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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 68

Primary Education

Primary Education.

The system of elementary education embodied in the Education Act, 1877, did not, so far as Canterbury was concerned, introduce any novelty; being in its essential principles only a continuation the system which had been gradually established under the of peril of the Provincial Education Ordinances of 1864, 1871, and The subsequent increase in the number of schools and of children under instruction is attributable, not to any extraordinary stimulus to the application of improved administrative machinery, but to the steady growth of population, and to the care with which the provision of the means of education has been made to keep pace with the growing requirements of the people.

Canterbury is now divided into two educational districts under separate Boards, and the district of North Canterbury includes parts of Marlborough and Nelson. Omitting the latter, and taking the provincial district of Canterbury (i.e., the country between the rivers Hurunui and Waitaki), there were in 1863, 38 schools (28 of them

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denominational) with 1749 children on the rolls, and 1120 in average attendance. In 1874, aid to denominational schools ceased. In that year the number of district schools had risen to 84, the number of children on the rolls to 10,136, and the number in average attendance to 5847. At the close of 1877, immediately before the existing Act came into force, there were 116 schools, with 14,834 children on the rolls, and 10,736 in average attendance. And on June 30 in the present year—the latest date for which full returns are available—the timber of schools was 208, the number of children on the rolls 25,021, and in average attendance 19,847. The following table shows the rate increase in a readily intelligible form:—
Year No of Schools On Roll Average Attendance
1863 32 1749 1120
1874 84 10136 5847
1877 116 14834 10736
1889 208 25021 19847

The number of teachers employed in the 208 schools is 645, viz., 417 adult and 228 pupil teachers. The expenditure on teachers' salaries is at the rate of £55,341 per annum, and the allowance for incidental expenses, £6,552; making the total cost of maintenance £81,893.

An important feature of the educational system in the North Canterbury district is the Normal School. This institution was opened on the 19th February, 1887, and has proved highly successful, There are now in our schools upwards of 240 teachers who have been trained in the Christchurch Normal school, while of 45 other ex-students who have retired from the service the great majority had previously done some years of useful work.

A valuable link between the primary and secondary schools is supplied by the scholarships, of which the Board of Education every year offers seventeen for competition, open to boys and girls attending the Board's schools and tenable for two years at any of the public high schools within the district. The large competition shows how well these scholarships are appreciated. Since 1866, when they first offered, 244 scholarships have been awarded, and the number of individual holders is 176. The practical usefulness of the scholarships is strikingly shown by the results. Aided by them a great many pupils of primary schools have been able to obtain the advantage of the superior instruction, and pass on to the University, where many of them have gained high distinction.