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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62



The public education system upon which New Zealand prides herself, spending nearly £400,000 per annum upon it, is free, absolutely secular, compulsory, and of excellent quality. It has, in my humble opinion, but one blemish, and that is the total exclusion from all public schools of Bible reading and of any religious observance or instruction during school hours. As colonial parents are careless on this matter in their homes, and as denominational schools cannot exist in competition with the public free schools, the young colonials grow up regardless of any higher principle than their own advancement, profit, or pleasure, and develop that lawless spirit of what is termed "larrikinism," which will give (nay, is even now giving) serious trouble in the future. The school age is from 7 to 13 years. By an excellent system of graduated free scholarships, a clever boy or girl, even if the parents are very poor, may rise from a primary to a high school, and thence to the University College, where he can be trained for a degree, with little or no expense.

As the very numerous daily and weekly newspapers are read by every man, woman, and child, the New Zealanders are well informed on both local and imperial affairs. Their mental activity is shown by the amount of correspondence with Great Britain, America, and other parts of the world, the large demand for home literature, and so on, which, considering the smallness of the population, assume enormous dimensions. The reduction this year (1891) of the letter postage from sixpence to twopence halfpenny, for which the colonists have to thank Mr. Henniker-Heaton, the fluent advocate of "ocean penny postage," has been a successful move in binding the colony still closer to the old country. If I am addressing any parents who have sons out in New Zealand, I would urge upon them the great importance page 32 of writing often to their children, for a father's or mother's-loving letter has the greatest influence, in many instances, in. preventing a youth from going wrong.