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SCHOOLS–NATIONAL SCHOOL SYSTEM-COLONIAL EDUCATION_NORMAL SCHOOL
Miss Burdett Coutts, and this led to the appointment of a bishop of Melbourne, and perhaps to the creation of the second bishopric in New South Wales, the diocese of Newcastle, which extends to the northward, the residence being at Morpeth.
By an act of the Legislative Council of South Australia, passed 3rd of August, 1847, for promoting the building of Christian churches and chapels, public money was issued, under the sanction of the governor and Executive Council, in proportion to the amount of private contributions—the grants in aid of building to range from £50 to £150, and toward the stipends of clergy and ministers from £50 to £200 a year. One fourth of the sittings in places of worship so assisted to be free.
The assistance in New South Wales and Port Phillip is, at present, regulated by the act passed by Sir Richard Bourke, described at P. 96.
The Congregationalists and Baptists have always refused to receive aid from the state; and there exists in the three colonies, especially in South Australia, a party opposed to all state assistance to religion. We will add that in our opinion, although religion and education may be sustained in towns with a large floating population by the voluntary system, the inhabitants of the interior, without government assistance, will remain to a great extent in a state of practical heathendom altogether, without the advantage of religious rites and ordinances. The state of life in the bush is, or ought to be, patriarchal: churches are an impossibility. Every father must be the pastor of his family. To establish the voluntary system is to decree that the long lines of rivers shall never be visited and comforted by the presence of a minister of religion.
It is a pity that a few thousands cannot be tithed from the vast sums spent on hopeless missions to the heathen for the support of itinerant missionaries to our emigrant countrymen-missionaries not disdaining to be also schoolmasters. The collection of bibles in many
languages in the Great Exhibition was a fine and impressive sight; but still it is a pity that men of piety, rank, wealth, and influence, do not pursue rather the positive and possible than the impossible, and begin by taking care that every child in the bush of Australia shall have and know how to read a bible before sending missionaries to perish in Patagonia, or attempting an impossible Church of England Utopia in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Up to 1836 education was as much neglected in Australia as in England, until the period that Lord Brougham commenced the agitation compromised by the establishment of the miscalled national schools. A large proportion of the population consisted of adult convicts, who arrived as ignorant as vicious.
In 1836 Sir Richard Bourke carried through the Legislative Council, at the same time that the church and school lands were surrendered, a measure for founding schools throughout the colony, on the plan of Lord Stanley's (now Earl of Derby's) Irish National school system. But the opposition on the part of the Bishop of Australia, who had just then arrived from England with his new dignity, was so hot and effective that the local act remained a dead letter, and the moderate per centage of education afforded to the working classes was distributed through denominational or sectarian schools, aided by colonial funds, one half of the colony being of the Church of England, one fourth Roman Catholics, and the rest dissenters of various denominations. The result was to leave many country districts without schools, and to establish two or three to educate forty or fifty scholars. At Camden there were three schools, none of which had more than twenty scholars.
In 1844 a committee of the Legislative Council was appointed to investigate the subject of colonial education on the motion of Robert Lowe, Esq., of which he became chairman. This committee reported strongly in favour of the Irish national system, observing, “There are about 25,676 children between the ages of four and fourteen years : of these only 7,642 receive instruction in public schools, and 4,865 in private ones, leaving about 13,000 who, as far as the committee can learn, receive no education at all. The expense of education is about £l a head. This deficient education is partly attributable to the ignorance, dissolute habits, and avarice of too many parents, and partly to the want of good schoolmasters and school-books, but a far greater proportion of the evil has arisen from the strictly denominational character of the public schools.
“ The very essence of a denominational system is to leave the
majority uneducated, in order thoroughly to imbue the minority with peculiar tenets. The natural result is that where one school is founded two will arise, not because they are wanted, but because it is feared that proselytes will be made. It is a system impossible to be carried out in a thinly-inhabited country, and, being exclusively in the hands of the clergy, it places the state in the awkward dilemma of either supplying money, whose expenditure it is not permitted to regulate, or of interfering between the clergy and their superiors.”
The committee further recommended the formation of a board, to be appointed by the governor, consisting of persons favourable to the plan, and possessing the confidence of the different denominations, “with a salaried secretary."
The Lord Bishop of Australia and the Roman Catholic Archbishop were both examined before this committee; both were strongly opposed to the Irish system of educating different denominations in one school, and expressed their adherence to the denominational system. The Bishop of Australia would countenance no schools in which the dogmas of the Church of England were not taught; the Roman Catholic Archbishop, in like manner, insisted on having Roman Catholic schools for the members of his church. *
They are both excellent, charitable, and pious men; but either was evidently prepared, if he had the power, to enforce the dogmatic teaching of his own church in all the schools, and to leave those who did not agree with them without any teaching, moral or educational.
They were not satisfied with a compromise system, by which the duties of truth, chastity, honesty, charity, forgiveness of enemies, and thankfulness to God, should be inculcated, with reading, writing, and arithmetic, unless the questions of the number of sacraments and the right line of apostolic succession were also expounded according to the views of each ; and, sooner than either would give way, they were
* The two following instances will show how far sectarian zeal will carry excellent and educated men. There is not in all Australia a more pious and actively charitable man than the Rev. Robert Allwood. A remarkable instance of his benevolence is mentioned in Mrs. Chisholm's report of the “Emigrants' Home" in 1844. Mr. Allwood says, “I could not sanction any system in which the Church of England catechism was not taught.” “In thinly-peopled districts, where it is impossible to find schoolmasters for each denomination, and where some concession is necessary to each, in order to get education for all, do you not think the Scriptures might be read by all Protestants, the Roman Catholic children being exempted, this education being supplemented by Sunday schools ?" A. “I would not approve of it.” On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Archbishop Polding considered“ religious and moral instruction in a very low state in Ens land," which may, perhaps, be true; but in another part of his evidence, which is too long to quote, he leaves it to be inferred that the state of education at Rome, as regards the humblest classes, is in a most satisfactory state, that “a large proportion of the public revenues is given to education," and that “the Papal government is extremely anxious that all should have the means of education.” Archbishop Polding must have examined the English in courts and alleys, and looked at the Romans through the windows of a cardinal's carriage.
EARL GREY AND THE SCHOOLMASTER.
content to leave infant minds to gather all their learning from the blasphemy of the streets.
The vigorous opposition of these two prelates, and others of their mind, aided by many who, really worshipping nothing, except what the Americans rather profanely call the “ Almighty Dollar," yet loved a party cry, temporarily suspended the carrying out of the recommendations of this report.
But the Stanley National system of instruction is the only system possible in a colony where the divers religions were so evenly balanced, and made and is making progress. In the districts where denominational schools were in existence in 1844 they are still maintained, but in new districts Lord Stanley's system is introduced. Port Phillip, as regards schools, has until recently been under the control of the Sydney Legislative Council. In South Australia the voluntary system, aided by grants from the colonial treasury, prevails.
In pursuance of the recommendations of Mr. Lowe's committee, a board has been formed on the principle of the Irish Board of Education; and a normal school for training teachers on the Irish system has been established.
Throughout the "three colonies” great anxiety prevails among all classes for the extension of education, and a willingness to bear taxation for that purpose.
The normal school of Sydney affords one of the many comical anecdotes afloat illustrating the mode in which officials in England attend to colonial affairs.
In consequence of the suggestion of Mr. Lowe's committee, after the heat of the educational question had toned down, application was made to the Colonial Office for a master acquainted with the Irish school system, and capable of taking charge of a normal school for the instruction of masters in that system. For nearly four years the Colonial Office slept on the application : at the end of that time, by some chance, the “order for a schoolmaster” turned up. Earl Grey, it is presumed after some inquiries, selected a Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson received a letter desiring him to call on Earl Grey, in Downing-street. He went, was congratulated, favoured with a little of the good advice of which great men keep a stock for the benefit of the small, and then handed over to Mr. Benjamin Hawes, the late UnderSecretary for the Colonies, who in due course handed him over to Mr. Gairdner, the chief clerk, who transferred him to a stylish young gentleman, name unknown, who stood with his back to the fire, and a pot of stout in his right hand, and delivered himself something in the following strain :-“Well, you're appointed to this berth in Australia! Consider yourself lucky; you'll make your fortune. Now, these colonial fellows are in a deuce of a hurry, so you must lose no time. Let me see the shipping list. Ah ! here's a ship sails on Friday for Adelaide. This is Monday-you must go on Friday—your passage will be paid, and all right."
Mr. Wilson remonstrated on the shortness of the time, but it was of no use: the colonists were in a “deuce of a hurry.” He suggested that Adelaide was a considerable distance from Sydney. The objection was pooh-poohed—knowledge of colonial geography is not an indispensable qualification for colonial office. Poor Mr. Wilson was hurried off by the ship to Adelaide with such speed that his wife is said to have died on the voyage, from the excitement and fatigue of packing. Arrived at Adelaide, he had to wait nearly a month for a conveyance to Sydney. Arrived in Sydney, and installed in his office, he was questioned as to the latest improvements in the Irish national system. He knew nothing about it, had never heard of it, had never seen any of the books, he had been master of an excellent Church of England school. So, after four years' delay, in desperate haste, the Colonial Office had sent off the wrong man, to the wrong place!
In justice to Mr. Wilson it is right to add, that, being a clever and conscientious man, he applied himself to the study of the Irish schoolbooks, and has performed the duties of his office with credit to himself end advantage to the colony.
In South Australia, by an act of the Legislative Council, passed in August, 1847, the governor is authorized to appoint a board of education, who shall have power, under his sanction, to make regulations for giving effect to the ordinance. No aid to be given to schoolhouses, The salaries issued to teachers will be in proportion to the children taught, not less than twenty, between six and sixteen years of age, £20 being the lowest and £40 the highest sum. The governor to appoint visitors and inspectors. The reports to be laid before the Legislative Council, and one public examination to take place yearly. The boards, previous to the introduction of an elective Legislative Council, consisted of the judge of the Supreme Court, the advocate general, the colonial chaplain, a dissenting minister, and a layman.
The Legal system of the Three Colonies is essentially the same; and an account of that in force in New South Wales will be sufficient to convey an idea of the manner and nature of law proceedings in all the Australian courts.