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.