Moladh go dtabharfar siar an Meastachán chun a h-aithbhreithnithe. Ón chaint atá déanta, tuigim, má bhí aon rud in aon chor ag an Teachta Ó Maoláin agus ag an Teachta Ó Deirg na thaobh san, gur theastaigh uathu cabhair a thabhairt dúinn chun tábhacht an Mheastacháin a chur na luí ar a lándaoine agus an méid airgid atá ag teastáil chun oideachais ceart a chur ar siúl sa tír. Deineadh a láin seirbhíse. Ní haon ionadh liom go mbeadh ionadh ar an Teachta Ó Maoláin nar dúirt níos mó i dtaobh obair Chomhairle an Oideachais agus an rud atá ceapaithe agam fhéin maidir leis an gComhairle sin mar is fíor go ndúirt anuiridh go raibh súil agam go mbeadh an tuarascáil deireanach a bhí ag teastáil ag teacht i gceann dhá mhí. Níor thainig an ceann deireanach isteach go dtí tosach na bliana agus ina dhiaidh sin bhí ar oifigí na Roinne an obair sin do chríochnú. Tá an obair sin críochnuithe anois agus tá an scrúdú deireanach á dhéanamh air. Go dtí go mbeidh an scrúdú go léir déanta i gceart, níor mhaith liom an socrú deireanach a dhéanamh.
Is dóigh leis an Teachta Mac Pharthaláin gur saghas leithscéil atá agam gan bheith ag déanamh aon ní, gur chuige sin a cuireadh an Chomhairle Oideachais ar bun. Ní chuige sin a cuireadh an Chomhairle Oideachais ar bun. Dúirt an Teachta Ó Deirg gur saghas "dead letter" é. Ní hea agus ní leigfear don tuarascáil sin bheith 'na "dead letter" mar tá an rud a mbaineann sé leis róthábhachtach ar fad chun an scéal a bheith mar sin.
In regard to the Council of Education, if that is the reason for referring the Estimate back, I can understand the disappointment on Deputy Moylan's part that more was not said about it. I did say last year that inside a couple of months I expected to have the final reports on the recommendations that I had asked for and in fact I did not get the final report until early this year.
Deputy Moylan has asked me to philosophise, to give my views on educational technique or educational practice. I do not regard that as my function in the Department of Education in the circumstances of the educational set-up in this country. You have your teachers, your managers and your Churches and I regard the position as Minister in the Department of Education as that of a kind of dungaree man, the plumber who will make the satisfactory communications and streamline the forces and potentialities of the educational workers and educational management in this country. He will take the knock out of the pipes and will link up everything. I would be blind to my responsibility if I insisted on pontificating or lapsed into an easy acceptance of an imagined duty to philosophise here on educational matters.
The Report of the Council of Educathábhachtac tion is a factual document. The Council of Education was set up for constructive purposes and various people have attempted to push it aside and to find fault with it. I asked the council to report on the function of the primary school and the programme suggested by the primary school up to 12 years of age, I did that without prejudice as to what age the primary school should cater for, because, as I have indicated, there had been, as Deputy Derrig knows, departmental bodies that had examined the general education position and they did indicate that 12 was an age at which a change should take place. In the light of that, I thought that the programme up to 12 was something that could very well be settled first and that it was not prejudicing in any way either the age to which the child should attend the primary school or the subsequent stages of the curriculum.
I regard it as a matter of urgency to give clear decisions as to what the Government and what I, as Minister for Education, suggest would be done in consequence of that report, so that teachers, managers, and everybody concerned with education would know what the foundation there is. The fact that certain matters have been put before the Dáil and discussed here by Deputy Vivion de Valera and the Leader of the Opposition indicates to me, and I am sure they appreciate it themselves, the soundness of the fact that I have asked the Council of Education while I am dealing with their report on primary education, to consider the curriculum that ought to be pursued in the secondary schools in so far as the secondary schools are paid State grants. I think it is most important that a body such as the Council of Education would consider that matter and make a report and let that report and their suggestions be examined in relation to secondary education. I would like it to be clearly understood what the process of this consideration is.
Some people have criticised the work of the Council of Education on the grounds that they did not receive witnesses for oral examination. They were open to receive statements and recommendations and memoranda of all kinds from all interested parties and they received them, as the report says, from a very considerable number. Then when the report was made, as I have indicated, I sent a copy of that report to every ecclesiastical body, the association of school managers and all other educational and teaching bodies for the purpose of bringing formally to their notice that certain recommendations had been made, and asking them, with their first-class touch with every aspect of the educational programme concerned, to comment on the recommendations made by the council and to let me and the Department have the benefit of their criticism.
It is interesting just to read out the list of the bodies that replied to that invitation. We had the benefit of comment and suggestions on the recommendations made by the council's report from the Irish Hierarchy, the General Synod of the Church of Ireland, the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Managers' Association, the Dublin School Managers (Church of Ireland), the Diocesan Synod of Dublin, Glendalough and Kildare, Conference of Convent Primary Schools, the Christian Brothers' Education Committee, the Faculty of Education, University College, Cork, Our Lady of Mercy Training College, Cumann Oiliúna gColáiste Oiliúna, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, Irish School Masters' Association, Central Association of Irish School Mistresses, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture.
It will be appreciated that whatever decisions are taken it is very important that the decisions would be taken in the light of such criticisms and suggestions on the actual recommendations by bodies that are so placed as these are. Anybody who has any contact with Irish education and its organisation will realise the position of the Church, the managers and the teachers in relation to the management and the programme of the schools.
I would like to say to those people who criticise certain aspects of the Irish position that the recommendations that are made here are subject to the same comment and the same scrutiny as any other aspects of this report. We had some criticism of the alleged position in regard to the use of Irish in the schools which rather muddied the atmosphere. We had a number of speakers on this subject and they reminded me of a maid out of sorts going around flapping a duster, here, there and elsewhere and raising more dust than she was laying. Deputy Declan Costello, on the one hand, and Deputy Cunningham, on the other hand, had statements to make which were completely wide of any experience of what is happening with regard to teaching through Irish in the primary schools. Deputy Declan Costello quoted the Irish National Teachers' Report of 1941 and in doing so he seemed like a cold voice out of a world that did not exist, because that world does not exist. So far as Deputy Tully is concerned, he makes the statement that in at least 50 per cent. of the national schools in this country children are taught through the medium of Irish from the day they go into them until they leave. These descriptions are entirely wide of the mark.
Those interested in the extent to which Irish is used as a medium of instruction in the ordinary primary schools can look at pages 54 and 55 of the Department of Education's Report for 1952-53. They will see there in what counties there are schools outside of the Gaeltacht areas in which the Irish language is used to a certain extent as a medium of instruction. I would ask them, or anybody else, to give the name of any particular school where Irish has been used as a medium of instruction for other subjects and where it is suggested that the use of Irish as a medium of instruction for other subjects is either an imposition on the children, on the one hand, or is injuring education, on the other. I do not want to point to the fact that there are schools where Irish is the medium of instruction and where remarkable academic achievements have been brought about. I accepted there was something in the statements being made and I now pass on that challenge to any other Deputy or any other person.
The position with regard to the report generally is that it is under my close personal examination. Apart from these matters and the proposals that arise out of them there is a financial implication, but I hope at the earliest possible moment to make it perfectly clear to all concerned what the Government's approach is towards taking a decision and moulding policy for the primary schools up to 12 years of age on that basis. I think it is regrettable that any Deputy, and particularly a Deputy asserting he was working on evidence and working from personal observation, would call the report of the council in relation to the Irish language pusillanimous.
Whatever any person may think of the particular type of selection I have made for the Council of Education, I think they are a group of experienced and responsible people who, having listened to the opinions of others, have put down in black and white a clear line of statement and a clear line of recommendation for all of us to go on. I think we are all very deeply indebted to the members of the council for their work, which is an arduous and exacting work; and I think nobody, no matter what their personal ideas may be and no matter how they would wish to tackle a job, wishes to think in terms of education of any kind unless they have a base line to which they can refer, if only by way of criticism. I do feel that it would be a very good thing to accept that in the planning of our educational work it is a very valuable thing to have matters put down in black and white.
You have now a report on the primary schools up to 12. You will have a recommendation from the Council of Education on what the syllabus of the secondary schools should be. Much has been said in relation to that syllabus to-day and a very considerable amount of stress has been laid on the fact that we want more science and more preparation in the technical schools because the technical make-up in the world to-day is increasing. That is a very important matter and I am quite sure it will have the full examination and full attention of the council in their report.
I asked them to report on the secondary school system because that is a system that is completely detached from either the primary system or the vocational system; it is a system that could be examined, that could be reported on and in regard to which decisions could be taken. Instead of creating difficulty, it would clear the air once you have a report on the primary system up to 12 and a report on the secondary system, and, if you like, a joint consideration over the whole field as to what should happen in the primary schools after 12, and up to what age, and what the relationship there should be between that instruction and the instruction given in the continuation end in the Céard Scoil. I am quite clear myself, and I feel it should be clear to everybody generally, that we are clearing the ground by way of revision and by way of examination and recommendation. I feel that the recommendations that are being made from these reports give us a co-ordination from which we can measure up the best line of approach by reference to these recommendations.
In the same way a scheme for conciliation and arbitration has been introduced for primary and secondary teachers and, I hope now, for vocational teachers, that will again order the atmosphere in which an important aspect of educational work will be done. It will both free the atmosphere and the officials of the Department, on the one hand, and will free teachers in whatever branch of education they are engaged, on the other hand, to deviate considerably more of their time to matters that are of technical importance or are of general educational importance. While there have been matters that are regrettable in relation to arbitration dealings, nevertheless these are the growing pains of that system, and I look to the stabilisation of this conciliation and arbitration for the ingredients to effect the atmosphere in which educational thought will go ahead and in which educational work will be done.
Another aspect of the council's report, which has implications in regard to finance, is the provision of teachers. Questions have been raised as to the number of teachers available from the training colleges. I indicated in my statement introducing the Estimate that, thanks to the co-operation of the training college authorities and the ecclesiastical authorities, an improvement has been achieved in so far as availability of women teachers is concerned. The Convent of Our Lady of Mercy in Blackrock has accommodation for 360 lay students. That means that we get 180 trained teachers every year. The Convent of Mary Immaculate in Limerick has accommodation for 210. That gives us 105 teachers every year. As from 1st July, 1958, we will have a total of 285 women teachers, plus 50 nuns. In St. Patrick's, there is accommodation for 216, with an annual output of 108. In the Protestant training college for women only, the total number in training is 56 and the annual output is 27. From the De La Salle and the Irish Christian Brothers, there is an annual output of 36. There is an annual output of nuns from Blackrock and Limerick of 55.
Criticism has been made that these will only meet the situation in so far as present wastage is concerned, but that they will not solve the difficulty of the untrained teacher. In a period of time, at any rate, the proposals of the Council of Education will lead up to our not having to depend on untrained teachers any more. The position with regard to junior assistant mistresses is that they will remain on in the service, until such time as they retire or marry. According as the output of trained teachers increases, J.A.M.s will be replaced by trained teachers.
Questions were raised as to the maintenance and provision of schools. Deputy McQuillan complained that more attention is given to the city areas than to the rural areas. I stated emphatically, when he made the suggestion, that there was no foundation for the suggestion. Dublin is the capital city. It has grown very substantially. Apart from the increase in population, it has had to meet the problem of slum clearance and the development of large new housing areas. The provision of schools in these areas has been met very satisfactorily. The ecclesiastical authorities and the religious houses have made a very substantial contribution to the provision of first-class schools in and around Dublin. That has not in any way deprived rural areas of the attention they should get. The charge, however, was made so positively and so bluntly by Deputy McQuillan, and one or two others, that I want now to give the position in relation to the grants for the year 1955-56. Particulars of these grants can be given for years back.
There have been new schools built; there have been enlargements of existing schools; and there have been improvements. In Donegal there were ten new schools and four enlargements at a cost of £57,681; in Monaghan, there were five new schools and one enlargement, costing £64,900; in Sligo, three new schools and one enlargement, £10,790; in Leitrim, four new schools and one enlargement, £18,754; in Cavan, two new schools and one enlargement, £9,100; in Louth, two new schools and two enlargements, £16,142; in Mayo, six new schools and five enlargements, £34,230; in Roscommon, nine new schools and two enlargements, £38,886; in Longford, three new schools, £85,400; in Westmeath, five new schools and one enlargement, £66,150; in Meath, five new schools, £24,730; in Galway, seven new schools and two enlargements, £43,740; in Offaly, six new schools and two enlargements, £61,408; in Laois, three new schools and one enlargement, £19,360; in Kildare, four new schools and six enlargements, £116,860; in Clare, seven new schools and one enlargement, £52,273; in Limerick, three new schools and one enlargement, £85,950; in Tipperary, eight new schools and 12 enlargements, £70,688; in Carlow, two new schools four enlargements, £32,315; in Wicklow, six new schools, £33,220; in Kilkenny, four new schools and one enlargement, £79,360; in Wexford, three new schools, £59,175; in Waterford, five schools, and three enlargements, £41,109; in Cork, 12 schools and seven enlargements, £70,456; in Kerry, 11 new schools and two enlargements, £165,897; in the City of Dublin, three schools and five enlargements, £178,897; and in the county, three schools and one enlargement, £65,500. I offer that to Deputy McQuillan and anyone else who feels that the problem is being neglected in so far as the rural areas are concerned and that Dublin is making inroads on moneys which should be available for the rural areas. That is not so.
There was a complaint, too, in regard to the delay in carrying out work. The question was raised as to what can be done to speed up that work. My predecessor, Deputy Moylan, had the same type of difficulty with which to contend, a difficulty which showed itself immediately after the war. In setting the target for the building of new schools and the carrying out of major improvements, he felt it was necessary to get additional staff to deal with the technical side of things in the Office of Public Works. Though there has been a reduction of staff in the Department of Education, that reduction has been carried out in such an effective way that it has resulted in increasing the efficiency of the Department.
On that side of the Department which deals with these matters, we have increased the efficiency of departmental machinery 100 per cent. On the Office of Public Works side, the former Minister, Deputy Moylan, succeeded in getting agreement to an increase in the technical staff there. The machinery for the recruitment of technical staff was a bit on the slow side and the work of the Civil Service was also slow in that regard. The result was that on many occasions, when persons applied for positions as architects in the Office of Public Works, by the time the Civil Service machinery got working and the people could be taken on, it was found that they had got other jobs and were no longer available. I had to arrange that the Office of Public Works would take on architects direct without going through the Civil Service machinery and also that, in some of the work involving remodelling or the carrying out of major improvements in school works, the work would be done by local architects.
The position has been that, while the allocations from the Department of Education on the basis of work required have been provided, much of the work has not been done over the years since 1948. The allocations were in those years since 1948: £481,000; £495,000; £480,000; £699,000; £917,000; £1,500,000; £1,387,000; £1,750,000 and £1,543,000, respectively. In the years leading up to 1948, there has been a lag in the carrying out of actual work, so that, in March, 1951, there were these arrears in the Office of Public Works. In 1951, the arrears were £1,270,000; 1952, £1,059,000; in 1953, £2,400,000; in 1954, £2,500,000; in 1955, £3,200,000 and in 1956, £3,500,000. That is a serious position and everything possible has been done, and will continue to be done, to see that the necessary technical staff is provided to get that work done and the matter is continuing to have my personal attention and has been having my personal attention for a considerable time.
The general position with regard to the replacement of defective schools is good at the present time. I should like to refer to the fact that questions have been raised by Deputy MacQuillan, I think, as to what has been done in this regard. In this matter, we are dealing with a definite and concrete situation. We are in the happy position, at any rate, that there is local managerial control, together with the effect of public opinion and the position in regard to teachers, and I do not think there is any case of very serious neglect. I do not think there are any insanitary schools existing which would justify some of the statements made here.
The fact is that there are 822 schools that require replacement at the moment. There are 139 of these for which grants have been sanctioned by the Department of Education, and plans have been received from the Office of Public Works. There are 83 cases in which plans and estimates have been received from the Office of Public Works, but the grants have not yet been sanctioned, but they are being dealt with by the Department of Education. There are 207 cases in which sites have been offered by the local managers, but the plans and estimates have not been forwarded by the Office of Public Works. It will take time to do that. Then there are 393 cases in which sites have not yet been offered by the managers.
That is the position with regard to the arrears of work. That gives an indication of what it amounts to from the point of view of work, on the one hand, and the point of view of finance, on the other.
I should like to refer to the fact that about seven times as much money is allocated every year for primary schools as compared with the vocational side of things. At least the average is seven or eight times more. It is desirable perhaps, in view of the suggestions that have been made, that in the matter of vocational school building the Department is dilatory and cut down to the minimum, that I should make some reference to this matter. There has been an awakening and a developing interest in the development of the vocational side of education, encouraged by the position arising from the war period, on the one hand, and encouraged by a quickened interest in agricultural development, and technique, and the encouragement of the many voluntary societies throughout the country on the other.
Taking the allocations from 1950; that is, the allocations by way of sanction from the Department of Education for the building of technical schools, and the amounts actually drawn from the Local Loans Fund, we find that a considerable part of the moneys were not withdrawn. I give now the estimate from the Department of Education of what it was expected would be withdrawn from the Local Loans Fund in relation to their allocations and the amount actually withdrawn. We find that in the year 1949-50, £71,000 was allocated and £28,000 was withdrawn; in 1950-51, £216,000 was allocated and £58,000 withdrawn; in 1951-52, £237,000 was allocated and £138,000 withdrawn; in 1952-53, £255,000 was allocated and £160,000 withdrawn; in 1953-54, £285,000 was allocated and £128,000 withdrawn; in 1954-55, £208,000 was allocated and £178,000 withdrawn; and in 1955-56, £190,000 was allocated and £93,000 withdrawn.
That implies that there is a considerable amount of work in the building of vocational schools that has been sanctioned and which has accumulated by way of arrears. I made reference in my opening statement to this, to the extent that I said that I am afraid there will be, as a result of this, a clamour for going ahead with this work, just at a moment when the procuring of money to finance these and other capital works is a bit on the difficult side. There was nothing more sinister in my remarks. I merely referred to the existence of difficulties in finding money for this development at the moment, but our desire to find the money is as keen as ever it could be. We realise very much how necessary it is and what is the importance of production in the country, and the importance of providing the facilities required in the rural areas.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he understood it was not in order to teach agriculture in technical schools. I do not know exactly what he had in mind as covered by agriculture, but rural science is a subject that, at any rate, is the basis of any subsequent instruction in agriculture. It could be regarded as teaching agriculture, and, around the teaching of rural science, has developed the discussion group idea which is, in fact, a very practical way of transferring information and developing interest in application. With the machinery that is being provided, any practical or useful development in the teaching of agricultural science can be easily grafted on to the foundation that is there, subject to what may be done on the side of the Department of Agriculture as well.
I have said that there was co-operation between the Department of Agriculture and ourselves in certain matters, and the Department of Agriculture are looking to the vocational education committee in certain areas to lend instructors in building construction for the purpose of instructing some of the Department of Agriculture's officers. It may be recalled that a rather interesting development has taken place in certain counties in the work of building instructors, in that they actually go out, and, with the co-operation of the rural community, are building houses by grant from the local authority or the State. The houses are built as class work and the group of men who want houses built co-operate to build one house after another.
Quite a number of houses have been built in Culdaff, County Donegal, and in the Achill area, in a systematic and helpful way. It is, perhaps, hoped to do something on the side of the Department in helping farmers to build their own outhouses and to give such instruction as that. The idea is only in its development stage at the moment, but it is an indication of co-operation between the Department of Agriculture and the vocational education committees for doing good practical work; work of production, on the one hand, and making it a medium of good practical instruction on the other.
The question has been raised about technological development and the necessity for improving it. The work of the vocational education committee in Dublin, and the basis on which it is set, has been commented upon very favourably, and properly so. Recently a committee was set up, under that vocational education committee, to examine and report on technological training. That report has reached the Department and will be fully examined to see what satisfactory developments can take place under the vocational education committee, to improve technological instruction.
There has been a certain amount of doubt and difficulty as to whether certain schools which are in process of completion in Dublin will be ready in time for the autumn. I am advised that schools at Crumlin, Emmet Road, and Killester, will be in time for the autumn, and that the committee have overcome some of the financial difficulties with which they were faced.
With regard to the Donegal Vocational Education Committee, raised by some of the Donegal Deputies, it is complained that they are not allowed add to their teaching staff and that they were squeezed down in their school development. I had several conversations with groups from Donegal and I thought I had come to a rather satisfactory and progressive arrangement. At the moment the Donegal Vocational Education Committee get from the Department £28,250 as compared with £18,750 from the local authorities and student fees are £950.
It is true that the Department would not sanction a commercial teacher for the Dunfanaghey area because it was thought that it was not particularly desirable or urgent. They also have had to decline to sanction two manual instructors and one rural science instructor. They withheld sanction of the rural science teacher for the reason that there is no qualified teacher available at the moment. The matter will be considered again in October, when rural science teachers will be available. The reason for not sanctioning the appointment of two additional manual instructors is that the committee's current income and expenditure is out of joint and it was felt that it is undesirable that the committee should be allowed to run into debt. All of these matters are fully and sympathetically considered by the Department and there is no undue interference with, or turning down of practical proposals.