The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
Public Education in New Zealand
Public Education in New Zealand.
It has not been the custom hitherto for the Minister of Education to make any formal statement about the working of his department. Seeing, however, the natural and gradual increase Of the vote for education in proportion to the increase of population, and the need there is in every country of taking care that the lines on which the State aid to education is granted are such as commend themselves to the community, I have thought it proper to make a short statement about the educational position of this colony. I do not think there is any need of apology for my doing so. It is considered the duty of other Ministers with respect to their several departments to report to the House, outside of the official departmental reports, what has been accomplished during the recess, and also, if necessary, to indicate what reforms may be made in the departments under their control. There is no department so important as that of Education. A railway here or there may be of importance to some particular districts, but if it be not made, or even if it should be made in the wrong place, these things can be repaired; but the days of granting education to youth are limited, and, once passed, they cannot be recovered. If, then, our children are not obtaining a proper education, we, as a State, are guilty of great neglect. We are preventing them from making the best possible of their life in the future. I have thought it best, in order that members may have a full view of all that the colony is doing for education, to divide what I have to say under several heads. I propose, first, to show what our educa- page 4 tional machinery is, and what the State does for higher, secondary, and primary education. I then propose to point out what reforms are being made, and in what direction I think there is need of further reform. I also intend to refer to what the State is doing in the way of museums and scientific instruction, and I shall also speak of the Native schools, the school for the deaf-mutes, and the State industrial schools. Having shown what the State is doing, I shall then point out some reasons why I think that State interference with education should not at present cease, and why Parliament should pass heartily the sums that are asked for the continuance of our system.
And first as to our educational machinery, I would point out that, unlike that of other colonies, and of the Mother-country, our central Education Department is of a very limited character. Even in England, where it has been said that there is no such thing as State education but only State aid to schools, there is a larger central staff proportionately to the population than we have. In New Zealand there are only the Secretary to the Education Department, the Inspector-General of Schools, three clerks, and three cadets. The Native schools, being directly under the control of the Education Department, have an organizing Inspector, but the staff I have mentioned is all that the central Government has for the distribution of the large sums of money placed under its control, and to aid the Minister in dealing with university, secondary, and primary education, and Native and industrial schools. It will be seen, therefore, that the administration of education is left almost entirely to local management.
Coming to the university—the New Zealand University was first established by Act in 1870. That Act might well be termed tentative in its nature : little was done under it, and it was not until 1874 that the present New Zealand University was reconstitutcd, and really came into life. In its management the State has very little voice. There arc two bodies, the Senate and the Convocation. The Senate consists of twenty-four Fellows; one-half are elected by page 5 the graduates, and the other half by the Senate itself. The Convoeation consists of the graduates above the degree of Bachelor, and all Bachelors of two years' standing. These two Courts have the control of the University. The Governor in Council has a vetoing power, because every election to the Senate is subject to his approval, and statutes and regulations have to be approved and sanctioned by him before they become operative, and the Governor is also the Visitor of the University, having the powers that Visitors of such institutions possess. But, further than this, the Government cannot interfere. I am not proposing to meddle with the university, but I think it is to be regretted that there should not have been some provision for more direct Governmental control in the management of the highest education of the State. A fund placed by the State at the disposal of the university consists of the sum of three thousand pounds a year, paid out of the Consolidated Fund. The reserves that have been set apart throughout the colony for university purposes have been localized, except what are called the Colonial University reserves at Auckland, which it is proposed to deal with this session; and Colonial University reserves of 10,000 acres in Taranaki, 4,000 acres in the Waitotara district, 30 acres in Westland. With this exception the reserves belong to the separate institutions which perform the teaching functions of a university in the various districts. The New Zealand University is strictly an examining institution : it confers degrees, but it has no teachers in its employment. The teaching part of the university work is done by affiliated institutions. At present they are as follows : The Otago University at Dunedin, the Canterbury College in Christchurch, the Auckland University College in Auckland, the Nelson College at Nelson, and St. John's College, Auckland.
Over some of these institutions the Government has considerable control; for example, the Otago University Council, that has the management of the Otago University, page 6 is wholly appointed by the Governor; in Auckland, three members (for the present six) of the Council of the Auckland University College are appointed by the Governor, who also appoints the members of the governing body of Nelson College. With regard to the Canterbury College, however, when vacancies arise in the managing body of the college, members are appointed by the graduates of the New Zealand University on the books of the college, so that, so far as it is concerned, the State has no voice in its management. St. John's College, Auckland, is a Church of England institution. These various affiliated institutions perform, as I have already said, the teaching work of the University, and in some of them there is ample provision made for giving a high-class university education. In Auckland there are four Professors, filling the following chairs: 1. Classics and English; 2. Mathematics; 3. Chemistry and Experimental Physics; 4. Natural Science.
In Canterbury College there are six Professors (for classics, English language and literature, mathematics and natural philosophy, chemistry and physics, geology and palaeontology, and biology), and lecturers on modem languages and jurisprudence.
In Otago University there are eight Professors (for classics, English constitutional history and political economy, mathematics and natural philosophy, chemistry, mental and moral philosophy, biology, anatomy and physio-logy, and mining and mineralogy), and nine lecturers on law, French, German, surgery, materia medica, practice of medicine, pathology, midwifery and medical jurisprudence and public health.
The other institutions are not so well provided with teachers. These affiliated institutions are maintained as follows : Auckland has a grant of £4,000 a year from the General Government. Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago are maintained by revenues from reserves, fees, endowments, &c.
It is not necessary for me to dwell at present on the need of university education for New Zealand. I shall page 7 refer to this before I finish my sketch of our educational work. I may say, however, that I have had statistics prepared to show the results of our university education, and I-think they may he said to he extremely gratifying. I will not repeat what members perhaps are aware of—the results in previous years—but I may take for example simply what happened at the last degree-capping at the Edinburgh University. I find that the New Zealand youths stood exceedingly high. Mr. Jeffcoat, of Dunedin, a B.A. of the New Zealand University, took senior first-class honours and medals in materia medica and general pathology. His position in materia medica was first out of eight who succeeded, and his position in general pathology was the highest. Mr. Lindsay, another New Zealand B.A. trained in the Otago University, took first-class honours in materia medica, and the fourth position amongst the eight who succeeded. He took first-class honours, junior division, at general pathology, fifth out of eighteen that succeeded. He took a second-class certificate in clinical surgery, the twelfth out of forty-eight who were successful. I find others who have had the benefits of university education in New Zealand also standing high. Mr. Fleming took second-class honours in practical physiology, being the first out of six who were successful. He took the same class honours in general pathology, the twenty-eighth out of sixty-seven who were successful, and the same in clinical surgery, fortieth out of forty-eight. Mr. McKenzie took senior first-class honours in the practice of physic, being the sixth out of thirteen who succeeded. Mr. Allan took junior second-class honours in general pathology; he also took the same in the Institutes of Medicine, and the same in clinical surgery. Other New Zealand youths have also distinguished themselves. Mr. Robertson took first-class honours, senior division, in surgery, the highest out of eight who were successful; and Mr. Borth-wick took first-class honours and the medal in the junior division in the Institutes of Medicine, being third out of seventeen who were successful, and second-class honours in page 8 practical physiology. Mr. Westenra took senior division second-class honours in surgery. Mr, King took junior division honours in the practice of physic. Mr. Williams took junior division second-class honours in the practice of physic. Mr. Hawkes took second-class honours in general pathology. Three competitions have been held in New Zealand for the Gilchrist Scholarship of £100 a year, the test examination being the same as that undergone by candidates for matriculation at the University of London. At the competition in 1880 the scholarship was gained with much credit by Mr. Herbert, B.A., of Canterbury College, who was a master in Napier High School. Three candidates offered themselves for examination in 1882, when the successful competitor was Mr. Salmond, M.A., of Otago University, who was placed by the London examiners "equal with the first candidate in the original honours list" of all that were examined for matriculation by the London University in June, 1882. Mr. Salmond has just terminated his second years' attendance at the London University College. At the close of his first year's course he took the first prize in the classes he attended. He passed the intermediate examination in Laws at London University in first-class honours (being the first of two who gained this distinction among eighty competitors), and obtained the exhibition of £40 a year for two years. At the third examination in July last year there were five competitors : three from Canterbury College, one from Auckland University College, and one, a lady, from Otago University. The successful candidate was Mr. Inglis, B.A., of Canterbury College, who took a high place in the "honours division"; while three competitors, including the lady candidate, took good positions in the "first division," and one failed. Were I to look at the records of other Home universities, where others of our youths are who have been trained in New Zealand, it would be seen that they occupy good positions. I only mention this incidentally, for the purpose of showing that our university institutions and schools are doing good work, and that page 9 colonial youths, if opportunities are given to them, can acquit themselves as well as those who hail from the Parent-country.
So far as secondary education is concerned, there arc in New Zealand the following secondary schools, viz.: Auckland College and Grammar School, Auckland Girls' High School, Thames High School (for boys and girls), New Plymouth High School (for boys and girls), Wanganui Endowed School, Wellington College, Wellington Girls' High School, Napier Boys' High School, Napier Girls' High School, Nelson College, Nelson Girls' College, Christ's College Grammar School, Christchurch, Christchurch Boys' High School, Christchurch Girls' High School; Rangiora High School (for boys and girls), Akaroa High School (for boys and girls), Ashburton High School (for boys and girls), Timaru High School (for boys and girls), Waitaki High School, Otago Boys' High Sehool, Otago Girls' High School, Southland Boys' High School, and Southland Girls' High School. All these are in full operation. The following have been constituted by Acts of the Legislature, but have not yet begun work : Wanganui High School, Greymouth High School, Hokitika High School, and Wai-mate High School. The Whangarei High School is closed for the present, but it is proposed in the Forest Bill now before the House to reconstitute it as a forestry and agricultural school. The Board, of the Hokitika High School is taking steps to begin work, and with every hope of success.
Of these, the following received assistance directly out of the Consolidated Fund last year : Auckland Girls' High School, £1,000; New Plymouth High School, £200; Wellington College, £150; Wellington Girls' High School, £350; Nelson Girls' College, £500; Christchurch Girls' High School, £200; Timaru High School, £400; and Waitaki High School, £500 : the total amount voted being £3,300.
The others, which did not receive assistance, have been endowed with land and money from the Crown, from page 10 associations, and from private individuals. The Inspector-General of Schools has authority to inspect most of these schools, and he has done so, and his report will be submitted to you. When the Education Act was being passed in this House, I doubted the wisdom of divorcing the secondary from the primary schools. I then thought that they might have been controlled by the same Boards of Management, and that the functions of the Boards might have been so defined by statute that there would have been no danger of funds belonging to secondary schools being taken for primary schools, or of funds belonging to primary schools being taken for secondary. However, Parliament thought otherwise; and hence arose the need of having separate Boards to deal with the secondary schools in the several districts. On many of the Boards the Government have representatives, that is, several members are appointed by the Government for varying terms of years. The Government appoints two members of the Board of each of the following institutions : Whangarei, Ashburton, Greymouth, Waitaki, Otago, and Invercargill High Schools; one member of the Board of each of the High Schools at Napier, Timaru, and Hokitika; three members of the Thames High School Board; and four members of the Wellington College Board. The Governor of the colony, in his capacity of Visitor, appoints all the nine members of the Nelson College Board. Independently, then, of the general inspection by the Inspector-General of Schools, the Government has some voice in the management of the secondary schools; for it has the power of appointing members of the managing bodies. The Government has however, no direct control over them; it cannot prescribe their courses of study, nor can it interfere with their internal management, nor can it even provide that their course of tuition shall stand in a proper relation to that of the primary schools or of the university. This, I think, is to be regretted. However, it may not be expedient at present to interfere with their course of instruction. I intend, however, to state presently what the Education Department has page 11 done in making suggestions to them regarding a part of education that has been much neglected in the past.
I now come to the primary schools, still dealing only with what may be termed the machinery of the Act. I have already described the constitution of the central department. We have thirteen Education Boards, which have the general management of education in their districts; and for each school district there is a School Committee, elected annually by householders and parents of children. There is rarely more than one school in each district. The cumulative-voting principle is applicable to the election of these Committees, and, speaking from experience extending over seven years, I think it can be said that the Act in this respect has worked well. No doubt, in small districts and at small meetings, it may have happened that men alto-gether unfit to have the administration of educational affairs have occasionally been put on Committees, but I do not think that any permanent, or even any slight, injury has been inflicted on education by the election of one or two men of this kind. The Committees take considerable interest in the educational affairs of their own districts. The Boards are elected by the School Committees. Each Board consists of nine members, and three retire annually; and, on the whole, I think the colony is to be congratulated on the men who have undertaken the arduous, and often thankless, task of doing Education Board duty. Throughout the colony I believe the Boards have striven to carry out the provisions of the Act; and, though there have been misunderstandings between the Boards and some of the Committees in almost all the districts, yet the Boards have done good work, and raised the standard of education. The Boards have the appointment of the head masters and assistant teachers, and, most Boards have, I think wisely, consulted the Committees before appointments were made, and, except in very rare instances, have deferred to the opinion of the Committees in the appointment of teachers. The power of the dismissal of teachers virtually rests with the Boards, and no doubt the advantage of that has been page 12 that the teacher's position has been more secure than it was before the new Education Act came into force. The chance of a good teacher obtaining promotion is now better than under the old systems; for formerly Committees were allowed the power of appointment and dismissal.
The aid annually granted by the State to the primary schools is at the rate of £4 for every child in average daily attendance; this is made up of the statutory vote of £3 15s., and a special grant of 5s., that has been voted for the last three years. There is also a grant of Is. 6d. a head for the maintenance of scholarships to the secondary schools. In addition to the capitation grants the following sums are voted : £4,000 for distribution among the several Education Boards, to assist them in making sufficient provision for the inspection of the schools; and £8,000 for the maintenance of the training colleges for teachers at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Special grants are also made for school buildings, and for the purchase and improvement of sites and playgrounds. Of course, as the number of children increases, these grants must yearly increase. I think, however, that as population increases the Boards should be able to economize in their management. It is well known that it is cheaper to teach a large school than a small school—I mean relatively to the number of the children. I hope the time may come when the extra 5s. which has been granted for the last three years may be dispensed with. The reason why I mention this is, not that I personally think we are now, even with this extra sum, paying too much for education, but I know that our education system has many enemies, and that the question of expense will be fastened on as one objection to it. The Boards and Committees who really desire to see the State-education system maintained efficiently should do what they can to aid the department in reducing expenditure, so far as is consistent with efficiency. There are under the thirteen Boards 976 primary schools, and eleven district high schools, that is, schools combining some page 13 secondary school-work with primary teaching. These have 1,657 teachers, 790 pupil-teachers, and 161 sewing mistresses; and the current cost is £313,316, being at the rate of £4 3s. 2¼d. each for 75,391 pupils in average attendance, or £3 4s. 9½d. each for 96,840 pupils on the rolls. The expenditure on school buildings for last year was £49,679, or at the rate of 13s. 2¼d. for each scholar in average attendance, and 10s. 3d. per pupil on the rolls.
The department also gives aid to normal schools—schools providing for the training of teachers. Every district has a pupil-teacher system, and, valuable as is this system for the training of teachers, it has been rightly felt that there should be some training college to which pupil-teachers might go for the perfecting of their studies in teaching. There are training colleges or normal schools at Auckland, at Wellington, at Christchurch, and at Dunedin, and no doubt as other districts increase they may be able to establish similar institutions. At present, four are, I think, sufficient for the wants of the colony. The students in the normal schools at Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin have the opportunity of attending the university college lectures. Those in Wel-lington have not had the same advantages in this respect, but the Wellington Board has done what it could to make up for the want of university teaching. Classes in science have been formed, and steps have been taken to render the teaching of the students as effective as possible.
This, then, briefly stated, is the machinery of our State-education system. I may be asked, What has been the result? It is impossible to accurately guage the result of an education system in seven years, or even in fourteen or twenty-one years. There are signs, however, that our education system is doing excellent work. It is perhaps not necessary for me to refer to the number of our university students as compared with our population. I believe, however, that we show as many real university students for our population as any country in the world; and, though our primary-school system is not equal to page 14 that of some other countries, it is gradually improving, and, with some alterations that I propose to make, it will still further improve. There is one thing that may be taken as some test of what education is doing for the colony, and that is, the number of teachers who have been trained in New Zealand, and are now teaching in our schools, excluding pupil-teachers. I have the statistics of all the schools in the colony save about ninety, and I find that in these schools there are altogether 1,550 teachers, and of these 1,034 were trained in New Zealand, of whom there were 338 who were born in New Zealand, 307 who though born elsewhere have been educated from boyhood or girlhood in New Zealand, and 389 who were mainly educated out of the colony, but first became teachers after their arrival in New Zealand. One hundred and eleven teachers of primary schools were trained in Australia, 392 in Great Britain and Ireland, and thirteen elsewhere. In our secondary schools we have, out of 139 teachers, twenty-nine who were born in New Zealand; twenty who have been trained from early youth in New Zealand, though bom elsewhere; twenty-two who were trained as teachers in New Zealand, though mainly educated out of the colony; nine Australian teachers; fifty-seven from Great Britain and Ireland; and two educated elsewhere. I have also some statistics of those who have been educated in the colony who have obtained positions in our various professions and in our mercantile houses and in our Government offices, and it is surprising to see the number of native-trained youths who have distinguished themselves in every department as professional men, as merchants, as manufacturers, and in the Government service.
And now as to the weaknesses of our system. It seems to me that it has been weak in three respects. First, there has not been a proper gradation between the primary and secondary schools; secondly, there has been more attention paid to the literary part of education than to the scientific; and, thirdly, technical instruction has been almost entirely ignored. Reforms in education, however, like reforms in page 15 everything else, must come slowly; and it is impossible for any Minister for Education to do at once all that he thinks ought to be done to make an education system com-plete. So far as the gradation between the primary and secondary schools is concerned, existing defects can only be remedied as population grows denser. I hope, however, that in the chief towns of the colony, without waiting for a great increase of population, some effort will at once be made to prevent the attendance of too young children in our high or grammar schools. I think that there ought to be no admission into a high or grammar school until, at all events, the Fourth Standard of the primary schools has been passed. There are difficulties in laying down such a rule. One difficulty is, that there is no provision for giving the first rudiments of a high literary or classical education in our primary schools, and that children who have passed the Fourth Standard, beginning the study of Latin, or French, or German somewhat late, may be placed at a disadvantage compared with those who, having less knowledge of English, may have begun the study of these foreign languages earlier. I see reason to hope, however, that the Fourth Standard may be passed by children at an earlier age on the average than at present; and that, by grounding the children well in the earlier standards, and teaching them scientifically, this may be accomplished without any cry of over-pressure. I only suggest a stricter examination; but I am firmly convinced that much of the hostility manifested towards the secondary schools has arisen from the fact that the secondary schools have been for many children mere elementary schools, so that there seemed to be some reason to complain that the high schools were not real high schools in the true sense of the term. Of course, there is always another side to a question, and the other side of this question, from the high-school point of view, is this : that the younger children pay large fees for the elementary teaching they receive, and that the high school is thus enabled to give education in the higher branches at a cheap rate, so that page 16 the authorities may say: "If you have such a strict examination as you suggest, we shall be unable to teach the higher branches with our present revenues, and the State must supplement them." This, no doubt, is a difficulty, especially when every pound paid for higher education is grudged by many in this community. I therefore think that, before much can be accomplished in the direction of doing away with elementary teaching in secondary schools, population must become more dense, and that the standards for primary schools must be slightly altered, so that their pupils can more easily change from a primary to a secondary school.
The second point is scientific education. We have brought with us to our colony the idea that our fathers had about high-class education, and their idea was that a high-class education must be a literary education, an acquaintance with languages, an acquaintance with the literature of ancient peoples, an acquaintance with philosophy. In these days scientific education has taken great strides, and everywhere throughout the world efforts are being made to teach science in such a way that, independently of the information it contains, it may afford a mental gymnastic equal in value with that which is supplied by the study of any classical language. The University of New Zealand has wisely recognised this, and so have the affiliated colleges, though the recognition can only take practical shape to the extent allowed by their revenues. Considerable stress has for some time been placed upon scientific attainments, and now persons may obtain degrees in science without having passed in more than two languages, and one of the languages maybe English and the other French or German or Italian. The pass for a Bachelor of Science is as follows : Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and any two out of the five following subjects : Latin, Greek, English, modern languages, mental science. A candidate can both matriculate and afterwards proceed to the B.Sc. degree without any knowledge of the classics.
I am also glad to state that in the secondary schools page 17 considerable advance bas been made in providing for scientific education. Several of them have science masters, and all of them are doing something to teach science.
When I give an account of the alterations I have made in the standards, I shall point out what position science is to occupy in the primary schools.
I shall now deal with technical education. Something has been done in this direction. Let me, however, state that the phrase "technical education" is often misunderstood. No school can so equip any youth for the trade he intends to follow as to render an appprenticeship unnecessary. Our schools cannot be utilized—neither our primary nor secondary schools—for direct training for special trades. The workshop, after all, must be the school for the mechanic. All that we can hope to do in primary or secondary schools is to so teach a boy the theory applicable to any trade that the practice may become easy to him, and also to so train him that he may have a bias towards industry. The training may, perhaps, include, where circumstances will permit, some practical exercises in the handling of tools. Believing in the great advantages of technical education to this colony as likely to promote the development of our manufacturing, our mining, and our agricultural pursuits, I addressed, through the department, a letter to the various secondary schools in this colony, a copy of which will be found annexed to the report of the Education Department laid on the table of the House. I am glad to state that this letter has met with hearty response from almost all the schools, and efforts have been made to establish technical and science classes. I have not time to refer specially to what has been done in the various districts, but it is certain that much will be accomplished in future years. It is not necessary that I should now defend technical education. This I may lay down as an axiom, that the more numerous the manufactures of a country are, the higher will be the intelligence of its inhabitants; and manufactures cannot be properly developed till more attention is paid to technical education.page 18
I now come to deal with the standards of the primary schools; for, after all, it is to the primary schools we must mainly look for the education of the people of the colony. There are only a few that can afford to finish their education at the secondary schools, and fewer still that can afford the time to obtain a university education. I shall not weary you by going over the standards, especially as members will have an opportunity of seeing the old standards and the present standards, and of comparing them. I shall point out what my aim has been in altering them. I found that the objections to the standards were various. One main objection, and one which it is always difficult to overcome, is that, in order to conduct even the small schools in the country districts, there must be a large number of classes. Suppose there are six standards, there will require to be more than six classes, because there are usually some children not yet able to undertake even the work of the First Standard, and some of these classes have to be instructed in geography, history, and grammar; and, if it was impossible for a single teacher do all this work, what then was to be done? I have so arranged the standards that a teacher will be able in country schools to reduce the number of his classes. I have divided the subjects to be taught in the schools under three heads : they are the compulsory subjects, the class-subjects, and the additional. Compulsory subjects, of course, are those in which no child who does not pass individually can obtain a certificate for the standard. The class-subjects are to be examined in class, and the Inspector is to report as to how the children acquit themselves. In the additional subjects there must be some elasticity allowed : some schools may not be able to undertake them. By making history a class-subject and not a pass-subject, and by making the geography for the pass of an elementary kind, and treating geography as a class-subject, except in Standards III. and V., I have, I hope, made it possible for teachers of small schools to get rid of many disadvantages under which they now labour, and rendered it very unlikely page 19 that any reasonable critic will say that the children are made to suffer from over-pressure. In order, however, to provide for the teaching of technical science something must be done in the primary schools. What, then, can be done? Following the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners on technical instruction, who reported last year to the British Government, I have included drawing as one of the compulsory subjects. Drawing is of very great importance to most of our trades; the carpenter, the builder, the engineer, the cabinetmaker, the pattern-maker, the manufacturer, the dressmaker—almost all—require to know drawing. It is, in fact, the first step in technical education, and I propose that it shall be compulsory in all the standards. I shall not expect that the pass will be high, and I shall not seek to enforce this compulsory subject in the higher standards at once. I know that there are many good teachers throughout the colony who do not know how to teach drawing, because they have never been trained, and that is one of the difficulties under which the education system must labour for many years to come. I intend, however, by the adoption of drawing copy-books, and by only requiring at first what may be termed an elementary pass, to lay the lines for the development of drawing, it being, as I have said, the basis of all technical-science education. Then I propose that attention shall be paid to elementary science, and I believe that elementary science can be taught, not from text-books, but orally by the teachers, and that it should be taught to our children from their earliest years, and without any technical names : geology could be called earth-knowledge; botany, plant-knowledge, and so on. And the principles of mechanics could be taught without text-books, by means of object-lessons. In schools in the country I think the teachers should be able to give a special bias towards agriculture, and in schools in the various town districts a special bias may be given towards those manufactures that have been, or are likely to be, established in those towns. This is the system that is practised in many parts of the Conti- page 20 nent of Europe with very happy results. With the aid of drawing we may hope to see our manufactures become more artistic. Defect in this respect, as has been pointed out by the Commissioners on Technical Education, has been the great drawback to the manufactures of the English workman : for sound workmanship he is not to be excelled by any foreign workman, but he has lacked the artistic finish and touch of many continental manufacturers.
With this altered syllabus I believe our schools will be made more efficient; I believe they will be made practical; and I believe that the mental training of the children will be as well looked after as it is now.
I may say, before I pass to another point, that I entertain the hope that, perhaps from private munificence, if not from Government aid, we may see established, at all events in each large centre, some working school where the handling of tools may be taught to the children, if only for an hour or two a week. I regret that with the means allowed us for education we cannot at present give any aid in this work.
I must say something about our Native schools. I think, without casting any reflection on the past administration of Native schools, I may state that it is only in recent years that the Native schools have been doing really effective work, and I believe that the colony is greatly indebted to the efforts of Mr. Pope, the Organizing Inspector. He has entered into his work with great enthusiasm, and I am glad to say that almost everywhere throughout the colony his efforts have been successful, and that many Maori schools are now a credit to us, and equal to some of our primary schools where white children are taught. We have sixty-five Native village schools, in charge of 115 teachers and work mistresses, and the cost including buildings was about £15,500 last year. I hope that no one will grudge this expense. The Maoris, in providing for their own education, have been most generous; they invariably give their sites free—in this respect they are sometimes more generous than page 21 Europeans; and they gave in the past large tracts of land to be held in trust for the education of their children. I regret to say that, in some cases, their reserves have not been utilized for the purposes for which they were set apart. The Native Committees, who have a share in the management of the schools, have paid a very large amount of attention to them, looking after them most carefully. Of course, there are places where the attendance has fallen away and the schools declined; but, on the whole, Native schools are in a flourishing position and are doing excellent work.
Looking over the reports of the Inspector, and comparing the work with that done in European schools, one sees that with proper educational opportunities the Maori race will not be far behind us. I have seen letters of their own composition written by Maori children, I have seen work done by them, of all kinds, equal in many respects to that done by Europeans; and, seeing that we have a great responsibility in dealing with the Maoris, in providing for their future, I only regret that many years ago similar efforts were not made for the training of Maori children. There are 2,226 attending the schools, of whom 1,834 are Maoris, half-castes, or between Maori and half-castes, and these numbers show a great increase, notwithstanding the decrease of the race. We have also about eighty Maori children in boarding institutions, where they are trained in European habits and ideas, and a large proportion of them are receiving instruction in the higher subjects. We are using the Native schools as a means of teaching the Maoris the elements of sanitary science and social economy. A text-book, "Health for the Maori," has been published in English and Maori, and Mr. Pope is preparing one on Social Economy. We also send the schools useful seeds and plants, with pamphlets showing how to cultivate them. I shall, with leave of the House, lay one on the table dealing with this subject, to show the kind of work we are attempting.
The other schools that are under the Education Department are termed industrial schools. We have insti- page 22 tutions dircctly under our control in Auckland (at Newton and Koliimarama), at Burnham in Canterbury, and at Caversham in Otago. In connection with these three institutions there were the following children at the close of last year : Resident in the schools, 432; boarded with foster-parents, 384 : making a total of 816 maintained at the expense of the State. There were also 347 children at service or with friends, although still under the legal protection of the managers of the schools. There is also an industrial school and orphanage at the Thames, supported by the Government, but under the management of a local committee, in connection with which there were at the end of the year seventeen committed children, five of whom were at service or with friends. Members are aware that there are also what may be termed private institutions to which children are sent, for whom we pay, as a rule, about seven shillings per week. These are, St. Mary's School in Auckland, St. Joseph's in Wellington, and St. Mary's in Nelson. These institutions are Roman Catholic.
At the end of last year there were 1,446 children of all classes connected with our industrial schools. I have personally visited the schools in Auckland (the St. Mary's, the Kohimarama, and the Howe Street Home), the schools at Nelson, and those at Burnham and Caversham, and I was pleased generally with what I saw. We have in connection with our industrial schools the boarding-out system established, which, shortly, is this : the children are boarded out, we pay seven shillings a week for their board, and, if they are of suitable age, they attend the nearest school. At present 392 children, out of the 1,446, are under this system. These children are under the guardianship of the managers of the industrial schools in their respective districts. In addition to this, we have a lady Official Correspondent at Auckland, at Christchurch, and at Dunedin, and ladies who statedly visit the children. I am glad to state that these ladies out of love for the children visit them in their homes, and pay attention to page 23 their wants; and here I would specially thank them for what they have done during the past years. Any one who chooses to read over the reports that they furnish monthly to the department will see the care and trouble they take.
The children committed under the industrial-school system are of three kinds : children who themselves have done wrong, and children who were in destitute circumstances, or whose parents have either done wrong or neglected them. The total number committed under the Act last year was 313, who may be classified as follows : Destitute, 195; vagrant, 11; residing in disreputable houses, 23; uncontrollable, 27; guilty of punishable offences, 37; committed by agreement with the parents, 20.
It is not for me perhaps to state what the result of this industrial-school system has been; I will only say this, that it has exceeded what might have been expected of it. Of course every child does not turn out well, nor does every child trained in the primary or secondary schools, but I believe that the proportion in industrial schools who succeed is just as great as in other schools. I have known instances of children whose parents were criminal, low, and degraded, who have, through being taken in time and placed in our industrial schools, turned out good members of society. Cases of this kind have come before me almost every week since I have been Minister of Education.
When these children are able to work they are placed out to service, and some are apprenticed to trades. Their earnings, after deduction of cost of clothing and other necessaries, are placed to their credit in the Savings Bank, and the several amounts are refunded to them on their reaching manhood or womanhood in the event of their conduct proving satisfactory. It is not an unusual thing for the girls to receive their money as a marriage portion, and the boys on their satisfying the Minister of Education that the money will be applied to some good use, such as the purchase of a house or land, or beginning business. A great number of children have thus got a start in life, page 24 and I have been delighted to see from the reports I have received from officers of the department that many children who, if not taken any charge of by the State and placed in industrial schools, would, in all probability, have grown up to be criminals and a plague to society, have been made good citizens and are getting on well in the world. The number of such instances is surprising, and what the State has to face is really this : whether it is not better to take the children when young and impressionable and give them a good moral education, than to allow them to grow up criminals, and thus cost society far more than their education costs. But here I might say one word in reference to the cause of so many children being in the industrial schools. The statistics show that it is mainly the fault of' the parents—drunken parents, criminal parents, parents who were leading immoral lives, parents who did not recognise parental duty—it is their children who crowd our industrial schools; and I believe there is need of some more stringent law to make parents who are criminal and neglectful do their duty, and I have asked the House this session to amend the Industrial Schools Act in this direction. There are great difficulties, no doubt, in dealing with industrial-school children : they require peculiar treatment. I am glad to see that, as a rule, masters in charge of the schools have done good work. It would be invidious to single out officers, but I may state that Mr. Titchener, the present manager of the Caversham Industrial School, has reformed many that were given up as unreformable. I need not mention the names—it is unfair to do so to youths who have now settled down and acted rightly—but several instances have come before me of lads, who have been given up as incorrigible, being reformed, and this not by harsh treatment but by kindness, adroitness, and firmness. I may here state that the amount of money in the Savings Bank to the credit of the children at the close of 1884 was £2,756, and that the amount withdrawn and paid to the young men and young women whose good conduct page 25 entitled them to their former earnings was last year £190.
In addition to the children committed to the industrial schools there were, at the close of last year, 159 destitute children, maintained out of the charitable-aid vote, in several orphanages which are under the inspection of the Education Department. There are orphanages at Lyttelton, Motueka, and Parnell. A year previously the number of such children was 202, so that there has been a diminution to the extent of 43 during the twelve months.
I must not omit to mention the very interesting work carried on at the Sumner Deaf-mute Institution, under the supervision of the Education Department. This institution is now attended by thirty-six pupils; seven of them are from Auckland; one from Taranaki, four from Wellington, one from Hawke's Bay, ten from Canterbury, and twelve from Otago. Among the pupils is a deaf mute girl, who has been sent from South Australia to enjoy the advantages offered by the school. The method of instruction is that known as the articulation method, by which deaf mutes are trained to the use of the organs of speech, and learn both to speak, in the ordinary sense of the word, and to understand from the motion of the lips the speech of others. No use is made of finger-signs or other means employed elsewhere as substitutes for speech. The course of instruction includes reading and writing in the first instance, followed by the other subjects of a good school education. The girls are, of course, also instructed in sewing, knitting, and other domestic accomplishments. The ability and zeal of the director, Mr. Van Asch, are worthy of high commendation, and he is well seconded by Mrs. Van Asch in promoting the welfare and comfort of the pupils. I have had the pleasure of visiting the school, and seeing the nature of the instruction given, and I must say that the results of Mr. Van Asch's labours are surprising and gratifying.
We have other educational institutions that are helped by the State. We have athenæums, and mechanics page 26 institutes, and public libraries. Generally speaking, the lending of books and the keeping open of reading-rooms are the main work performed by these institutions, though they bear different names : in few of them is provision made for lectures and classes. There are in some centres classes organized for teaching apprentices and others in the evening. Voluntary associations are doing this work in some centres of population—excellent work of this class has been done in Dunedin by the Caledonian Society—and Education Boards have provided drawing-classes and schools of art for many pupils. Our mechanics' institutes are, however, mainly libraries. Aid is given to public libraries, the one condition insisted upon being that the reading-room shall be open to the public without charge. Because of this restriction many libraries, including some of our largest, do not receive any part of the grant. Last year £4,000 was distributed amongst 385 libraries, and the local receipts of these libraries from donations and members' subscriptions were nearly £9,000. When I state that there is hardly a village without its library, it will be seen how advanced we are in this mode of providing instruction for our population. Indeed, I am tempted to give a few statistics to show the fondness for reading amongst our people. The value of books imported was last year £115,246. This does not include magazines, newspapers, &c., and books coming by post. Then, the number of newspapers published was 49 daily and 91 weekly, biweekly, and tri-weekly, and 32 others, making a total of 172, or one to every 3,281 of the population. In England and Wales the number was 1,962 newspapers, or 1 to every 13,828; in Ireland, 152 newspapers, or 1 to every 32,585; in Scotland, 184 newspapers, or 1 to every 21,013; and in the United States, 10,771 newspapers, or 1 to every 4,656 of the population.
Then, there is another means of educating the people—museums and art-galleries. So far as museums are concerned, we are in advance of the Australian Colonies. The Canterbury Museum excels those of Sydney and Melbourne, page 27 and in arrangement of exhibits for scientific purposes the Otago Museum is second to none I have seen. Our Wellington Museum is full of most interesting exhibits; its geological, palæontological, and mineralogical departments are especially fine : and it is to be deeply regretted that there is not a better and larger building in which the able officers in charge could show the exhibits to greater advan-tage. In Auckland there is also a museum, which, though smaller than those I have named, has very interesting exhibits. In art-galleries New Zealand is weak. Auckland will soon have a fine one; but little has been done in any other place. There are, however, art societies in Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, and, from the pictures exhibited, and the enthusiasm that is each year increasing amongst our young painters, I have n0 doubt we shall soon have art-galleries in the three cities I have named : a colony that can boast of a Gully, and a Richmond, and a Barraud that have painted its natural beauties should before long be well supplied with artists and art-galleries. This brief statement of what is being done with respect to museums and art-galleries necessarily leads me up to a question which has been brought prominently before the Education Department, and it is this : Should New Zealand have a Science and Art Department, such as is seen in London? And first I have to state that the separate scientific institutes, aided by the Colonial Institute, under Dr. Hector's able management, are to some extent doing this work. Honourable members are acquainted with the valuable and interesting volume published each year of this institute's transactions, and they see from time to time manuals and reports on scientific subjects issued from the Colonial Museum Department. But this is not all that has to be done by the present Colonial Museum Department. The Meteorological Department is under Dr. Hector, and his aid in looking after local industries is always valuable. In fact, to a considerable extent, the Colonial Museum acts as a science department. No doubt more could be done, but I am afraid page 28 if more were attempted the cost would be begrudged. No one can read the reports and scientific papers issued by this department without seeing that, as a science department, it is doing a great deal of useful work. Where, perhaps, it has been weak in the past has been in the comparatively small degree of attention paid to technical science. Geology, natural history, and meteorology have too exclusively occupied its attention. All that I think we can ask the Government to do is to maintain the present expenditure, and perhaps utilize the Museum Department, together with the proposed Forest Department, for better promoting the manufactures, and increasing the number, quality, and variety of our local productions. In this manner we may help forward our mining, our agriculture, our fruit-culture, our fisheries, and our manufactures; and I hope without additional cost. As to art, I doubt if the colony can at present afford to do much. We must leave this to private munificence. With drawing made compulsory in our schools, with the natural beauty and grandeur to be met with everywhere in New Zealand, we surely may expect to have many artists amongst our children and children's children. If we give sites for art-galleries, should not our wealthy colonists help? In Auckland, Mr. McKelvie, with rare munificence, has given many beautiful pictures, and it is stated that a large sum has been given by him for an art-gallery. When our colony gets older, we shall have others following his good example. We have not, as a colony, the wealth that can afford to start art-galleries in our chief towns—the needs of our practical, every-day life are too many and too incessant; but the time will soon come when no town of any size will be without its museum and its art-gallery, any more than its common school and theatre.
Before treating of the duty of the State towards education, I may mention incidentally, it being a matter that was referred to by question in the House last session, what has been done with reference to education in the Chatham page 29 Islands. In accordance with the promise that was given last year, one of our most experienced teachers has been sent to the Chatham Islands, and his letter of instructions will be found in the Education Report. I recognised that it was impossible to organize a school at once in a place like the Chatham Islands, but I requested him to see if he could not get half-or even quarter-time schools, so that, if possible, the whole of the children of the islands may be educated. I have received his first report, and it is very encouraging. He has started work, and is receiving assistance from both Natives and Europeans. We shall make arrangements for the establishing of a school at Te One, and for his visiting other parts of the island. I may here also state that arrangements have been made with the Education Board of Auckland for the establishing of a school at Kawhia.
I have to speak of the duty of the State with reference to education generally. I do so not because I believe that there is any desire on the part of the majority of the colonists for any alteration in what I may term the essentials of our Education Act, nor because I think there is any desire to do away with our university, or to destroy our secondary schools. I know, however, and members are aware, that our Education Act has been attacked from various sides. There are some who attack it because, they say, no religion is taught in the schools; there are others who think that the State should not interfere with education at all, but that education should be left to private enterprise or religious organizations; and there is another class who object to State education because of its expense to the State, and who say that the cost of education should be borne by the parents, just as the cost of food and clothing is borne by them; and there are some who object on all these grounds.
I think it is wise, in view of the opposition raised in some quarters to the Education Act, that I should state shortly what my view of the position of the State is in dealing with education; because, if members understand page 30 the position that I take up concerning it, they will understand the lines of administration that I propose for myself in conducting the department. I should wish it to be distinctly understood that in much that I am about to state I am simply expressing my own individual opinions. On the subject of education it is well known there are diverse views held by some of my colleagues. First, I at once admit that, in a possible ideal state of society, there would be no State schools. I believe that in some possible future time there will be no need of State schools, for parents and Others will have so recognised their duty to teach children that the State will not require to interfere; and I hope that, as civilization advances, the State functions will not increase, but become more limited. The future should be such that the individual is more and not less; but, as practical politicians, we have to do with the present, and we are met with the pressing question of education. Are our children to be brought up in ignorance, or are they to be educated? And when I say that no country in the world that can be termed civilized has been able to do without State aid to education in some form or other, the question really is, what form that aid shall take. There are some who are willing that aid should be given by the State to education, but they think that that aid should be given to private persons or to corporations or religious organizations, who will undertake to do all the teaching. Wherever that system is adopted the State has little control over the modes of education : all that it can do is to test the knowledge of the children at certain examinations.
I believe that the mode of teaching is of as much importance as what is taught, and that if children are trained to acquire knowledge in a proper way, even if the knowledge they acquire may appear small, they have been really educated. I do not think that the State is called upon to expend large sums of money in education if it is to surrender to any persons or corporations or organizations the control of the education of its youth. It is perhaps not necessary that I should state the reason why the State page 31 interferes with education at all. It may not be amiss, however, to repeat what have been termed the canons of a State education. One writer has said that the arguments for a State education may be stated somewhat as follows : First, that the first great right of the State is to exist and to perpetuate its own existence. Without this there could be no stability in Government and no such thing as social order. If this be granted, then, secondly, the State has a right to do whatever things will tend to preserve its own existence : one of these is to establish universal suffrage, as a recognition of individual rights, and as a necessary condition of its own existence. Thirdly, it must provide for universal intelligence and social morality, else universal suffrage will become a curse to the State. Fourthly, it must establish universal education as a necessary condition of universal intelligence and social morality. And, fifthly, in order to obtain universal education, it must have a system of public schools. And a recent writer has said that the true function of the State is to make the most of the citizen. This is its only inexhaustible function and if anything is to be made of the citizen he must be educated. These are the grounds of interference by the State with education, and, as the State must recognise the rights of children as well as the rights of parents, looking upon the individual as the social unit, it must see that children are protected from the cruelty, the selfishness, and the ignorance of parents.
If the State does not do this the result will be, as has been found throughout the world, an increase of cost to the State in other directions. If you can get a people universally intelligent you will have less crime, you will have less vice, you will have greater thrift, you will have, in fact, a higher state of society. Then, another view is this : that the State, in having a system of education, should have such a system as tends to train the children to the duties of citizenship, and to make them feel that the duty of citizenship is a paramount one. To establish such a system as some denominationalists ask, of having as many schools as page 32 there are sects, all endowed by the Government, would tend, I believe, to social disorder, tend to weaken the ideas of the duties of citizenship, and not tend to the strengthen-ing of the State's position. I need not stop to point out that, with the numerous sects that exist among us, it would be impossible to have such a system, except, perhaps, in the larger towns; and that, unless the State interfered, in sparsely-populated districts the result would be that there would be no education at all.
To the objection to our system, that religion is not taught, I would first say, from a secular point of view, that here one of the blots on our system is disclosed; for religion is taught. Our system is supposed to be free, secular, and compulsory. It is free, it is compulsory in many districts, but I do not know that it is secular in any one. Our school-books are full of what may be termed religious lessons. If one takes up Nelson's Royal Readers, which is the series of school-books in greatest use throughout the colony, he will find, on page after page, religious lessons. I shall mention a few :—Book VI. : "Family Worship," from the Cottar's Saturday Night;" John Bright on War" (appeal to professing Christians); Coleridge's "Hymn before Sunrise, in the Yale of Chamouni;" "Paul at Athens," by W. J, Fox; "The Problem of Creation," by O. M. Mitchell. Book III. : "Little Jim," Farmer; "We are Seven," Wordsworth; "The Better Land," Mrs. Hemans; "The Child's First Grief," Mrs. Hemans; "Lucy Gray," Wordsworth; "The Rain Lesson," Mrs. Sigourney; "The Ark and the Dove," Mrs. Sigourney. Book II. (Third Series) : "Thou shalt not steal;" "Secrets of Nature;" "The Little Girl's Good Morning." Sequel to II. : "Our Daily Bread;" "The Little Chimney-sweeper;" "Lesson from the Flowers;" "The Pet Bird;" "How Fresh on the Mountains;" "The Little Orphan," Mrs. Sewell; "A Sparrow's Nest," Jane Taylor; "The King and the Gipsies;" "British Birds'-nests;" "What is that, Mother Doane; "Speak Gently."page 33
Those who would have the right to object to the State system so long as such reading-books are in use, are, first, those who believe that religion should not be taught to children; and, second, those who believe that, whether it should be taught or not, it is no part of the duty of the State to teach it. These classes, however, have said nothing against our system. They are willing, for the sake of maintaining a system that is of incalculable benefit to the colony, to sink their opinions and their feelings, and they have been found to be the warmest sup- porters of our present system.
And now I come to another phase of the question. If it be said that our State system is doing any moral injury to the children, I say that this question may be tested by statistics. Our State system has now been seven years in operation. This period has been sufficient to afford some test of the system and its results, and the questions we have to ask ourselves are, Has juvenile crime increased, and how do children at our schools turn out in after years? So far as juvenile crime is concerned, New Zealand is far more free from it than other countries. If you take, for example, the number of prisoners from ten to twenty years of age received into our principal gaols, I find that, of the population per thousand at that age, there are only 2.49 between ten and twenty, being 4.90 per cent, of the total prisoners. If I go to England and Wales I find that between the ages of twelve and twenty-one the corresponding proportions are 7.75 and 19.78; in 1878 it was 8.16 and 19.30. If I go to New South Wales, where there has been religious teaching in schools, the clergymen having the right to enter there, I find that from ten to twenty the proportions are 6 38 and 7.60 respectively. In Victoria, where the system is more secular than in the neighbouring colony, the proportions are only 3.94 and 7.58; in Queensland, where there is the : secular system, 4.92 and 12.35. The numbers I have formerly given are those of prisoners who have been received in the principal prisons. I have omitted those received in what are termed page 34 police-gaols; if these be added, the totals for New Zealand will be 2.96 per thousand. I know it may be said that there are other causes that have led to the differing results in the other colonies. This does not affect my contention, for I adduce the statistics only to show that our own system has not been productive of any ill consequences the direction of crime, and that we are remarkably free as a colony from any criminal tendency. If I go to Scotland I find that in 1881 the prisoners admitted to all gaols at the age-period from twelve to sixteen was 0.59 per thousand of the population; from sixteen to twenty-one, the proportion was 19.98. The proportion per cent. under twenty-one of the total of prisoners was 15 81. In New Zealand, admitted to all gaols, there were, as I have said, only 2.96 per thousand from ten to twenty; and it is to be observed there were only, out of the 287 under twenty received into the principal gaols, 130 born in New Zealand. Then, there is another thing I would notice, and that is this : that the total amount of crime in New. Zealand is not on the increase; on the contrary, there has been practically a decrease since 1876. This will be found from the following statistics :—
The total crime, as estimated from convictions after commitment for trial to superior Courts in New Zealand, per ten thousand of the population, has fallen from 6.43 in 1876 to 4.76 in 1881, and to 3.9 in 1884. In New South Wales the proportions in 1882 and 1883 were 13.3 and 12; in Victoria, 4.8 in 1882 and 3.8 in 1883. it will therefore be seen that, so far as convictions are concerned, there has been a gradual decrease in New Zealand. This is the case with reference to the more heinous offences, but the same decrease is apparent in apprehensions and in summons cases, as well as in summary convictions. In 1876 the apprehensions and summons cases were 57.14 per thousand of population; in 1884, 41.81. In 1876 the summary convictions were 41.55; in 1884 there were only 31.98; and the commitments for trial in 1876 were, per ten thousand of population, 10.68, and in 1884, 8.1 : so that, so far as page 35 crime is concerned, New Zealand has shown that since the introduction of the Education Act there has been a decline of all kinds of crime. I do not mean to say that the Education Act has caused this; I only say this : that those who say that the Education Act tends to larrikinism or to crime or to vice should look at the statistics, and they will see that, with a more efficient police force than we ever had, we have had less crime, fewer apprehensions and summons cases, fewer commitments for trial, and fewer convictions. I hope, after the figures I have given, that we shall hear no more remarks about our State system tending to crime. On the contrary, the statistics show that crime is yearly lessening, and I have no doubt that, as the education of the people progresses, crime will still decrease. Of course, to get rid of crime is, in our social state, and will be for centuries, just as impossible as getting rid of poverty. The training in large towns and many other causes create anti-social feelings, and anti-social feelings lead to many kinds of crime. I believe, however, that if we strengthen the social feeling with reference to the State the result will be a greater respect for property and a greater respect for life; and I really think that amongst classes not at all of the criminal type there is much need of our recognising what the State is. We do not fully realize—I think none of us do—our duties to the State as the emblem of our social life. Is it not a fact that people see no harm in dealing with Government property and dealing with Government money as they would not deal with the moneys of individuals? That the sacredness of the trust, imposed upon citizens has not yet been fully realized by any of us is, I believe, abundantly true. It is time enough to speak of the danger of the State to individualism when the duty to the State is considered more paramount than it is at present.
I must deal with another objection—the cost of the present system. Last year when my honourable friend the member for Akaroa (Mr. Montgomery) was Minister or Education a very valuable return was prepared by his page 36 direction. It showed that the system was relatively as cheap as that of other countries. I need not repeat that no fees are charged, and that the full cost comes from the Consolidated Fund. Remembering this, the aid given by other countries may be noted.
|Countries.||Current Expenditure.||Buildings.||Total Current and Buildings Expenditure.|
|Queensland New South Wales||4||8||3¼||1||4||5||5||7||8¼|
Having said this much about the duty of the State in reference to primary education, I shall make one or two remarks about its duty to secondary and university education. It may be said that, granted the duty of the State to give children a primary education, there the duty ends. Of course this means, that no children of poor parents can have any right to an education beyond the primary. The children of wealthy parents can always obtain a higher education; wealth can purchase education as well as any-thing else. Is this Parliament prepared to say that those children whose parents have not means to give them a secondary education are to be condemned to a mere primary education? I feel sure that neither this Parliament nor any that this colony will ever have will be found to sanction such an idea. The question, then, comes to this : How is the State to give aid to secondary instruction? Some people reply, you may give scholarships. Scholarships to what? Are there to be any schools in the colony in which page 37 the scholarships can be held? If so, under whose control are they to be? Is the State to say that all its brighter boys and all its brighter girls are not to be controlled in their education by the State, but that the State is to hand over the education of its brightest and most intellectual youths into private hands, or into the hands of corporations or religious organizations, and to have no control over their training though it pays for it? I do not think the people of this colony are prepared to submit to such a proposal. I say it is more necessary for the State to look after secondary education than primary, just as it is more necessary for the State to look after those works which are not immediately necessary, than it is to provide for works that are deemed a necessity. The State does not need to look after any mercantile pursuit; it does not need to provide for the obtaining of food for the inhabitants: men have been trained to look after these for themselves. The State has to look after the opening-up of means of communication. The State has to look after, by corporations or otherwise, providing for the health and recreation of the people. Why is this? Becausc these things are not so requisite as the obtaining of food. So it is with primary and secondary schools. All recognize the need of primary schools, and all will do what they can to provide them; but secondary schools are in a different position. They require more attention. The State is required to give more aid to them than to the primary schools; and I can only say, from what I know of the working of the schools, that there are, not dozens, or scores, but hundreds of youths obtaining education in secondary schools that have been endowed by the State that would have been deprived of this advantage had it not been for those endowments.
And now one word as to our university. It is the natural copestone of our educational building; and here again, unless the State had endowed the university, there could have been no such institution in New Zealand. It was thought by some that the proper way was to provide scholarships, as is done in the neighbouring Colony of Tas- page 38 mania, for the brighter youths to proceed to England to obtain a university education. It is, I think, a matter for congratulation that this scheme was not adopted. And now New Zealand is in this position : that, considering her population, she has, as I have already said, as many students receiving university education as any country in the world; and I believe she has also, relatively to her population, more university-trained men than any country in the world. "What must the necessary effect of that be? It means the raising of the standard of education all along the line; and it also means this : that we shall have soon, I hope, a development of our manufactures, a development of our trade, commensurate with the high-class education that has been bestowed on our youth. I have already pointed out that I believe there has been a danger in the past in making our university education too literary. This, however, is gradually being remedied; and I believe that universities should yet provide, not only for the best scientific teaching, but for the highest form of technical education. Our universities must also be the abodes of research. This is a function that has not yet been recognised in our university system. We have had our New Zealand University mere examining and degree-conferring body, and we have had the affiliated colleges teaching bodies. We have not yet had the means to make our university the place of the highest scientific research; that, however, will have to come as the colony progresses. If we consider what our nation must be, we must look forward to a time when our political autonomy will lead us to the possession of a distinct type of national life, and you cannot have a distinct type of national life of any value if you have not in your colony the best teaching that can be obtained in the world, and places which are the abodes of the highest culture and of the deepest knowledge.
I think it is of importance to New Zealand that she has not had merely one university college teaching her students. I am glad that she has several, and I hope that page 39 as she progresses she will have more. There will be need shortly of a proper university college in Wellington, though the Wellington College is no doubt doing good work. Instead of there being an objection to the splitting up of our university teaching with several colleges, I believe it is the highest recommendation of our system. It will prevent sameness, whilst every college will have an individuality of its own that must create a healthy emulation in the pursuit of knowledge.
And what is the task of the university? It has to provide for us our professional men, our scientific men : it has to provide for us our men of culture. After all, as has been well said, the high-water mark of a nation is not in its primary, nor in its secondary schools; the value of a nation to the human race depends not even on wealth nor numbers, but it is gauged by the high-water mark of its educated mind. A nation may be small, it may appear insignificant, but, if it can produce men of genius and culture, it stands high amongst the nations of the world. I feel sure that no Parliament will decree, by the abolition of aid to the university and to secondary schools, that New Zealand is to take an inferior position amongst the colonies of the Empire or the nations of the world.
Before I conclude I must refer to a matter for which an Education Minister can do little without hearty co-operation and aid from colouists. I refer to the en-couraging of habits of thrift. I hope to see yet inaugurated what was attempted in 1878-79, namely, the establishment of savings banks in connection with the schools. I am aware that many Education Boards opposed the scheme; I believe, however, that it is necessary, for the proper development of our country, that our children should be trained in habits of thrift, and I believe they can best acquire habits of thrift and be taught the value of money by the establishment of savings banks. In this view I am sustained by many who have been in the colony, and who have taken page 40 an interest in education. If I had time I should like to read a minute written by Sir John Hall, when he was Premier, urging in the strongest way the advisability of establishing penny savings banks. I hope, however, that the members of the House will aid the Education Department in pressing on the Boards and School Committees in their districts the need of co-operation to supply this want in our schools. I do not think the Education Department in Wellington can be blamed for its non-success. Everything that was possible to be done in the matter by the various Ministers of Education who have held office has been done. The scheme was first inaugurated by my colleague the present Native Minister when he was Minister of Education, and succeeding Ministers of Education attempted to advance what he had begun, but, I regret to say, with very little success. I hope, however, that this subject will yet be warmly taken up, and be approved of by our Education Boards and School Committees.
And now let me just add that I recognise, as I have stated, that our system is not perfect. I hope, however, that the alterations in the syllabus of our primary schools will make our education better and more practical. Scientific education and technical education will not he treated as inferior to literary education; and, as our university and secondary schools follow on the same lines, we can look forward to a great improvement in all our schools and colleges in method and results. And perhaps a succeeding Minister of Education, when called upon, as our system develops, to attempt further reforms, may be able to acknowledge that what has-been recently done by the department has helped to make his path easier and to lighten his labours.
* Exclusive of expenditure on School Board administration, inspection, and scholarships.
† Calculated from a table on page xxxvi, of the Report of Committee of Council.