asked the Minister for Education whether he is aware that owing to the prohibition of the use of English in the infants' schools in the English-speaking districts children in many schools are kept in after school hours to receive instruction in English, and whether he has received any representations from managers or teachers as to the injurious effects on the Irish language and on the education of the children of the system which has been in operation for the past ten years.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Prohibition against English in Infant Schools.
I am not aware that children are kept in after school hours to receive instruction in English. Sometimes infant children receive instruction in English after the hours which for them constitute an "attendance," viz.: from 10.30 a.m. to 2 p.m., a period not necessarily coinciding with the "school hours" which comprise the entire time in each day from the opening of the school to its closing for the dismissal of the pupils.
There is no evidence to show and I have no reason to believe that there have been any injurious effects on the Irish language and on the education of the children as a result of the programmes of instruction which have been in operation for the past ten years.
Arising out of the Minister's reply would I be right in thinking from his reply that infant children are, in fact, kept on after the hour at which attendance for the infants terminates, and secondly, would I be right in assuming that no representations have been made to him on this score from the managers or teachers or the parents of the children?
Naturally I am not in a position to inform the Deputy as to what representations may have been made with regard to the programme since 1922. I can only say so far as I am aware no representations have been made during the period while I have been acting as Minister. As regards the other point it is true that in certain instances children are taught English in the infant schools after the hour at which attendance for the infants terminates, that is after two o'clock. But I am informed that that means that in the case of children who would ordinarily remain on until their elder brothers or sisters bring them home when these are released from school at three o'clock, that sometimes—I cannot give particulars of the cases—the teachers do instruct the infants in English during portion or the whole of that period.
Does the Minister consider that it is a satisfactory thing that the hours that have been appointed as the limit of the children's capacity to acquire knowledge should be exceeded by the teacher, or does he not consider that the educational authorities having prescribed a certain time for the children's instruction, that that time should not be exceeded for any purpose?