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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Technical Education

page 35

Technical Education.

One or two extracts from the Essex Herald of May, 1891, may help to convince the reader what an important question that of technical education is becoming:—

"Technical Education in Rural Parishes.

"Sir,—It will be in the recollection of your readers who are interested in technical education—already a numerous class—that the provisional scheme submitted at the last meeting of the County Council left to each urban authority the responsibility and privilege of administering its share of the money to be spent in the county for this purpose under the provisions of the Technical Institutions Act, such grants to be based on 1d. in the pound of assessment. Local self-government was the key-note of the scheme. It is now suggested that this principle should be extended to the rural parishes as well. Thus, if this proposal is carried at the next meeting of the Council—and there is little doubt that it will be—it will be in the power of each parish to provide its own scheme of technical education according to its needs, subject to the approval of the Council. The amount in many cases would be so small that probably when convenient and possible a better scheme will be produced if one or more parishes combine together for this purpose. It is at the request of some of my colleagues that I venture to publish this proposal, and to anticipate the decision of the Council, because it is of the greatest importance, if anything is to be done this year, that the parishes should lose no time in turning their attention to this matter and considering their scheme. Eight hundred copies of the scheme as it at present stands were sent out last week to clerks of Guardians for distribution among their Boards. There ought therefore to be by this time a copy in every parish in the county. More can be had by sending a post-card to the Technical Institutions Committee, 35, New Bond Street, London, E.C.

"E. N. Buxton."

"Free Education.

"Sir,—As in a paragraph in your issue of the 8th instant you mention me as entertaining objections to the principle of free education, I hope you will allow me to say that, instead of that being so, I am a supporter of free education in its widest sense. What I page 36 object to is that free education should be given only to those attending Board Schools. What I maintain is that free education should be given to children, and that that education should embrace such technical and other education as would enable, or at least materially help, the children to pursue some calling, and that the girls should one and all of them be taught cooking, a knowledge of which is of the utmost importance to the wives of working-men. This education is, to my mind, of far greater importance than what is taught in the higher standards. What should be aimed at is a practical education of all, instead of only a portion of the children.

"J. Theobald.

"House of Commons,

Sir George Grey, addressing a public meeting in Wellington, said our present system of education was only what he might term partially educating the man—that was, what he might term the mental part, leaving the bodily part entirely uneducated, except so far as athletic exercises were concerned.

Mr. W. L. Rees, M.H.R., addressing a public meeting in Auckland; shortly after his return visit to England in 1890, said there were fourteen hundred thousand less labourers in England at the present day than there were a few years ago. In answer to a question, he said no doubt this could be traced to our present system of education.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on our system of education in July, 1891, Mr. Rees says hundreds and thousands of boys and girls go through school, and have learned no trade; and at the age of fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen, when they leave school, they have to begin to learn a trade to earn their bread, whereas, if between the ages of ten and fifteen they were taught technically in different branches of practical education, then they could go forth somewhat fitted to become breadwinners.

At an interview with the Hon. Mr. Ballance the writer asked this question: "Do you not think the day is fast approaching when Government will find it as absolutely necessary to compel children to receive such technical education as will enable them to earn their own maintenance as it is for Government to compel them to receive mental education?" The answer came at once, "Undoubtedly I do; and had I the power I would bring it in force to-morrow."

I have quoted different authors and statesmen on technical education in order to show the reader the thoughts and doings of the present age. And what an age it is!—towns and cities overcrowded, the country and the soil neglected; and why is this so? Can it not be traced to our present system of education? As Mr. Rees says, Boys and girls go through school, leaving school at the age of fourteen or fifteen, then they have to begin to earn their bread, and they will not leave the towns, and girls are filling the places of boys and boys the places of men.

An article in the New Zealand Herald of the 26th April, 1893, headed "State Farms; Unemployed Settlement Scheme," shows page 37 that the Government have 10,000 acres upon which they are going to experiment. It is to be let to bushfelling parties, but none but strong able-bodied men will be accepted. So that even the Government ignore the aged or middle-aged men, who must of necessity become paupers if a home is not provided whereby they can earn their own maintenance. The late Hon. Mr. Ballance, when Premier, speaking upon this subject in the House of Representatives, in August, 1891, said, "I contend that it is the duty of the State to provide a home for the aged and needy—a home not like the workhouses in England, which might be termed workhouse gaols, but a home where they might spend the remainder of their days somewhat in peace and comfort." I am sorry to see no step has yet been taken in that direction, but everything is being done for the strong able-bodied man who ought to be able to do for himself. It is evident that no great social reform such as I have tried to bring before the people can be carried, except in a regular systematical manner; and no individual could lay down a great plan of reform such as this that would be perfect from its inception. If perfection is to be attained, it must be by progression. I would suggest that no intoxicating liquor be allowed to be sold within a certain radius of such State settlements. It would be the duty of a Government to draw up a code of rules and regulations for all connected with such farms, and to fix it in a position where all might see and know them. If the reader will allow that the State has a right to provide for all who are unable to provide for themselves, and give me credit for being in earnest in my endeavour to show the way this can be accomplished, and urge it upon the Government, my labour will not have been in vain.

For every evil under the sun
There is a remedy or there is none:
If there be one, try and find it;
If there be none, never mind it.