The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
Abolition of Boards of Education
Abolition of Boards of Education.
It is somewhat surprising that while the cry is heard on every hand that we ought to have more local self-government, there is a disposition in some quarters to move in an opposite direction, by those who are casting about for chances of retrenchment. It has been repeatedly affirmed of late that most of the money spent in maintaining Boards of Education throughout the Colony might be saved. It is easy to make such a statement; it is another thing to show that the work could be done as efficiently or as cheaply from one centre. "We find the cost of these Boards, of which there are thirteen, is £10,000 a-year. This is truly a large amount of money, but there is a large amount of work to show for it. In the case of four of these Boards one important item of their duty is the management of large Training Departments for Teachers. These Normal Schools cost the country at the rate of nearly £2,000 each, and without careful management much of this money might be wasted. The Boards also disbursed during 1886 over £5,000 for scholarships, £1,000 to Inspectors, and £65,000 for repairs and new buildings. They also examined and tabulated the Inspectors' reports, two for each school in the country, making a total of 2,108 reports. Would all this have been done for nothing by a central office? A gentleman in this city, well versed in the work of Education Boards, assured me the other day that if the Government would give him £600 a-year, and allow him to select a staff of under clerks, which should not cost more than £3,000 a-year, he would undertake to do all the clerical work now done by Boards throughout the colonv. "Just so," I replied, "But how would you keep the central department supplied with necessary information as to repairs, additions, &c., required by the schools? You would take the word of the local Committees, and grant them whatever they state to be page 12 necessary." "Not at all. Committees would like that immensely. No, it would of course he necessary to increase the staff of Inspectors, say one for each district." Exactly. There are thirteen districts. The average cost of an Inspector is not less than £550, including travelling allowance. The extra cost of Inspectors would be £7,150. We don't see where the saving would come in. One thing, however, we can see. The country would, by abolishing Boards, lose the services of a considerable number of men who, through having had long years of experience, have become experts in the administration of our education system."