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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Eighth Annual Report of the Council of the Orkney and Zetland Association

Eighth Annual Report of the Council of the Orkney and Zetland Association.

The objects of the Association are
1.The Encouragement of Friendly Intercourse amongst the Members; and
2.The Advancement of Education in the County by the Distribution of Prizes, Bursaries, or otherwise.

Extract Rule VIII.—'Every Ordinary Member shall on admission, pay the sum of Five Shillings for the year in which he is admitted, and thereafter an Annual Subscription of Five Shillings during the Membership. Every Honorary Member shall contribute Ten Shillings Annually to the Funds of the Association, or in lieu thereof a single payment of Three Guineas. A single Pay me fit of One Guinea shall constitute a Lady an Honorary Contributor. The Annual Subscriptions shall be payable on 1st January in each year. Donations will be received from all who are interested in promoting the objects of the Association.'

The Annual Meeting of the Association, and Dinner in connection therewith, was held on Tuesday evening, 29th January, Mr James D. Marwick, City Clerk of Glasgow, in the Chair.

Mr Sievwright, the Secretary, read the Report of the Council, as follows:—

The Council beg to submit the Eighth Annual Report.

The number of members on the Roll at the beginning of the year was 101. During the year one death has occurred, and four members have resigned, while ten new members have been admitted, the number on the roll being now 106, showing an increase of five on the number at the close of last year.

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The Council join in the regret so generally expressed at the death of the Hon. Lord Neaves, who was a Patron of the Association. In the late Rev. Peter Peterson, formerly of Walls, Shetland, the Association has lost a member who took a warm interest in its objects.

The ordinary income for the year is shown by the Treasurer's statement to have been £36, 8s. 2d., and the expenditure £22, 16s. 7d., leaving £13, 11s. 7d. to be added to the funds. Including donations during the year, amounting to £29, 13s., the funds on hand now amount to £210, 13s. 5d.

The District Examinations for book prizes were held in Orkney and at Lerwick in April, as in former years, and the Council observe with satisfaction the increasing interest shown in these examinations. The number of competitors in 1876 was 73, while last year the number was 133, when 64 prizes of the value of £13, 1s. 1d. were awarded to pupils attending 19 schools. Dr Bedford observes, that 'no previous examination has at all approached this in general excellence.' His Report is appended, with particulars of the prizes awarded. The Council feel themselves deeply indebted to Dr Bedford for the care bestowed in the preparation of the various questions, and for the great labour entailed on him in the examination of the replies. They are sorry to say that for some years back they have not had any response to their offer of prizes from the country schools of Shetland, but they mean to make another effort to interest the teachers in these examinations, and they hope to report some success next year. Dr Bedford does not expect any high degree of proficiency, and the Council, in awarding Prizes, take the whole circumstances into consideration.

In their last Report the Council stated their intention of founding a University bursary, and with that view, the funds of the Association were handsomely supplemented on the occasion of their meeting last year. Further inquiry, however, as to the success of similar bursaries in connection with other county Associations, has led them to doubt whether a small University bursary, such as they contemplated, would induce competition sufficient to justify them in so applying the money of the Association. They are, besides, of opinion that the recent munificent bequest of the Earl of Zetland of University Bursaries* in connection with the page 5 county, renders any effort on their part in that direction unnecessary. They have therefore resolved to abandon the idea of founding a University Bursary in the meantime, and they now propose, as an experiment, to offer for competition two school bursaries, to assist promising boys in continuing their education at such higher class schools within the county as they may approve of. School bursaries, founded by other county Associations, have been highly successful, and the Council hope that the bursaries now proposed in connection with this Association, will prove to be no less so. Should the experiment succeed, they will be encouraged to consider the advisability of further extending the scheme. They have not yet settled the details of the competition, but they may mention, that they propose that the bursaries be of the annual value of £10 each, and be tenable for two years. The bursars will be expected to compete for 'The Earl of Zetland's Bursaries.'

In connection with this subject the Council have been led to inquire into the terms of the Foundation of 'The Earl of Zetland's Bursaries.' It appears to them that one of the conditions in which these bursaries are to be held, viz., that candidates must be 'natives of the islands, or children of parents, one or both of whom shall have been born in or connected with the county for a long period of years,' practically puts them beyond the reach of young men educated in the county, by opening competition to others more favourably circumstanced. The result of the competition for the bursary founded by the late Earl of Zetland—'The Orkney and Zetland Bursary,'—which has the same condition, further inclines them to take that view. On the several occasions on which that bursary has been competed for, it has been carried off by young men who were not educated in the islands, and some of whom were not in any way themselves connected with the county. The Council believe that Lord Zetland would more effectually advance the educational interests of the islands were that condition modified, at any rate as regards some of the bursaries, so as to limit competition to natives or others whose education had been obtained in the county. They accordingly submitted their views, in a Memorial, to the Trustees of these bursaries, and they are authorised to state that the matter is at present under consideration, with every desire to co-operate with the Association.

The Council have funds sufficient to enable them to offer one school bursary, but they think it most desirable that they should start with two, one for each division of the county, and they ask page 6 the members of the Association, but especially their countrymen at home and abroad, who are not members, to aid them in carrying through their scheme, by contributing to the Association's Funds. The income from subscriptions is required to provide the book prizes, and to meet expenses, so that at present they cannot calculate on any portion of that income being available.

It is recommended that the Patrons and Office-Bearers be as follow:—(See list prefixed.)

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the Report, said, every' one must feel that a membership of 106 was not a fair proportion of the inhabitants of Orkney and Shetland. He should take care to express his opinion very strongly on the subject the next opportunity he had of meeting Orcadians at Glasgow. . . . He thought the bursary idea to be an admirable one, and since the Earl of Zetland has set aside the proceeds of the various patronages which were at his disposal, that he had devoted these to the purposes of University endowment, the very best thing they could do was to establish school bursaries in order to help on promising young fellows who had distinguished themselves in the ordinary School prize examinations. He said the Orkney and Shetland people, with proper influences brought to bear upon them, were able to hold a very creditable position. He then went on to refer to cases of successful Orkney and Shetland men. These facts showed that all over the world men of character and integrity could be found, who had received a very plain and simple elementary education in the grammar or subscription schools. He should like the Association to stimulate education in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. They knew Orkney and Shetland could not afford to retain all its promising young men. The great bulk of them must come south, and hope for preferment here, if they have any feeling of men about them When they come here, he said, if they enter the University, they must—if they wished to have bursaries, which many of them needed—engage in the competitive examinations. These examinations were very serious things for those who had not been preparing for them. Now there were many schools in Orkney and Shetland that turn out good scholars. Their education stood them in good stead in the business of active life. Any of these men, sent up to pass an examination for any bursaries given in connection with the Universities, would find themselves a long way behind, If it were for nothing else than this—the very habit of meeting those questions and knowing how to answer them—the county and the teachers should be thankful. He hoped they would lose no opportunity of pressing upon the: attention of every one interested in the education of Orkney and Shetland the importance of giving the Association all the support page 7 they could, and encouraging the youths of the islands to engage in these honourable competitions.

Dr Bedford, in replying to the toast of the 'Educational Interests of the County,' said it had been a matter of peculiar interest to him during the last few years to watch the steady improvement of the candidates for the Association's honours. The first batch of papers that came into his hands at the first examination gave undoubted evidence that the Orkney and Shetland Islands schools, with scarcely any exceptions, had no system of written examination in operation. In preparing the examination papers, he kept in view that the young men who took the honours might afterwards come to Edinburgh and compete with other young men for the larger bursaries of the Universities. He prepared the papers with reference to future examinations of a higher kind. He had observed last year, most particularly, the papers were remarkably good. He thought the arrangement of giving book prizes at the district examinations, and some bursaries for secondary education at the better schools in the islands, would be an excellent preparation for the higher examinations in the University. It had been said to him a day or two ago by a master at the head of a school of 1100 lads, that he was much struck with the excellent work he got from Orkney boys. He found that they stuck to work, and were very painstaking.

Among the other speakers were The Hon. Lord Gifford, Sheriff Thorns, Colonel Burroughs, C.B., and Mr Robert Brotchie of Swannay.