will be experienced. In the Boroughroad school in London there are always more applications for places . than can be granted; and the advantages will be considerably greater of those who attend the public establishment. It is calculated that for L. 20,000'a-year, 500 teachers may be maintained and completely qualified to perform their duties. As soon as this system has been established, it is to be expected that at least as many more will flock to take advantage of it, without any additional cost to the public. Now if the Board can thus furnish a large supply of accomplished teachers, it is manifest that all schools established by individual exertion, all in which instruction is now supported by subscription, or by payments from the children, will, if left to themselves, and without any interference whatever from the Board, be disposed to take teachers from the normal seminary. The improved tuition at these schools will infallibly increase the number of children attending them, and the funds to be obtained for their support; and thus, without any further operation on the part of the Board than the establishment and careful superintendence of the normal seminaries in London, and in two or three other places, a prodigious improvement will be effected in the education of the people within the space of a very

few years.

The last function of the Board to which we shall'advert, is connected with the funds already existing in the large endowments scattered so profusely over the country. The charity Commission having now or nearly completed its labours, is about to cease. A permanent superintendence of charities is therefore wanted, to prevent the relapse into abuse by constant enquiry and occasional interposition. The cumbrous proceedings of Courts of Equity render it necessary that in the more ordinary cases, a simple, a more expeditious, and a less costly recourse should be provided. This is afforded by vesting in the Board certain judicial as well as all inquisitorial functions. But the more judicious application of the charitable funds is also of great importance. As the law now stands, no deviation can be made from the plan laid down by the donor two or three centuries ago, unless it is impossible to execute it; yet it often happens that little, if any

good is done by the disposition which he has directed, and not seldom that serious evil arises from it. An example of the first defect in charitable institutions is afforded by those grammar-schools which are richly endowed in places where the inhabitants have no occasion for instruction in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew, but would be greatly benefited by other branches of knowledge. An example of the latter defect is furnished in many parts of the country by the doles of money, often to a considerable amount, given to poor persons indiscriminately. Nor are cases wanting of whole districts filled with idleness, and poverty, and dissipation, by the great increase of the charity estates given at a remote period to the poor of narrow communities. The powers of the Board are not such as to remedy these evils effectually. The will of the donor is not to be disregarded, except in a comparatively small class of cases; and where there can be no manner of doubt that he would himself have directed the deviation, had he been able to foresee the altered circumstances of the times. Thus charities, given without any specification of objects, may be applied to education; and funds given for one kind of tuition may be applied to another more beneficially. But in all cases the opinions and wishes of the trustees are consulted as far as possible. Where these are desirous of making the improvement, and are prevented by the letter of the foundation, a power is given to-them of making the change with the Board's consent. Where they have the power, or obtained it, and refuse to exercise it, the Board is authorized to enforce the change, but subject to an appeal to the Privy Council; and no change can be made in any charitable disposition which is not more than thirty years old. Indeed, this branch of the Board's authority is strictly confined to cases where the gift is manifestly absurd, or positively pernicious.

It thus appears, that by the operation of the measure in question, a very few years will suffice for giving to the whole country a system of elementary education deserving the name; by planting schools wherever they are wanted; by improving the management and securing the permanence of those now existing; and by the general introduction of infant training, at present confined to an extremely small part of the eommunity; and by providing a supply of teachers thoroughly qualified for their important office. This will be accomplished without any pressure upon the resources of the State, or of particular districts; without any sudden destruction of the present imperfect system before the materials can be formed for a better; without any thing being done or attempted that can render education unpopular; and without losing the benefit which it now derives, and not in a financial view alone, from the benevolent zeal of individuals. Nor will there be any door opened for abuse in the management of the funds to be provided; or for the exercise of undue influence in matters which caonot well bear the peremptory control of Government. On the contrary, the consent of those interested will, generally speaking, be required for whatever step of importance is taken ; the reformed administration of charitable funds should go band in hand with the improvement of education; and should the whole measure be adopted, this is provided for. But the two features of the plan are not necessarily connected; and the omission of any change in the present constitution of charities, and confining the functions of the Board to mere enquiry and correction of abuses in their management, would only have the effect of lessening the funds which might otherwise be available for better education of the people, and consequently of increasing the expense of an improved system of instruction.

That expense, in either case, cannot be very considerable; and as the heaviest part of it will be distributed over several years, it certainly will not be at all felt by the country. . We have no means of ascertaining, with any thing like accuracy, the amount at present expended on education; but some approximation to it may be made. There being, in round numbers, about 35,000 day schools of all deseriptions, the expense of each can hardly, upon an average, fall short of sixty pounds a-year. Indeed, if the rent of the buildings be taken into account, that sum will not by any means suffice. But supposing it adequate--we have here above two millions yearly already applied to education, in part by subscription, the rest by payment from the children, and the latter portion considerably exceeding the former; for it is a most important result of the returns, that a much larger proportion of the whole children taught at day-schools are pay scholars than free scholars. Or 478,000, the number attending unendowed dayschools in 1818, 310,000 paid for their tuition, and only 168,000 were free scholars. In 1833, there appear to have been 730,000 pay-scholars, and 390,000 free—the proportion being nearly the same at the two periods. This is a consideration of great importance; because it shows that the schools now existing may with certainty be continued and improved, and that it only requires a judicious treatment to effect the salutary changes required. If funds were suddenly provided by the State without the greatest caution, the voluntary subscriptions would be wholly withdrawn, and by far the greater portion of the payments from the children would cease.

But by judicious management both may easily be continued, and the present education revenue of above two millions, altogether independent of endowments, secured.

Another approximation to that revenue is afforded by the number of the children. These amount, in all, by the last returns. to about 1,100,000, exclusive of about 153,000 educated at endowed schools. The expense of the latter is about L.250,000 a-year, but this is probably under the mark; for it was, in 1818, returned at L.300,000. Taking it at the smallest sum, we have the expense of each child, L.1, 13s. 4d.; at the larger sum, L.1, 18s. 6d. But as the endowed schools have no rent to pay, but only repairs, the real expense must be considerably greater probably, not less than L.2, or L.2, 5., at those schools. If ihe cost of the unendowed day-schools, is only L.1, 10s., we bave an income of above a million and a half. But the result, from considering the number of the schools, is perhaps more to be re

Jied on.

The number of children attending each school is here material to be considered. In 1818, the average of those attending unendowed day schools, was 34–of those attending endowed dayschools 40-and of those attending Sunday schools nearly 90. În 1833, the unendowed day had 32; the endowed day, 37– the infant day-schools, 30, and the Sunday schools, 94. From hence it appears, that much fewer attend each ordinary dayschool than might have been supposed, even after all the pains taken to extend the new system of Lancaster and Bell. The returns of 1833 do not enable us to state how many of the schools then existing were upon the new system; but the returns of 1818 give that proportion. Of the 14,000 day schools then established; 820 were on the new system, and were attended by 105,000 children, being an average of 128 to each school. The proportion of these new schools, to the schools on the old system, does not seem to have increased, but rather to have diminished since 1818, as the general average of all day-schools has fallen from thirty-four to thirty-two. Now these particulars are important to the question of the expense likely to attend the proposed improvements in national education, for they lead us to the conclusion-first, that in order to provide the additional means of instruction manifestly required, there will be no necessity for incurring an expense equal to that of the existing schools ; and, secondly, that much of the present expense may be saved by judicious reforms. In certain situations, no doubt, it must always be impossible to have schools attended by large numbers of children, as in villages, or in other places where all sects cannot agree upon a plan of instruction. If there are not a large number of inhabitants, or if those,, though more numerous, are so decided in religious opinions, that one portion insist upon the church catechism and liturgy being taught, and the rest are Dissenters from the Establishment_then the schools must be multiplied, and the expense of them increased. But in all populous places it is clear, that whatever be the divisions of opinion, there must be children enough to support schools of one hundred, or even one hundred and fifty. But suppose the average of the whole schools only varied to between 60 and 70, or about doubled, the whole expense of educating the children now instructed would be reduced to one-half; and the number of those children might be doubled without increasing the present expenditure. Undoubtedly this calculation proceeds upon the supposition that the emoluments of teachers are not to be higher than they are at present. But with the increased qualifications of teachers their emoluments must be augmented. Therefore, notwithstanding the improved management of both old and new schools under the proposed reform, a considerable increase of expenditure will be required. The heaviest charge, however,-that which alone will be felt,-is the providing new school rooms; and a judicious combination of aid from the state, with individual and local exertion, will greatly lighten this burden.

It remains to observe, that there can be no greater error than theirs (if such there be who suppose that this plan will not operate a universal reform in the education of the country. It will be as universal as effectual. Without the pretensions of a new national system, it will have all the advantages of one; for it will give education wherever it is now wanting, and it will, in a very few years, render that education deserving of a name, wbich it now usurps without any

title. But, unhappily, the quarter from which the principal objections are to be apprehended is in the opposite direction. Many will resent the change on the score of expense: We have shown that this cannot be so heavy as might at first be apprehended. The grant of L. 100,000 a year from the State, for a few years, would probably suffice for all the expense which local exertion and local rates could not defray. And who that reflects upon the times when we expended much more than that sum every day on the extra charges of war, and above the ordinary expenses of the nation, can suffer such a consideration to weigh as dust in the balance against the attainment of by far the most important benefit which a nation can desire, or its rulers bestow ?

Upon the religious differences that prevail in the community another difficulty may be raised. It may be said that, if the new schools are placed under ecclesiastical superintendence, the Dissenters will object; and if they are exempt from such interference, the Church will be unfriendly. We have great confidence in the good sense of both these parties; and their real wish to see the people universally and really educated. Nor does it appear at all difficult to reconcile all the differences which exist between them upon the question. In the great majority of places there are sufficient numbers of children to support

« السابقةمتابعة »