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Social Progress (continued) page 2


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Up to this time (1833), the work of education was conducted by private liberality, incited mainly by religious zeal, and acting through the agencies of the two great societies, the British and the National. In that year the government came to their aid, and a grant of 20,000 a year continued to be made till 1839, which was shared between the two societies, representing two educational parties, who then commenced a strife that has not yet ended. The principle of the British and Foreign School Society, chiefly supported by Dissenters, was, that the Bible should be read without note or comment in the schools, and that there should be no catechism admitted, or special religious instruction of any kind. The schools of the National Society, on the other hand, were strictly Church schools, in which the Church Catechism must be taught. In 1839 and 1843 two measures were proposed, by which it was intended to provide for a more immediate influence of the state in connection with the popular education it supported, by the establishment of a government normal school and the education of children in factories. But the first of these was defeated by the opposition of the Church, and the second by the hostility of the Dissenters. " It was thus made manifest," says Mr. Horace Mann, " that the decisive tendency of fifty years of private educational enterprise had been to bring the education of the people into such a close connection with religious bodies, that for any prudent government it was impracticable either, on the one hand, to ignore the agency of such communities, or, on the other, in applying to educational purposes funds raised by general taxation, to recognise the predominance of any particular section. Consequently, the action of the government has ever since been limited to a co-operation with religious bodies, so far "as the latter have been willing to accept its aid, each grant being made conditional upon a previous voluntary contribution in a specified proportion to the grant. In 1839 the duty of administering these parliamentary funds was transferred from the treasury to the committee of privy council on education - not, however, without considerable opposition, on the ground of the supposed unconstitutional and irresponsible character of the suggested board."

Simultaneously, the amount of the annual sum assigned for education was increased. From 1839 till 1841 inclusive it was fixed at 30,000; 40,000 was allowed for 1842-3-4; and the augmentations subsequently raised it up to 75,000 in 1845, 100,000 in 1846-7, 125,000 in 1848-9-50, 150,000 in 1851-2, and 260,000 in 1853. The total amount of public money granted from 1833 to the end of 1850 was as nearly as possible 1,000,000; and the portion expended in that interval was about 750,000. None of this was given towards the expense of maintaining schools, but either towards the cost of buildings, for the purchase of school apparatus, or in aid of the salaries of efficient masters, mistresses, and teachers. Prior to 1847, however, no grants were made for any purposes except in aid of building schools, and in aid of normal schools. Part was appropriated to Scotland. Of the 500,000 spent between 1839 and 1850 upon English schools, 405,000 was contributed to schools connected with the Established Church, the other denominations receiving - Wesleyans, 8,000, and Roman Catholics, 1,049. The British and Foreign School Society received 51,000, and the workhouse schools, 37,000.

The following statement will show the number of existing schools at different periods, and mark more distinctly the progress of popular education. Before the beginning of the present century there were in England and Wales only 3,363 schools, public and private. In the first ten years of the century more than 1,000 new ones were founded; in the second ten years, 2,200; in the third ten years, 3,482; in the fourth, 7,467; and from 1841 to 1851 no less than 22,214. There were added besides, at dates not specified, upwards of 6,000: the total number in 1841 being 46,000, of which 30,000 were private. These statistics indicate an immense amount of private energy and enterprise, the more gratifying from the fact that the greater portion of the progress was due to the working classes themselves. It was estimated by Mr. Edward Baines in 1846 that one-ninth of the population is as large a proportion as we ought to expect to be attending school; and the public generally concurred in the correctness of his calculations in his letters to Lord John Russell. Other writers considered one-eighth, allowing an average of five years and a half school instruction for all children between five and fifteen years of age. According to these data, the number who ought to be at school, if not prevented by various causes - such as the demand for juvenile labour - is nearly 5,000,000 in England and Wales. But the demand for juvenile labour is very great, and it was found that in 1851 about 600,000 children were engaged in remunerative work. After allowing for illness, and other unpreventable causes, it was ascertained that there should be 3,000,000 children at school in England and Wales; but the actual number in attendance in 1851 fell short of that estimate by 968,000 healthy, unemployed children, between the ages of five and twelve, who were not at school at all. This arose partly from their parents being unable to pay the fees, but chiefly from their culpable indifference and neglect, many of the unfortunate beings allowed to grow up in heathenish ignorance being the children of the criminal classes; for which state of things the most effective remedy would be the elevation of. the working classes, and next, the establishment of ragged schools. After all deductions are made for employment, illness, and home education, and supposing parents to be universally willing to have their children educated, the total that could have been at school in England and Wales twelve years ago was 3,663,000. It was found that the average school time of all children in England and Wales, between the third and fifteenth years, was about five years.

Great improvements had been effected in the art of teaching. Both the British and the National Societies from the beginning devoted much attention to the training of efficient teachers. In 1828 the former sent out 87 trained teachers; in 1838 as many as 183. The National Society commenced a training institution in 1811, and after forty years' progress it had five training colleges, sending out 270 teachers every year. This department of progress has been greatly indebted to one of the most enlightened and zealous of our educational reformers, Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. At the census of 1851 there were about forty training colleges in England and Wales, sustained at an annual cost of about 90,000. Of these, thirty-four were connected with the Church of England, one belonged to the British and Foreign School Society, one to the Congregationalists, one to the Wesley an Methodists, one to the Roman Catholics, and one to the Voluntary School Association. The last, as its name imports, is conducted on the voluntary principle, and the Congregationalists also decline state support for their training school, which cost 12,000. The amount of parliamentary- grants for building those institutions was about 120,000, out of the aggregate cost of about 310,000. The number of students accommodated in these colleges is about 2,000; the cost of their education being 50 a year for males, and 40 for females.

The number of endowed schools, respecting which returns were given in 1851, was 304 collegiate and grammar schools, with 17,000 scholars; and 1,600 other endowed schools, with 112,000 scholars - total about 1,900 schools, with 130,000 scholars, having a total income of about 289,000 a year. But this gives a very inadequate idea of the whole amount of endowments, which Lord Brougham estimated at 500,000 a year, and other writers have expressed a similar opinion. A very large proportion of it was diverted from its purposes, and misappropriated, so that funds intended for the education of the poor and the working classes have been monopolised by some of the most wealthy and aristocratic schools in the kingdom. " The action of the religious bodies," says Mr. Horace Mann, "in the matter of popular education, has throughout the present century been powerful, extensive, and increasing, and the present result of their exertions constitutes by far the most important and conspicuous feature of our educational position. It is scarcely possible to avoid being deeply impressed by the accumulated evidence we now apparently possess of the inexhaustible resources and illimitable enterprises of religious zeal. The fact that this unwearied agency, which in little more than half a century has erected 20,000 places of religious worship, founded 23,000 Sunday schools, containing 2,250,000 scholars, and brought within the compass of Christian charity the utmost regions of the globe - the fact that this insatiable benevolence has almost wholly reared, and is now in greater part sustaining upwards of ten thousand day schools, in which more than a million children of the poorer classes are from day to day instructed, cannot but excite a lively sense, not only of the obligations under which the country lies to the workings of religious principle, but also the vast extent to which in future all the institutions of popular education must be necessarily pervaded by religious influence."

Further on the same writer remarks that the extent to which religious bodies are assuming the control of popular education is continually and rapidly increasing, and also that it had become a matter of denominational activity, and he adds: - "This tendency, so far as the Dissenters are concerned, has only recently been evidenced; for schools upon the British system (which discourages sectarian teaching) satisfied their wants till about ten years ago. The controversies of that period, however, when it seemed to the Dissenters that the government designed to place too much of the education of the poor in the hands of the Established Church, produced very great exertions on the part of the various bodies to counteract this supposed design; and the schools which were erected as a consequence of these exertions naturally were connected with the sects by which they were originated - to whose interests, indeed, they were intended as a sort of bulwark. How far this denominational action is henceforward to proceed is a very important question. It is clear, however, that Dissenting bodies are not likely to be represented in proportion to their numbers by the day schools which their small comparative wealth will enable them to raise and carry on; exposed, too, as many of them must be, to the competition of schools aided by the public funds. An interesting problem, therefore, is before us - 1 How is the education of poor children of Dissenting parents to be provided for, in order to secure religious liberty? ' At first sight, it appears inevitable that in course of time the mass of the population educated of necessity in Church of England schools must gradually return to that community; but in opposition to this natural anticipation is the curious fact, that, while for many years past at least four-fifths of all the children who have passed through public schools must have been instructed in the schools of the Church of England, concurrently with this a very considerable acquisition has (according to the tables of religious worship) been proceeding in the number of Dissenters; so that now they comprise very nearly half of the total population. This appears to prove that either the education given by the Church has been administered on very tolerant and liberal principles, or else the sectarian and doctrinal instruction of the day school is extremely ineffective in comparison with those religious influences which the scholar meets elsewhere."

The great educational organ of the Church of England is the National Society, founded in 1811, and incorporated by royal charter in 1815. Its annual income from subscriptions and other contributions amounted to 14,000 or 15,000 a year. At various times since 1823 a royal letter was issued, sanctioning parochial collections for the society, and this appeal ultimately became triennial. The amount collected in 1823 was 28,000; in 1832, 23,000; in 1837, 24,000; and in 1840, 30,000. Connected with the central institution, local boards of education have, since 1839, been founded in nearly every diocese, with an aggregate income of about 20,000 annually. Including diocesan institutions, the number of trained teachers sent out annually under the society was about 400 masters and 250 mistresses. The Church has been very active of late years in the work of education; the number of new schools opened between 1831 and 1841 being 2,000; and the number during the next ten years being 3,400. The total annual income at the disposal of the Church from various sources for carrying on the work of popular education was estimated in 1850 at about 500,000.

The Independents, or Congregationalists, rank next to the Church in the amount of the work done in the cause of popular education. Until 1843 they did not take any separate denominational action in regard to it, though they had been active and liberal supporters of the cause in connection with the British and Foreign School Society. In the census returns, 453 schools were stated to belong to this denomination, 185 of which were British schools; the total number of scholars in both classes being 50,000. This, however, did not completely represent the efforts made by Congregationalists, as no inconsiderable part of the contributions which supported the undenominational British schools proceeded from members of that body. They, however, as a body, holding the voluntary principle, came to the conclusion to refuse any grant of public money, on the ground that popular education ought to be religious, and that public money ought in no case to be given to provide religious teaching. They accordingly instituted the Congregational Board of Education, and established a system of their own, in harmony with their principles.

The Wesleyan Methodists came next, and they had 381 day-schools, with 41,000 scholars. Most of these, however, were established since 1841, as up to that period they had not many more than 100 schools. The children of the poorer classes of Wesleyan parents had generally been instructed either in the British or Church of England schools. No formal action by the Conference was taken till 1833, and then it was only in the shape of a recommendation that schools should be established wherever practicable. In 1836, however, a committee was appointed on the subject, which reported the existence of thirty-one schools, and in 1837 was formed an " Educational Committee," consisting of fifteen ministers and fifteen laymen, with treasurer and secretary, charged with the general supervision of all matters relating to Wesleyan education, The stimulus applied by this committee seems to have been effectual, for in 1840 the number of schools had increased to 100, having 8,000 scholars; and about this period, by a grant of 5,000 from the Centenary Fund, the committee first began their work of training teachers, sending them with that design to the Glasgow Normal Seminary.

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