The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
Cutting Down of Grant
Cutting Down of Grant.
It is an easy matter to say, on paper, that £100,000 can be saved by reducing the vote by that amount, and informing those who have the administration of the system that they must do the best they can. But we are persuaded that anyone who will go into the question carefully will ultimately agree with what was said on the subject a few days ago by the Chairman of the North Canterbury Board of Education, "That the annual cost to the colony could not be reduced by more than £20,000 to £25,000 at the outside, without seriously interfering with the efficiency of the system."
|Head office (exclusive of Minister's salary)
|Capitation allowance to Education Boards, at £4 per head of average attendance (less revenue from reserves, £28,674)
|Capitation allowance of 1s. 6d. per head for scholarship
|Subsidies for inspection
|Subsidies for training teachers
|Rebuilding schools destroyed by fire
|Various items, including examination of teachers
|Institution for deaf mutes
|Subsidies to public libraries
|Grant to Auckland University College
|University of New Zealand
If we go in for cheese-paring, two or three of the above items might be cut out. Perhaps the least harm would come of cutting away the subsidy to Public Libraries. They have had some years of fostering care, and with the vast reduction in the cost of books which has already taken and will further take place, they would most of them be able to stand alone. The £5,150 capitation allowance for scholarships might very well be discontinued. Most of this money ultimately finds its way into the hands of Secondary Education authorities, and they should find the scholarships out of the splendid endowments they possess. The grant for Higher Education, £3,500 might be discontinued. In connection, too, with the Industrial Schools of the Colony, some people think that the parents and natural guardians of the children are not made to pay as much as they ought.
Without professing to be able to give a definite opinion on the matter, we must say that the amount of recoveries from parents and guardians appears very small—£5,357 out of a total cost of £21,824.
But, it will be urged: Can there not be something saved from the large item £280,000, paid in teachers' salaries? Let anyone who thinks so study the following page 14 abstract from the Minister's report, showing the number of teachers and their salaries:—
|Receiving between £100 and £200
|Receiving between £200 and £300
|Receiving between £300 and £400
|Receiving between £400 and £483
It will be seen by this table that out of less than 3,000 teachers there are 2,615 who receive less than £200 per year. These teachers cannot live and keep up the respectability demanded by Committees and parents on anything less than they have to-day. And it must ever be borne in mind that the requirements of the department are such, that any teacher who ceases to keep up his studies, by reading the newest books of the day, soon comes to be regarded as a fossil, and as such is very apt to be laid to one side. But such studies cost money. With regard to those who receive over £200 a year we have but a word to say. The chief incentive to energy and zeal on the part of the country teacher is the hope that after years of experience he may get a larger school where his salary will be, after all, no more than that of many shopmen in drapery and other stores. Besides, it is all a matter of supply and demand. With present salaries the supply of experienced and efficient teachers is not equal to the demand. A few months ago it was publicly announced by the Appointments Committee of the North Canterbury Board of Education that there was a dearth of suitable applicants for the position of teacher. Is any other page 15 comment upon the salaries paid necessary? Lower these by ever so little, and you increase the disproportion between demand and supply, and the result must be to impair the efficiency of the school. In this connection we draw attention to the following figures taken from page 7 of the Report of the Minister of Education:—"There are 2,894 teachers engaged in the public schools of the colony. But there are only 1,838 certificated teachers registered. Of these it is believed that 480 are not engaged in the public schools. This leaves 1,358 certificated teachers in the schools, the rest, 1,536 are uncertificated. Taking from these the sewing mistresses 173, and the pupil-teachers 917, there still remain in the schools 416 uncertificated teachers." To most men this can but mean one thing—the salaries as at present are not sufficient to induce persons to devote themselves to teaching. If there be retrenchment here, then it must be carefully applied, for it cannot be necessary to emphasise the fact that there could be no surer method of wasting money than by placing incompetent teachers in charge of schools.
There is, however, one item of expenditure which may be reduced, we believe, by £4,000 or £5,000 without hardship to any individual or damage to the system. That item is the grant made to School Committees for incidental expenses, such as cleaning, fuel, &c. As will be remembered, the Government has already moved in this direction. The Committees had credit balances at the end of 1886 amounting to £5,552. Their liabilities would absorb some of these balances; but it is evident that they were not in straitened circumstances. And if for a few years, until the colony rights itself, Committees find themselves unable to give many prizes or school treats, no very serious results will follow. To cut down the grant, however, to such an extent as to compel Committees to raise funds locally would be no saving.page 16
To the above proposed reductions we might add one or two other small items, but the total would not reach £25,000, and we are persuaded that this is the extent to which saving is possible. To talk about saving £100,000 without doing damage to the system is sheer nonsense. To save half the amount will be found impossible without damage. But doubtless an effort will be made in the new Parliament to greatly cut down the cost. Therefore let the friends of education for the masses speak out now. A noble example has been set them by Sir Robert Stout. And let the electors so speak that every member may feel as he goes to his seat in the new Parliament, that in whatever other respect he may be free, he is not at liberty to move hand or foot in the direction of impairing our national system of Education.