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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 8 Jun 1961

Vol. 189 No. 12

Committee on Finance. - Vota 30—Oifig an Aire Oideachais (Atógáil).

Debate resumed on the motion: "Go gcuirfí an Meastachán siar chun a athbhreithnithe"—(Risteárd Ua Maolchatha).

Nuair a bhí an Teachta Mac Fheórais ag caint aréir, dúirt sé nár dhóigh leis go raibh aon chúis mhaoite sa chuid sin de thuairisc an Aire a bhain le tógáil na scoileanna, go bhféadfadh an tAire Rialtais Áitiuil nó Aire ar bith eile scoileanna a thógáil agus go mba chuí don Aire cloí níos mó le cúrsaí oideachais in ionad bheith ag cur síos ar thógáil na scoileanna. D'impigh sé ar an Aire an méid ama a tugadh ar an gclár don stair agus don tíreolas a ghiorrú agus níos mó ama a thabhairt don eolaíocht. Ní thagaim leis sa tuairim sin. Dom dhoigh-se, níl aon dá abhar ar an gclár is tábhachtaí na stair agus tíreolas. Cá bhfuil an garsún go bhfuil braon d'fhuil Ghaeil ag rith trína chuisleanna nach bhfuil mórálach as a stair agus as na buanna a bhain na Gaeil amach. Is minic a chonaic me iad agus a súile ar lasadh le greann nuair a chualadar nó nuair a léadar thar an gcleas a d'imir Pádraig Sáirséal ar Rí Liam ag Baile an Fhaoitigh. Minic a chonaic mé iad agus a gcroí lán de chumha agus de bhrón nuair a léadar faoi bhriseadh ar Ghaelaibh. Músclaíonn an stair grá tíre agus grá cine i gcroí an duine. Bíodh a chruthú sin ar iliomad na leacht a tógadh mórthimpeall na cathrach seo ag comóradh bua éigin, cuir i gcás, leacht Nelson agus leacht Wellington sa chathair seo, leacht an tSaighdiúra anaithnid i Londáin agus leacht mór i gCathair Phárais. Léiríonn na foirgnimh sin dóibh agus do shliocht a sleachta na héachtaí gaile agus gaisce a rinne a sinsear.

Maidir leis an tíreolas, cuidíonn an tíreolas leis an stair agus cuidíonn sé leo siúd a théann thar lear. Tóg an buachall nó an cailín a rachadh go Sasana nó aon tír choigríche eile agus gan eolas ar bith acu ar stair na tíre sin. Déarfaí gur daoine ainfhiosacha agus aineolacha iad. Is minic a fhágadh san aineolas sinn agus is cinnte go rabhamar féin ciontach san ainfhios sin ach is rí-chinnte gur sinne atá ciontach in iuaill agus éirí in áirde an lae inniu.

At the outset, I should like to express satisfaction at the provision in these Estimates for our contribution to UNESCO. It would be helpful if the Minister told us something about the work of that organisation and what will become of our very modest contribution of £9,000 provided in this Estimate. Is it likely that in future years we shall be required to contribute larger amounts? If so, I have no doubt that this House will raise no objection.

It is well to appreciate that no matter how serious our educational problems may be, they are graver in other countries. We have a long tradition to which we must live up in regard to helping less enlightened countries, particularly those in the Far East and in Africa. I have a fair amount to say on this Estimate, some of which is critical but, I hope, constructively critical. However, because it is critical, I want to say at the start that I admit that much progress has been made in recent years in educational matters in this country. I am not satisfied that enough progress has been made but at least we are driving towards the correct goal. Our educational system is riddled with class distinction. World opinion and in particular working-class aspirations are all striving towards the same goal, particularly in western Europe and in America, namely, that class distinction and social and caste distinctions are inadmissible in the new social order we are trying to create.

We in this country are continuing to perpetuate an educational system based on class distinction. As Deputy Costello said here last night, the availability of education, particularly secondary and higher education in too many cases depends upon the depth of the parents' purse. We are creating an élite not of brains or ability but of privilege.

Deputy Corish pointed out that only 111 University scholarships are made available by county councils. Even those are circumscribed by a rigid means test and circumscribed in other ways also. I am aware that there is a school of thought which holds that educational expenditure is not an economic investment, a school of thought which holds that because it will not show a short-term cash profit, we should be chary about the amount of money expended on educational matters. Recently I read a review in an economic journal. A number of German economists analysed the fantastic recovery of the German economy after the recent war. They were satisfied that one factor more than any other contributing to that recovery was the high standard of general education in that country.

It is futile to suggest that education is not an economic investment. Any neglect to develop Irish brains, which are second to none, is a serious misallocation of our national resources. The German economists add a fifth factor to the traditional concept of the factors of production—land, labour, capital and enterprise—the factor of education. That view has been accepted and endorsed as far as I know by all the orthodox economists of to-day.

Education is a productive investment, even in the short-term. I recognise, as the Minister pointed out, that we are spending more than ever on education—£19,000,000 in all. It is a lot of money and it is a very large proportion of our total Supply Services. The North of Ireland is spending £22,000,000 on a population which is only one-third that of the Twenty-Six Counties. Recently, Lord Brookeborough boasted that his Government were spending about six times more per head of the population on certain educational provisions than we are.

We must face the fact that more and more money must be found for educational services, particularly for the capital requirements of the educational programme. I am thinking now of primary schools. This year the Minister is providing £1,615,000 for school building which is a very slight decrease on the provision for last year. The time has come when large capital sums should be raised for educational purposes, in particular to promote the expansion of the school building programme. The Minister has been able to report some progress in school building but if it is to take 20 years to make up the leeway in replacing condemned, insanitary and unfit primary schools, then that period is too long. Building costs are increasing constantly year by year. If the Minister would put pressure on his colleague, the Minister for Finance, and suggest that a special loan issue should be made for educational purposes—call it educational bonds or what you like—I believe there would be a splendid public response to such a loan issue. Large capital sums should be raised and funded exclusively for the development of our educational programme, on the ground that it is one of the most productive capital investments we can make.

As far as the school building programme is concerned, I want to point out to the Minister that building costs are increasing very rapidly. In last week's papers, there was a very striking illustration of that. Six years ago, Dublin Corporation prepared a certain plan for the development of Portmarnock as a tourist resort. That plan was estimated at that time to cost £120,000. It was deferred for some reason or other. To revive the same plan and implement it at current building costs would cost £250,000. Within six years, building costs have more than doubled. If we, during the next four or five years, were to face up to the necessity of increasing fourfold the expenditure on school building, we would be taking a very sound decision and one which would be welcomed by the public and which certainly would not be objected to by anyone in this House.

The simple fact is that we can find money for development when the need is great enough. As Deputy Corish said, in the current year we are finding £5½ millions for the attestation of cattle. That is capital expenditure. On the Army, we are spending no less than £10 millions. We are developing tourism. We are giving free grants even for hotel building. I am not objecting to that but we should take care to watch carefully our scale of priorities and preserve a proper sense of proportion in these matters. The top priority should be educational development.

I welcome the decision announced by the Minister to take over the responsibility, to the extent of two-thirds, for the repainting of primary schools which, as he explained, is one of the costliest items of repair. I wish the Minister would go the whole hog and give a 100 per cent. grant not only for painting but for other forms of maintenance, repair, cleaning and heating. The whole conception that, because primary education is free, there should be some measure of inconvenience or unpleasantness for the people benefiting from it—the idea that a child going to a national school has to bring a sod of turf under his arm to help heat the place, that the children must make some contribution and should not get too much for nothing—is a completely false premise.

The most humble landless man in rural Ireland and the most humble unemployed labourer in Dublin city is paying his share of the cost of primary education. Seventy per cent. of our taxation is raised by indirect taxes. The most humble man who buys a pint of porter or 20 Woodbines or an ounce of tobacco is contributing on a large scale towards these costs. It is true to say, whatever about the policy of the Department, there is a school of thought in the country at large which feels that, even in matters educational, the mass of the people should not get too much for nothing. If that is so, we should do all we can to repudiate it. The notion that schooling is a free gift is quite wrong. It is the constitutional right of every citizen.

Part and parcel of that schooling should entail that the schools which our children have to attend will be properly heated and cleaned. The simple fact in regard to cleaning is this. Too many schools are in a filthy and unpleasant condition. Within half a mile of Dublin Airport, from which we are sending out our jet planes throughout the world, just at the fringe of my constituency, which has been recently extended, there is a certain national school. I shall not hesitate to name it: it is Cloghran National School. The toilet facilities there are stinking and primitive. It is a disgrace to any civilised community that such toilet facilities should be permitted in this day and age. I do not think I am doing the Minister an injustice. I seem to recall a question was tabled on these matters during the course of the past year and I think the Minister had not got an awful lot of information about it. Does the Minister suggest he has no function in regard to cleaning and heating? Will the Minister take it upon himself to see to it that incompetent and lazy parish managers who refuse to face up to their obligations will be rapped on the knuckles and compelled to face up to their obligations?

I am not blaming the parish managers because the scale of grants for heating and cleaning made available by the State to primary schools is simply ludicrous. In a 500-pupil primary school, to cover heating, cleaning and the cleansing of what the regulations term the "out offices", an Annual State grant is available. This is subject to an addition of 50 per cent. for heating. There is £18 for heating, £28 for cleaning and £4 for the cleansing of out offices. That is just ludicrous.

In the same regulations, it is specified in respect of heating that:

Grants may be made towards recouping to managers:—

(a) one half of the certified aid in cash or kind provided by the local parties in respect of the provision of fuel for the satisfactory heating of schoolrooms in the cold season of the year.

But there is a footnote which reads:

Where aid is provided in kind the total amount of the State grant under all heads shall not exceed the total amount of cash expenditure incurred on the heating and cleaning services.

In other words, the regulations tend to envisage and condone the situation in which the child going to a national school is expected to have a sod of turf tucked under his arm and in which his parents are expected to send in the odd sack of turf. We should make clear that we are not prepared any longer to tolerate that situation in this community. Children are entitled to education in proper, civilised conditions. It is their constitutional right and we should face up to the fact that we have got to give it to them. They have paid for it and they are entitled to it. I urge upon the Minister, in particular, that the matter of the stinking lavatories in national schools must be rectified without further delay.

I know one school in my constituency which is very highly thought of. A lot of money was spent on it, and it is a most modern school. The Principal is one of the foremost educationists in the country. This school was brought to my attention a few weeks ago and I admit it was this particular episode which started me thinking about the matter. A friend of mine from the constituency, an insurance clerk, came to me and told me that his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because she was worried about her children attending this national school, and she wanted to take them away from it. He did not want that done because, though he is a university graduate himself, he is a person who, very rightly, puts a premium on the value of national school education. As I say, he told me his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because she was worried about her children attending this modern national school where the lavatories do not work, and she was afraid they would pick up some dreadful disease.

I do not know what to do about it. I am asking the Minister to advise me how I can discharge my duty to my constituent. As a Deputy for the area, am I entitled to go to the manager of the school and ask him what is he going to do about the lavatories that do not work? I have a suspicion that if I did go down to him—I have the highest regard for him but he is getting old and a little past his best—he would smile and tell me that when he was at school, donkeys' years ago, in the back of beyond, they had no lavatories at all. I shall leave the problem to the Minister, but I should like him to advise me what to do about it.

I suggest the Department must take upon itself the obligation to see that these amenities are provided in national schools. It should revise its regulations and make decent 100 per cent. grants available to the managers for cleaning and heating.

Again, on the question of primary education, the Minister has been able to report progress in regard to the training of primary teachers and to the virtual abolition of preparatory colleges. It is time that, in regard to the training of primary teachers, we asked ourselves when are we going to reach the stage at which all our national teachers will have university education as a matter of right and as a matter of course. In addition, we must face up to the fact that the low salaries paid to teachers are quite incompatible with their high professional calling. Indeed, it is true to say that the need for good teachers is more imperative than the need for good schools, great as is the need for improved schools. I am impressed by the case for parity between the teachers in all the schools. I think it is bound to come and must come. I have nothing to say about the national school curriculum at this stage, except that I think the teaching in Irish of very young children is out of place in national schools.

I wonder does the Minister consider that he has responsibility with regard to the growing amount of delinquency and vandalism in the country? Deputy Jones asked the Minister to give a comprehensive review of the state of our educational system, a sort of stocktaking of the system. If he does so, I would ask him to tell us what does he think is the cause of delinquency and vandalism. Is it because the schools are falling down on the job, and if they are, does he think that less concentration on Irish in the national schools, and greater efforts to inculcate respect for law and order and for the social virtues might be a sound policy?

On the question of delinquency, I want to make a suggestion to the Minister in regard to the voluntary endeavours on behalf of our youth in the form of youth clubs through Comhairle le Leas Oige which is assisted out of funds voted to vocational education. Splendid work is being done on a voluntary basis for young people in the Dublin area. I do not know if the Comhairle operates in other parts of the country, but there are three or four, or perhaps more, clubs in the Dublin area where splendid work of an educational nature is being done. It is a fact that in many of these youth clubs voluntary workers give classes in craftwork, and even in the three Rs and Irish. They do that work for the love of it. There are hundreds of these workers in voluntary organisations completely dedicated to youth welfare, and they are doing great work, but they are terribly restricted for funds. It is a pity that their efforts should so often be dissipated in petty fund raising activities— sixpenny raffles and half-crown hops— to finance their work. That is a field in which I think they should be given all the money they want, within reason. Unless the Minister addresses himself to it, no one else in the Government will, because it is certainly an educational field.

I want to make another appeal to the Minister. He is a country Deputy and may not be very familiar with conditions in Dublin. I want to direct his attention to certain parts of the city. Special types of educational problems are likely to arise in the central city area which is catered for by schools like Rutland Street National School, one of the oldest in the city. The children come from underprivileged homes and even broken homes. The educational facilities in past years were never very good because it was felt that, coming from rather squalid homes, not an awful lot could be done for them and that the good work done in the schools was often completely nullified by the domestic background. That state of affairs no longer prevails because of the rising standard of living. Conditions in the homes in those areas have improved vastly. If we permit the material improvement in the the people's conditions to get out of step with the improvement in the educational facilities made available to them, I am afraid we may find ourselves in queer street, and a type of society may develop that none of us would like to see developing.

Again, with regard to the matter of Dublin conditions, I want to direct the attention of the Minister to the great necessity of endeavouring to establish uniform hours as between national and secondary schools or even between all the national schools in a parish. The position in Dublin at present is that there are many housewives with five or six school going children. Two boys may be attending the boys' national school, a girl may be attending the girls' national school, an older child may be going to a secondary school and one, perhaps, to a vocational school. These children come in for their midday meal over a period which commences shortly after 12 noon and does not finish until close on six o'clock in the evening. The question of some sort of uniformity of hours in Dublin city is very important, both from the point of view of the housewives and the children.

I should like to say a diffident word now with regard to school punishment. Deputy Lindsay and others referred to that recently on this Estimate. I must express personal dissent from the views expressed by Deputy Lindsay when he complimented the Minister on his handling of the complaints which have arisen with regard to school punishment during the past year. There is a maxim which says that not only must justice be done but it must be seen to be done. I have in mind two deplorable and shocking cases; in one, a child's ear was pulled half off and, in the other, an epileptic was knocked unconscious. I suggest that the Minister should make a public example of the teachers responsible for these incidents. There is only one thing which should be done in regard to both of them; they should be dismissed from the teaching service. They are not fit to be teachers. It must be made clear now that public opinion in this country will no longer tolerate that kind of abuse of our children in the schools.

In previous years on this Estimate, concern has been expressed in regard to the method used to teach history in our schools. Last year, and the year before, Deputy Dillon in particular had something to say about that. I am afraid that in some cases —they are probably rare cases—the teaching of history is availed of in order to foment hatred and misunderstanding instead of endeavouring to portray our past glories in a factual sense. It is both wrong and evil to use the story of our country, and its past relations with Britain, for the purpose of reviving ancient hatreds. By the mercy of God's providence, we have passed through that period of hatred and the hatreds of the past should now be allowed to die. It is a fact that youthful enthuasiasm can be exploited because youth is emotionally susceptible. To stress the hatreds is to subject youth to misguidance. I have seen one history text book used in our primary schools. It is in Irish. It is in the form of what one might term strip cartoons. From a technical point of view, it is a very sound production. It is full of "jingoism." I believe that some of the trouble which has cropped up on the Border is due to the emotional teaching of history in the schools.

With regard to secondary education, we are providing in this Estimate a sum of £2,863,000 which represents an increase of nearly £250,000 on the amount provided last year. Most of that increase is due to the increases in teachers' salaries. I welcome that increase. There are many excellent points in our educational system but, even though there are, I do not think we should be too smug about it. We are under a tremendous debt to the religious Orders for the splendid educational facilities they make available in the field of secondary education, without any reward whatever, except a spiritual reward. I have heard the view expressed by some of these educationists that they are getting a bit tired of the meagre extent to which the State is helping these religious Orders in the matter of secondary education.

There is great need for expansion of secondary education. Only 20 per cent. of our children can avail of it at present. That expansion cannot take place without more money. On Tuesday, I asked the Minister if he had any proposals, even in embryo, for providing financial assistance for the construction and maintenance of new secondary schools, and the Minister said "No". That was the answer I expected, but he went on to say that when the rates of capitation grant are fixed for secondary schools, due regard is had to all factors that affect the cost of construction of secondary schools, including the cost of construction and maintenance.

I question that. Does the Minister seriously suggest that the capitation grants made available to secondary schools are arrived at scientifically? Does he suggest that the amounts are scientifically measured to include worthwhile contributions for capital purposes, for extension, for maintenance, for renovation, for reconstruction and for new buildings? Of course it does not. The simple fact of the matter is that such provision is not included.

I think it is a shocking state of affairs that in a country which places such a very high value on things of the spirit, we should be dependent on voluntary fund raising activities in the form of raffles, fêtes and pools to provide the moneys necessary for expanding our secondary education. I give a shilling a week to a pool for a certain secondary school in Dublin. A few weeks ago, I was at a gymkhana, a most enjoyable function. Its purpose was to raise funds to extend the facilities available for secondary education in a leading Dublin secondary college. At the same time we are raising £5½ million for T.B. attestation in one year. There is an extraordinary paradox there.

There is need to face up to the necessity for investing money in education facilities, particularly on capital account. Until we face up to the necessity to pay teachers proper salaries, professional salaries, particularly in the early years, we must recognise that there is bound to be continued dissatisfaction and low morale amongst the teaching profession.

I want to refer to the Minister's reply to another Parliamentary Question which I had down a few weeks ago. I asked the Minister if he had any proposals to grant recognition for salary purposes in respect of suitable teaching service in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and abroad to Irish graduate secondary teachers returning to this country to take up employment. The gist of his reply was that by and large as far as Great Britain and Northern Ireland are concerned, he had no such proposals. I think that is deplorable.

I shall take the Minister to task on some few points in his reply but before I do so perhaps I should outline the position whereby many of our graduates, oftentimes many of our best graduates, leave this country because the financial rewards here are not sufficiently attractive for them and take up teaching appointments in Britain or Northern Ireland or abroad. If they want to come back after six, seven, eight or 10 years' experience, no matter how high-grade that experience is, they have to start at the bottom of the ladder at a salary of £4 or £5 a week, although I think the Minister has rectified that to some extent in so far as he is now giving the incremental portion of the salary in the first year. They have to start at the bottom of the ladder and get no recognition whatever for their service outside this country, no matter how high-grade that service may have been.

Or how low it is, either.

I do not know why the Deputy should be so cross about that. I suggest that it makes a mockery of all our lamentation about emigration if we are not going to encourage our graduates to come home. It is a fact that our teachers' qualifications are recognised in the North of Ireland, but if they come back here, we will not recognise their service. If the Christian Brothers want to transfer one of their staff from Armagh Christian Brothers' School to O'Connell Schools or Westland Row in Dublin, they will do so to their financial disadvantage because we will not recognise his service in Northern Ireland.

Other countries operate teacher exchange schemes in order to bring about the exchange of ideas which is essential to the growth and development of any profession, the cross-fertilisation of ideas, opinions and teaching methods. I suggest that our graduates in Britain and Northern Ireland in particular have a very strong claim on the Minister's conscience and I suggest that as he has recognised the principle of giving credit for service outside this country as far as Africa is concerned, a decision which he has made during the past year and one which I welcome, there is no reason in logic why he should not extend that principle.

The Minister said that if he recognised service in Britain and the Six Counties, it would not add significantly to the strength of qualified personnel here, as, in effect, it would merely mean the taking up of a post by a returned graduate as against the post being filled by a young graduate coming out of the university. I wonder is it such a very "mere" type of eventuality, such a very insignificant event?

Of course, the services of the young graduate coming out of the university can be availed of very cheaply, much more cheaply than those of the trained man with experience in the North of Ireland or in Britain but I suggest that a sordid financial consideration of that nature should not count for anything in the Minister's mind in this matter.

The Minister, of course, is in a most invidious position in this matter. He is recognising service in Africa and he will not recognise service in Northern Ireland and in Britain. He says he is doing that in order to encourage and assist the provision of educational facilities in under-developed countries. It is a fact that the vast majority of Irish graduates who will come back from Africa with experience there to take up teaching here are religious and the Minister is leaving himself open to the charge of favouritism, of making fish of one and fowl of another, of recognising service in Africa and not recognising service in Britain from which our lay people will return. That is not a very enviable position for the Minister to be in.

There is a great case for mobility of teachers as between secondary and vocational schools in particular and ideally between all schools, primary, secondary and vocational. I believe they should be all on an equal level. I believe it would discourage in-breeding, if that is likely to arise, and would bring about cross-fertilisation of ideas and methods.

As to the secondary school curriculum, I wonder would I be right in saying that there is a basic fallacy, a completely academic approach, based on the idea that our secondary school students will proceed to the university, and designed to produce university entrants rather than to achieve the education of the whole man? As a result of this academic approach, 85 per cent. of our students do Latin; they cram for Latin. A number of speakers here have expressed the view that too much Latin is being done in our secondary schools. Again, there is this concentration on the humanities —Irish also—concentration on the past and what is dead and neglect of the present and what is living. It is a fact, also, in regard to the question of Latin that two major British universities which could be regarded as the home of the humanities, Oxford and Cambridge, have lately dropped Latin as a compulsory subject.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to a very worthwhile statement which was published recently by no less a person than Professor O'Meara, Professor of Latin in U.C.D., who had this to say in Hibernia in April in regard to the teaching of Latin, and he should know what he is talking about in this matter:

I have over a dozen years' intimate acquaintance with the standard of university students at entry in Latin: I have no evidence to suggest that these students are worse than the average product from the schools, nor any reason to believe that their standard in Latin is notably below their comparative standard in other subjects. I can say with some confidence that the standard in Latin is lamentably bad.

What is worse is that the teaching of Latin—and I know that this is true of other subjects—is attended with—not to put a tooth in it— wholesale, however unconscious, fraud and dishonesty in which we are all involved.

The course for the Leaving Certificate and Matriculation examinations in Latin, as in some other subjects, is the same and is known at least two years before the date of the examination. It is restricted to parts of two texts. In many schools it is the practice to "do" one text for each of the two final years. "Doing" means for all practical purposes half-learning a semiliterate translation by heart.

I remember half-learning by heart a semi-literate translation or the key to Virgil or Cicero. If in one year questions for the Leaving Certificate examination had been taken out of certain chapters in the special text, they would be ignored for study purposes the following year on the basis of the law of averages that the same questions could hardly be asked two years running. Of course that is not teaching in the proper sense of the term.

Those who have spoken on this matter have made a very good case for the reduction in the time devoted to Latin and the encourangement of the study of the more applied subjects and other subjects like art, music and craftwork. There is a great need for a more flexible programme in the secondary schools. In that connection, would the Minister tell us if there is any sound reason why there should not be subject examination rather than group examination, why a student who passes three subjects in the Intermediate or three or four subjects in the Leaving Certificate should not get credit for having passed in those subjects rather than having, as at present, a group certificate?

Employers, the universities or professional bodies could specify what subjects they wish to insist upon for entry to certain posts. For instance, they could specify that three subjects, science, physics and maths, would be required for certain work. If languages were required, that could be specified also. It would enable a degree of specialisation in the later schools years for the Leaving Certificate, instead of the dull repetition of the Intermediate. It is a fact that one of the leading, most progressive Dublin colleges, one of the new Jesuit colleges, does not do the Leaving or Intermediate Certificate at all. If the educational secondary school programme were designed to place a premium on thinking and on initiative rather than on cramming individual subjects, this would be a very good thing. There is no doubt whatever that many of our students leaving secondary schools are astonishingly immature. In a certain capacity, I have dealings with quite a number of them and it is really shocking to find how irresponsible and immature some of them can be.

I welcome the extension of the teaching of science and the steps which the Minister has taken to make grants available to supplement those being provided by the Scientific Education Trust which has collected about £40,000 in the past year or so. There is no doubt that in a scientific age some knowledge of science is necessary, even for the intelligent reading of newspapers.

Tá nós againn Gaeilge a labhairt i dtosach na hóráide ach ba mhaith liomsa scaradh leis an nós sin. Má labhraim Gaeilge anois is é an fáth ná a thaispeáint go bhfuilim in ann Gaeilge a labhairt agus chun a thaispeáint freisin, má tá tuairimí láidre agam i dtaobh athbheochaint na Gaeilge, gurb iad na tuairimí sin is cúis le nach bhfuilim-se in ann í a labhairt mar fhormhór na dTeachtaí sa Teach seo.

Tráth bhí an Ghaeilge cuíosach maith agam ach níl sí anois agus dá bhrí sin labhraim an Béarla chun mo thuairimí agus mo ghearáin a nochtadh ar an Meastachán seo.

My views on the question of the Irish language and its place in the schools are known to the Minister and certainly to some of my colleagues, to some few of whom they may be an embarrassment. I expressed very strong views on the question of Irish on this Estimate a year ago. Having done so, I received dozens of letters from all over the country expressing agreement with what I had said.

I should like, if I may, to read one of them which is from an eminent educationist:

I have been a student of Irish all my life but have been disgusted by the way it has been handled. The major crime in my opinion is the unloading of the revival of Irish on the schools. This task should have been given to voluntary organisations and would have gone infinitely further in that way. The second crime to my mind is that the parents have not been consulted in the matter of compulsory Irish in the schools. I raised my voice in this matter some few years ago on that point and caused quite a storm. The idea that the teachers are responsible to the parents in the matter of education seemed to many to come as something new. It happens to be a fundamental point in all texts of Social Ethics as well as the doctrine of the Papal Encyclicals. There is a great deal of not only prejudices but of ignorance in all this matter.

I am afraid it is a hopeless situation but the people responsible have a lot to answer for. Some people think the teachers are responsible to the State and one gentleman went so far as to say that teachers were responsible to the pupils. That latter opinion actually appeared in the papers. I got letters from all over the country in defence of what I said. They came from University Professors, priests, teachers and parents. I must have got hundreds of them but the opponents were the most voluble and it is they who wrote to the papers. The right cause is going by default. I could say a lot about this but I will not detain you further. I approve of the revival of the language in a reasonable way but I am flatly opposed to the way our leaders have chosen to do it. It is nothing short of a grave injustice.

I am almost reluctant to start on this subject. It is easy to offend sincere idealists who are dedicated to the revival of the Irish language. We have several of them on this side and there are many of them on the other side. If the Minister would do what was suggested in the letter I read out and consult the parents who are the people who have the right to be consulted and who should have the last word in laying down educational policy he will find that their view is that there is too much emphasis on Irish, to the exclusion of other subjects in the educational programme. It is not getting the revival anywhere. That is a point of view which I would impress on those who love the language. If their target is to be achieved, a change in method is essential.

There has been a lot of emotional thinking and emotional views on this matter. It is felt that in some way it is unfair to be analytical about Irish. In this context, I always recall Edmund Burke's definition of emotion—the seducer of reason. Many of the militant Gaels are irrational in their approach. There are those who go red in the face with anger if anybody raises his voice even in a mild way. There are people such as the Minister for Defence who engage in scurrilous abuse of those who favour amendment of the methods employed in this matter. They are called "Quislings", "Castle hacks" and other abusive names. You are guilty of reason if you criticise the methods to revive the language; you are a second-rate citizen. I resent this attempt to create a new privileged class of those who toe the line in regard to education through Irish.

I do not think it matters a damn what language a man speaks, anymore than it matters a damn what the colour of his skin is. I am entitled to my view. I resent being branded a "traitor", a "Quisling", a "Castle hack" or a second-rate Irishman because of that view.

The revival has failed because it has been based on an emotional premise and because it has been associated with so much——


——intolerance and humbug. Those dedicated to the revival of the language must remove the element of racket and "jobs for the boys" which many of us have come to associate with it. I believe the language movement has developed into an instrument of coercion and jobbery. We have heard too many examples of persons with inferior qualifications being appointed to official posts over the heads of better qualified persons, because of their knowledge of the Irish language.

I should like to quote a very eminent person, the senior Professor of Celtic Studies in the Institute for Advanced Studies. As reported in the Irish Times of 7th December, 1958, he said:

The language is only one of many symbols and is valid only for those who choose it. But unhappily it is rapidly ceasing to have any symbolic value at all, because it has been turned into an instrument of discipline. This wicked policy was launched in 1925, and it was inspired, I have long suspected, by a really evil purpose in the minds of a few people who pressed for it, namely, to use the language as a means of transferring power—or rather authority.

At that time, as many of you will remember, all the cultural institutions of the country, except the National University, were in the hands of Protestants: the Royal Irish Academy, the National Library, the National Gallery, the Royal Irish Academy of Music, the Royal Dublin Society, the Museum, the College of Science, even the Society of Antiquaries.

All of that must be changed, and the language was one of the means used. Lyster, John Elington, Praeger, Best, George Coffey, Armstrong, Westropp, none of these men could have passed the test. None of them would stand a chance of appointment now. I shall not dwell upon that painful subject; but I believe that, far from helping the language movement, this turning of the screw has destroyed its value as a focus of allegiance.

There are other badges of nationalism apart from the language. Forty, years ago, the language movement served as an inspiring focal point for the whole nationalist endeavour. Because of emotional recollections of that time, many of the old timers, in particular, amongst us tend to think irrationally on this subject. To suggest that Gaelic is the natural native language of the people whom I represent in this city of Dublin is a complete pretence.

Deputy Ó Ceallaigh spoke of a time when our forbears' children were punished in the schools for speaking Irish. I recognise that fact and it was a dreadful thing to do. Will we rectify it by larruping Irish into our young children in this generation? In too many schools, that is what it means. The result is that they leave school completely sick of Irish. I have seen striking examples of that.

I rarely miss a play in the Abbey Theatre. In recent years, many of the plays there have been followed by a short play in Irish. The play in Irish is usually better theatre than the English production which precedes it because of the deterioration in the standard of English plays presented in recent years in that theatre. Notwithstanding the fact that the Irish play is better theatre, the theatre virtually empties before it is staged. Only about one-tenth of the original audience remain to witness the play in Irish. Those people who leave early do not know what they are missing. They are so prejudiced against the language that they will forgo pleasant opportunities of that nature. Again, the best pantomime put on in Dublin city every Christmas is the Gaelic pantomime at the Abbey. It is put on at reduced prices to encourage the people to attend.

Do the Gaels go every year?

Very few go. I was at it in its third week last Christmas and the theatre was half empty, notwithstanding the fact that there were many school parties there brought in at very reduced prices. The general public just do not go.

I wonder how much has the language revival cost us over the years. These are certain items in out Estimates of which one can put one's finger as definitely ascertainable costs. Many of those items are contained in Vote 34, Science and Art, and are related exclusively to Irish language objectives. Somebody said here last night that no University scholarships were made available by the State— that they were all confined to local authorities, who made very meagre provision. That is not quite accurate. There is provision under Subhead B.3 of Vote 34 in respect of university scholarships. These scholarships are confined to students from Irish-speaking homes in the Gaeltacht or children who will pursue their university education through Irish. There we have that creation of a class of privileged persons, to whom privileges are to be made available which are not available to those who will not conform or will not toe the line in this matter of the Irish language. That is what is particularly reprehensible. We have thrown over class rule. We have thrown over one privileged class and here we are setting up another.

On this question of the financial cost, there is no doubt that it must have run into many millions of pounds. Notwithstanding that, the really significant factor in the cost of the Irish revival, the really significant cost, can be expressed in terms of the opportunities to advance ourselves in other educational fields which we have had to forgo. It can be expressed in terms of frustration, disillusionment and cynicism—frustration, disillusionment and cynicism which, I have no doubt whatever, have driven some of our best graduates out of this country in despair because they do not like the intellectual atmosphere, the spirit of humbug and hypocrisy which they have come to associate with the Gaelic problem—the principle whereby you are a second-rate Irishman, if you do not conform and are guilty of treason if you dare to dissent. I am sorry these views I am expressing are so unacceptable to many Deputies, particularly dedicated people like Deputy Manley and Deputy Jones, whom I respect so highly, but I would urge on those dedicated idealists that they must purge the Gaelic movement of the element of racket which so many of our citizens have come to associate with it, the element of jobbery. Until that is done, the Gaelic revival movement will not get anywhere.

I have spoken for longer than I intended, but I have not very much more to say. Our system of vocational education is the brightest feature of our whole educational system. I want to know when are we going to incorporate the vocational schools properly into our whole educational system? Seventy-five per cent. of the working hours in vocational schools are devoted to the pursuit of full-time educational subjects. Many vocational students, in the Dublin area in particular, are following courses similar to those in the secondary schools with this exception; they are not doing Latin and they cannot enter a university. We come back to the old class element that I have referred to in my earlier remarks. The universities are to be reserved for the products of our secondary schools, whose fathers can pay the fees to send them there. The students who go to the vocational schools and pay low fees cannot proceed to a university. I want to know when are these vocational schools, which are doing work similar to that of the secondary schools, to be properly integrated into our educational system. When will we have a system on the lines of the grammar and secondary modern schools such as is the practice in other countries?

It is most interesting to note that the expenditure per pupil in vocational schools is three times greater than the expenditure per pupil in secondary schools. I am not raising that point in any way to criticise the provision made for vocational education—quite the contrary. I think it proves that we must provide more for our secondary schools.

Coming to the provision for universities, we are again up against this question of class distinction. If you can afford to pay the fees to send your child to the university, it is open to him; if not, there are only 111 scholarships provided and they are circumscribed by a rigid means test and other restrictions as well. We must make it clear that we will not tolerate any longer this arbitrary restriction which confines university education to those whose fathers have long purses.

I know there is a school of thought which says that too much money is being spent on university education. We are inclined to point out that much of it is being spent for the purpose of educating graduates for export. It is far better to export university graduates than navvies and domestic servants; and if our people must emigrate, at least let us see to it that they emigrate fit to take up the positions to which they are entitled in the countries to which they emigrate. Unfortunately, too many of our people, people with a high quality of intelligence and high calibre brains second to none have to work as navvies when they emigrate to Britain, when they should be doing the far more advanced work of which they are capable.

I know an Irish priest who is engaged on full time work on behalf of our emigrants in Britain. He has said to me that, much as he deplores the emigration of young people of 16 and 17 years from Ireland to Britain, he would, if anything, like to see them emigrate even earlier, if emigration is unavoidable, in order that they could take courses of technical training, or apprenticeship courses, which are available under the British educational system as a whole. I know that, in a few cases where he was very familiar with the facts, he has actually brought over to Britain school-going children of 11 and 12 years of age, and fixed them up in certain training courses.

On the question of university education, we are inclined to restrict our expenditure on the ground that it would be unreasonable to allocate as high a proportion of our national resources as is allocated in Britain. That comparison with Britain is invalid. The simple fact of the matter is that in Britain there is a vast volume of opinion which is very dissatisfied with the proportion now made available for university education. Rather than looking to Britain to make our comparison, we should look to America or perhaps to Germany.

In America in the relevant age group —I do not know exactly what it is but it is probably 17 to 24 years—25 per cent. of the population attend university or professional schools, as against 4 per cent. here. Our target must be the provision of more and improved facilities for higher education. I hope the Limerick Deputies keep up the pressure, as they are entitled to, for if not a university college, some form of higher technical college for Limerick.

Let us hope in regard to the universities generally that when the £13 million is expended on the new buildings for U.C.D., they will be in the hands of a more enlightened administration than they are at present. I should also like to direct the attention of the Minister to proposals advocated in the Press some months ago by the very distinguished educationist and Knight of Malta, Mr. Eoin O'Mahony, who is a graduate of both National University and Trinity College. He suggested that some move should be made to provide a social centre for our students in Dublin. Dublin is a university city of not inconsiderable standing, and I suggest that some of the moneys voted by the State for university buildings should be earmarked for a students centre in which students from all our colleges and professional schools could mix socially, and where they could have the cross-fertilisation of ideas and opinions which is essential to the advancement of learning and, indeed, of civilisation.

Many of those who have spoken on this Estimate have had the advantage of many years teaching experience which gives their contributions an interest and a value. My remarks are based mainly on casual observation. I am satisfied that in spite of the various difficulties encountered, satisfactory progress has been made in the various departments of education throughout the past few years. No one, I am sure, will deny that such improvements were urgently needed. Our schools in general were in a rather deplorable condition, and we have been informed that 25 per cent. of our national teachers were untrained. That certainly was a very unsatisfactory and rather serious position.

I realise that that problem is not confined to this country. In England, there is a great shortage of trained teachers. Many of our teachers are working over there at present. I should like to ask the Minister if serious consideration has been given to that aspect of the problem; the question of our teachers across on the other side. The Minister, I am sure, is perfectly familar with all aspects of the problem, but I think it would be of great advantage to all if he would announce even a long term policy on this question. I am certain that many of these well-trained teachers would be very anxious to return and I urge on the Minister to make reference to that aspect of the problem.

As we all know, our teachers are of vital importance to the nation. On their fitness for their high vocation depends very much, not only the progress and prosperity of our country, but also the passing on to the younger generation of the traditions that are our heritage. Therefore, it is obvious that the first essential is to ensure that our teachers are properly trained and highly qualified to educate the children to meet the requirements of a rapidly changing world, keeping always in mind the true purpose of education. In that respect, from conversations I have had with educationists in my constituency, I am satisfied that the Minister is deserving of the highest praise for the advances he has made. I should like to congratulate him on his achievements and on his devotion to the high office of the proper training of our youth.

The increased number of schools during the past four years is certainly a very welcome sign of progress. We all agree that in design, layout and equipment, they are a credit to the country. I believe they compare very favourably with the most modern developments in other countries. That is only as it should be because teachers and pupils have to spend very long hours in these classrooms and environment has a very important influence on the training and teaching of children. Apart from the effect of pleasant surroundings—good lighting, proper ventilation and general hygienic conditions—it would be very bad training for the children if the teachers urged them to be neat and clean in their persons and in their homes, while that example is not found in the school in which they are being taught. For that reason, I draw the Minister's particular attention to a problem that, oddly enough, progress has created. We have provided the children with pleasant homes and encouraged them to keep them in proper order. Our new schools are most attractive. They are noted for their colour. The floors and walls are brightly painted. The surroundings generally are scenic. All these things create an impression of cleanliness. In fact, it is very easy to keep these establishments clean.

Adjacent to some of these modern schools, we have old schools. This is where the problem arises. These schools have a very fine teaching tradition. In comparison with the new schools, these old schools are anything but attractive. We find in them solid concrete floors and staircases. No matter what labour is put into maintenance and cleaning, it is virtually impossible to make these floors and staircases look clean. I think that is rather an unfair handicap on the managers of these older schools, which still have before them a long period of useful service.

I would ask the Minister to study this problem with sympathetic care. I suggest that where schools have a good teaching record and a good record from the point of view of maintaining the buildings, the Minister should be more than generous in enabling the authorities to modernise them and to equip them with floors and staircases more in keeping with the type of new school so generously provided. I am encouraged in this appeal by the announcement—a very welcome announcement on the part of the Minister—that it is intended to provide a grant for the painting of schools. That announcement has been received with great appreciation by all concerned.

I should like to say a particular word of commendation about one particular school erected recently in my constituency. I refer to the new schools of St. Augustine's. Long years ago, I took the late Seán Moylan, when he was Minister for Education, out to see this school. He was so impressed by the splendid work being done by the Brothers of St. John of God and so aware of the necessity for better surroundings for these little children that he determined something would be done as quickly as possible. We are all very grateful that quite recently the Minister for Education opened a magnificent new school there a school which is a great credit to all concerned in it.

The school is admirably designed. The colour scheme is attractive. Its aim is to enable these handicapped children to be trained. I pay tribute to those who were generous enough to provide the school and I pay tribute to the Brothers for the magnificent work they are doing for these mentally handicapped children. I sincerely hope that the example set by St. Augustine's will be quickly followed by the erection of similar schools in other parts of the country, so that these handicapped children may have an opportunity of getting the most modern education that can be provided under very satisfactory conditions.

Another school I should like to mention is Scoil Lorcan in Monkstown, an all-Irish-speaking school. That school was an experiment in the Borough of Dún Laoghaire. I am happy to be able to tell the Minister that the experiment has been eminently successful in every way. So efficient are the management and the teachers that the school is at present rather overcrowded and both management and teachers have the satisfaction of knowing that there is a long waiting list. That clearly demonstrates the need for this type of school in that area. From my own observation, I can state unequivocally that the establishment of this school in Monkstown has done an amount of good in fostering the Irish language in the Borough of Dún Laoghaire. As a result of its success, I believe similar schools are likely to follow in my constituency. I would ask the Minister to be as generous as possible to those who will undertake this good work. It is work that is greatly appreciated by both the parents and the children of the borough.

With regard to technical schools, I am convinced that it would be quite impossible to over-praise the magnificent work being done by the Dublin vocational schools. The one thing that strikes me about these schools is the earnestness of the students. Their application to their various pursuits is a credit to them. Students taking advantage of these classes have at their disposal very highly qualified teachers, teachers who work unceasingly in the interests of their students. It is appreciated that considerable sums have been granted for the extension of these institutions in Dublin and, in my opinion, that investment is a very sound one from a national point of view. The amount of useful work being done in these schools is very difficult to describe. The impression I have got from them suggests to me that some of our university authorities would do well to study the industry, discipline and efficiency of technical schools in Dublin because there is much to learn from their example.

There are two developments about to take place that will have an important effect on education—the building of new premises for the National University at Belfield and the establishment of a television service. Let us hope that both of these developments will, in their different spheres, serve Ireland well.

I am satisfied that the Minister has the proper programme and a sound policy for the development of education. We all realise that, despite what has been achieved up to the present, we are still lagging behind very seriously in many aspects but I believe the Minister's policy is the correct policy and that he is achieving results. May I hope that he will continue in office to implement fully the policy he has initiated?

The first item we should discuss is the condition of primary schools. I wish I could share the happy views expressed by Deputy S. Brady about beautiful school surroundings, colouring and so on. That may apply, perhaps, in some places but taking the over-all picture for the country, we are far short of the ideal that Deputy Brady has described.

As regards primary schools, it may be well to divide the problem into two parts. First of all, there is, in my opinion, need for a greater sense of co-operation in every parish. People may express extreme views in the public press but it might be wise to take the middle of the road and admit the necessity for a sense of co-operation between managers, teachers and parents in rural areas.

It is not easy at times to provide money for various improvements but there are cases where it would not cost a great deal to make certain improvements in national school premises and where the difficulty seems to be that there is no co-ordination of effort. If there were parish committees, in which all parties could come together, a great deal could be done to improve schools for the benefit of the children of the parish. The amenities and the conditions of schools could be improved at an early stage by the co-operation of all the people in the parish at a comparatively low cost whereas if that work is left undone the amount ultimately involved will be so large as to necessitate calling on the central authority for help.

There is, of course, the problem of the very bad school premises in rural areas. Unfortunately, too many of them still exist. Far be it from me to accuse the Minister of not doing his part. It is only fair that I should congratulate him on his efforts to solve the problem, a problem which existed long before he became Minister for Education and which faced Ministers for Education in all Governments. Despite all the efforts, I am afraid the progress has not been sufficient. It may be that this problem should be faced by the Government as a whole. A Minister for Education cannot demand too much from the Government of which he is a member when the Book of Estimates is being prepared. He must take his place in the queue and be satisfied with small amounts year by year. The tragedy is that under this system so many schools in rural areas and in the larger centres have been deteriorating to such an extent that we are not catching up with the problem of replacement. Far be it from me to decry the progress being made by the officials of the Department connected with the replacement of schools. From my experience of all concerned, they have at all times done their utmost to help.

There is one problem that we are not solving. A report goes to the Department about the necessity for the replacement of a school. It is transmitted to the Board of Works. There are reports from the architectural branch. Plans have to be prepared and eventually the proposal is lined up in a long queue and, after a long period of time, is advertised. It is essential that the Department of Education, above all other Departments, should have its own architectural section to deal with the problem of the replacement of very bad school buildings. I can see the Minister's difficulty. He has to be satisfied when he is told that the Board of Works are tied up with work for other Departments. It is about time that we got rid of a system that is not satisfactory and of which the Minister for Education at all times seems to be the victim, of having to wait to get assistance from another section of Government who, unfortunately, cannot cope with the many calls on them from all Departments simultaneously.

If we are to make progress in providing new school buildings to replace the many disgraceful buildings, the first essential is to have an architectural section as part of the Department directly responsible to the Minister for Education. I shall not discuss this question of school buildings further. I know the Minister is doing his utmost and I hope he will continue to do all he possibly can to solve this problem.

Then there is the question of examinations. It is my view that there are too many examinations, particularly in the primary schools, about which most of us know so much. So many examinations tend to direct the boys and girls into a particular channel and give them the idea that they must at all costs obtain a certificate. In endeavouring to do so, the mind is not enlarged to assimilate ideas that will help mental development at a later stage. There is very little use in boys and girls proudly showing that they succeeded in the Intermediate Certificate or Leaving Certificate when they are so limited in their views on everyday life. It would be better if there were a little less emphasis on directing the mind towards a particular channel, bringing the boys or girls back over the papers set the year before and encouraging them to be prepared to answer certain questions.

It is my belief that no boy or girl should be able to secure a Leaving Certificate without passing in the three main subjects, Irish, English and mathematics. I know they can do five subjects and they must get three. We can discuss that later on. It is appalling that a certificate should be handed over showing that a pupil has reached a certain grade of education when he or she may not have secured any marks in such an important subject as English or mathematics. However, if there are five subjects and of the five, we will say the student gets Irish and English but fails in mathematics, it is unfair that that boy or girl should fail the examination. Deputy Byrne referred to the requirement for entry into universities. Students are given the opportunity of doing so many subjects and part subjects. They can sit again in September to do a subject in which they failed at the summer examination. If a boy or girl sitting for the Leaving Certificate fails in one subject, he should get the opportunity of sitting for that subject again, perhaps limiting it to the three subjects which they must get. Then there is no question of their being able to sit in a year's time to do those three subjects. Take the boy or girl who, having done this examination succeeds in four but fails in one important subject. Through certain circumstances, that student may start working in commercial life or some other occupation, but in the meantime may be able to avail of night school to study that subject in which he or she failed. Coupled with the necessity for the pass in the three main subjects should be the right to sit for that one subject again.

I agree with the other speakers who have concentrated on discussing what should be the place of vocational education in our school system and the improvement we should look for in the future. This is of vital importance because such a large percentage of our boys and girls leaving the primary school avail of vocational education. The vast majority of children leaving the primary school at 13 or 14 years of age have no idea what occupation they want to pursue but after a few years of vocational education their minds are enlarged and they have some idea as to what they wish to do in the future.

I would urge upon the Minister the urgent necessity of embarking on a larger scheme of vocational education. This is an Estimate out of which we ought to be prepared to leave politics. It is a matter which requires our wholehearted cooperation with the Minister and the Government in seeking improvements. "However, I am afraid vocational education, as we know it, is being stymied to a certain degree. Deputy Byrne mentioned, and rightly so, the difficulty of the boy or girl who succeeds admirably in vocational school but who is confronted with all kinds of obstacles when he looks towards the university, what with the necessity for learning Latin, and so on. From our experience and knowledge of what is happening in other countries, we know there is less concentration on university pursuits and greater concentration on technical education and the build-up of a system whereby a larger proportion of young people are able to avail of technical education. It is through vocational education that we can help to give the young man or woman of the future a better approach to the problems of life, following their education in the primary schools.

I am sure the Minister knows already there is a proposal from Cork for the erection of a technical school in Carrigaline. I would ask the Minister to give his own personal and throughout consideration to this matter, as he has done in other matters which I have put before him. This is an area where boys and girls are at a disadvantage because they are far removed from other technical schools. There is no satisfactory bus service. The area around Carrigaline and Crosshaven is one where industry is prosperous.

In the area adjacent to Irish Steel, Haulbowline, the Oil Refinery and Rushbrooke Dockyard, I want to see the boys and girls secure for themselves the right to be able to look to the future not just hoping for a job in any alley but, with proper vision and a true sense of independence, to be able to look forward through attendance in the vocational school to becoming qualified workers.

On the subject of the appointment of teachers, I remember one occasion, as a member of a vocational committee, passing judgment on which candidate should get a certain appointment. Names came before us. The qualifications of the applicants were read out. Two or three vacancies existed for special subjects. As a layman I knew nothing about some of the subjects. I am sure the majority of the other members of the committee knew as little. Yet, there we were, deciding by our votes, who would get the jobs. It is about time that system were finished with. It is a difficult problem.

The Minister may find great resentment to this line of approach in all parts of the country. The sooner we get away from that old system the better. If a young man or woman has the necessary qualifications and applies for a position in some of these important buildings I have been speaking of, vocational schools, they should get the positions on their qualifications and not on their friendship with anyone, irrespective of Party, class or creed. The Minister should give some consideration to this matter. I am not saying what other approach there might be or what type of appointment is concerned. There is the Local Government appointment, and so on. The different systems have perhaps their weakness. I am sure that Minister could devise a system that may not have as many weaknesses as the present one.

I wish we could prepare for the future by planning for technical colleges. The old system is now becoming obsolete. For the young man or young woman, the golden life was considered, until recent times, to be that of being a student in the university. People who avail of the advantages that can or should be given to them through vocational education, may contribute a lot more to our country than many of the students qualifying at universities who consider themselves a class apart. It is essential that we concentrate not alone on providing extra vocational schools in rural areas but on providing a system of technical colleges to which successful students have the right, through scholarships, and so on, to attend when they succeed in the local vocational school.

There is the old, old question of the Irish language. Deputy P. Byrne had a lot to say about it. He is right, I suppose, when he says there are some bigots. We all know that. However, I wonder to what sphere of society as we know it we can point and say there are no bigots. He spoke of a privileged class. Is this country not reeking with it? Why pick out one section—if there is such a thing and I believe there is not—and say that are in a privileged class through the Irish language?

Here in Dublin, we have privileged classes and many people say nothing about them. In various parts of the country there are privileged classes and many people say nothing about them. In particular, the people who are all the time denouncing the Irish language will never say anything about the privileged classes in other walks of life.

A high percentage of the privileged classes are people who, most of all, denounce the Irish language. Deputy P.Byrne is not the first to say that people have obtained good jobs as it were, under the guise of the Irish language. The tragedy is that very often the Irish language was used as an excuse whereas being successful in Irish was not why any of the appointments were made. I am not picking on any Party: I am trying to look at it in a clear way.

If such happened in the past, as may have been the case under all regimes, the biggest mistake was that those people paraded under the banner that they were able to use Irish. Irish, as a language, was the victim in many of these circumstances. It was known that a certain person would get a certain job and it was decided "We will say he has Irish." Irish should never have had anything to do with it.

Day after day, in these other privileged classes, we hear of certain appointments, outside politics altogether, in business or anything else, but we are never told they were made because of French or Latin. They are honest enough to say: "He was one of the boys and got the job." It is about time people ceased to bandy words about the Irish language and to say it is a help to get jobs. I do not wish to be bigoted when I say that I am afraid they are looking for the greatest excuse of all in trying to get rid of Irish.

If any person in public life or any speaker on a political platform on a Sunday morning says: "He has a fine job and he got it through the Irish language" is he not playing to a general public looking for these excuses? We are not honest with ourselves in saying that and we are not honest with the people we are addressing.

The Irish language is ours. Irrespective of what views may be expressed by others, I believe the Irish language will be ours and will be back with our children. We owe nothing to the people who wish to condemn it. They are anxious that their children will get a good education. Many of them send them to secondary schools. Some of these secondary schools are full of snobbery. They will teach all the arts and sciences and everything connected with intellectual life as they see it. However, that does not include a true sense of proportion about the value of the Irish language. They can teach table manners and all the manners they like.

They can teach certain games but behind it all is the colour of a tie or a scarf that the pupils must wear in some secondary schools. When we see some of these boys and girls with a certain coloured tie or scarf indicating the school they come from we can honestly say whether that school believes in our approach to life which is connected with the promotion of the Irish language. We do not hear these sections of the community being condemned.

It seems to me that these people— sometimes honestly and sometimes, perhaps, dishonestly—are looking for a way out. They want Irish to be voluntary. Would they suggest that English or arithmetic be voluntary? I know when I was going to school, we would have learned very little English or arithmetic if it had been voluntary. We must have a sense of proportion and see that bigotry does not prevail on any side. But I believe that far more bigotry attaches to those clamouring for voluntary Irish. They want to get in the wedge and, when they have got voluntary Irish, widen the breach and say: "Now, you do not need to learn it."

Irish is compulsory and may God grant it will always remain so. I do not want bigotry but I believe that those who advocate the teaching of Irish genuinely have a truer sense of values than those who say, however gently: "Do not impose it on our children. It is not fair to them." Many parents will point out to you, and honestly believe it, that their son passed everything in an examination except Irish. They will never tell you—perhaps they may not have been told themselves—that he went down in three or four other subjects. They imagine that if he did not have to learn Irish, he would get first-class honours in everything else, whereas it is very often the reverse.

The Minister is right in his approach, as were his predecessors. I wholeheartedly agree with him in stressing the importance of oral Irish. If we can concentrate on impressing on the children the value of speaking Irish rather than questions of grammar, I think that would help them to get over the barrier of hearing their parents say that Irish should be voluntary. They hear that day after day. I believe that in many cases it is the parents who are destroying the foundations of Irish by saying in the presence of their children that it should be voluntary.

The suggestions I have offered to the Minister have been offered in a true sense of co-operation. The Minister has done his best. He belongs to one Party and I belong to another. But we are all seeking to approach the same goal in education. Above all, we hold the principle of the importance of the Irish language. May God grant that politics will never divide us in that so that, through unity and co-operation, those who look to the day of voluntary Irish will never see it.

There is one thing the Minister cannot complain about. That is that he has not had plenty of opportunities of hearing the points of view of all Deputies of all shades of opinion. I am glad to say that, in spite of the long debate, he still maintains his good humour throughout it all. It is the duty of an Opposition to offer to the House a constructive point of view and it is our duty as it is of all sides, dealing with a non-controversial subject such as education, to give to the House their point of view.

I have sat through much of this long debate and I must say I thought it to have been a debate of quite a high standard. Although the points of view expressed have been varied and, in some cases, controversial, I think all the speeches I have listened to have been very helpful. I do not claim to be an educational expert myself but representations are made to me by different types of people and I have some ideas of my own, some of which may be wrong and some of which may be right, that I have the temerity to put before the House.

First, I should like to deal with primary education. It is, of course, of paramount importance to everyone in the country, from a national point of view. Everybody in the House at some time or other has been in a national school, as will be the case with those who will succeed us and who will endeavour to mould the ideas of the people. For that reason I want to make some rather revolutionary suggestions to the Minister and his advisers in the Department of Education, being fully cognisant of the fact that nothing short of a revolution is likely to move the Department of Education because they have adhered pretty well to their existing routine over a great many years.

There are in this country altogether, I am informed, 4,869 national schools. Seventy per cent. of these are one-to two-teacher schools; 973 of them accommodate under 30 pupils and 61 have under 10 pupils. In city schools one finds sometimes 70 to 90 pupils in a class. In the one-teacher schools one finds in many cases up to 30 pupils between the ages of 4 years and 16 years under the direction of one teacher. It does not seem to me to make for equality of opportunity in the different schools in the different parts of the country.

How is one to get over that state of affairs? If we continue with our primary education system such as it is today, the position will continue as it is. That means that some people will have the benefit of being taught in up-to-date centres by four or five teachers, while others will just have the benefit of one persons who is not able to give them in some cases his fullest attention. I do not think that is a desirable state of affairs. We are facing a considerable change of outlook in education. Therefore, it seems to me that the suggestion that has been made by some educationists—these people know what they are talking about—that the time has come for an amalgamation of schools must be considered. An amalgamation of schools means that you will have to consider closing down isolated schools with only a few pupils, which presents difficulties and also the problem of children having to travel long distances. To do that you will have to produce some sort of transport to bring the pupils to the bigger centres for education. That may be very strongly resisted by some people who say that if a person is born in such and such a place he should be brought up and educated there. But we have got to face the unpalatable fact that many people educated and reared in a particular district have often had to leave the country altogether. We must also bear in mind that one of the greatest difficulties in rural Ireland is to get continuity of teaching. The teachers are continuously passing on to other places. That may be due to the fact that the system is that teachers from the Gaeltacht areas get priority, and when people are taken out of their original surroundings and put into new surroundings, they tend to move on.

I submit that the time has come when the Department should seriously consider making available some form of national transport to bring children to more populous centres for education. Apart from their education, it would also develop the mind of the child to travel about and the saving arrived at by the closing down of small and isolated schools would provide funds for a decent form of national transport.

Another criticism I have to level at education is that I do not think a serious attempt is being made to meet modern conditions. There is no question that the world has changed vastly over even the past 10 years. We are becoming much more internationally-minded, and the immediate problems we must face are quite different from the problems with which we were faced 10 years ago. Unfortunately, there are many areas in the world where the people are not free and where the enslaved people are being indoctrinated with the principles of Communism.

It seems to me that to meet the exigencies of today particularly in a country like this from which so many people emigrate they should have some idea of what they will be up against when they meet these indoctrinated individuals and when they find themselves out in the world. That matter should be given active consideration by the Department. I know that in the secondary schools there is some form of instruction to enable the children to deal with this particularly vital and very dangerous problem. I do not know if any effort is being made on those lines in the national schools. It may be done by individual teachers. To sum up, the world is facing Marxism. An attempt is being made to impose it on the world, not so much by physical force as by ideological indoctrination. We must help our own people in those countries, and we must counteract those doctrines by education. I ask the Minister to give his attention to that point of view.

Recently this country has joined UNESCO which is an international organisation under the auspices of the United Nations. It deals with the cultural and educational aspects of life. We have had no information from the Minister on any such subject. In his opening speech, he really only gave us a stereotyped address with regard to educational problems. I am sure there are many matters dealt with by UNESCO which would be of interest to us here. Particularly at the moment when we are allowing our teachers to go out on loan to these new countries, we should have some organisation to protect them. We lend our nationals, and we permit them to give their services in these emergent countries and they are entirely at the mercy of those countries for their salary rates.

I do not know if there is an international protective organisation to cover those people but in our own country we have the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and other teachers' organisations where their own point of view can be put. They should be protected. Are they protected when they go to other countries? If not, as they go with the consent and the connivance of the Department, it seems to me that the Irish teachers, at any rate, should have some organisation and should broach the question of having some international organisation to help them and see that they get fair play. In other words, when a man leaves Ireland and goes officially on loan, he should not be left on his own by those who have told him to go.

I noticed there was a conference of teachers in Hamburg in last April, I think. So far as I am aware, it was attended by the Ministers for Education of all the member countries of the Council of Europe. I do not know if our Minister was there. He did not give us any information about it one way or another. Any literature that I have been able to procure on that subject showed that three very important questions were discussed there. In fact, they were so important that they would have been worthy of mention in this House when the Minister was introducing the Estimate.

The first important question they discussed was the raising of the school-leaving age. The raising of the school-leaving age was discussed at an international conference of 16 nations. If we were represented there, the Minister's point of view would be interesting to us in this House. Even if we were not represented, the fact is that we are a member of the Council of Europe which represents 60 nations and it would be interesting to know if the Minister and his advisers would consider raising the school-leaving age. There seems to be a very substantial reason for raising it, because when a suggestion is made with regard to increasing the curriculum of the schools, one is told there is not sufficien time to cover it. By raising the school-leaving age, one could expand it and introduce new subjects in order to keep in touch with the age in which we are living.

Another suggestion made was that there should be a concentration on the teaching of modern languages. Has the Department any plans to extend the teaching of modern languages? There has been a certain amount of lip service from people speaking about education, suggesting we were going to do something about modern languages, but I really do not know if anything has happened so far, except in so far as the vocational schools have classes in French in the evenings in some of the bigger centres. That seems to be an important question, particularly as we are on the verge of a unified economic Europe and of having to compete in a common market. Surely, if we are to do that, we want to be able to send our experts to put our point of view in the languages of other countries, and to bring home more forcibly to those people our ideals, our customs and our culture.

The third important question discussed at that conference was the question of cultural exchanges which is a very big subject into which I do not propose to go because I think this debate has gone on long enough already. Whether the Minister and his advisers were present at that conference or not, he should give us some idea of the anticipated cultural exchange between this and other countries.

Representations have been made to me from several quarters in regard to secondary education. There is no question that secondary education is eminently desirable. Taken by and large our standard of education is not as high as is the standard of education in continental Europe. There it is an even higher standard in a great many places than the standard found in the United Kingdom, with the possible exception of Scotland, which seems to have one of the best educational systems in the world. We should aim at making secondary education available to as many children as possible.

It so happens that secondary education in this country is largely in the control of religious orders. Personally, I strongly approve of that. That does not apply in the case of the Catholic schools only. It also applies in the case of Protestant schools. Very often á cleric or divine is in control as headmaster of Protestant schools. However, that situation does pose a difficulty to some extent. The system renders it almost impossible for lay secondary teachers to command the salaries they should, salaries commensurate with their abilities and qualifications.

I think the problem could be met if the Department of Education were prepared to increase the grants given. The grants are fixed. I think the figure given here last night was £200 a year. I myself was a pupil in a secondary school in the dim and distant past and I have some recollection of what I felt and thought as a boy. I know that one tends to look up to lay teachers. Somehow or other, one does not aspire to looking up to religious. Perhaps I was not a religious boy. I do not know. One does tend, I know, to look up to lay teachers. Lay teachers are very useful in public schools because they take part in games and in the social life of the school.

There are many fine young men today who would be eminently desirable as teachers in our schools but, because of the lack of prospects in our schools, they are forced to emigrate. I admit the problem is a difficult one. I should not like to see our schools under complete lay control, but I should like to see greater opportunities for lay secondary teachers. The only way in which prospects can be enhanced is by the Department of Education increasing the grant. I do not see any reason in the wide earthly world why that should not be done. If it is not done, then all this talk about providing further facilities for education and giving people opportunities is just so much baloney. The sum needed would not be very big. Surely such a sum is at the disposal of the Department of Education. The dividends would be incalculable.

I have experience of families where parents are striving to do the best they can for their children. These parents are wholly admirable. Only the other day I was talking to the father of a family anxious to give his children the best education he could. Because of the high cost of living—I do not want to say anything about the cost of living on this Estimate for the Department of Education because it would not be relevant—this father was unable to give his children the education he felt they ought to have. He has ten children and the best he could do was to send the youngest child to a secondary school. He could not afford the few pounds required to send the other nine to secondary schools. Is it beyond the competence of the Department of Education to devise some scheme whereby such parents could be assisted in educating their children? It could be done through the medium of recommendation by the local clergyman or the teacher. Such a scheme would relieve parents who are unable to carry the burden of giving their children the benefit of the fullest and best education procurable.

I come now to an interesting point. We are the only country in the civilised world which has not got a dictionary of national biography. At the moment I understand such a dictionary is under preparation. The work of compilation is difficult, but hard and devoted work is going on behind the scenes. For the benefit of those who may not know what a national dictionary is—I did not know myself until I took the trouble to find out— it is a dictionary which lists lesser known Irishmen. We are all familiar with Daniel O'Connell, Henry Grattan, Charles Stewart Parnell, and so on, but there are many distinguished Irishmen who have served their own and other countries and who are not generally recognised by the many. Most countries have such dictionaries and visitors here are often surprised when they discover we have none. The Minister fought shy of any reference to the work at present in progress with a view to remedying this deficiency. I should like to know what stage the dictionary has reached and when it is likely that it will be published.

The Minister belongs to the same profession as I do and we have always had very friendly relations. I should like to express my appreciation of his work. He has not been a very long time in his present office. I do not know whether or not he will stay. I think we may see some changes in the next few months. I see some Deputies looking hopeful over there. However, if the Minister does remain in the Department of Education I am sure our cordial relations will continue. He certainly tries to do his best. He is one of those people who, when in a tight corner, manages to smile his way quite charmingly out of it.

I should like to congratulate the Minister on the very satisfactory report he was able to furnish to the House. Previous speakers have covered a wide diversity of items and I shall confine myself now to dealing with a few general matters which were not, perhaps, dealt with as fully as I should have liked.

School buildings occupy a prominent place in the Minister's statement. Everyone will agree that the steps the Minister proposes to take to prolong the lives of these buildings are much to be desired. In the past, the life of such buildings has been about 100 years. I doubt if the buildings erected in recent times will survive for the same period, without special treatment. Former constructions were more solid. The materials used in modern buildings have not the same durability. I doubt if these buildings will survive for 50 years. I am glad the Minister in introducing a scheme for giving repair grants because such grants will help to keep buildings in proper order.

There is a great deal to be said for the experiment now being introduced of having more frequently exterior painting of schools. The two-thirds painting grant which the Minister has seen fit to allocate should be sufficient to do a pretty good job. Unfortunately, the Minister will find himself obliged to use pressure from time to time on managers who will not take a advantage of this facility. The excuse given by that type of manager has always been that the cost of such work was beyond his capacity to pay. Probably, the Minister will find a few managers who will not undertake the work. It is very important, no matter who the manager may be, whether lay or clerical, that pressure should be exercised, when necessary, to compel the person responsible for the upkeep and repair of school buildings to carry out the work, particularly painting and maintenance work.

The replies given to Parliamentary Questions in recent months indicate that the whole scheme of school buildings is reasonably satisfactory and developing at a reasonable rate. There is, however, a considerable backlog of arrears in building to be made up and we do not seem to be catching up on this problem. I advocated here a couple of years ago that before we could overcome that obstacle, it would be necessary to have the planning section of the Board of Works which deals with the architectural side of the organisation of the Department of Education completely separated from the general Office of Public Works.

I advocated then that there should be a separate engineering and architectural branch set up which would be directly responsible to the Minister for Education and which would operate under the Minister's control. I put forward that suggestion at the time with no great amount of force. I was rather new to the subject and felt that I should be careful before pressing such a revolutionary change. My experience since has convinced me that I am now justified in putting forward this proposal again to the Minister with a little more force than was the case a couple of years ago.

I see no reason why the separate organisation I refer to cannot be set up by dividing the existing organisation and bringing the appropriate section directly under the Minister's control. As matters stand at the moment, the Minister has no direct control over the planning and architectural sections in the Board of Works which are in charge of the building, reconditioning and reconstruction of schools for his Department. It seems to be a rather ridiculous position, to say the least of it, that the Minister, in the first place, should be responsible to this House for progress in that matter and at a certain stage has not the necessary control.

I would particularly ask the Minister on this occasion to take note of that suggestion and to put it forward to the appropriate authority for consideration. There is no time like the present. A great deal of work remains to be done. It will be many years before we shall have caught up with the backlog that has been accruing for years. Even when we reach that stage, the schools which have been erected within the past 30 or 40 years will be calling for attention and I have no doubt that there will be sufficient employment for any separate section that is set up as long as the world lasts.

The question of heating and cleaning grants for new schools is something to which I was anxious to refer in the course of this debate. The general pattern of these grants has not changed for years. The older type of school was capable of being heated and cleaned out of the grant provided, plus a small subvention which the manager was able to provide. The position in regard to the heating and cleaning of new schools is entirely different. These new buildings are constructed with a more delicate type of material and therefore have to be maintained more regularly, involving greater expenditure on material and equipment. It is very important that this problem should be tackled now. It would be disastrous if the schools erected within the past ten years were not maintained in proper condition from the outset.

There is one such school in my constituency which cost £60,000 or £70,000 and which caters for 400 or 500 pupils. I have gone into the question of maintenance with the school staff and the manager and I find that the Department grant for that particular liability does not meet one-quarter of the total cost. The rate of grant is inadequate and is on the same basis as was paid in respect of the old school, a hovel, 100 or 150 years old, in which case the grant was related to the number of pupils, the number of classrooms. The additional amount required for the new school arises from the fact that there are so many more pupils in attendance. I suggest to the Minister that the grants should be re-scaled.

There is a very strong case for a substantial increase in the grants for schools built within the past ten years. These schools have different types of flooring. They are heated by electrical or other devices which demand greater attention. The old scale of grants is no longer realistic. The Minister could very well undertake an investigation of the matter, with a view to increasing the scale of grants for these purposes.

I was expecting that the Minister when introducing the Estimate would give details of the new scholarship schemes which have been mentioned here for some months past. So far, we have not got a detailed report on the type of scholarships to be introduced. It is appropriate to make reference to the matter in this debate and to indicate our views to the Minister. I have very strong views in regard to scholarships, because, when I went to school, the number of scholarships available was very small. I am happy to note that in modern times the approach of the central Government and the local authorities to this matter is a little more realistic than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Now that a comprehensive system of scholarships is being introduced, I hope the Minister will try to meet all the deficiencies of the past.

In this connection, I would suggest to the Minister that there should be some type of scholarship available to the boy or girl leaving the national school and proposing to enter the technical or secondary school for a continuation course. Eligibility for that scholarship should be based on some kind of primary examination or on an examination similar to that held in the past for entrance to the preparatory colleges. The greatest number of scholarships possible should be made available. There are many reasons why they should be made available. First of all, there is no longer the opening to the preparatory colleges which was there for the past quarter of a century. I hope the Minister will replace those openings with scholarships such as I have suggested.

The primary scholarship I suggest should entitle the holder to a place in a vocational or secondary school, depending on the course the student proposes to pursue. It is most important that these scholarships should be available to the vocational schools on the same terms and conditions as they will be available to secondary schools. It is also important that the value of the scholarship should be graded whereby it would continue as far as the middle stage at either a vocational or secondary school. The middle stage of the secondary school is the Intermediate Certificate stage and there is a middle stage at the vocational school comparable with that.

I make that point deliberately because many students find when they reach the Intermediate stage in either course, there is no prospect for them in continuing to the final stage. They should be encouraged to look around to see what line or calling they might embark upon. In the case of girls particularly, a number of them find it would be unwise for them to continue with the Leaving Certificate course and instead they take on a specialised course in shorthand and typewriting to fit them for commercial employment. That is a good idea because there is not much point in a certain type of student who is unlikely to pass the Leaving Certificate examination with honours continuing for a few more years. When they realise their deficiencies, whether it is lack of brains or lack of money, it is a step in the right direction for them to select a course that will fit them for employment in the shortest possible time.

With regard to the scholarships available from the Leaving Certificate standard and the equivalent in the vocational system, I hope the Minister will provide these scholarships on equal terms for both secondary and vocational students. I hope the student from the vocational school, particularly in regard to the Faculties of Engineering and Agriculture, will have the same opportunity of a university course as his brother, cousin or neighbour who has done a secondary course and obtained his Leaving Certificate. I hope that will also apply to other courses which are catered for in the universities. I think the introduction of a scheme of scholarships of that nature will find universal approval.

I will not go into the financial aspect of the matter at the moment because that would be more suitably dealt with at another time. I hope the Minister will not be deterred by the financial implications of any such scheme. He will save a considerable sum of money in relation to the preparatory colleges and I have no doubt he will re-allocate that money to more scholarships because the range will be far wider, the effects far greater and, for that reason, the impact will be more general.

I would also appeal to the Minister that these scholarships should be available not only to vocational schools and to secondary schools but, at the Intermediate Certificate stage particularly, to private commercial colleges who carry on specialised courses in shorthand and typewriting, more particularly for girls who are trained for Civil Service and bank positions. It would be a great advantage to many girls, particularly those of poorer parents, to be able to pursue such a course for the Intermediate Certificate stage, if there were a competition for scholarships.

Up to a few years ago, these commercial colleges did not operate outside Dublin and Cork. Now they can be found in most provincial towns. The necessity for these institutions is that they provide a specialised course in a short period of time. They cater for the more educated boy or girl, particularly girls. These colleges place people in positions when they are trained and this is a very creditable achievement. I should like to see these institutions helped in the matter of scholarships. They do not get a capitation grant as do the secondary schools because they do not come under the Department's jurisdiction. Dealing with that matter is another day's work. However, pupils should be enabled to avail of scholarships tenable at these commercial colleges.

I was glad to see that in the Technical Instruction Vote the Minister proposes a substantial increase in expenditure. I think the increase is around £185,000. That is as it should be. We have the Minister's statement that there is a substantial increase in enrolments. That is a very healthy trend. I am quite happy that the increase in enrolments is more noticeable in technical schools as against secondary schools. It is a step in the right direction. Generally, enrolments in all schools is on the increase. The most noteworthy is under the head of technical instruction.

It is very heartening that our people now fully realise that technical education is very important. Other Deputies suggested that there should be less concentration on secondary and university education and more on technical education as far as it applies to agriculture and industry. I agree with that view. If the emphasis on technical education were on agriculture and industry I should feel very much happier. It is rather hard to put the required emphasis equally on the two because agriculture is not catered for as fully as it might be through technical instruction at the moment. I often feel that the Minister should have a look at that state of affairs.

One branch of Government, the Department of Agriculture, administers a certain amount of agricultural education and much the same service is being administered by the Department of Education. I rather feel the time has now arrived to amalgamate these two sources of instruction. I inquired into that matter recently. I was told that, when technical instruction was introduced into this country, the Committee of Agriculture and the Vocational Education Committee were one in 1908 or 1910.

The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. That was its title.

It is unfortunate that they were ever separated. There is a strong school of thought, particularly in rural areas, that it is desirable to integrate both aspects of the instruction into one controlling unit, wherever that would be. A layman such as I would not have any great experience on the question of education but I know enough to realise that more satisfactory results could be obtained with such an amalgamation. I hope the Minister will find time to look into the matter with a view to having it tackled in a short space of time.

I was anxious to refer to transport services in rural areas. Wherever these services operate, they give the maximum amount of satisfaction. They meet a very strong requirement of the rural people. In rural Ireland, children have to travel as far as four or five miles to school. The Department have worked out the transport system very efficiently and very well. They control it to the extent that only pupils who live long distances are catered for. Where that service operates I am glad to say it is not abused. It is pretty well supervised by the local manager and the head teachers.

I would ask the Minister to try to get the Department to be a little more flexible in this matter. There are isolated cases where the minimum number of pupils are not available and the service cannot operate. They might be two or three pupils short for a year or two and therefore no service is introduced. In that way, nine or ten pupils may have to trudge the full distance until the additional pupils necessary to make up the required number attend the school. Anyhow, the service on the whole is very much appreciated. It works very efficiently. It is a credit to the Minister's Department and to the officers controlling it.

I want to say a few cautious words on a question dealt with by a few speakers, namely, the present discontent of the I.N.T.O. in connection with a couple of matters, such as parity of remuneration and staffing in schools in certain parts of the country. One or two Deputies made the point that the Minister should intervene in a dispute while others said he should not. My idea is that somebody should intervene in the Ballina dispute.

That is a new proposal. It has been proposed that the Minister should intervene and it has been proposed that the Minister should not intervene. Now Deputy Moloney says that somebody should intervene.

Somebody said the Minister should keep clear and not get involved. I am inclined to agree with that. It would be disastrous if the dispute were to continue. In the heel of the hunt, the Minister is responsible for the operation of the educational system. Whilst I should be very slow to suggest that there should be any interference with the clerical management I respectfully suggest that some attempt should be made to have conciliation or arbitration in the matter. Beyond that I am not competent to go. That is merely a suggestion for the Minister's consideration.

In regard to parity of remuneration with other classifications of teachers. I feel the national school teachers have a very strong grievance. I accept that this matter was submitted, I think, to arbitration on which the teachers were represented. The majority of members of the Board decided against their viewpoint. At that stage, I think the teachers' representatives on the Board decided not to continue membership and refrained from attending further meetings. I am not competent to judge. I am familiar only with the national school system in my time. I cannot judge the difference in educational qualities and values between secondary teachers and national teachers. However, I do know that the national teacher has a most difficult job. Teachers have to process the raw material of the future and develop it for the secondary and vocational schools. Not alone have they to educate the child in the curriculum of the school, but they have to mould its character and act in place of the parents.

The Minister should look further into the relations between the National Teachers' Organisation and his Department. Those relations were precarious for a number of years, but his predecessors nine or ten years ago did a good job in that regard. Friction between the teachers' organisation and the Minister's Department was not desirable, but it took many years to remedy the position and it cost a lot of money. Many concessions were given to the teachers. It would be disastrous if, having gone nine-tenths of the way, there were to be discontent again. The national teachers' organisation is a reasonable body. They cannot expect to get everything they look for, but I think they appreciate what has been done for them over the past nine or ten years. This question can be settled in a reasonable way. I would suggest to the Minister that he should try to meet their point of view, at least to a reasonable extent.

Finally, I should like to thank the Minister personally and his officials for the courtesy and consideration they have always shown to me whenever I have had occasion to approach them on any matter.

Silim gurab é seo an Meastchán is táchtaí a tugtar ós comhair an Tí seo. Nuair a cuimhnímíd ar £19,000,000, fiafraighimíd dínn féin an isleófar an tsuim airgid seo go deo arís. Ní dóigh liom gur féidir é d'ísliú. Aontaím leis an Aire nuais a dúirt sé go bhfuil fíorghá le breis airgid do'n oideachas ins na blianta atá romhainn.

Tá an-shúim á cur in oideachas ins an aois seo. Tuigeann tuismitheóirí nár bhféidir lena gclainn postanna fúintacha do sholáthar dóibh fhéin gan eolas speisialta do bheith aca agus tá tréan-iarracht a dhéanamh aca mean-oideachas nó gairm-oideachas d'fháil dágclainn. B'fhéidir ar ball go mbeadh ar chuid aca-so imeacht thar sáile chun slí-bheatha a bhaint amach. Ach narbh fearr go n-imóidís go h-oilte agus ullamh glacadh le postanna fiúntacha i gcomórtas leis na daoine i dtiortha iasachta?

Is cúis íona dhuinn a fheabhas d'éiríodh le'n ár muintir a théadh ón dtír seo céadta blian ó shoin gan aon oideachas, nó beagán oideachas aca. Ní dhéanfadh an sgéal san ins an saol atá anois ann.

This Estimate for £19,000,000 is a rather forbidding sum. But, as the Minister says, there is great necessity for increased money for education in the competitive world of today. Certainly, there has been great emphasis on education in this country. I dare say we are not unique in that respect. That emphasis arises from what we see in other lands in the present age. Therefore, it is important that every facility be given our people in the competitive age in which we live and that they will be provided with the fullest possible education.

We as a nation should be from our history education-minded. We realise full well that when our people were deprived of the advantages of education in the past, they made great and tenacious efforts to try to provide for themselves and their families some system of education through the hedge schools of the period. Now, with the facilities we have available, we should have a greater appreciation of them and we should be facilitated into availing of them to the utmost possible extent.

This is the age of specialisation. The parents of this country must be complimented on the effort they are making to see that their children in this generation will be provided with as liberal an education as possible. Therefore, if they have to go abroad they will be able to stand competition with the people in the lands of their adoption. The parents are very cognisant of that fact and are sparing no effort to ensure that their children will not be at a disadvantage in the competitive world around them.

In spite of all the facilities many of our children are still being precluded from the possibility of a secondary education. That is because of their location or, possibly, because of limited circumstances. These people cannot afford to board their children in secondary schools. Therefore, I think in these areas at least—although it should be general—the school-leaving age should be raised at least one year. That is a crying necessity for the sake of these boys and girls who have no chance of any further education once they leave the national school at the age of 14. Post-primary education could be a very valuable part of their lives. They are still at the moulding stage and a very sound programme could be devised for them. I know the problem is one of staffing. Nevertheless, I think they should get equal opportunity with those people who are in more favourable circumstances or who are more favourably located.

We hear a good deal about juvenile delinquency these days. It is in these particular years that children get out of hand so easily. It is very important that they would be subject to the discipline and regulation of school and that an opportunity should be give to point out to them in their maturin years the obligations they have to their parents, to society and to the country. If we want to see them made good citizens, they should get that facility and be retained in school for that critical year. I do not think it would cost an awful lot, apart from the question of staffing. The Minister has given some easement in connection with classes. Unfortunately there are still teachers in charge of classes of 60 or over 60 pupils, particularly during the late spring and summer months.

The extraordinarily exacting nature of the work of a teacher in charge of a class of 50 or 60 children has never been appreciated by us. When they are of a very junior age and are in one class, it is very difficult to control them. The mother of a family of five or six children will tell you that on occasion the children drive her mad. Yet in the schools we have classes of 50, perhaps in two groups, with one teacher in charge. It is the personality, the capability and the efficiency of the teacher that will get results in a class such as that. It is physically impossible for the teacher to manager them, much less to teach a class of that magnitude. We all appreciate the easement the Minister has given. It is a step in the right direction, and we hope it will be followed up for the sake of our educational system.

The Irish language has come in for a certain amount of criticism here today. Surely if we value our nationhood at all, we must value our language. There has been much talk about compulsion and about the language being forced down the throats of our children compulsorily. Every subject in the school curriculum must be taught. There is compulsion to teach every subject on the school programme. Why the Irish language should be singled out as meriting special mention in that respect, I do not know. We all know that the Welsh people still retain their language, although they lost their independence in the 13th century. The Scots still retain their language, although they lost their independence in the 18th century, I think.

There is no real analogy between those countries and ours because they are an integral part of Great Britain. We are an island and have always had our own history and our own culture. Surely we should realise that all down the years we have been taunted with the fact that we do not speak our own language. We should not throw aside the efforts and the sacrifices that have been made, and play into the hands of our critics by divorcing ourselves from our obligation to the language. We should be proud, determined, and resolved to retain our own language.


Hear, hear!

No one has suffered more in the propagation of the language than the teacher who tries to teach it, but if a referendum on the subject were held in the morning, the teachers would be 100 per cent. in favour of retaining it. It is a singular fact that children in the ordinary schools in the English-speaking areas develop a greater facility for Irish composition than they do for English composition. I suppose that facility is inherent in them. For that reason and for the other reasons I have stated, we should be proud of the fact that we have an opportunity now of having our own language. It is the language in which we learned our Christianity. This is the centenary year of St. Patrick who, when he came to this island of ours, learned the Irish language in order to be able to speak to the natives in their own tongue. That is an example of how worth-while it is to make every effort to preserve the Irish language.

Unfortunately in the past we did not make use of the Gaeltacht to the extent it is now being used, but of course the facilities were not available in the Gaeltacht to provide accommodation for visitors. We hear a lot of talk about the exchange system for students interested in learning languages abroad. They realise that to acquire a living language, they must go into the areas where it is living and spoken. If we had made more use of our Gaeltacht, we would have a greater number of native speakers, and we would certainly have had better results. Too much emphasis was placed on the literary side down the years at the expense of the spoken language.

We must realise that the teachers find it far more difficult, with the passing of time, to get the children to apply themselves. This is the age of distraction with the Press, television, motor cars, buses, airplanes and all the various means of getting abroad and communication, all impacting themselves on the minds of our children. That fact must be realised in dealing with schools in future years.

That brings me to the question of corporal punishment about which we have heard so much talk. A good child, an obedient child, a truthful child, a docile child is never punished in school. When punishment has to be introduced in school, is it not better to introduce it there than to have the child brought to court at a latter stage in his life and perhaps sent to a Borstal institution? Is it not better that corrective punishment should be applied in the impressionable years rather than later when it will give rise to resentment? A lot of nonsense is talked about it. The teacher takes the place of the parents for the time being; he is the guardian of the child. If the child steals, breaks a window of the school, does something which should not be done, or does not behave, surely it is better that there and then he should be made amenable to discipline and control than that he should be brought to the courts later in life? There is an old saying: Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is as applicable today as ever it was in our history. I think this nonsense we have heard so much about should be dropped in this day and age.

The Minister mentioned in his address that 30 schools were available now for mentally retarded children. For the sake of public information, he should tell us where these schools are. Personally, I am completely ignorant about them, except for the few I know of in the south. He omitted, inadvertently, I am sure, to refer to the work done by the voluntary organisations for victims of polio in setting up schools at their own expense and from voluntary contributions, or contributions collected from pools, draws, raffles and various other activities. There are also the spastic clinics. There are many spastics who find it impossible to get into an institution. A spastic child must get regular attention every hour of the day, and no mother in any home can afford to give that attention. There is a crying need for greater accommodation for such children. It was only in the past few days I heard of a spastic child of six years of age in my own parish who so far has failed to get into an institution. As I say, there are other children in the home and the case of this child is pathetic. It can be happy only when in the same surroundings as children suffering in the same way.

The concessions the Minister has made in regard to the after-care of schools was very timely. Because of the rapidity with which schools are going up today, it would be a pity if they deteriorated for want of attention and care. The Minister must be complimented on having had the initiative and foresight to tackle this problem. Painting is costly and in the rural areas it is not easy to get a painter. The grant will encourage managers to try to secure the services of someone competent at least to renovate the schools and make them presentable looking.

It is extraordinary that there is no cohesion, co-ordination or integration as between the three systems of education. Each system is under its own respective controls and nobody seems to want to change or challenge the present situation. There should be some integration. There should be some means of arriving at a common denominator in order to ensure a continuity between the systems.

Let us consider vocational education in remote rural areas. Children in remore areas, in the West of Ireland, in south-west Cork and in south and west Kerry, have no opportunity of attending vocational schools because of the distances involved. What is wrong with providing the services of a vocational teacher, or teachers, and utilising the national schools in the evening to facilitate children anxious to take vocational courses? If such a scheme were initiated, it would be of inestimable benefit. It would be far cheaper to have the teachers going out to these areas, rather than have the children travelling to and from a central vocational school, losing both time and money.

If we want to secure an ideal system of education, we will have to have a greater degree of co-ordination and a closer integration as between our three systems. That brings me to this question of parity about which we hear so much. Perhaps disparity would be a better description. I believe all teachers should have a university training. They should take out different degrees— commerce, science, mathematics, and so on. Some would probably do Celtic Studies. With these degrees they would be inter-changeable and, should a shortage occur in one section, it could be made good from the spare parts in another section.

I believe costs would be kept to a minimum, if such a scheme were evolved. The training colleges could share in the scheme. If an inspector visited the area, he should be authorised to inspect all the schools in that area, thereby obviating the need for travelling to and fro and doing away with the overlapping that exists at the moment. It is absurd to have three completely separate systems of education in this little island, each system going its particular way and with no effort at all at cohesion of any sort.

It is obvious that there is a deterioration in our standards generally, in our morals and in our outlook. We look to our system of education to preserve standards, the standards our forefathers handed down to us and which they held so dear. If we are to resist the contagion from outside, we will resist it successfully only through our system of education. If we have a sound system and a fundamentally Irish system, we shall preserve for ourselves all that we hold most dear. The danger at the moment is that we may lose our Irish individuality. It is questionable if we will retain it. We will retain it only if we have a sound system of education, a fundamentally Irish system. Only in that event will our heritage, our culture and our traditions endure against the assaults and contagions from outside.

Seán Mac Eochagáin

Tá mé sásta go bhfuil an chuid is mó ráite cheana ar an Meastacháin seo. Molaim an méid atá ráite ag an dTeachta Ó Maonghaile. Thug sé freagra an-dílis agus díreach do na Teachtaí a labhair in aghaidh teanga na tíre seo.

Muinteóir sea an Teachta Ó Maonghaile.

I understand the building of new schools is a job for the Office of Public Works. I think the Minister for Education and his Department should have some say. New schools have been built in the past few years. In certain areas, these schools have been erected in the middle of fields. If they were built nearer to the road, the ground could be used as a playground for the children. That is a matter to which the Minister might direct his attention. He should take steps to see that the Board of Works will ensure against this kind of siting in future.

A water and sewerage survey should be carried out by the Department in relation to schools built in the past 15 or 20 years. They are in a perfect state of repair but they are lacking in sanitation and water. I think every school should have a proper piped water supply. In some cases, piped water runs along the road outside the school, but there is no supply to the school. If there are difficulties, I should imagine that they could be overcome by consultation between the Department and the managers.

Much has been said for and against teachers. I believe they are the one profession carrying out a very difficult job. They deserve the highest praise. Their lives are hard and tedious. Personally I could not say too much in commendation of them. I admit that they may be put to the test at times as to whether or not to lay down the cane but, in spite of anything that may happen, they should get the praise to which they are entitled. I congratulate the Minister and his Department on the work they are doing. I hope they will continue it.

I have only a few observations to make on this Estimate. I agree fully with the sentiments expressed by the last speaker with regard to national teachers. There is no finer body in this country. There is no body of men and women who have performed such great national work so well, so loyally and so efficiently as the national teachers.

The national teacher in rural Ireland is, naturally enough, regarded with the greatest respect because he is commonly described as the poor man's professor. The national teacher sometimes has to work under very difficult circumstances under which most of us would not undertake his task. A number of national teachers, and teachers generally throughout the country, as has been referred to during the debate on this Estimate, are compelled to work in unhealthy, bad, old buildings. In some cases there are classes of from 50 to 60 and 70 children. I do not think that is something on which we can congratulate ourselves in this year, 1961. We ought now, after 30 years of native Government, to have reached the stage when the number of children under the control of a teacher should be within reasonable proportions. One would imagine that having had native Government for so long a time we would have no bad schools, that all our school premises would be fine, suitable, airy schools, built in accordance with modern plans and specifications and to the requirements of the district. In schools where two teachers have to work in one room, when different subjects are being dealt with at the same time, it is hardly possible for the inspectors of the Minister's Department to expect good reports of a teacher who is handicapped by such bad conditions.

It is the duty of any Minister for Education and of his staff to see that such conditions are generally improved, no matter what the cost would be. Money spent on education is money well spent. The big difficulty we have experienced in the past is that there has not been enough spent on education in the right direction. Money spent on providing comfortable conditions for teacher and pupil would be money spent in the right direction.

A good deal has been said with regard to the management of schools. I should like to say, for the benefit of the Minister, that I hope he will ignore any pressure that might be brought upon him to yield to any movement to undermine the present system of school management. In the majority of cases the manager of the school is the parish priest. That system has worked satisfactorily. If there is any attempt made to interfere with the system of management the Minister for Education, or any Minister for Education, will be presented with very great difficulties.

There are good school managers and bad school managers but, on the whole, our school management is good and most school managers are commonsense, reasonable men. There is a black sheep in every flock. It may be the case that in some cases the school manager may not see his way to spend money on the heating and cleaning of the school or may have his own method of dealing with the staff. However, the whole system cannot be judged by one or two isolated cases.

Reference has been made to the teaching of Irish. The last speaker congratulated Deputy Manley and said that his speech filled him with joy. Deputy Manley certainly expressed his opinion, and rightly so. He did so with great credit and distinction. In so far as the Irish language is concerned, I should like to place on record that so far as I am concerned I should like to see compulsory Irish abolished. If a vote ever takes place in this House I should like to be in a position to vote for the abolition of compulsory Irish. I should like to give my reasons for doing so.

It is wrong to confuse young minds. There are young children going to national schools today who are being taught in the Irish language and who return home to find themselves further confused by the fact that English is the language of the household. I cannot understand how those people who are language enthusiasts can feel that that is for the betterment of the pupil or in the interests of the community in general.

On this issue, the only tribute that have heard publicly paid to the present Taoiseach was paid by an authority in the country who said: "I never had very much grádh for the present Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, but there is one thing I love about him. That is, that he is not a fanatic on the Irish language. For that reason my leanings are very much towards him. I admire him very much for that." There are many people in this country today who realise that, since 1935, £7,000,000 has been spent on the language. That is a good deal of money. Irish is a compulsory subject and is definitely being rammed down the necks of our children in the schools. I only hope and trust that there will be a change in that regard in the not too distant future and that compulsory Irish will be abolished.

I have known of many cases where public positions were being filled where the applicants were very highly educated and fully qualified but because they did not possess the requisite knowledge of Irish they were unsuccessful. We all know the case that occurred in County Galway within the last two years of a very important appointment in the nursing profession. A particular nurse who possessed the highest possible nursing qualifications could not obtain the post because she had not a full knowledge of Irish.

She had a speaking knowledge of Irish.

She had a speaking knowledge of Irish but she had not sufficient knowledge.

That is right, and she had not the political pull.

The Minister for Education has no responsibility for that matter.

He has responsibility for the system of education, which is entirely wrong. I would like to see a change made so that a person can get a job on his general standard of education. This business of having to possess a certain standard of Irish before obtaining an appointment is driving many good people out of the country. A certain young man applied for admission to the Garda Síochána. He failed in Irish, was turned down and had to emigrate. He is now a sergeant in the London Metropolitan Police. That man would be in this country but for the fact that the Irish language drove him out of the country. There are many others like him in England, Canada, and the United States of America today. That is why I hope and trust that at some future date some Government will be sufficiently courageous to tackle the language problem in the right spirit. The only way that the language will survive in this country is by voluntary effort.

Far more progress would be made if there were attractive scholarships, if there were special prizes for Irish-speaking families and if the language could be sponsored completely by voluntary effort. Any Deputy who stands up here and criticises the teaching of Irish is immediately looked upon as being anti-Irish and pro-British. Everyone has the right to express his views on such an important matter as this. A Deputy may speak out against compulsory Irish and against the present teaching of Irish and at the same time love the language. I am a very strong opponent of compulsory Irish. I hope and trust that compulsory Irish will be abolished and that less of our money will be wasted on the language than has been wasted in the past. Nevertheless. I encourage the language. As members of my Party know I never speak a word of English to my children at home.

The vast majority of our people look upon the present system of teaching Irish as unsatisfactory. It does not produce good results. It is desirable that the language should be encouraged with the good old spirit of the founders of the Gaelic League so as to bring about a state of affairs whereby language enthusiasts will speak the language for the love of it and not for financial gain or because they can secure a good job through knowing it. Many of the people who speak Irish from platforms today are being paid for it. The people are beginning to think for themselves now and the sooner the language problem is tackled in the proper spirit the better for everyone.

With regard to the teaching of history in our schools, I hope that some Minister for Education, if the present Minister does not take the bull by the horns, will deal with this problem courageously. The manner in which history is being taught in our schools today—I am sorry to say religious orders cannot be excluded from this— encourages bitterness in our children. History is being taught in our schools for the purpose of belittling England and denigrating the British. They are told how the British came over here and burned and plundered our churches. Is it not right to say that as many people in England suffered as much for the Faith as was ever suffered in this country? That is a well-known fact.

Nevertheless our children are being brought up with a feeling of hatred towards our next door neighbours. I would like the Department of Education to devise a teaching system for history that would eliminate that bitterness completely. Although we have our own sad history to go back on, there was as much suffering for the Faith by Catholics in England and as many Catholic churches were burned and plundered there as in Ireland.

Our children should be taught that Britain is our nearest neighbour both for trade and commerce and for negotiations of all kinds. The history that is being taught in our schools should cast no reflection on that country. It is a long time since representations were made to the Department of Education with regard to the teaching of history. I would like to know whether the Department have ever examined this matter and whether they are satisfied with the present system of teaching history.

I shall not deal with the question of the manner in which modern history is being taught in our schools, say, the period from 1915 to 1930. I have certain reasons for not wanting to make a speech on that matter today but there are certain teachers who take the opportunity to teach a history of that period that they have manufactured themselves. The facts in regard to that period are not being taught in our schools.

I wish to return to the question of the Irish language. Instead of spending all our time in ramming Irish down the necks of our children there should be an hour or three-quarters of an hour devoted to the teaching of French. French is freely spoken in the United States and Canada and in most European countries, while Irish is no use to anyone outside this country. Many of our young people from time to time have business on the continent. There are educational trips from London and Paris and elsewhere and there is a greater link between Ireland and the Continent today than there was some ten or fifteen years ago. It is extremely embarrassing to find that so many Irish people go abroad without a single word of French. A large number of English people when they go on the Continent can speak French freely. In the last couple of years in the national school there should be at least half an hour set aside for the teaching of one other language and that language should be French. It would be an advantage in life to the children.

I hope some steps will be taken by the Minister for Education to step up the school-leaving age which everybody agrees is necessary. There should also be some link up between the national school and the vocational school because in recent years in rural Ireland greater advantage is taken of vocational education. Vocational education has produced wonderful results and more recently in many parts of Ireland we have set up farm winter schools. They are sponsored by the vocational education committees and by the county committees of agriculture. These farm winter schools have been a great success and I have often wondered why the Department of Education did not give greater encouragement to vocational educational committees to sponsor, with the county committees of agriculture, the setting up of more of these schools. In my constituency they are an outstanding success, sponsored by the vocational educational committee. The Department of Education should take a survey of the success of farm winter schools.

The farm winter school should become a part of our permanent system of education. It is very necessary. The volume of voluntary support from small farmers living on the outskirts of towns, particularly where there are vocational schools, has been astonishing. I am sure the Minister's inspectors will furnish him with information that the farm winter school is an outstanding success in rural Ireland and should be encouraged.

I have often wondered why some definite policy is not available in the Department of Education on the heating and cleaning of schools. It is a hardship on a poor child to have to bring money to school for heating and cleaning. In many parts of rural Ireland, if four or five children come out of the one house, they have to bring 2/- or 2/6d. a head for the heating of the school. That is entirely wrong.

It should be the duty of the State to provide for the heating and cleaning of the schools. The present system is quite wrong. If children are sent to school to be educated, the facilities should be there for them. I have known cases where the father was unemployed or in receipt of unemployment benefit or social welfare benefit. It is an embarrassment to children not to have their contribution for fuel when other children who are better circumstanced can come in with the money. That system should be stopped.

Young children ought not to be asked to bring their contribution for fuel. It should be the responsibility either of the school manager or of the State to provide it. Young children ought not to be asked to look for money for the teacher or school manager for a fire in the school. Surely children cannot be expected to sit in a cold, damp school without a fire? I hope something will be done about this whole matter.

Reference has been made to the question of school transport. The school transport system is not satisfactory. In many parts of my constituency, it has completely broken down. One of the Deputies representing my constituency raised a question not so long ago about school transport in Errill in County Laois. We could never find out whether the Minister was responsible for the failure of the scheme or the school manager. The Minister is not letting down the school manager and the school manager is not letting down the Minister. The children cannot get to school. There is no transport for them.

I have recently made representations to the Minister on the same issue. In the parish of Errill, the school transport system is most unsatisfactory. Is that because the allocation of funds by the Minister to the school manager is insufficient? Something should be done to improve school transport in that area. The Estimate for the Department is now before the House and the Minister should provide a sufficient sum for school transport. We have reached the stage now when such transport is absolutely necessary. The grants made available by the Minister's Department to school managers should be increased to meet the increased cost of petrol, the increased cost of transport contractors, and so on. The children should not have to suffer.

Many children have to travel more than three miles to school. In the area to which I am referring in particular, the roads are anything but satisfactory in the winter and spring when the weather is bad. Transport should be made available for them. The present school transport system leaves a lot to be desired.

I have often wondered why the officers of the Department and particularly the Minister have not considered general instruction in our schools on public safety, swimming and Red Cross work. These are necessary and important matters. There may be such instruction in some schools, but, generally speaking, throughout the country there is no question of it beyond saying to the children when they are going home: "Do not rush out across the road in a hurry." We should instil in the minds of children in national schools the importance of having regard to traffic and to courtesy on the roads and, generally, to be careful.

I suppose that drownings will always take place, even with the best of swimmers. I have always felt there should be swimming lessons for our school children and that facilities should be made available, if not by the Department of Education then by some other Department, and sponsored by our teachers. It is essential that children should have lessons and lectures on public safety, on Red Cross work and particularly on swimming.

I should like, if I may, to say one word of praise of the many educational tours which have become the order of the day in so far as many schools in rural Ireland are concerned. There are many schools in poor districts which are unable to avail of an educational tour. A special fund should be set aside in the Minister's Department to provide a grant for an educational tour for any school unable to provide for it out of their own funds or resources.

Educational tours can be of immense value to children. They are organised mainly by the teachers, who deserve great praise and credit for the manner in which they have handled the educational tours. The tours broaden the minds of the children and give them a wider outlook as well as a greater interest in and liking for school. They should be encouraged. Educational tours of our cities and big towns, visits to the E.S.B. generating stations and, generally, conducted tours arouse a deep interest in the children who do not forget where they have been and what they have seen.

The Deputy forgot to mention Leinster House.

They come here, too. I suppose a visit to Leinster House would assist in broadening the outlook of the children, too. It should be the motive of our teachers and all concerned to imbue our children with the ideals of being good, loyal and respectful citizens. I agree with Deputy Manley to some extent but he said that the child who does not conduct himself should be punished. Unless the child has the example and the foundation in the home, he cannot get it in the school. Manners must be taught in the home. If a child does not conduct himself properly in the home, he will not do so in school. Therefore, it all depends on the parents. I am sorry to say that to a very great extent parents are neglecting to do their job and then the onus is placed on nuns and teachers to correct the children as best they can. They expect the nuns and the teachers to make good citizens out of children over whom they have no control in their own homes. Much of the fault must be laid at the door of parents who do not exercise proper control over their children of school-going age. We have seen many instances of the child who is allowed to run amok at home winding up bad. The system of chastisement in the school did not make any difference if the child had not a proper up-bringing in the home. The child is at school for only four or five hours a day and it is in the home the example is set to him of how he should behave and live. No Minister, no officer of the Department, no teacher and no inspector can make a good boy out of a boy brought up in a bad home without proper control exercised over him by his parents.

It is the duty of teachers to instruct their pupils and teach them to be loyal citizens and have respect for authority. It would be very good if the children were taught to have a respect for the law. They should be told in the schools that the Garda are there to protect life and property. They should be told that the Garda is there as their friend and not as their enemy. They should be taught that they should have respect for him rather than run away from him. I believe that the disrespect shown in recent years for the Constitution of the State and its law is due to the fact that in our schools our people were not taught the right things at the right time.

The Minister has a very difficult job. All Ministers for Education since the foundation of the State have acted in the best interests of the community. All of them, particularly Deputy Mulcahy, have left behind a record of good work. I feel the present Minister will leave a good record when he leaves office. At least he is a Minister who is prepared to listen. We will not say he always acts on what he hears, but at least he is courteous, helpful and very approachable. We would all wish to pay him that tribute. I certainly wish him every success in his job.

If he wants to make a good name for himself and leave a good record behind, there is one thing he can do. If he does it, his name will go down as a Minister for Education who displayed great care and interest and showed great fearlessness. The one thing he should do is to take the bull by the horns, and, after consultation with the Taoiseach—I am sure he would be pushing an open door there—decide to abolish compulsory Irish. If he does that, he will have the blessing of every parent in the country.

Deputy Flanagan has a very poor estimate of the intelligence of the Irish people. His last statement, that the Minister for Education would have the good wishes of every parent in the country if he took the bull by the horns and abolished compulsory Irish was a gross misstatement. During his speech he said that the vast majority of the Irish people were against compulsory Irish. I should like to point out to the Deputy a very significant factor. A major plank in the programme of the Fianna Fáil organisation has always been the restoration of the Irish language.

How much of that has happened in the county of Clare?

They have never gone behind that statement. They have acted on a policy intended to restore the Irish language.

It is time your Taoiseach learned it.

Abair as Gaeilge é.

The Taoiseach himself emphasised that one of the most important factors was the restoration of the Irish language.

How far has that happened in County Clare?

I never interrupted Deputy Flanagan during all the vicious and atrocious statements he made about the Irish people.

Teach it to your Taoiseach.

I cannot hear the Deputy.

The Deputy is not missing much.

Other speakers were not interrupted and Deputy Loughman should be allowed to make his speech.

The language must be going when the Parliamentary Secretary is speaking English at last. That is a hopeful sign.

Deputy Flanagan thinks it is a popular thing to abuse Irish—that votes can be had from it. I am trying to point out to him that notwithstanding the fact that Irish has been a major plank in the Fianna Fáil programme, that Party has secured a majority of the votes of the Irish people over the past 30 years.

While the language has vanished in Clare.

The language has not vanished in Clare.

And the people have vanished with it.

I can assure the Deputy there are more people in the country today with a knowledge of Irish than there were 30 years ago.

Where is the living language that was in Clare?

Tá sí ann fós.

I am trying to make a statement of my beliefs.

Ní thaithníonn siad leo.

We are weary listening to the two Deputies who sit beside each other. Irish is a main plank in our programme and we make no secret of it. As far as Irish being compulsory and a hardship on the children taught through it is concerned, I believe that is a futile statement also. Every one of us with a family has some idea of how our children fare, so far as compulsory Irish is concerned. I am happy to state that my children find no difficulty, although they are taught through Irish in several of their subjects. I know quite a number of other children who have the same experience. As far as I am personally concerned, there are many things I would sacrifice to see my children and other children in their class capable of speaking the language. A language that has survived for a couple of hundred years will not be sacrificed by vote-catching persons such as Deputy Flanagan.

Who is vote catching?

Fine Gael do not need to look for votes of that kind.

That is what the Deputy is at.

Would the Deputy report progress? I am calling Questions.

I saw plenty of political gunpowder being made out of the Irish language, with their "A chairde go léir."

I am calling Questions.

We do not need the Irish language to get votes.


Deputies should allow questions to proceed. I have already called Questions on two occasions. Deputies are interrupting continuously. Surely that is not the way to conduct the business of the House?

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.