Committee on Finance. - Vóta 39—Oifig an Aire Oideachais (d'atógaint).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy Moylan.)

When progress was reported last night, I was referring to Deputy Cunningham's reply to the case which had been made by Deputy Declan Costello with regard to what is commonly referred to as compulsory Irish, by which it is intended to imply the teaching of other subjects through the medium of Irish. I conceded that Deputy Cunningham was, at any rate, theoretically correct in the case he made that, so far as the Department's regulations are concerned, there is not any such thing as compulsory Irish of that sort. Theoretically and technically Deputy Cunningham is correct in that but I do not think that that is by any means the full answer to the point of view which was voiced by Deputy Declan Costello and I think also by Deputy Tully of the Labour Party.

All of us are aware that there is a feeling in the country and that there has been a feeling for some time that some reassessment of the position, some change of outlook, some new approach, is necessary on the question of teaching through Irish. That feeling exists. Various people from time to time have referred to it. It may be that the phrase "compulsory Irish" is a misnomer but, as I say, I do not believe that Deputy Cunningham's reply is the complete answer to the problem which is posed from all sorts of sources.

I do not claim to be very familiar with the topic. I do not claim to be in any way an expert or to hold views which are particularly weighty on the subject of teaching through Irish or as to what can be done, but while Deputy Cunningham is correct in saying that so far as the regulations go there is no such thing as compulsory teaching through Irish, nevertheless, I think it is correct to say—some of the Deputies who are members of the teaching profession can correct me in this if I am wrong— that special inducements are held out to teachers who do, in fact, teach other subjects through the medium of Irish. If there is that particular attraction of special inducements, whether by way of bonus or other cash rewards, while technically it is correct to say there is no compulsion and that it is a matter to be decided having regard to the ability of the pupils and so on, the tendency must perfectly naturally be to teach through Irish if at all possible.

I think the phrases "if at all possible" or "as far as possible" occur in the Department regulations. Deputy Cunningham also gave his own personal experience of a situation which he met in a non-Gaeltacht school where he was teaching. In regard to particular subjects which were being taught through the medium of Irish and where the pupils were not making sufficient progress, he decided that those subjects should be taught through English. He put his views before the Department and, if I recollect what Deputy Cunningham said correctly, the view held by the Department was that to revert to teaching these subjects through English, where they had been taught through Irish for a number of years, would be regarded as a retrograde step.

Deputy Cunningham did not agree with that and resumed the teaching of these subjects through English rather than through Irish. I doubt if every teacher would adopt the same stand as Deputy Cunningham took in face of a view expressed by the Department that the step would be a retrograde one.

The Deputy does not seem to appreciate the calibre of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I intend to be complimentary to Deputy Cunningham in the remarks I am making. I doubt if every teacher would adopt the same stand. The conclusion having been come to that, from the educational point of view, it was bad for the pupils that those subjects should be continued to be taught through the medium of Irish and in face of an expressed view from the Department that to depart from that procedure would be a retrograde tep, I am entitled to doubt whether every teacher would, notwithstanding that, hold to his own views and revert to teaching through English. Deputy Cunningham conceded, when he made the switch, that there was an improvement so far as the pupils were concerned.

Would the Deputy ask the Minister what the special inducements offered are?

I may be misinformed in that.

I should like to know the answer before we go on from the matter. Would the Minister say what exactly these inducements are?

There are none in the national schools.

There are none.

I accept unreservedly what the Minister says. At the outset I said I did not claim to talk with full knowledge of this subject. I understood there were particular attractions. Apparently, that is not so. It may be that the inducements exist from the pupils' point of view. When I was a pupil at a secondary college, there was an attraction to do examinations through the medium of Irish.

There are still inducements in secondary schools.

The bourgeoisie must be encouraged.

The point I want to make is that various references were made to this subject from all sorts of sources and I think not least by members of the teaching profession, members of the I.N.T.O. who called for a new approach to the subject of teaching through Irish. Only this morning there is a report in the newspapers giving the views of a lecturer at a course for teachers conducted by the I.N.T.O. at University College, Galway. Let me now quote from today's issue of theIrish Independent. The report is headed: “Wants New Approach to Irish Teaching.” In this report the lecturer, Pádraig Ó Meara, says:—

"Despite the tremendous progress that had been made in the Irish revival in the Gaeltacht during the past 30 years, the present rate of progress could not save the language.

The national teachers knew this, and hence their demands for a new approach to the teaching of Irish in the schools.

Mr. Ó Meara described the primary school as ‘the powerhouse of the language revival', yet both pupils and teachers, he said, were hampered to a degree that seemed to show that the responsible Department either did not understand the position or, understanding it, made no effort to solve it.

The Irish programme was unsuitable and the system of examining Irish was bad. It tended to confuse pupils, to dishearten teachers, and to break the spirit of inspectors. He had yet to meet a successful teacher of Irish."

He went on to make it clear that he was not attacking the inspectors but that he was attacking what he described as the "machine".

Talking as a person who is interested in this topic as a public representative who does not claim or pretend to be in any way personally familiar with it, I naturally must have regard to the views such as that expressed by people who I assume—and I think correctly— know what they are talking about from personal experience, but the whole thing is extremely difficult because it seems to me that this question is only part of a very much bigger question—the question of the revival of the Irish language.

I do not think we can regard it purely from the point of view of education, of instilling knowledge into the minds of the pupils. It is part and parcel of the bigger question of the Irish language revival. Every Deputy subscribes to the view, I think, that there is a responsibility on every Irish Government to further, as best they can, the cause of the revival of the Irish language. I certainly subscribe to that view. I think most Deputies do, but I am tempted to ask if that view is generally held by the people in this country—whether this Government or the last Government or any other Government have what might be described as a positive mandate from the people with regard to the question of the revival of the Irish language, or is the position that their mandate can be described only as a mandate by default? In so far as my recollection goes, at any rate, the question has never been specifically put before the people for decision.

I do not think there is any political Party in this State, or the likelihood of a political Party ever arising in this State, that will hold the view that it was not the duty of an Irish Government to endeavour to revive the language. However, it is important to know whether we have, as an Irish Parliament, the backing of the people for the policy which is pursued in relation to this question. I am conscious of this and of the fact that in the Constitution—I think it is in Article 8— Irish is referred to as being the first official language of the State. In that Article in the Constitution also, it is provided that laws may be made which would permit the exclusive use of either of the official languages for State purposes—probably for State and other purposes. I do not recall the exact phrasing of the Article. I know it can be argued that in adopting a Constitution with that Article in it, this House and the Government— whatever Government is in power— consequently have a mandate from the people, that the question was submitted to the people and that the people decided Irish would be the first official language of this State.

However, it is also possible to argue otherwise. It is possible—and probably people would argue with ample justification on it—that no Party and no Government have ever gone to the people and said: "Do you want us to go ahead with a policy for the revival of the Irish language or not?" It is a question that can be of importance; it is a question that must be faced because, having regard to the views which one hears expressed from time to time that we are not making any progress towards reviving Irish as a spoken language in this country, I think some Government must face up to this question in a very courageous way.

I believe there is in this country at the moment a sufficiently large reservoir of Gaelic speakers to justify the assumption that, by a more rigorous policy of enforcement, of compulsion if you like, you could, within a limited period, hope to see this country Irish speaking. I am simply giving a personal viewpoint on it. I do not imagine it will find general support in the House, and I do not imagine it will find support from the Deputies who have had the onerous duties of Minister for Education and who have been more into the kernel of the problem than I have.

However, it does seem to me that is one way of approaching the problem. I do not say it is the correct way of approaching it, but we have to get clear in our minds, first of all, what the ultimate aim is. It seems to me there are three targets open to us. We can aim at having this country bilingual— Irish speaking and English speaking— we can aim at crushing out the English language and having this country Irish speaking only, or we can decide to leave things as they are, where the vast majority of the people of the country are English speaking. I think I would be justified in asking are we doing very much, effectively, about altering the position or endeavouring to get away from the position where the majority of the people of the country are English speaking.

I think it is necessary to have a clear statement of policy and I do not say this in any Party or partisan spirit. A clear statement of policy is needed, that will be adopted by all Parties in the House, as to what the ultimate aim is. I think there would be general agreement that the policy should be towards making this country bilingual, that, having regard to our geographical situation, to the necessities of commerce, trade and so on, the English language is a language which it is necessary for us to preserve.

Assuming our aim is to become bilingual, we have got to ask ourselves what are we doing to bring that about. I know the work that has been done by the Department of Education and by the successive Ministers for Education since this State was founded has been good work. It has been work well done, it has been work which I consider well worthy of support from Deputies of all sides of this House. But you have a man such as Mr. Ó Meara, whom I have quoted, saying yesterday:—

"Despite the tremendous progress that had been made in the Irish revival in the Gaeltacht during the past 30 years, the present rate of progress could not save the language."

Assuming our object is to save the language, would it not be possible to go a little bit faster? Would it not be possible to have official Government policy, backed by the support of all Parties in this House, move more rapidly?

It seems to me there are many ways in which the official policy can be speeded up. I have in mind Radio Éireann in which approximately the same time is devoted to Irish news and English news. I think if we are serious, the emphasis should be entirely on Irish news—that is news in Irish. I think we should not do anything more than give headlines in English and that in every sphere in which the Government can bring their influence to bear in so far as publicity is concerned, the emphasis should be in that way. Newspapers could play a far greater part than they do play. The fact that you merely have a daily genuflection to the Irish language in the daily newspapers is one of the measures of the slowness of the progress that has been made.

The Minister has no responsibility for all that.

No, but he might be able to bring his influence to bear on the matter. The position as the Minister referred to it in his introductory speech is that the Department of Education has had a very special association since this State was formed with the question of the revival of the Irish language. The Minister expressed the view that with the setting up of Roinn na Gaeltachta it may be that the special functions and specialised work of that Department will add new vigour and efficacy to the drive for the revival of the Irish language.

The point I want to make, and I do not think it is entirely irrelevant, is that this Government through the Minister for Education and through the new Gaeltacht Ministry, provided it has the active backing of this House, can go a lot faster towards reviving the Irish language. Take for instance State advertisements, or, coming closer to the public, advertisements on C.I.E. buses. There is a national concern, and I think we should make every effort to ensure that the advertisements on C.I.E. buses and trains will appear only in the Irish language. In doing that, we will be doing something to bring the Irish language straight up to the ordinary people in the street whether they are bus users or radio fans, or whatever they are. In the internal working of the Department of Education the Irish language is probably used exclusively. I am not sure of that, but I imagine it is. I think the same thing could be done in every Government Department.

I do not know that there is very much more I have to say on this subject except that I believe that Deputies such as myself, and others also, could do a lot more than we are doing. Many Deputies in this House are competent to contribute to the discussions here in the Irish language. I certainly would welcome it if they did that and did that exclusively. I might then find myself getting sufficient courage to follow their example. It is a good example. I think the Minister deserves to be complimented on the fact that in introducing this Vote he did it at length and did it entirely in Irish. I hope that that will be held as a precedent for this Department and that it may be extended into other Departments.

The whole problem is a difficult one. It is easy to adopt a policy of proceeding cautiously, if you like, but from personal experience I feel that there is very little evidence in this city, in any event, that any real or any marked progress has been made, over the last decade or two. I am one of those who were required to take Irish examinations in the course of their professional studies. Deputies will remember—I think it was introduced by a private Deputy in this House— the Legal Practitioners' Qualifications Act of 1929 which required Irish examinations to be held, but my own experience has been that, while it was necessary to study Irish and have at any rate a reasonable command of the language in order to pass the necessary examinations, as a solicitor practising in Dublin for the last 15 or 16 years, there was only one solitary occasion over that period where it was necessary for me to know a word of Irish.

I have never found it necessary in the course of my professional duties in the courts to know any Irish. There has never been any call for its use on my part except on one occasion in 15 years. I should imagine that other professional men in this city have had the same experience. I do not believe that that is true of professional men in other counties, either in Gaeltacht areas or bordering on Gaeltacht areas, but at least it is some standard by which individuals can measure whether any progress on the question has been made.

I am very glad that General Mulcahy is presiding over the Department of Education and I think it was a very happy choice of the Government in its formative stages to couple, under General Mulcahy, the Gaeltacht Department with the Department of Education. I know it is not intended that that should remain so indefinitely but I think that with his special knowledge of the problems, with his own enthusiasm and the calm systematic way in which the Minister for Education proceeds to deal with these problems, there is ground for hoping that the policy, and the systematic working towards that policy will be speeded by the Minister for Education. As I say, I am glad he took the opportunity in introducing his Estimate to introduce it in Irish and Deputies more courageous than I am, with a greater command of the tongue would, I think, do well to follow his example.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuilimid go léir ar aon fhocal gurb iad na bun-scoileanna na scoileanna is tábhachtaí sa tír. Darnó, tá na hoidí oilte iontu. Níl mórán de na tithe scoile chomh maith agus ba mhaith linn iad a bheith ach taobh amuigh de sin nuair a bhíos ag múineadh roinnt blianta ó shoin chuas ar cuairt chun na Stát Aontaithe agus chuas isteach ins na bun-scoileanna annsin. Bhí focal agam leis na Bráithre Críostúla a bhí ag múineadh ann agus chuireas ceist orthu mar gheall ar na scoileanna in America agus na scoileanna in Éirinn, mar bhí taithí acu ar na scoileanna san dá áit. Dúirt siad go raibh na scoileanna in Éirinn agus na páistí iontu chomh maith agus a bhíodar in America. Dúradar go mbfhéidir go raibh na páistí in America níos tapúla chun ceisteanna do fhreagairt agus rudaí mar sin. ach bhí an t-eolas ag na leanaí in Éirinn chomh glan agus chomh soiléir agus a bhí sé ag na daoine óga sa tír úd thall. Is féidir linn chomh maith comparáid a dhéanamh leis na scoileanna sa roinn thoir-thuaidh den tír seo. Bíonn Cumann na Múinteoirí i dteannta a chéile gach Cáisc in áiteacha ar fud na tíre, uaireanta i mBéal Feirste agus uaireanta eile i mBaile Átha Cliath, i gCorcaigh agus i gCill Áirne agus is féidir leo sin comparáid a dhéanamh le chéile i dtaobh an sórt oideachais agus an méid oideachais atá á mhúineadh sna scoileanna. Táim cinnte go bhfuil an caighdeán chomh hard agus atá sé in aon áit eile sa tír.

Tá rudaí áirithe go mba cheart féachaint isteach iontu. Cuir i gcás, sílim go bhfuil na ceachtanna sna leabhra ró-fhada. Mar adúirt an Teachta Seán Ó Maoláin agus daoine eile inné is fearr roinnt mhaith d'fhoghlaim i gceart ná a bheith ag iarraidh dul trí leabhar mór agus gan ach beagán a bheith foghlamtha as i ndeire na dála. Ba cheart ceachtanna gairide a sholáthar agus ina dhiaidh sin roinnt ceisteanna ar ábhar na gceacht i dtreo go mbeadh caoi ag an múinteoir an rang a bhriseadh ina dhá leath chun ceisteanna a chur ar a chéile uair sa tseachtain nó b'fhéidir ag deire an cheachta. B'fhéidir san tséú rang go mbeadh scéalta níos faide acu ach sna bun-ranganna ba cheart iad a ghiorrú.

Aontaím go bhfuil na téacsleabhra matamaitice sásúil suas go dtí an ceathrú rang ach chualas go minic na cigirí á rá nach raibh na téacsleabhra sásúil ón gceathrú rang suas. Tá a fhios agam gur chuir cigire áirithe leabhair amach ach ní raibh an toradh sásúil ach oiread.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuil sár-obair á déanamh sna meán-scoileanna ach níl an méid Gaeilge go mba mhaith linn a bheith iontu á labhairt sna scoileanna sin. Scrúduithe scríbhneóireachta go léir a bhíonn iontu agus ullmhaítear na daltaí ar an gcuma sin dá bharr. Tá teangacha eile mar an Fhraincis á bhfoghlaim iontu agus is maith é sin. Bíonn a lán taistil faoi láthair idir an tír seo agus na tíortha i Roinn na hEorpa agus is maith an rud go bhfuil na teangacha sin á bhfoghlaim ar scoil.

I should like to stress the views I have expressed about the national schools. I have reason to believe— and I have consulted others— that they are comparable with the schools in any of the countries around us. Nevertheless if we are wise we shall try to improve on what has been done in our schools. Fundamentally the education there is very sound and has proved itself over the years in giving to the Irish people a fundamental training so that they can face similar people, the peasantry of any other country, and have a standard of education which would be no disgrace to Irishmen whether at home or abroad.

The teaching of Irish is very important because it is our native language. Whether we have a specific mandate or not, we certainly have as good a reason as any other country in the world for preserving our own language. Every one of the leaders, not Pearse alone, who struck for freedom in 1916 showed for years before that their sincerity in making the restoration of our language part of their programme, their policy and fight. We want no other mandate than that, that it is our own language and consequently should be preserved. The only thing is that we must set about preserving it in the right way, in the most satisfactory way for students and teachers and for the nation as a whole, so that an interest would be taken in it.

I have suggested to the Minister— and I am speaking from my own experience—that the lessons in, say, the fourth and fifth standards are far too long and that, in a language with which students in parts of the country are not familiar at home, they are weary of those lessons before they come to the end. I have suggested that there should be shorter lessons, that there would be a number of questions set out for the teacher so that he can divide the class into two parts and let them put questions across to one another. Instead of merely listening to the teacher they would gain experience of using the language themselves and become familiar with the expressions. Most teachers will agree that the books in mathematics from the fourth standard up are not as satisfactory as they might be. Inspectors are of the same opinion.

With regard to buildings, the difficulty local authorities have at the moment is that there is a request to bring water and sanitation to a school. That is brought as far as the school wall or school boundary. There is no authority then evidently for bringing it right into the school. Possibly a fountain is erected just outside the school, and the children use it. In new schools this difficulty does not arise because, of course, the installation of water and sanitation is a fundamental in the erection of every new school. Now it will take some time to replace all the old schools. Many of them will be there for years yet. I appeal to the Minister to take some steps to rectify the present unsatisfactory position. Sometimes we get reports from medical officers about the sanitation in the old schools. We may set about doing something to remedy the situation, but we find ourselves up against a stone wall because different Departments have different functions.

In the secondary schools there is very little spoken Irish as far as the pupils are concerned. There is no oral examination and consequently the pupils are trained to get the best results in the written examinations. If they are interested in Irish and are induced to join societies of one kind or another, they get a knowledge of the spoken language. It is satisfactory to note that other languages are also taught in the schools, such as French, Spanish, Italian and German. Intercourse with Western European countries is growing and the learning of continental languages is, therefore, something to be encouraged.

I have had a personal experience of the advantage of learning a foreign language. Last year a student from a Cork secondary school went abroad. She parted from friends in Paris. She was travelling to the Belgian frontier and, unfortunately, the people she was to meet failed to make contact with her and she found herself at a railway junction. She was able to make her way quite well and quite satisfactorily and reached her destination successfully. That shows that the teaching of a foreign language is an advantage. It also shows that the teaching itself is practical.

A most extraordinary situation has arisen in one Cork secondary school. The services of an honours graduate in Irish cannot be procured. Whether the fault lies with the Irish Faculty in the universities is something I do not know. There was an honours graduate teaching in that school; she got married and now she cannot be replaced. Someone should be brought to task for that deplorable situation. It is the universities which train the secondary teachers. National teachers are trained in special colleges.

We cannot admire too much the work that is being done in the vocational schools. These schools are fulfilling an excellent function at the present time because they are keeping in step with industrial progress. Cork vocational students sometimes go abroad. Whenever they succeed in getting into some big industry in London, or elsewhere, others are sent for; they have proved so good that the employing industries send to Cork for more of them. Sometimes these industries, such as Gouldings, ask that facilities be given for these employees to pursue a university course.

Now, we anticipated the establishment of an oil refinery in Cork and we sent the heads of the chemistry department in the vocational school to England to go through the refineries there in order to find out what would be required in the way of education and instruction so that we would eventually have students qualified to take their place in that industry.

Another trend is the fact that we have pass leaving certificate students seeking entry in large numbers to the vocational schools in order to take a commercial course to fit them for employment. This year there have been 120 applications. That is a very welcome trend. There is another aspect in relation to which there should be every encouragement given. Parish halls should be used to supplement the vocational schools. Instruction could be given in such halls on plant growing, fertilisation of crops, soil testing and so forth. Every encouragement should be given to education of that kind, supplementary to the ordinary education given.

Much has been said about progress in the Irish language. The Minister and his predecessors have come to the Comhar na Scoileanna in Cork. They are held for a week every year and thousands of children take part in that festival, thousands of children with a competent knowledge of Irish. Music and other cultural pursuits are pursued and we cannot but feel proud at the progress which is being made in the restoration of culture along these lines.

It is regrettable that the parish feis of our young days has disappeared, except in isolated areas. At all events it is not regarded, as it was in our young days, as one of the annual events. School pupils were trained to compete for prizes for Irish conversation, Irish essays, for choirs and all the rest. There was tremendous work done. Somebody of standing addressed the people of the parish during the feis and encouraged them. They could see the progress that was being made in the speaking of Irish. Whether the people knew little or much of it, they spoke what they could of it. I hope there will be a revival of such feiseanna.

At the Tóstal in Cork this year one of the most pleasing features for any of us who had an interest in the Irish language and Irish culture was that all the announcements were made in Irish, in some cases repeated in English. Strangers from all parts of the world who were present had to recognise that we have a language of our own which was spoken and understood by the people. Even if some people were not very fluent in speaking Irish, it was apparent that progress was being made and that there was every reason to feel satisfied that the move was in the right direction, that the Irish language was an accepted fact, that it was part of our heritage and was being preserved.

I should like to say one other word to the Minister in recognition of the teachers of the past who helped to promote the Irish language by teaching it as an extra subject and who went to great trouble to grasp the language in order to be able to teach it. A small number of those teachers are still with us. Many of them have gone to their eternal reward. Those who retired before 1950 have been seeking a concession which was granted to their colleagues who retired perhaps only a month after the date of their retirement and which has been granted to teachers in the north-eastern corner. The previous Minister for Education, Deputy Moylan, went a good part of the way. He recognised their rights and spread part of the gratuity for which they are looking over three years. I would appeal to the Minister to grant this concession to these retired teachers, even if he were to spread it over a few years. It will not cost a great deal. These teachers gave excellent service in years gone by and did excellent work. At great inconvenience to themselves, they went to special colleges to learn the language so that they could teach it efficiently. The Minister should consider their case as favourably as he can.

Generally speaking, we can feel satisfied that the education given in this country in all branches is keeping well abreast of the times and that the outlook with regard to the preservation and restoration of the Irish language is satisfactory. I went through Connemara last year and, as I have stated in the House already, I stopped for a while in Salthill. A man drew up with a car and the sergeant of the Guards and the children around spoke to the man in Irish. Right through Connemara on to Rosmuc, where Pearse had his little cottage, it was evident that with the slightest encouragement the people spoke in their native tongue.

There are more English people in Connemara now than Irish people.

There may be but I am giving my experience of a short holiday I spent there. On to where the electrical station is being put up and all around that area the people were able to use the native language more fluently than I could use it. There is no reason for despair and there is every ground for hope. It is only faint hearts that can discourage the people of this country from again restoring their ancient language and culture.

A large sum of money is spent each year on education but I maintain that, large as that sum is, it is not half enough. The State will have to cut down expenditure on other matters in order to spend more on education because, unless a man is educated, he will not get very far. There are only half the number of teachers required in the country available for primary or vocational schools. School children could get a better education if there were more teachers. Most of the classes in all branches of education are far too big. We must aim at doubling the number of teachers at present available. It is a high ambition but we must aim at that so that all our people may be properly educated.

It would appear from the speeches made by other Deputies that things are not bad as far as education is concerned, that good strides are being made, that our people are just as well educated as other people throughout the world and, in many cases, better educated. There has been a complex amongst our people that we are an inferior people—uneducated, illiterate, not fit to mix amongst other people. That is not the case.

The Deputy had better tell that to his colleague from Meath.

I will come to that. For 20 years I have been hammering at one project—the provision of a new national school in my parish. The old school building was an eyesore. I am glad to be able to say that we have now got a new national school, which will accommodate three teachers and 120 children, a school which is a credit to the Minister, to the Department and to the people who put up the money. We are happy that that good work has been carried out.

With regard to new schools, I think the Department is going ahead as fast as the resources of the country will permit them. I saw a dozen schools built in my own area. I think that is good progress. We ought to establish teachers on a sound footing. Generally, our young teachers, when they come to a remote country area, stay there for a year or so and then they leave to go to the bigger centres. They rarely settle down permanently in the remote areas. That tendency of young teachers to go to the bigger centres is militating against a stable life in the rural areas. After the clergy, the teacher is the most important element in the country areas. Indeed, our whole national culture can be built round the teachers if they are the right kind and are content.

A lot has been done for the teachers in recent years. Many of their problems were solved although there are a few problems yet outstanding but time will solve them. We have a Minister with a conciliatory outlook in connection with the settlement of disputes. He settled one dispute after another.

The housing of teachers is another problem in the country areas. Most of our young teachers, when they start out in life, have a small salary and are unable to build a house for themselves. I hope the managers and the clergy will make every effort to see that, where a new school is built, a teacher's residence is also erected. If that is not done you will have this continuous movement of young teachers from the remote areas to the bigger centres of population with consequent ill-effects on the rural areas.

Every effort should be made to see that teachers are properly housed when a new school is built. Many of our young teachers in the rural areas must spend a week or a month endeavouring to procure lodgings in poor surroundings where one would be ashamed to see them. Young teachers, coming from the training colleges, should be provided with houses in order to allow them to settle down permanently among the people they have to teach. I see too many of the teachers in my own area going to the bigger centres and leaving a void in the rural areas. Where you have contented teachers you will have contentment all round.

The teacher has always been a person of noble character—a person whom the people respect. If you had contented teachers in the country areas at the present time, the results would be reflected in the type of pupil they would turn out. Why should teachers have to seek work across the water when there is employment for them here? In moulding the character of a child the teacher plays a most important role. Practically nobody can mould the character of a child as well as a teacher and we should inculcate the conviction amongst teachers that their profession is a vocation rather than a way of getting bigger money.

It is easy enough to get thousands of teachers who will be attracted by the salary but the teacher who dedicates himself to teaching as a vocation has almost the same influence as the young man who goes in for the Church. The teaching profession is almost a sacred vocation since the teacher has to deal with the education of children during their most formative years. The teacher is of immense importance in the country areas and we should endeavour to see that our teachers are of the right type, quality and character. To permit persons to enter the teaching profession because they have an eye on the salary is a bad thing. They should regard their job as a vocation.

If they have not the vocation they will never settle down and they will be of no use in moulding the character of people in the remote areas where the Irish spirit exists. It is from these parts of Ireland that the real Ireland springs. At the moment we are passing through a very weak period in Irish history. For the past 15 or 20 years we have gone through a period of reasonable prosperity. It was also a period of materialism. Materialism is sweeping the country at the present moment and unless we can eradicate that spirit it will be very hard to resurrect Irish Ireland. The national spirit at the present moment is almost gone. We must resurrect that spirit if we want to get rid of shoneenism and everything connected therewith which makes for weakness in the Irish character.

With regard to the revival of the language, good progress is being made. Great progress was made during the past 20 years and in the future, with very good pressure at all times, we shall make further progress in the revival of the language so that a generation will arise who will form part of an Irish-speaking Ireland.

One great drawback in the country areas is the lack of parish halls. The national school is most important but after that comes the parish hall. Most of our country areas are too poor to build parish halls of their own. A hall, no matter how small, costs a couple of thousand pounds to build and most of our parishes are all already in difficulties through having to contribute towards other projects. I think the Government should, where there is not a parish hall and where the people cannot afford to build one, construct a hall which should be the centre of the social life of the rural community.

Unfortunately, most of our people in the country at the present moment go to the public house which exerts a very bad influence. I should like to see a parish hall in every parish—a place where the youth could participate in the life of the rural community. It would be worth while spending money on the erection of such parish halls and I would ask the Minister to interest the other Departments in the matter. It is sickening to see groups of people standing round the cross-roads or outside the public houses.

The Minister has no function in regard to parish halls.

I think he could use his influence.

That matter is not relevant.

It is a different matter all right. There was a most important debate on the question of the restoration of the Irish language. I am quite certain there are many things militating against the restoration of the Irish language. First of all, for years we have had an enormous number of cranks who somehow always got to the top. These cranks kept a large number of our people away from taking a full part in the Irish language revival. I hope that with the passing of the years these cranks will fade into the background and that people of broad minds and good character will come to the front.

There is a whole lot of codology about this language restoration. A vast number of people learned the language in order to get good jobs; when they had got the jobs they never bothered about the language any more. You had that happening in every parish in the country. You saw a man who was a great enthusiast in the restoration movement; you would see him on every platform and at every feis. Then when he got a good job you never saw him on a platform again. That bedevilled the efforts to restore the language.

There is no use in talking about the language. I believe all the talk about it is nonsense. Side by side with the restoration of the language, you must also restore Irish culture and the distinctive characteristics of our people. We should cut out all this nonsensical talk and get down to the groundwork. There is more involved than the language. We must get our people to learn the history of our country and to understand it perfectly. There has been too much false history published in this country for years. Let us now try to learn all that is good in our history and destroy all that is bad because we have had a whole lot of bad in our history too.

Is that the history propounded by Deputy Lindsay?

No, it is that taught by Deputy Cunningham.

We must lay a good foundation. There is a weakness in the Irish character which we must eliminate. We have still an inferiority complex instilled into our people by centuries of oppression and tyranny. Our people have been prone to deception, and that characteristic is still there. Many of our people will still tell a lie when there is no need for it. We must get rid of that. We are free now; there is no need to tell lies or deceive any more. We must also teach our people our history, our folklore and our distinctive culture. I am sorry that my colleague Deputy James Tully embarked on a certain statement which was unfair to my county and to this country.

Hear, hear!

I am quite satisfied that the children of to-day are as well educated as the children of 30 or 40 years ago, when 35 per cent. of our people were illiterate. At that time many of the parents could not read, write or think for themselves. In those days, many children left school unable to spell. That condition of affairs no longer prevails. I am satisfied that children of the present-day are fairly well educated, even though they have to learn the Irish language. There is hardly a boy or girl turned out by our schools at the moment who is not able to read, write and do arithmetic. It is no use thinking, on the other hand, that all our children are scholars. They are not. Many of our children are dull and will always be dull, no matter what we do for them. But the vast majority being turned out by our schools are well educated, and, if they are not bright, it is not the fault of the teachers but is due to failure to comply with the School Attendance Act. Many boys can get away with going to school for three months of the year only. How can we expect the teachers to turn them out as scholars? When they are brought to court they say they have been slapped and that they are afraid to go to school, the poor, dear darlings. Every child who has reached the school-going age should be sent to school every day. If he is not it will ruin his chance of earning a livelihood later.

Deputy Tully fell into another trap. Being a young Deputy it is not easy for him to see every trap that is set. Many people read theIrish Times and those anti-Irish writings which are always laying traps for the Irish people. The whole ambition of the author is to see that this country shall not progress as a free nation. I would ask Deputy Tully never to take seriously any of those articles in the Irish Times with those glaring headings.

It was a prominent member of the Deputy's Party who brought it to my attention.

The Deputy ought to have realised that it was theIrish Times.

It was the truth.

It was not the truth. That is only one of the traps set for young Deputies. I am too old a dog to fall for that kind of thing. Whenever the Deputy sees headings like these in any of those papers he should realise they are all traps and he should not fall for them.

The Deputy should see his Bishop.

Whether he liked it or not, a colony of migrants was established in my county. A large colony of Irish speakers from the West were settled at Gibbstown. I am sure the Government meant well when they established a first-class school for that colony. The school was established by the Fianna Fáil Government and I know they meant well in establishing such a school in the heart of the Pale. The only weakness was that there was only one colony. If they wanted to make that school a success they should have established a chain of colonies from Connemara to Meath. Then there would have been some hope for success.

I feel quite sure that the establishment of the school at Gibbstown was a genuine effort to do something for the restoration of Irish Ireland and for the spreading of the language. It may be that there is a decrease in the number of pupils attending that school, that many of them, perhaps 100, have gone to another school. The Gibbstown school is an Irish Ireland school in which, I expect, the teachers teach all subjects through Irish. If you put a colony of Irish speakers into an area, it is only right that such colonies would make every effort to be Irish-Irelanders, speaking the language, learning the language and doing all subjects through the Irish language. If that is the case I am quite happy about it. There should be no inferiority complex when we are making every effort to do something to promote the national language. It is only a small centre that we have in County Meath but from that area, as time goes on, perhaps the language can spread out.

Deputy Tully said there was a poor, dilapidated school not far away which was always crammed with pupils. I could believe that. If the ordinary pupils do not want to study through Irish, they will naturally go to the other school.

And the Gaeltacht pupils too.

That may be the case, but I want the Deputy to realise that these people had the tradition of emigration to England when they were in the West of Ireland, a strong tradition handed down from father to son. That is something that will not die out overnight. I am sure that when the boys in that colony now reach the age of 16 or 17, they are off to England to earn the big money. Some of them settle down there, some come back. But I will not belittle the efforts made by any native Irish Government to lay the foundations of the Irish language in royal Meath. I would ask this Government and succeeding Governments to make an effort to link that colony with the West of Ireland by a chain of such outposts all the way from the west to the east coast. It would do a vast amount of good.

We seem to have this inferiority complex and the feeling that our children are not half-taught because of compulsory Irish. That is false. Everything is compulsory. No child will go to school if you do not make him go; no child will do the right thing. Children will do the wrong thing, if you let them. There is no more compulsion in regard to Irish than in regard to writing or arithmetic, mensuration or anything else. We have just come to the end of a period of some 16 years of the best prices that the world could give us for our produce during and after the war years and if the present generation cannot make an effort on behalf of their own country and their own language they should be ashamed of themselves. They should be grateful that they have a country that is free, thanks to the efforts of Pearse, Collins, Griffith and all the other patriots. The present generation should make a real effort to restore the native culture, the Irish language and if they do not, we are not worthy to be free but worthy only to be a subject nation. I am, however, satisfied that we are worthy of our freedom and of the glorious heritage handed down over thousands of years.

We hear of the persecution in Poland, Yugoslavia and other countries, but we went through all that for several hundred years and it is only now that we can see the sun shining. There should be no shoneenism. A wave of materialism has descended on this country in the last five or ten years and it has destroyed the hope of the restoration of a real Irish Ireland. There is a minority of people in this country who are very hopeful, who are trained and educated across the water and who sneer and jeer at the very idea of Ireland or an Irish Republic. Those people were the leading lights in other days; let us see that they are not the leading lights in Ireland to-day but that they take their rightful place in the back seats.

All over the country at the moment sectional interests are developing into powerful organisations and at the top of the majority of those we find educated English snobs. It is time that we stopped that and made a real effort to give this country back its heritage. I believe we have a mission, and our mission is to do the right thing for our community. The English are proud of their country; let us be proud of ours. Germany, Belgium, Poland, each has its own language—why should we not have our language? But no, we are told that the poor, dear darlings are compelled to learn Irish. I would almost say that if we were to drop teaching of Irish in the schools and teach French instead, the children would be brought from the back streets and the front streets to learn French, but because it is Irish we are trying to restore, it is said to be a terrible curse.

I think that inferiority complex must be eradicated. I believe we have a Minister, a Department and an outlook among the majority of our people which will help us to forge ahead. The present phase in Irish history is the most dangerous that we have experienced in 700 years because the more materialism and comfort there is, the weaker the nation will become unless we can get a young leader in every parish able to stand up and declare that we must resurrect this country and build it up for the Irish people. We have a heritage and a mission to spread the light in other lands as we have done in the past. I want to see that mission carried on in the future.

I would ask this House to be unanimous in seeing that everything we can do to restore the language and the culture of the Irish people is done. Otherwise, we are failing in our task, discrediting ourselves and dishonouring the dead. I would ask, then, in God's name, that there should be no more of this whining and crying about our people not being educated and that we cannot give work to our people. I believe tens of thousands of people have left the country who need not have left. I saw them leave splendid jobs all because of that inferiority complex. They felt there was something big across the water. They were earning £6 or £7 at home but they wanted to earn £15 or £16 in England. They say we cannot stop emigration. I believe that as long as there is big money in England, the people will go there but they will come back when the big money is gone.

That does not arise on this Estimate.

I want to see the foundations laid now so that when these people come back we will be able to absorb them so that they can settle down in an Irish Ireland. I believe that, as the thousands went out in the past, so they will come back in a few years' time, perhaps sooner. That will be a testing time as to-day is a testing time.

I believe this Estimate is one on which every Deputy in the House should speak. It is the most important Department of all because it is concerned with the moulding of the present and future generations and if the effort fails the nation will fail. I think it has not failed and that we are slowly but surely forging ahead. We should try to get rid of snobbery, pessimism and this inferiority complex. We should hold up our heads. There is more in life than materialism, money, comfort or wealth. There is the spirit of the nation to be resurrected and a heritage to be handed on. Let us, in God's name, through the Minister and the Department, settle down to continue strenuously the work that is going on well at the moment and let there be an end to the whining and crying about the Irish language being the curse of the country.

There is always a minority in this country who try to carry the country. Going back 30 or 40 years when there was a military movement here, we had not the majority behind us. It was the minority that carried the flag and the gun, and from that minority we got a majority to come forward and take their rightful places in the nation. It is the same to-day. A vocal minority is a very dangerous thing and there should be a vocal majority to keep that minority in its proper place. If there is, I believe we will win the day. This country is not down and out; it is a country which is doing reasonably well. This nation has come through an Anglo-Irish war, a civil war and an economic war. We have had enormous prosperity for not alone the farmer but the cottier and everybody else with huge amounts of money being poured into this country. In the midst of those things it is hard for us to hold our heads high. However, those things are passing and a new phase is opening up and so the Irish people have an opportunity to make this country worthy of its past.

It is significant that those who were responsible for the foundation of the movement to which I, with others, have the honour to belong, the Labour movement, early adopted as one of the primary tenets of their political faith the motto: "Educate that you may be free". I suppose the word freedom has been used in this country in so many different forms that its true meaning has almost become obscured. It is one thing to get an invader out of your country and to reach a situation where the people who live in the country and who are natives of it are running it themselves, but the essential freedom is the freedom to develop the intellect, to develop ability and to encourage whatever qualities are inherent in the nation. That is the problem which besets educationists, successive Ministers for Education and successive Governments—how best to pursue a policy of education which will benefit our people and bring out the best in them.

I have listened to debates here over quite a few years on this question and when the Irish language comes up for discussion as a hardy annual, everybody says pious things about it, how we should promote its use and how we should encourage it. I admit it is very difficult to find any all-embracing solution as to how to bring Irish back at least as a spoken language amongst the majority of the people. However, there is one thing I hold very firmly, that the policy which has been pursued of trying to teach subjects through the medium of Irish to students who have not got a firm grasp of Irish is a fatal one and one calculated to damage the cause of revival.

As I have indicated before, I speak from personal experience in this matter. How can any student be expected to learn difficult subjects such as I myself had the experience of trying to grasp, for instance, geometry, Euclid, through the medium of Irish, when he does not know Irish sufficiently well to follow it. I think that has been very harmful and it has resulted from over-enthusiasm and no little fanaticism on the part of the advocates of revival. All of us want to see Irish spoken throughout the country. Deputy O'Higgins, in my opinion, was quite right in saying we should define what our objective is. Do we want to see the complete extinction of English and the substitution therefor of Irish as the only spoken language? Do we want to see our country bilingual, speaking both Irish and English? Or do we want to go along as we are, pursuing a policy oflaissez faire, not getting very far and not worrying very much from one day to another.

Obviously we should seek to make our country bilingual. We are living in a modern world where distances are not as far as they were 20 years ago. It is important to make contact with the outside world and the obvious way to make that contact is through the medium of the language spoken generally at least in Europe, America and other parts of the world, that is, the English language. We must at the same time promote as far as we can the use and the love of our own language. That is where we fall down. We do not seem to be able to get across to the children and the older people of this nation any love for the language or respect for it.

I have seen, and so have other Deputies here, people who know the language being ashamed to speak it in public, for what reason I do not know. They are ashamed to be heard speaking it between themselves in public places, whether it be on the street, in restaurants, public houses or elsewhere. We have failed to inculcate into our people a respect and love for the language. I do not know how it will be done. I am not, any more than any other person here, an oracle in that regard. Some people have very easy solutions for every human problem and they will propound them with all the glibness possible but I shall not do that. I do not know how we shall solve this problem but until we succeed in getting our children to like the language, to appreciate the tremendous wealth of beauty that exists in Irish literature we shall not get very far with the revival.

Compulsion in the form that we know it to-day, particularly the compulsory teaching of subjects through the medium of Irish, is very harmful. I have said that many times and I do not intend to be repetitive. Those are my convictions and many will disagree with me. One of the difficulties with regard to the revival is the fact that the majority of children who go to school here must necessarily leave at 14 years of age and go to work. From then on, they are concerned with the struggle for existence rather than any recreation such as the Irish language might afford. One of the reasons for that is that we have not yet reached the stage when secondary education is within the reach of the ordinary people. The average working-class parents cannot afford to send their children to a secondary school. They must leave long before they should to earn their living. It may very well be in the future—we may not be here; the longer one is here the less confident one is in regard to progress in these matters—we shall be sufficiently enlightened to provide free education right up to leaving certificate standard for all our people. Apparently it is too much to hope for now.

So much for the language. No doubt the various clichés will be repeated heread nauseam and we shall wind up much the same as we are now. I rose particularly in this debate to make one point to which I think the attention of the Minister should be drawn. I am informed that there is in the basement of the National Gallery a life-size statue of a very famous Irishman. It is a statue of the late George Bernard Shaw. It would be no more than just, right and proper that that statue should be publicly displayed. Shaw was one of the most outstanding Irishmen this nation has produced. Whatever one may think of his views—and not everybody will agree with his opinions—nobody can quarrel with the fact that he was a writer of outstanding ability. He stood by this nation at a time when this country had few friends. He was an outstanding Dubliner. To a certain extent, he can be said to contribute to our tourist industry.

Americans, and others, come here anxious to see the places where great international figures, like Shaw, lived and had their being, and possibly suffered not a little. That is evidenced in the fact that there are conducted tours to the places where people like Shaw lived. Shaw was a man whom the Dublin Corporation saw fit to make a freeman of their city. Now, in the basement of the National Gallery there is a very fine statue of Shaw.

I would leave it there.

That is the Deputy's opinion. I have no doubt he would be delighted to leave it there. Before Shaw died he wrote to a very prominent Dublinman, a Mr. O'Reilly, an employee of the Board of Works, and he expressed the desire that, in his native city, this piece of statuary should be on display, possibly outside the Municipal Gallery. He also, in his modesty, said that it would be remembered as a fine piece of craftsmanship long after his name had been forgotten. I have sufficient temerity to make the suggestion that this statue should be displayed publicly and I hope that, in time, even Deputy Giles may come to realise that Shaw was a great Irishman.

What? He was an impostor.

I am afraid Deputy Giles is taking theIrish Times line. Shaw is not someone of whom we should be ashamed, despite the vilification of his enemies. Dublin Corporation is a very responsible body. Dublin Corporation made another great Irishman, James Larkin, a freeman of this city. They do not do these things lightly. The freedom of a city is a very high honour. That alone is an indication of the esteem in which Shaw was held by so many of our people.

Education has, of necessity, to be dealt with in a conservative manner. Very little change takes place from one year to another. There have been many complaints about the condition of our schools in rural and urban areas. Yesterday Deputy McQuillan dealt with what he considered to be a grievance, namely, the disparity between the treatment of urban areas and rural areas in the allocation of moneys. If it were not for the fact that we have here in Dublin an unfortunate annual influx of so many thousands from the rural areas, much more money could be made available for the building or reconstruction of schools in the rural areas. Because of the influx into Dublin City and County an educational problem is created; more and more schools are necessary. The population of Dublin at the moment is close on 750,000, nearly one-third of the total population of the Twenty-Six Counties. In that situation there is bound to be a growing demand for more and more schools.

The extraordinary situation now exists, and has existed for some years, that, whereas 20 years ago, the difficulty was to get children to go to school the difficulty nowadays is to get schools to which to send children. The schools are overcrowded, particularly in the new housing areas. These areas are developing to house in many cases, possibly, large numbers of Deputy McQuillan's ex-constituents, and ex-constituents of other Deputies too. These people seem to regard Dublin as an El Dorado.

They by-pass Dublin on their way to Birmingham.

Unfortunately that is not altogether true. It may be the half-way house on their way to Birmingham, but, on their way back, they stay and create a problem for the Dublin Corporation. Dublinersqua Dubliners cannot get a house in their own city and they must look with a bleak eye at the situation in which people from the country with large families—and they do have large families; that is a good thing—get the preference.

I do not think there is discrimination against the rural areas. One must provide money where the demand is greatest. The rural areas should, of course, be fairly treated too. The problem of replacing all our schools is of necessity a big one. Remember, that most of the schools were built under the British régime, within the last 100 or 120 years. Most were built as an excuse; any kind of shelter would do into which to throw the children so that the people would not complain. No doubt most of them were built with slave labour, or as near slave labour as made no difference, and of the worst possible material. All these will have to be replaced. Sanguine though some Deputies may be, one cannot remedy the effect of hundreds of years of British occupation inside 20, 30 or 40 years, not even materially, much less spiritually. I know that the spiritual is far dearer to the heart of Deputy Giles than the material.

Hear, hear!

Major de Valera

This debate follows a pretty general pattern and I do not think I can usefully help by following that pattern. The defects in our system were mentioned by some Deputies and then brushed aside, with a general attribution of them to compulsory Irish. Now, that is simply evading the issue. There are defects, but these defects are in no way due to either the teaching or the speaking of the Irish language. Some time ago there may have been cause for complaint in that regard, but the cause was temporary in its nature and the ground no longer exists. We are losing sight of the problem here by simply pointing out the things that are, perhaps, wrong; children to-day are being turned out with an insufficient grasp of some of the fundamentals and then there is thenon sequitur of reference straightway to the Irish language problem. Now these are two completely distinct issues.

I want to deal more generally, as far as I can here, with our educational system with regard to the product we are turning out. I am afraid it is a fact—and the evidence for it can be adduced, perhaps, from people who are taking young people in for employment, particularly in clerical grades, and the evidence of such people will be reinforced in many cases by university teachers—that there is a complaint generally going around more or less on these lines: that the children who are being turned out to-day are deficient as compared with earlier generations, particularly the generations who were educated, say, 30 or 40 years ago, in such matters as the detailed implementation of a task, the ability to write a business letter—to take a simple thing—the ability to do a calculation and to follow it through. There seems to be a certain dislike to attend to a particular task in detail and to prosecute it through to a finish and the exclusion of other distractions. Perhaps that is a natural human tendency but people who have some experience say that that tendency is more obvious to-day than it was in the past and it is said that such a pattern is too uniform and too common to be accidental.

There is another thing that one hears. It is a type of thing that is, I confess, very difficult to assess. In the case of any private Deputy getting up to speak on such a matter it is a very difficult thing to assess because it all depends on whom he has been talking to. Too often one hears, particularly in regard to secondary teaching, parents complaining that their children cannot do sums, that they have not been taught to write, that they cannot spell, that they have been introduced to all sorts of wide fields but that they are unable to do these simple things that matter. I must confess that there is certain corroboration of that to be found where people are interviewing or examining people for employment, say, in clerical grades.

In seeking for a cause of all that, granting that that is a fair picture and trying to assess it, I think that possibly the root cause goes back to a violent change in our educational outlook here which took place about 1925. There was a reaction. I know that that has been corrected to a large extent in more recent years but at that time there was a very violent reaction which, coupled with other things which happened in the country, had a very unfortunate effect.

I may be permitted to go back a little to that time. I have done it on a previous Estimate some years ago. In the period 1925 to 1929 the system and the programme were so diffuse and nebulous that the whole tendency was to turn out people from the secondary schools—I am confining myself to secondary schools for the moment— with a gentleman-dabbler's knowledge of nearly everything under the sun and a very serious deficiency in basic techniques and detailed knowledge of anything. It was the type of thing that tended to produce smart Alecks who were fundamentally inefficient and basically ignorant at the same time,

I know that that was corrected to a large extent by the introduction of prescribed texts again, and so forth, but I still think that the impetus of that is not completely gone and that what is really wrong—I am talking about our secondary approach—is that there is too much prescribed, the fields are too wide, the courses are too ambitious, the demands on the child are so wide as to deprive him of the opportunity which he really should have of concentrating. That had unfortunate consequences. The plea I want to make, as I made on a previous occasion here, is to narrow down somewhat and then concentrate on detail.

I do not want to repeat what I put on the record in regard to that some years ago. Is there a tendency in the Irish character towards slipshodness when it comes to prosecuting a task to completion? There may be an initial brilliant flash; there may be a certain aptitude and ability for commencing a task and even conceiving how it should be put through. All that is granted and I do not think our people are in any way behind others. In fact I think they have advantages over many people in that regard. But where the failure comes is in dogged detailed finishing of the job and the concentration on those details that make all the difference between a job well done and a job so badly done as to be hardly done at all.

If we could restrict the curriculum, demand more in detail, insist on a smaller course, a more circumscribed course but a more detailed and a higher standard of efficiency in answering on that restricted course, we would be not only helping to solve a number of our educational problems but we would also be making a contribution to the moulding of the national character.

I would like to draw the Minister's attention to some details in regard to these matters, particularly in regard to the leaving certificate of the secondary schools but, before so doing, there is another general aspect to be mentioned. There has been a change in the last 50 years in human society and modern development. There has been a very big change in technical development, in technical evolution and an increase in mechanisation in practically every department of life. There has been—and equally important—a very big change in communications. Naturally following from that, there has also been an inevitable tendency towards specialisation in the individual. These are trends that I do not think should be overlooked. Therefore, merely assessing the curricula in terms of, say, what was tried and successfully tried, I think, at the beginning of this century, the educational programmes and examinations need review in the light of the development I have indicated.

You have this tendency to specialisation. In a nutshell as far as this Estimate is concerned, you have a much greater amount of knowledge to convey to the child to fit him for the ordinary run of life on the one hand and, on the other hand, you have the local problem of trying to educate children to attend to an isolated or particular task or activity and complete the task in detail with efficiency. These two things conflict to a large extent. On that very general basis alone—I will particularise in a moment —I think a review of our secondary education programmes is indicated.

Somebody else in regard to some other part of the debate said you have got to ask yourself what is the objective. As time will not permit going into every course and programme in this House in detail—at least not this session—perhaps the best course to take is the leaving certificate honours and try to see that course in relation to life at the moment here and the general approach which I tried to indicate a few minutes ago. I take that course for the reason that it is the top, so to speak. It is the ultimate that anyone can reach in the secondary school.

That being so, it is natural to look at all other courses as regulated or graded towards that climax. Let me read from the rules and programme for the secondary schools, 1955-56, in respect of the leaving certificate examination under the heading Note:—

"The aim of the leaving certificate is to testify to the completion of a good secondary education and to the fitness of a pupil to enter upon a course of study in a university or an educational institution of similar standing."

"The aim of the leaving certificate is to testify to the completion of a good secondary education." That will be accepted but it may be well to question the meaning of the second part of that clause: "And to the fitness of a pupil to enter upon a course of study in a university or an educational institution of similar standing." What is to be understood by the phrase "fitness of a pupil?" Does it mean they are to get a certain preliminary specialised treatment and education in a subject which they are going to pursue in the university afterwards or does it simply mean a general secondary education of a kind that will fit the individual profitably to follow a course in the university?

Looking through the examination papers—I have them here in respect of three years—I rather think there is a certain lack of co-ordination between all the courses and the general aim. I think that, if anybody were asked, they would say that the basis is to give the child a good all-round secondary education so that, when he goes to a university, a law school or into any other activity or business, he will have that basic education that will enable him to attack the job in hand. In effect, you are saying that the aim would seem to be that specialisation is to come afterwards. I think that is the answer that most teachers and people would give if one posed the question.

On the other hand, reading the examination papers, one gets the feeling that the individual controllers of the courses and the people setting the examination have a much more specialised object in mind even though, perhaps, it is probably subconscious. It is a point though for the Department to examine and I think it is a point to be taken in relation to the general problem as to whether the courses are not too wide and too general in each individual subject, posing the ultimately impossible task to the student of mastering them all and leaving them in that unfinished condition of which I complained in the beginning.

I know I am taking a line here which is not usually taken in this House but it would be no harm to examine the question in that light. If one takes the particular subjects in detail, one is struck by two things. First of all, in connection with some subjects which I will mention in a moment, I would invite the Minister to compare a degree examination—mark you, I say a degree examination—in a university with the leaving certificate honours examination. That comparison alone will show, if you like to use the current phrase, the very high standard of the leaving certificate examination. I should prefer to describe it in less flattering terms myself because I think it is a mistake that that should be so but that is what you will be told.

You will be told: "Of course, the same standard of answering is not required." That is the whole trouble. The same standard of answering the question set should be required at all stages—the standard being sound knowledge, thorough knowledge and an ability to convey to the examiner that knowledge. One hears sometimes, in answer to criticism of that nature, "Of course the same standard of answering is not required." The system that allows that to happen is indicted out of hand in my humble opinion.

I would ask the Minister to compare practically any of his leaving certificate examinations—I have the papers here in respect of three years and I will have a look at them in a moment— with degree examinations in these subjects and I venture to say that there are questions in the leaving certificate examinations that could quite easily and properly be transferred to a degree paper and, on occasion, to an honours degree paper at that. If I am challenged on that, I have one question in mind which is certainly an honours degree question. Is that a sound situation to have? Would it not be better to circumscribe the course? If you like to go back a little bit to the old intermediate viewpoint under the old education board, limit the course, prescribe the course, make your examinations more definite so that the answers must be definite, so that a child will have to answer in a definite way, rightly or wrongly, and that he will be able to show that he has mastered the basic techniques of the subject in question.

I think that is a very urgent task for the Department and the Minister as far as secondary education is concerned. I shall postpone for a moment the following of that up because the details may, perhaps, get a little involved. There is another point I should like to make to the Minister in respect of this. I pointed out that the standard appears to be almost, in some respects, a university standard. People may argue that that is right but I think I have given the answer.

There is another facet of the problem. When a person goes to a law school, a university, some institution in which he will specialise, or maybe into business, he will be a specialist in our modern society, and whatever educationists may say about it, after the child leaves school he will find himself in some rank of society in some specialised occupation and, thereafter, his energies, his studies will, for practically the whole of the rest of his life, be directed to that specialisation.

That being so, I know that educationists will then say that is all the more reason why the secondary school course should be wide. Evading that again for a moment—it is a subject for discussion in itself—and saying we will continue to give a fairly broad basis on which to build, what are we doing about it? Again, on that ground, I am driven back to asking the Minister if he will restrict the courses? Let us compare again the leaving certificate course with certain other courses, whether in law in a specialised institution, in economics in a specialised institution or in the university. The groups of subjects will be homogeneous, related, more or less.

If a boy is sent from a school to a university, to a branch of science, he will have a group of subjects that hang together. If he does medicine he has a group of subjects that hang together. Of course the doctor can still deal in generalities, but with the exception of medicine, in every other department the subjects are not only related but they are closely related. Specialisation goes on in all these lines. When an engineer goes to college he has related subjects, in which he must have an interest, such as mathematics, mechanics and so forth. The lawyer will take legal and political science which have a common interest. That, in itself, helps in concentration, and helps the student at that stage to develop on a general line; in other words, the grouping tends to concentration.

You have the reverse situation in the secondary schools, where you have, for the moment, the theory that you are giving the children a good general education by having a grouping of divergent subjects, a grouping of subjects which are not inter-related. Concentration on one of those subjects does not help concentration of the other, and this makes the task much more difficult and places on the child a greater strain in the interests of specialisation afterwards.

There is a psychological point involved. Most people have aptitudes and inaptitudes and I think a teacher will find in a school that children who find certain subjects easy and who will have a liking for some subjects, will very often have a distaste for others. It is the one for which they have the distaste which will cause the bother and, in specialisation afterwards, presumably the student's tastes will be suited to all the related subjects in the group he takes. The net result of that approach is open to such interpretation that you should have a more restricted field of subjects, a more manageable field which you can use to equip the child with a certain basic knowledge in these subjects, a knowledge from which he can specialise afterwards, and, incidentally, a knowledge that will provide a certain amount of psychological balance afterwards.

Take that in relation to the leaving certificate. According to the syllabus the children must take five subjects. A boy, you will find, will take Irish and English for a start, because they seem to be necessary prerequisites anyway for living in the part of the world in which we live. After that, mathematics in some form are obviously necessary. There is a choice of two other subjects. What is the boy going to do there? Some may take Latin. There is a great deal to be said for the taking of Latin because there are many subjects afterwards where a rudimentary knowledge of Latin is useful. I have spoken of four out of five subjects. Most people, if they have not got anything else in their minds, may take subjects such as music and drawing.

I ask how can you work out a course like that? On that basis, you are simply not going to be able to go into useful detail, detail that will last, and a wide course that will last usefully in these things as we apparently are attempting, in these examinations, to do. A boy wants a modern language under modern circumstances. Without one he will find himself handicapped. If he is doing law it would, as I have said, be very useful for him to have a rudimentary knowledge of Latin. A modern language will not be lost anyway.

There you have probably four out of five for any child, the basic general pattern—Irish, English, Mathematics, and, we will say, Latin, or a modern language. When I say that, I am taking the average boy. On the basis of that let us ask a few questions in regard to these basic things. We will start with Irish. What do we need in respect of Irish? Do we not need a spoken knowledge—is not that what all are talking about—a spoken, active knowledge of the language? Details of literature, what I might call Celtic studies in a specialised sense are, by and large, for the specialist. What we want of the boy or girl coming out of school is a good, ordinary, spoken knowledge of the language.

This question has been gone into in detail already and I do not want to delay upon it. But, could we not in our secondary schools, right through from start to finish, concentrate on one simple thing, on encouraging the talking of Irish, by making it as simple as possible? If that were done we would gain two very valuable things in our educational system, especially when we are not concerned with the specialised pupil. The first valuable thing we would gain would be that we would probably do more for the revival of the language than anything else; secondly, there would be the useful education of the children in the idea of a second language. It does appear that it is harder for people to learn a language if they know only one language than if they have two. The very fact of being bilingual gives a certain facility for the understanding of what language is and for acquiring another language. That seems to be indicated by the experience on the Continent, and the same thing should also apply here.

If we just encourage the children to talk Irish—and we need not be too worried about a detailed knowledge, about poets or anything like that, but only about the spoken language—we will accomplish both of the things to which I have referred. The pupils will not be Irish scholars, but they will be Irish speakers. I know that that would mean a big administrative difficulty because it lays the emphasis on the tongue and not on the pen. It means organising in the schools some method of examining the children orally, and, as I suggest, making the written examinations so simple by comparison with other subjects that all the children will love Irish because it is easy.

This talk about the Irish language being more difficult than any other language is utter rubbish. Every language is difficult if you do not know it at first. I am sorry that the Minister is not present when I say this, but it would be worth while to organise a system by which we would have oral examinations each year for every student. After all, it is possible in Christian doctrine to have children orally examined at the present time and the children, I am glad to say, know their Christian doctrine. We should combine the two things—the emphasis on speaking and the easiness of Irish. There should be an understanding on the part of the examiners that they will simply go in for making the examination papers easy and attractive. Then, as I say, you will have done these two valuable things. So much for Irish.

Now, in regard to English, what we want, as I have said here before, is that the children should be able to express themselves in after life in English. They have to read and express themselves in their ordinary activities through English. I know that in saying this I may be accused of being too practical or too earthy, but the fact is that the ordinary child needs to be able to read and write English, to express himself in English and to be able to reason in that language. Indeed, he should be able to do the same in Irish, and he will, if the approaches that I have indicated here are adopted. In English, the child will need good grammar, good spelling, and good writing—I mean ordinary physical writing—and accurate expression. These are the things that are needed, and I would go rather easily on some of the specialised and ambitious prescribed courses.

It has often struck me—I do not know whether or not I am wrong—and everybody tells me, nowadays, that nobody reads poetry. You can go round to people who have just left school, and we find that the knowledge of Shakespeare generally is pretty poor. I wonder how much of that is due to our education? How many of us have had "Hamlet" or the best part of Shakespeare ruined for us by the approach that has been taken in our educational system to these things? I have often wondered whether the reading of poetry has declined in our population due to the fact that it is being shoved in a compulsory fashion down the necks of the children.

We hear talk about compulsion in education. If the Minister wants my opinion, compulsion of that nature, compulsion of this unnecessary nature is damaging. I hope to come to that in detail and to the actual examination papers in a moment, but the plea I would like to make is that the approach should be from the point of view of the child, whether he is going to be a doctor, an engineer or in business, that a basic command of the English medium of expression would be essential. It seems to me that it is very important from the lawyer's point of view. I know a professor of law who has complained bitterly of the difficulties encountered because of the inadequate teaching in that sense, in the sense that the accurate using of words and accuracy of expression is not insisted on. Children must be given the ability to express themselves accurately and to use words accurately in a way which does not seem to happen now as it happened under another system.

That is a fundamental thing, as I say, in regard to the law but it is equally fundamental in regard to practically any other subject. Even in the case of mathematics one needs to be quite clear on points of basic education, quite clear and unequivocal in expression. Mathematics cannot all be expressed by symbolism. The same applies in the case of any scientific job.

I think perhaps there, more than anywhere else, I have put my finger on what is wrong with our education and the defects of character that have resulted from it.

Moving from English to mathematics, I think that mathematics are completely over-prescribed. I am going to ask a couple of simple questions. Again I come to the papers. Let any of us ask ourselves—that is anybody who has not specialised on those lines in mathematics or science—to what extent do we need these things? Some of them we do need, and in fact, there is hardly anyone who does not need to be able to reckon a sum in money. The lawyer needs to be able to do it; so does the economist and the businessman for whom it is almost part of his stock-in-trade. Practically every one of us needs this ability in addition even if it is only for the benefit of the Revenue Commissioners.

And subtraction of course.

Major de Valera

It would be a very good education if the Minister were to dish out in this House the examination papers in, say, mathematics and let us all tackle them and see what answers we get. In the leaving certificate standard for example, I would like any Deputy to tell me, no matter what he is—and this House is supposed to be representative of the people—of some case during his life, be it long or short, when an occasion arose in the course of his business for him to apply one of these trigonometrical conundrums that appear on our examination papers?

I will go a little further than that. There are some people who, in actual lines that involve mathematical specialisation, do not frequently meet some of those things. These are all very good from the point of view of specialisation and from the point of view even of discipline in method but what I am afraid of in this educational programme is that we are forgetting that we want to turn the child out basically fitted to undertake later a wide choice of specialisation and that if we wish to do that we cannot go into detailed specialisation in these subjects at school stage but rather should we have a more modest, and more general target, as far as these basic subjects are concerned.

In connection with Latin, it is an extremely useful subject. The lawyer will probably need it and there is a wealth of European history associated with it. But what is the use of letting children out of our schools—and many of us were let out of school in this way —having been mangled with Horace and Virgil and things like that at the expense of time which should have been devoted to simple and accurate expression and what I might call the techniques of the language to enable us afterwards to expand on it as we wanted to, having been put on a sure footing.

Again my complaint about the curriculum would be precisely as in the other case, that it is too ambitious having regard to what the child has to do otherwise. You can only cover the course at the expense of time which would have been more profitably devoted to basic techniques. That results in two things, first an incomplete knowledge, which could be a paralysing thing for many types of child, particularly the more intelligent type of child; you leave the child actually without the basis which he should have when he is starting off. Secondly there is the psychological factor that it appears then to the child to be much more difficult than it is and he develops a distaste for it. Surely if we do that in any subject we are defeating our whole aim in education.

It is the same in regard to modern languages. Again it is easy to ask the question: What is he doing them for? He is not doing the leaving certificate examination in order that he will know German, French or Spanish. He will not know any of these languages well if he wishes to study properly the other subjects on the course. Therefore, you ask: What is required in respect of that child? You want him to know certain things about languages which will enable him perhaps to read simple matter in them, but more particularly you want him to be able to use that knowledge in a direction that will be useful or attractive to him afterwards. Supposing he specialises in science and he wants to read the literature of that subject or the current papers in a magazine or journal printed in that language. If that boy gets a good basic knowledge of the language it will be useful to him afterwards. The German he will know, for instance, will be the technical German that he will be able to read.

He will not be able to claim a command of German but he does know enough German to do two things, first to use it the way he wants to and, secondly, if he is interested he has a good basic knowledge from which to learn the language.

That is one type of child. The other type, perhaps the more general type, will be the student who just wants to know it. Give him a good basis and if he is interested afterwards he will go to Germany and he will learn the language there. Lastly there may be the person who is as rare as the first type or more rare, the one who specialises in it as an academic subject, and so on. You have given him a good basis, perhaps the best basis, on which to build. These are the principles I should like to stress in these courses. We want to fit the child for his after-specialisation but we also want to give him the sound techniques and the character training that come from concentration in detail on the job, prosecution of the job and answering in detail to completion on a particular line. That character training is necessary.

In all this I may be accused of having concentrated on somebody who will be going further and of not considering the general education point of view. From the general education point of view the answer I would give would be very simple. You cannot, under the conditions I mentioned earlier, hope to give that detailed knowledge in everything to the child at that period of his life and in the time available. It is no harm to remember that even 50 years ago and before that—and that is a fairly short time in its own way——you had the classical and mathematical subjects. You had Latin, Greek and mathematics, and science was a much more restricted subject than it is to-day. A great deal of time was spent on these and they were done with great thoroughness. But all that was done without the problems of the present day and to a large extent ignoring the other types of subjects which are being attempted to-day.

The fact is, therefore, that as well as being faced with the necessity for getting down to sufficient detail, to mould character and to give a good basis for jumping off into future specialised courses, you have the contradictory requirements that there is a much broader area of general knowledge to be included for the education of the child for this modern world of ours. Even in the broader area of general knowledge, again one restricts oneself to basic techniques. I have here some examination papers and they may perhaps serve to illustrate the type of thing to which I have been referring. Possibly it is a tradition, but one always finds Greek and Latin at the beginning of the books of examination papers. I presume that is traditional respectability——

Or a respect for tradition.

Major de Valera

Those with a sense of humour can perhaps see some humour in it; but the unfortunate who has to cope with it at the examination table sees very little humour in it. I would like to examine the Parliamentary Secretary in this paper. I wonder what show any of us would make without a little bit of notice. This is the 1954 Latin paper. There is a chunk of Horace with a little note: "It was by farming stock that one gloried for Rome." I do not know whether or not that was designed to increase our interest in agriculture. I rather suspect it was not.

Major de Valera

I would invite those who sat for the Latin paper in 1953, 1954 and 1955 to ask themselves now what particular advantage it has been to them to have plumbed the depths of Horace, Livy and so forth? I am not criticising these great writers, but I am criticising the detail and standard of knowledge of their works which are required by the student. Suppose the papers were set with the aim and object of finding out if the child can understand and translate simple Latin and express himself simply in that language, what an improvement that would be. Suppose the child was helped to understand the Liturgy, would not that, in the case of the Catholic child at any rate, give him an immediate and direct interest in the Liturgy? I know classical Latin is sacrosanct. From the point of view of usefulness, even for the lawyer, later Latin is every bit as important. It is certainly more interesting and in many ways easier. Why not cut down the prescriptions in the case of Latin and approach it in the manner I have indicated. Concentration on the Liturgy would be very useful; it would give the child a real and immediate interest. It would do a lot of other things, too, on which I need not expand here. If that is done we will probably find people with a more detailed and useful knowledge of Latin.

Under the present system of examination, one finds that the students are not as well grounded as were their predecessors under the old intermediate system. If the change I have suggested is adopted the student will have a more sympathetic approach. Latin will mean more to him. It will mean a great deal to the Catholic child. Pouring in chunks of the stuff I have here in my hand is not the way to make a child learn Latin. It is not the way in which to interest him in Latin. Why not teach the child some of the very simple and very beautiful poetry of the Liturgy? That would be a distinct improvement on the 1953 Latin paper; here is Horace with a note: "Death is your destiny whether your life be sad or merry." This may be exquisite classical Latin, but I venture to say that the higher spiritual values will be found along the line I have indicated. As a sufferer in the machine; I do not dare to quote this paper in case my quantities may be found wanting.

So much for Latin. If the idea is to make the child a Latin scholar, I would not have the temerity to criticise that paper. But I do criticise it on the basis that it is too ambitious and the corollary of that too great ambition is that on the average no useful purpose is achieved. Indeed, there is too often an adverse effect. How many of us who were tortured with Horace, with Livy, with Virgil and all the rest of them, ever used that Latin later? How many of us have been able to use the knowledge we have acquired in later life? It is only later in life that we find how hopelessly inadequate our education was because nobody had ever grounded us in nouns and verbs and so forth.

Surely the Deputy was taught nouns and verbs and so forth, as well as Horace and Virgil?

Major de Valera

The Deputy knows about them quite as well as the Parliamentary Secretary. We will leave it at that.

I am not suggesting he does not.

Major de Valera

The point is we could have had a much more facile training. I will deal now with mathematics. Here we have a very clear case of what I have been talking about. The difficulty in relation to the mathematical programme is that it is regarded from the point of view of the specialist, from the point of view of the person who is interested only in that subject. The papers take one complexion. The leaving certificate mathematical paper is much too ambitious. Right through the whole course the basic techniques suffer. In other words, if you take a child at the very beginning, in the elementary stage, and, having rushed him through addition, subtraction, division and multiplication, and maybe, the first couple of propositions in Euclid, and then rush him off and try to get him involved in trigonometry before he has grasped the others, you have left him with uncertainty about basic operations and he lacks facility and speed, which makes him suspicious of himself, undermines his self-confidence. If you continue that process right through, he has an uncertain general knowledge; he is a bit afraid of himself and he is constantly handicapped from want of prosecution in detail. That can only be the way if the course is as detailed and if what is required is as advanced —if you like the word—as you have here.

I should like to interject this remark in regard to English. There is one paper in the English papers, the first paper, which is more or less on the line that is required. It seems to be a fairly down to earth, practical paper. The second one, however, is the one of which I complained. The same type of thing happens in regard to mathematics to some extent. I think it would be much more useful, say, even for the leaving certificate, if you had some tests of arithmetical manipulation. I do not complain about the algebra but I do complain about inserting what I would call unnecessary conundrums in the trigonometrical line and I doubt the wisdom at that particular stage of pursuing the calculus, certainly the integral calculus.

In 1953 we had a paper in mathematics. Certainly no one can complain about such questions as the first question on that—the algebraic questions —it is headed "Algebra"—but it does seem to me that when you are asked to evaluate the integrals which are given in Question 8 you have gone over the line. It is not that they are terribly difficult; it is not that, if mathematics were the sole consideration, you would not put them in there and that the child would not know them, but because you can only cover things like that at the expense of something else either in that subject or in another subject. Consequently, I want to ask, in all seriousness, of what possible use to the general student afterwards is that? If he is going to specialise in mathematics and in science he will rapidly get the knowledge of the area that will be covered by questions of that sort. There is one of them on every paper. If he is not, he will not miss it. I am not going to read out the questions because they might cause a printing problem, but there are four integrals here to be evaluated in the 1953 paper. They presuppose the covering of a certain field. That means time. But also I would far prefer to see that the basic principles in relation, say, to a curve, were covered and I fear that only too often is there a rush to cover that type of question at the expense of the basic principles and fundamentals that are intended to be done.

You will find the same type of question on the other courses. Next, coming to the geometry paper, I think I could make my complaint more specific. What do we require in geometry? The ordinary man probably will get by if he knows Pythagoras' theorem but, even if you are going to specialise, again, you want the fundamentals, again, you want facility in manipulations. You can only get that by giving time and, if you broaden the course unnecessarily, you will not have the time for the basic things and they will suffer. My complaint about this is, again, that it seems to be too ambitious in some of these regards. Triangle solution, it seems to me, may be shoved to a fetish.

Question 8 on that paper is typical. I think one gets lost in that type of thing at the expense of some other things which might be more useful. Again, Question 8 on that paper is the type of thing that I think could be contracted.

I would probably be delaying the House if I were to indicate all the papers. On the other hand, for the record, I would like just to draw attention to that particular type of question which will be found in nearly every examination paper. In fact, they are always more or less of a pattern. There is a question of a particular type put down in these subjects.

In general terms then, would I be unreasonable if I made the plea to restrict the course, demand a high standard of answering, a complete standard of answering within the restricted course; make it as difficult as you like, within reason, but cut down the actual course and, in regard to questions like Question 8, say, on the geometry paper, which seems to me to be more or less the pattern every year, limit the scope there and particularly Question 8 on the other paper which again seems to be too wide.

I suppose I should not go into this detail in the House. I take the actual syllabuses as outlined which, I understand, are merely as an indication of an idea of approach, not as positive recommendations. For instance, taking geometry for the leaving certificate, one finds: Ceva's theorem, Menelaus' theorem, fundamental theorem relating to harmonic ranges and pencil, coaxial circles, poles and polars, mean centre (centroid), inversion. Mean centre, you may leave all right, but I think the other is a relic of another time. I had better not go into that. Then there are elementary analytical geometry of straight line, circle and parabola, referred to rectangular axes; solution of triangles; solution of trigonometrical equations. These are all, I think, for this purpose, rather over the ordinary. The point in relation to the calculus is, simply, can you do it? Certainly, I think, judging by the questions, the target is too wide, that one could limit it.

Take any one of these courses then. If there was nothing else to be done, I suppose they could be justified; one could not over-complain about them. I want to stress the fact that the child who has to do all these subjects together has not even the advantage of the university student of working in one specialised group. When you add up all that you have a problem which is not adequately catered for to-day.

I know that all these papers are set by specialists. I should like to ask the Minister another question in relation to that. It is certainly true to say that the leaving certificate in certain subjects at any rate duplicates very much, say, the earlier university courses in these subjects, particularly in science. I have one question which I said is of honours degree standard and I am prepared to meet any challenge in that regard. Many of the questions are of that standard. They are nearly all at least of first year honours standard.

What is the purpose? What children are going to do that? If they are going to specialise they are going to do these subjects over again. Does not that only reinforce my argument in favour of the plea I am making that it would be better on the ground level to prepare the basic techniques for that? I knew one university professor in physics who always maintained that he preferred to have the student who got a good general education and a good grounding in mathematics than the person who had done science before in school. I would not go so far as that. I think that the basic amount of science done should be related to the point where the child is going to start rather than to the point where he is going to finish. There is a suggestion in these papers that they certainly cover the first year course. If the children were merely specialising in these things the bottom would be knocked out of much of what I have to say, but since he has to do them all and do the job effectively, what I am saying has, I think, all the more weight.

Again, there are some subjects here which will be wanted as a basis for nearly everything the child does in life afterwards. The major probability there is that he will not pursue them as subjects ever again. That goes particularly for Irish, English and mathematics. I put Latin in that category as an extremely useful subject. Therefore, in these subjects there is justification for concentrating more on them. There is justification for giving more attention to them but I think that is all the more reason why the basic part of these subjects should be done very thoroughly indeed.

It is all summed up in this. The problem is not so much the subject itself. All of these courses and curricula are very excellent no doubt from the point of view not merely of the person who is controlling that course and setting the paper and carrying out the examination, but what has to be balanced is the correct requirements for the child. It is, of course, the natural inclination of the specialist perhaps to involve the child in overmuch specialisation in the subject. That is a most natural tendency. It takes a very strong mind really on the part of the educationist to say where one is going to stop, the field is so attractive in any subject. The manner in which I make these criticisms to-day takes into account that fact.

But in all sobriety and seriousness I would strongly recommend that in the secondary programme the courses should be even still further restricted. Prescribed, yes, detail attended to and perhaps not only would we not hear the complaints that one hears about the education of children but perhaps do something else as well.

I have taken the secondary school programme as typical and I took the leaving certificate as an example. The same general approach—I should like to emphasise the word "general"—may be necessary in other Departments. Certainly in regard to primary schools the teachers would be helped if that outlook permeated in that direction. I sometimes think that perhaps we do not pay enough attention to the actual individual teacher's point of view on these things and the parents' point of view on them. That may be real commonplace but remember we are dealing with a very commonplace problem, a problem for the whole community. It is an everyday problem. Their views on these subjects can be very enlightening and their approach can in the last analysis be often much more practical than the theoretical educationists or the specialists either in education or in any particular line. I would ask the Minister to give the points I have tried to make here some consideration. There are a number of other examination papers which I have marked here but I do not think it would serve any useful purpose to pursue them all in detail. I think I have indicated generally what is necessary.

To turn away from that matter I want to refer to another part of the Minister's speech upon which I should like to comment. It deals with vocational education. I take it that it is in order. The Minister says:—

"I expect to be pressed very hard during the year to approve of many schemes for which the necessary capital is not available. I hope that committees who may be faced with difficulties arising out of the delay in giving such sanctions will appreciate the position and will be able to maintain a constructive patience born of a secure hope and purpose."

Am I to take that as meaning that——

It is all my eye.

Major de Valera

What does it mean? That is the point. Does it mean there is to be a cessation of activity? That sentence just struck me. In his introductory remarks the Minister said:—

"A further point of interest in this regard is that the Department of Agriculture, the vocational committees and my Department are at present in consultation on the best method of utilising the services of some of these teachers under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture."

Is there some particular scheme envisaged in relation to the two? Are education and agriculture to be combined, and how far are the two activities to be merged? I think the answer to these questions would be of considerable interest to a number of people. I hope that when replying the Minister will give us some idea on them.

When replying, I hope the Minister will also say where these curricula could perhaps be re-examined. This is a most important aspect of the community's activities which comes up once a year. It is only once a year that the Minister for Education has an opportunity of coming in here and discussing this subject with the members. I do not believe in committees and commissions unduly; I am afraid they are all too often an escape mechanism. I think, however, that before the next Estimate is presented, the Minister should take an opportunity of looking into these syllabuses of courses. When all is said and done, Riallacha agus Clár i leith na Meán Scoileanna is a continuing document amounting to the same thing from year to year.

I think it would not be a bad idea at the moment if the Department stopped to have a complete look into the whole matter. I am not suggesting any revolutionary changes would come out of such an examination. However, I think these syllabuses could be recast into something in a stronger form, more restricted if you like, and that the examination papers could be issued on that line. I think a good day's work could be done there. I do not think my approach to this Estimate has been a utilitarian one; it is not aimed at depriving people of knowledge or of liberal education. In fact it is a sure key to a more liberal education. All of us must specialise, and if we had a sound basic training in the early stages of our education we would be all the more ready and able to improve our minds, if you like to put it that way, when we branch out later, either for our pleasure or for our livelihoods, into whatever field attracts us. If we have not got that basic training, no matter how much we would like to do these things, we shall not be able to get over the initial barriers which will be much too high for us.

That is why I strongly press for the teaching of elementary portions of such subjects as Latin or modern languages. At least with these we shall be able to go forward. These are the pleas I would make to the Minister on this Vote and I hope we will be able to see some progress in these matters before this time next year.

I should like to say one last word in protection of myself. I had not intended to do more than to indicate the line of approach to a problem that is there. I think it is a good way of approaching it. Let me not be accused of a definite commitment in detail, because, in the very nature of the problem it would be a very rash thing, in one short period here in the House, to pontificate on any one aspect of the problem. However, I repeat that the matter calls for examination.

In conclusion, I would say that whatever is wrong with our educational system—and there are many things which call for remedial action—it has not been caused by the teaching of Irish. The fault lies in another direction, and that is what I am inviting the Minister to consider. There is a lot to be done about our educational system. There is a fault in the basic character of our system, but whatever fault that is it has not been caused by the teaching of Irish; in fact, the teaching of Irish can be co-ordinated into an improvement of the present system. That is one of the things I should like to emphasise for the benefit of the Minister.

Teastaionn achar beag uaim chun cúpla pointe a chur ós cómhair an Aire. Ar an gcéad dul síos, táim buíoch don Aire as ucht an óráid bhrea a thug sé ag tabhairt isteach an Vóta seo, ag cur síos ar obair na Roinne agus ar na slite atá an t-airgead dá caitheamh. Gan aon amhras, tá suim mhór airgid i gceist anseo. Tá mé lán-chinte gur ceart an t-airgead seo go léir a chaitheamh, ach is í an cheist a chaithfimid a chur ós ár gcómhair ná an bhfuil ár ndóthain tairbhe ag teacht as na híocaíochtaí seo. Dúradh lán i rith na díospóireachta faoi cheist na Gaeilge. Bhi a lán den chaint sin ciallmhar go leor, ach dúradh a lán rudaí dicéillí chomh maith. Pé scéal é, bhi tuairaim ag gach Teachta a labhair gur ceart iarrachtaí nios láidre a dhéanamh chun an teanga a shábháil.

A great deal of the debate on this Estimate has centred around the teaching of Irish. There were divers opinions expressed on this question. Authorities were quoted here to prove the futility of teaching subjects through the medium of Irish. I think that matter could best be left to the schools and colleges which have tried out this experiment with success.

There are schools and colleges where the whole programme has been taught through the medium of Irish and the pupils of these institutions have more than held their own. This has been regarded as a physical impossibility but it has been done, and I know it is capable of being done. It is a tribute to these schools that they have been able to secure that. Much of the time devoted to teaching Irish in the primary schools is devoted towards trying to impart a colloquial knowledge of the language. I know of schools—I had them myself —where boys qualify for the Fáinne and then they leave the national school and when they go on to the secondary school they are faced with such an exhaustive literary programme that the possibility of having time for the spoken language is entirely precluded. There the whole programme falls down.

If we are to preserve the language, we shall have to be satisfied with a lower literary standard in our intermediate schools and to provide time in these schools for attention to the spoken language that has been imparted to the children in their more junior years. That is my humble experience over a long number of years. I have finished with schools now.

As regards education generally in the schools, it is becoming more and more difficult for teachers to maintain proper discipline in their schools. We know that and we must face up to this fact of the present day. There is a loosening of parental control. The teachers could deal with minor misdeeds but they have no authority and no power. The parents have failed to correct their children and the law forbids the teacher to do it. I think there should be some unified approach to this problem by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice. Certainly, every Deputy who picks up an evening paper here in Dublin is appalled by the lengthy litany of petty larcenies committed by boys from eight to ten years of age. This problem is becoming very serious and unless the teachers are provided with the means of dealing with some of these things in the course of their duties these children will eventually grow out of control when they come on to the mature years.

The question of school buildings has been mentioned here. We are all anxious to see proper, hygienic, bright school buildings in the country but I would say that—and it is the conviction of many teachers, many managers and many public men—some schools which were perfectly capable of being renovated or reconstructed have been replaced by new buildings. With our limited resources we should be careful not to go too far in that respect. It is better to provide schools of a mediocre type all over the country than to have a few very attractive in design while others can still be classified as hovels. Our architects should be more practical in their designs considering our limited resources. If we have a bright comfortable building capable of being heated, well lighted, it will satisfy us very well for the time being. We cannot expect to do in a few years what would ordinarily take a generation to do. We started with a great handicap when we obtained our freedom 35 years ago but we cannot be expected to do all that is required in a few years.

Candidly I believe we have moved too fast in many respects and we have lost sight of fundamentals. Character training is more important perhaps than education sometimes and provision should be made in the schools for the teaching of civics. Our young people to-day seem to be utterly regardless of their neighbours' property. They seem to have no conception of their obligations to their elders or even to their own contemporaries. Children should be impressed with the necessity of being more considerate where others are concerned.

There is one matter on which I would like to speak although it might be a contentious matter. It has been spoken of by other Deputies. I should like to follow on their lines and ask the Minister once more to do something for that body of people who gave loyal service as teachers in this country and who retired before 1950. I know it is a delicate matter and I appreciate the Minister's difficulty. We are all aware of the difficulty of providing revenue and of the scarcity of capital for many purposes, but when one thinks that these people started on their teaching careers when a foreign Administration existed here, it must be annoying for them to find that their confreres in the Six Counties have got a greater measure of justice than they have been able to secure in their native land.

Another matter I would like to mention has connection with the primary certificate examination about which Deputy Tully spoke yesterday. He said he was surprised at the few pupils presented for this certificate. We are all aware of that. Every child in sixth standard who has put in 100 attendances must be presented for the primary certificate examination. That regulation is a bit unrealistic. If a child has 99 attendances, there is no compulsion on the teacher to present him. If the child has 101 attendances he must be presented. There are many schools, especially where children are a little below average standard of ability, and it is impossible for a child to cover the primary course with 101 attendances during the year. Some latitude and some discretion should be allowed to teachers in this matter because they are the people who know the capacity of the children. No teacher is going to hold back a child or prevent him from getting an opportunity of qualifying for the primary certificate.

Hear, hear!

, I know that has been the cause of irritation to teachers; it is the reason why they have not thrown themselves wholeheartedly behind the primary certificate examination. I hope the Minister will look into that matter and ease the position in that respect. I do not know how Deputy Tully got the opinion that children of ten, 11, 12, 13 and 14 and over have been presented for the primary certificate examination. Neither do I know whether the statistics that guided the Deputy to form that opinion have taken cognisance of these facts I have mentioned. I believe that the average age at which children do the primary certificate is around 12 years.

In connection with this regulation it may also be mentioned that no teacher likes to keep back or retain a child in a class for the second year because it has an impact on the sensitiveness of a child who feels humiliated when he cannot follow his companions of the previous year. For that reason, teachers are always prone to give a child the benefit of the doubt even against the child's best interests. They allow the child to go on and sometimes a child will reach sixth standard without having adequately covered the programme in the lower standards. That is done in order to save the child the humiliation of being retained a second year in the same class. For that reason also, I suggest the Department should consider this question of compulsion in regard to the primary certificate examination.

Major de Valera

I would just like to say something for the record. In a passage across the House with the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lindsay, I made a certain reference and I want to make it quite clear that in doing so I was not thinking of Deputy Lindsay as the classical scholar which he is. I do not want to claim to have the same knowledge of the classics as he has.

I hope the Deputy was not thinking of him as a historian.

Major de Valera


He is a historian all right, God knows.

I would like to relieve the House by saying that I intend to be as brief as possible in anything I have to say. Principally what I want to say is in relation to the retired teachers who have a grievance regarding their allowances, those who retired prior to 1950. Many of those Deputies who have spoken have stressed their case and the details and the facts of the case are well known to the Minister, so that it will suffice for me to say that I want to add my voice to those of Deputies who made an appeal on their behalf to have the teachers' case reconsidered sympathetically. It is only necessary to stress the change in the cost of living to justify the soundness of their case. Perhaps the Minister met them to some extent but I think the case should not be regarded as being closed.

They can substantiate the case that there is real hardship in many instances and that they are unable to exist on the miserable pittance which has been allowed to them. In many cases teachers who gave 40 years' service in the cause of primary education are living on £3 10s. a week. That is not just, and morally they are entitled to something better. The changing circumstances even since the Minister's predecessor made some amelioration in their position, would in itself justify the case being reconsidered and something worth while being granted to them. Like many other sections of the community they are becoming fewer day by day and the imposition on the Exchequer by any increase given would not be very considerable. I believe— and I am voicing a purely personal opinion—that any steps in the direction of improving the position of these people would get the unanimous support of the House and I would urge on the Minister the reconsideration of their claim.

The interest taken by so many Deputies in this Estimate is in itself indicative of the fact that Deputies generally are aware that any progress being made or likely to be made in the future must be primarily related to our educational system. It is the fount from which all progress must necessarily spring. I do not intend to go into the academic details like Deputy de Valera or to stress points in relation to the setting of papers for the various examinations, but speaking on the broad principles of primary education, I would say that one is sometimes led to believe that too much is expected from primary education. Few people realise that primary education is only a fundamental from which the child may equip himself for the future. As Deputy de Valera said in his long educational lecture here a short time ago, it is intended to turn a child out basically fitted for future life. At its best that is all that one should expect from primary schools. When people expect that all the subjects involved should be thoroughly taught and want to add to a curriculum which is already overcrowded in primary schools, they are placing an impossible burden on them and aiming at the impossible. If children are made to realise that primary education is merely a springboard for future development in their mental outlook, in the moulding of their characters and in their further pursuit of general knowledge and education in whatever sphere they may have a particular aptitude, then they will develop a greater love for primary education as such and we will thereby make much greater progress.

In regard to the points about which Deputy de Valera complained, the complexities of the various papers set for examinations, I think the desire is to make them more and more complex and more and more competitive with a view to eliminating as far as possible many of the people who are seeking admission to the professions. We have very few openings in this country for people in the professions and a desire to make these papers competitive for the purpose of eliminating and controlling admission to the professions has created too high a competitive spirit and that does not ultimately tend towards the greatest good.

Some people who are sceptical come along and ask: "Why do we bother spending money on education for any child since its only outlook is to emigrate?" That applies to counties on the western seaboard very much but my answer is that no matter what the child's future is to be, whether he spends the rest of his life in England, America or any other country of his adoption we should send him out as well fitted as possible so that he will be a credit to the country, less of a burden to himself and will in future life find any training he has got in his youth of the greatest possible benefit. I do not think our problem of emigration should in any way make us reluctant to seek as far as possible the best education we are able to provide for our children. I mean that we should place at the disposal of the greatest number of children the chance of furthering their education beyond the primary school. There is only one way that that can be done and that is a point on which I want to lay particular stress in the few words I wish to say here. I refer to the vocational educational system.

Many thousands of children in this country can never have the pleasure of reaping the benefits of secondary education, nor furthering the education they have received in the primary schools if they are not given a chance of furthering their education in the technical schools. Therefore we are convinced on the western seaboard that any money devoted to the furthering of vocational education is well spent and is basically the answer at least in many cases to all the problems which exist in those areas. I think that in 1956 it is a sad commentary on our educational system that we are not able to say that vocational education is at the disposal of any child who wishes to avail himself of it. We still have many areas in the heart of the Gaeltacht where such facilities do not yet exist and we in Donegal have been repeatedly appealing to the Department and to the Minister for more generous contributions from the Central Fund for the expansion of the vocational educational system in Donegal.

I am afraid I cannot compliment the Minister on having given us anything special in that direction. We shall keep on trying and endeavour year by year to get all the support we can from the Central Fund until such time as we have provided minimum facilities at least, which would be a school within the reach of all the children who wish to avail themselves of it. If we take the history of vocational education in the country as a whole, we discover that other counties have been much more generously treated than we have. We are told, of course, that we have not availed fully of the facilities at our disposal; in other words we have not taken up the full rate available to us.

I should like the Minister to bear in mind that in a poor county like Donegal, where the rate is already 42/- in the £, it is not easy to go as far as we would like, in order to finance an expanding vocational programme and it is only natural, therefore, that the people would look to the Exchequer for greater support. I do not want to labour the subject further than to say that we shall not be content until we have got what we believe is ours of right, namely, a more generous contribution from the Central Fund to enable us to carry on a more extensive programme than we can undertake at present and to provide us with at least the minimum facility of a school within the reach of every child who would like to avail of that facility. If these children do not get the opportunity of developing whatever aptitude they may have, then they must simply be cut out; and when they go abroad, as many of them must, since they are not as well equipped as they might be, they do not do this country the credit they might do, had they been given the chance in life to which they are entitled. For that reason, I make an earnest appeal to the Minister to consider the extra special case we have presented and can substantiate through the Donegal Committee and give us more generous support.

Reference was made to the primary certificate. I want to voice one grievance which exists in Ulster, at least in those counties under the jurisdiction of the Oireachtas. There is dissatisfaction with the setting of the Irish papers in this year's primary certificate in so far as the Ulster dialect was not used. That proved a handicap to many children. The same is true in other instances where the examiner in oral Irish is not an Ulster man and does not speak the Ulster dialect. We have cases on record where children competing in the preparatory examination failed in oral Irish simply because they did not understand the examiner. They were children who had been receiving the deontas all during their time in the primary school. They were native speakers but they failed to reach the required standard in the oral examination simply because the examiner did not speak the Ulster dialect. When children grow older they can more easily distinguish between the different dialects but at 14 and 15 years of age they have not become accustomed to nuances or attuned themselves to anything other than the Ulster dialect and it is criminal to have them orally examined by an inspector who does not speak their dialect. I appeal to the Minister to ensure that that does not happen in future.

I mentioned the deontas. Deputies from Donegal will bear me out when I say that we have frequent complaints from parents because their children are not given the award in a particular year. I understand the reason invariably given in these cases is that the inspector is not satisfied that Irish is entirely the spoken language of the home. I suspect that what happens is that, in order to encourage the use of the language in the homes, the inspector now and again picks out a few, from a particular school, and deprives them of the deontas. For the purpose of giving a warning he does seem to select a few children from each school and deprives them of the award in a particular year.

While that may be designed for the purpose of giving the necessary impetus to the speaking of the language in the homes, it very often has the opposite effect. It very often sours the people and I have known it to happen in cases where children in the house did not actually understand English when it was spoken to them. I think the greatest possible caution should be exercised in the elimination from the award of certain families unless the inspector is perfectly satisfied that he is doing the right thing. I am not saying that he is always wrong but I sometimes feel that he thinks certain of the children are more familiar with English. In that case he gives a warning by witholding the award for a particular year. The children are then examined in the following year to see if the position has improved and receive the deontas. Sometimes one finds justification for the suspicion that the non-award was due to the desire to cut down on the amount of money being awarded.

Nonsense. That is a very unworthy suggestion.

I would like to know the number of people who were deprived of the award last year.

I challenge the Deputy to give me particulars of any case in which he has a serious sense of grievance and I will guarantee to have it specially examined.

If the Minister looks up his files he will find quite a few such cases.

Do not send me searching among the files. Give me the home that stands out in the Deputy's mind in which there is a grievance. If the Deputy gives me the names and addresses, as he should in fairness to the home or homes he is talking about——

I was about to say, when the Minister said, "Do not send me looking up files", that I have written to the Minister on many occasions in relation to many such cases. I have given him five families in the Gaeltacht-speaking district of Teelin where Irish is better known than English.

And what has happened in regard to them?

After four or five months I got a reply to say that the deontas had been paid in a few of the cases which I had brought to notice; in another case it was not seen fit to make the award. The inspector was not satisfied that Irish was entirely the spoken language in the home. One of the families named in that correspondence was a family I visited myself; the children there did not know what I was saying when I spoke English to them. That is the reason I make the suggestion I have made.

I still lay down my challenge. If I get from the Deputy the address of any home in relation to which he has a consistent grievance I will have that specially investigated.

I have given the Minister five families. I have taken up the case of five families which were deprived of the deontas in the townland of Teelin. I am grateful to him for going into the matter, but I am not satisfied that reinvestigation took place.

Give me the names and addresses again.

I got a reply setting out what the position was in relation to each family. Payment was made in some cases. I believe that payment was made after I had taken up the cases. I have at the moment three or four further cases to submit, cases which I shall be very glad to submit to the Minister. Now, while this may be done in the interests of creating in the minds of the people a feeling that they must definitely keep Irish as the spoken language in the home, I believe that the inspector sometimes withholds the award; that victimisation can very often have a certain effect, a certain bad effect.

The awards are made on the basis of fact and will not be made on the basis of anything else but fact. It is not a propaganda movement.

I am sure the Minister is aware that very often the inspector does not examine the children or visit the homes. The names are submitted, possibly by the teacher, and the awards are made. Is the Minister aware that that is very often the case?

I am aware that the inspector has a very difficult job to do and that he does it effectively and conscientiously. If there is any complaint and the Deputy feels that complaint is not investigated fully enough or factually enough, I will see that it is investigated.

My complaint is that the inspector does his work too conscientiously. I am not suggesting that he is slipshod. I believe that he is too conscientious. His desire to ensure that necessary warning is given sometimes has the opposite effect to what was intended. I would ask the Minister to approach the matter from that point of view and to investigate the cases which I will give him in the course of the next week.

The other matter with which I want to deal briefly is the building of schools. We should all like to see schools built more quickly and a heavier programme of rebuilding undertaken but that means capital. If anything could be done to accelerate the school building programme from the present slow-moving rate, it would be one of the most useful things that could be done in the whole field of education. From the day on which the initial move is made to have a school built or rebuilt until the day the key is turned in the door there is usually a lapse of three years. That is wrong. We are told that the delay is due mainly to lack of staff in the Board of Works, that it is a matter which could be more appropriately discussed on the Estimate for that office, but it is sufficiently related to this Estimate to merit consideration and notice by the Minister who is present.

We hear a lot of talk about unemployment and the need for a more vigorous capital development programme. Yet, there is a crying need for some few thousand schools which could be undertaken to-morrow if the necessary finance could be raised for that work. In the whole matter of nation building there could not be a more essential or a more laudable object than a big scheme of school building which would envisage, say, the building of ten schools for the one that is undertaken at the moment. The Minister's predecessor at one time doubled the programme of school building, aimed at building two schools for the one that was previously undertaken. The number of schools yet to be rebuilt, according to the figures the Minister gave last year, goes into thousands, and that is a state of affairs which should be remedied with the least possible delay.

The building of schools, their future maintenance, upkeep and repair, is a most important matter. I think the Minister will agree with me that, when a school is built, a certain amount of land should be acquired on the site, which would provide a playing pitch or facilities for games.

Much of the debate has hinged on the question of compulsion. Deputies have referred to compulsory education. That is a mistake because the word "compulsion" has not a good sound, particularly for children. We should aim at inculcating in the minds of the children a love of education and of school life, rather than compelling them to go to school, rather than that they should be beaten out in the mornings, as has often been the case and is still the case, I am sure, in many homes. We should try to create a desire to go to school rather than to remain at home. The ominous word "compulsion" should not enter into it. The provision of amenities in the primary schools, such as there are in secondary schools, for the playing of games, should be aimed at. When a school is being built or when an old school is being rebuilt, if there is land available on the site it should be acquired. That land might not be developed immediately but could be developed at some time and the enthusiastic teacher, who is always anxious to co-operate and to make the most of the school time, would find means whereby the little pitch would be developed to provide an outlet for the children and to brighten their school life. Extra money might be involved but it would be justified.

The question of the language has been dealt with by every Deputy who has taken part in the debate. I only want to say that the question of compulsion should not enter into this debate or be considered in relation to the language in any respect. It is a word that does not sound well. It always creates opposition. If we could recapture the spirit which existed in the years from 1920 to 1923, there would be no need to talk about compulsion in regard to the language. Most Deputies remember the time of the Truce when voluntary language classes were established throughout the country and the young and old flocked into them in hundreds. There was no question of compelling them to go at that time.

Many people who have a good basic knowledge of the language to-day acquired it then. The proper spirit existed. The people regarded it as a national duty to learn the language. They regarded a knowledge of the Irish language as a weapon in their hands. They were determined to acquire that knowledge, irrespective of how it might upset their ordinary life. If we could recapture that spirit, there would be very little need to talk about this as a problem. The word "compulsion" would not enter into it nor would the question of any doubt as to the future of the language arise. It might not be so easy to recapture that spirit but if an effort were made to inculcate that spirit we certainly would be getting places. "Compulsion" is an ominous word, particularly where children are concerned. Children should be made to realise that the learning of the language is something in which they should take a particular interest. They should be made to realise that it is not just merely something which they have to swot while at school and forget about it thereafter. I agree with those who said that the people who were most amiss in this respect were the professional people, those who get a thorough knowledge of the language and, when they pass on to do their university courses and graduate, they are inclined to forget they were ever taught the language during the course of their earlier education. Sometimes a better example could be given in that respect.

Primary education should be designed for the purpose of basically fitting the child to equip himself for future life. For many people it will be the only opportunity of education they will ever get but, if they avail themselves properly of it, there is no reason why they should not be fitted to learn everything afterwards in the field of education.

We naturally expect an agricultural bias in rural schools and I think it is only right to say that most teachers are already aware of that fact and do what they can in that respect. As well as having an agricultural bias, the system should permit of giving the children a love of their own country. That is just as essential as giving them an education with an agricultural bias. We all remember the opening stanza of a poem in the fourth book years ago, after the first effort was made to recapture the proper spirit. The opening lines are:—

"Land of my birth we pledge to these Our love and toil in the years to be."

There are various other poems designed for that purpose. We had such poems as the one from which I quote the following extract:—

"Breathes there a man with soul so dead

Who never to himself hath said:

This is my own, my native land."

We find that Goldsmith and others gave us example of love of country. It is in the primary schools that we should concentrate upon having that spirit inculcated into the minds of the children.

As Deputy Major de Valera said, primary education should be to fit the child basically for future life so that, if he wishes, he can expand his education as far as it is humanly possible. There are many in this House, even on the Front Benches of the Government, who had merely the advantage of a primary education—and all credit to them. They were self-made men who educated and fitted themselves afterwards for life on the good, sound, foundations which they got in the primary schools. If our primary schools continue to perform that work we shall have no worry about the future generation and even though they may still have to emigrate they will go out better fitted for life and play their part as men and women of the Irish race.

One of the things that first strikes one, reading the Minister's introductory speech, is that it appears more money will be spent in the coming year than in the previous year. While we might have no grouse in that direction in this instance as in many other instances in regard to the various Estimates which came before the House, we find a greater amount of money being spent and the public getting very little extra return for that extra money taken out of the taxpayers' pockets. That is as true of this Estimate as of the Estimates we have already discussed. That brings me immediately to the matter which I particularly want to talk about on this Estimate, which is the financing of vocational education.

Whereas at the start of the Minister's speech, we find a greater amount of money being spent in the Department for the coming year, we find also in regard to the vocational educational branch of the Department a clamping down and slowing up of the building programme and the extension of that very necessary and useful system of vocational schools. When I talk of schools, I am thinking primarily of the schools and the need for schools in my own county. We in the Donegal Vocational Education Committee have reason to be very dissatisfied with the trend which we find is uppermost in the mind of the present Department and the Minister for Education whereby we are being refused sanction to build schools at the moment, schools which we were given to understand, even in the previous term of the Coalition Government when the present Minister was Minister for Education, would be built and which are now regarded as not being sufficiently important or urgent to receive priority in regard to the moneys to build them.

While that is one of the points upon which we have a grouse with the Minister, we also have recently a further grouse. Not only have we not been getting the money or will not get it in the immediate future for the building of schools in the county but recently we were refused sanction to employ further teachers to service the schools in centres already established. It was at a meeting only two days ago that I heard that sanction was refused for the employment of five further teachers in Donegal.

Donegal, I think, is typical of the rural community as a whole. All of us who know anything about the situation realise fully that if the people in rural Ireland are to get any chance outside of the primary schools, then the vocational school programme and system is the only thing that holds out any bright prospects for them. Instead of getting every encouragement, we are not getting that encouragement nor have have we been getting a fair do in rural Ireland, so far as this matter is concerned over the years.

In Dublin you have secondary schools and many of the universities, all of which are subsidised in one way or another out of the taxpayers' money. Despite all these facilities for secondary and higher education you also find that, in relation to vocational education, they are getting what the people in rural Ireland, who have no secondary schools or universities, are being refused. I refer to the situation wherein for every £1 of the ratepayers' money put up in Dublin, £4 of the taxpayers' money is added to it in order to give a vocational service.

It is strange that the big centres which have got the facilities that are denied to the people of rural Ireland in regard to vocational education should get two, three or four times as much money from the taxpayers as we should. That was in the process of being remedied in the last Act introduced by the predecessor of the present Minister, Deputy Moylan. There was in that Act provision by which the matter of financing technical and vocational education throughout the country was to be remedied and levelled up, but the present Minister did not avail of that instrument to do the levelling up in any satisfactory manner. Accordingly, we find ourselves in the position to-day in which we are asking the Minister for more money from the Exchequer in order to relieve the rates. No consideration, apparently, has been given to this vital matter of the ratio of State advances as against advances from the rates for vocational education in rural areas.

Another matter was provided for in that Act introduced by Deputy Moylan. It dealt with the question of schools and services in the Gaeltacht areas. I think the relevant section was Section 103. In my county, and in other seaboard counties, we felt we would come under that section and get very great benefits from it in order that we would be able to give to the Gaeltacht and congested districts the services that are so much needed there in regard to vocational schools. With all due respects to the present Minister, he has not given us anything worth talking about under that section. In fact, I wonder why the section remains in the Statute Book at all since so few benefits flow from it.

In Donegal we expected to get something substantial under the provisions of Section 103 of that Act. Actually, we got an additional £750. That was the sum total of our benefit as a result of that section. I am not talking in any partisan manner when I refer to that £750 because a colleague of mine in the local authority, a prominent supporter of the Minister and his Party, was the first man on his feet at the meeting proposing that we should send the money back. That showed how little we thought of that additional sum.

We have not got a fair deal in the past in this matter and we are not getting it now even though there is legislation to remedy the problem. There is no excuse whatever why the Minister and the Department should withhold what rightly belongs to the people of rural Ireland. It is the right of those people to have within easy reach a technical school to which children, not well enough off to avail of secondary education, can go to get a grind. We are not getting a fair do here. We have not been getting it and apparently we are not to get it in the future.

I would again point out that the big centres of population, with all the other facilities they have, are getting an unfair share of public money as compared with the poorer districts where we have no facilities outside the national schools. This question affects not only the Donegal Gaeltacht but the whole western seaboard.

I should like to refer to the primary schools very briefly. We are spending millions of pounds on health schemes, on public sanitation and water schemes throughout the country. At the same time it is ridiculous to see our schools in rural Ireland without either water or flush lavatory services. That is surely a queer, incongruous position. We spend millions of the taxpayers' money providing new water schemes and giving health benefits, and yet we ask our children to spend the greater part of their waking hours in national schools which are unserved by way of water or sanitation. Perhaps the public water scheme is passing the school gates; perhaps it is not. Whether it is or not, this is one thing that should be looked into.

Another matter that should be considered is the question of cleaning the schools. They are not all kept as they should be. In other cases we will find that schools are not properly heated. How can we ask our children, the future generation of our citizens, to spend the greater part of their day in a school that is not properly cleaned or properly heated and which has not a running water supply or proper sanitation?

There may be difficulties, but whatever they are I believe they should be overcome in this matter. I should like to add my voice to those of other Deputies on behalf of the pre-1950 retired teachers. The Minister's predecessor made some effort on their behalf by giving them one-third of what is apparently due to them. Before the last election, a circular was sent to candidates asking them what their attitude would be to these retired teachers. If I am wrong in this the Minister can correct me but my recollection is——

You have no recollection in the world of me——

Does the Minister know what I am going to say before I say it?

I want to know whether the Minister, in answer to that circular, gave a promise that he would deal with this matter if it came before him as Minister.

No, I did not.

Then the Minister does not intend to do anything about it now, nor did he then. Having said that, I shall finish by again appealing to the Minister on behalf of these pensioned teachers. I hope also that he will bear in mind the points I have made in regard to vocational education in rural areas and in regard to the provision of proper water and sanitation in primary schools.

I want to make just a few points on this Estimate. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again.