Committee on Finance. - Vote 29—Office of the Minister for Education (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
"That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration."—(Deputy P. O'Donnell.)

Nuair a bhí mé ag cur síos ar an Meastachán seo ó chianaibh, dubhairt mé go rabhas sásta leis an dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le cúrsaí oideachais. Tuigtear dom go maith go bhfuil sé deacair feabhas a chur ar chóras ar bith oideachais go tapaidh. Tá a fhios agam go maith go bhfuil Aire gníomhach againn ach beidh airgead de dhith fosta. Fuair na múinteoirí breis tuarastail agus cuireadh deontaisí breise ar fáil dona meánmhúinteoirí. Chomh maith leis sin cuireadh níos mó airgid ar fáil chun cabhrú leis na bunscoileanna agus na coláistí oiliúna. Chun dul chun cinn níos fearr a dhéanamh, tá orainn breis airgid a sholáthair fosta. Tá sin fíorriachtanach.

Ní féidir leis an dtír seo dul chun cinn a dhéanamh muna mbíonn oideachas maith le fáil agus muna mbíonn seans maith ag aos óg na tíre an-oideachas ar fad d'fháil, idir bhun-oideachas, meán-oideachas agus oideachas ollscoile.

Bhí an-mheas ar fud na hEorpa agus ar fud an domhain ar scoláirí agus ar mhúinteoirí na hÉireann fadó agus táim sásta go bhfuil an ré úd beagnach tagtha arís nuair a bheidh scoileanna maithe againn agus nuair a bheidh a lán macléinn ag teacht go dtí an tír seo óna tíortha thar lear chun dea-oideachas d'fháil.

Guím rath Dé ar an obair atá idir lámhaibh ag an Aire agus ag an Roinn agus táim cinnte go mbeidh scéal fónta le h-aithris againn maidir le cúrsaí oideachais nuair a thiocfaidh an Meastachán seo os comhair an Tí seo an bhliain seo chugainn.

I have not very much to say because the Minister had an Estimate before us a short time ago. I have here the Official Report for Thursday, 14th May, when the Minister introduced his Estimate. The Minister was very kind. He gave us a translation but, in the Official Report, the Minister's speech is in Irish only. I have no objection to its appearing in Irish but it is only fair, I think, to 95 per cent of Deputies, including myself, that it should also appear in English. I just draw your attention to that, Sir.

We appreciate the Minister's action in relation to Waterford constituency, which I have the honour to represent, and the college of technology. It is a breath of fresh air to me to have a Fianna Fáil Minister mention my constituency when there is something going.

You have not got it yet.

We have not got it yet, but it was nice to hear it mentioned. I have looked into the eyes of Fianna Fáil Ministers across the floor of this House and they have given me assurances that they were going to do things, including the present Taoiseach and, of course, the Minister for Transport and Power. But they never had any intention of doing anything. I have no doubt, however, that the present Minister for Education will do what he said.

I should like to say a word now about this dispute which is still dragging on between the secondary teachers and the Minister and his Department. As far as I can remember, the history of the dispute is that both the primary teachers and the secondary teachers were going to arbitration. The result of that arbitration for the primary teachers came out first some time last year. Evidently the primary teachers were not satisfied and they began to fill up their war chest with the idea of going on strike. They have a very good organisation and they are very businesslike. Time was in their favour, too, because it was coming towards the end of the year and the Government were doubtfully facing two by-elections. It would not be a good thing to antagonise the primary teachers and the Government, in their wisdom, said: "All right; we will give you the benefit of conciliation.' And they did.

That is not correct, of course.

Do you know, you are marvellous? You would even cut the throats of your own kind to back up that miserable old Party of yours. The important thing was that time was on the side of the primary teachers. It was the eve of the election and, when they brought pressure to bear, the pressure counted; they got their award.

The Deputy has not put the facts right.

Deputy Cunningham will allow Deputy Lynch to make his speech.

I think the Deputy should make a speech himself on the matter.

You can bet your life he will not. In any case I prefer the Minister to answer me. I know he will. The secondary teachers then were not satisfied with their award because it brought the primary teachers up nearer to them than they were before. I have nothing to say to that. That is their business. The secondary teachers, however, decided they would go to war. Time was not so favourable to them and perhaps their tactics were not the best because, as a constituent of mine said to me, they put the Minister in a wonderful position. If a man is being attacked, he can always say: "Hit me now with the child in my arms". The Minister for Education was in a wonderfully strong position because he could say: "Hit me now with 20,000 children in my arms". I am saying nothing to the Minister about that. He was a good tactician. Time was in his favour. But it was rather tough on the secondary teachers. I am going to stick my neck out now and say that, if their tactics had been a little better and if they had said, when the pressure was rising against them in the early stages, that their first duty was to the children and they would supervise and mark the examinations, they would have got a great deal of public support. That is my interpretation anyway.

The Minister must go on running his Department. Next September the schools will reopen and the boys and girls will move up into new classes. The secondary teachers are entitled to be treated in the same manner as the primary teachers. They are not satisfied with the award and they should be allowed to appeal in the same way as the primary teachers were. I put that seriously to the Minister. I will say no more about it. I leave it to him. He is a very reasonable man.

I notice that, though the Minister's brief was in Irish, there is no mention of the language in the translation. Many of my constituents are staunch protagonists of the language. I have asked them what they think about the language and the future. It is amazing the number who have said that all children are taught a language, irrespective of whether they are born in Tibet or in Ireland. They first learn to speak the language; then they learn to read it; then they learn to write it. The idea put to me is that it would be a great improvement if English-speaking children had a course of concentrated oral Irish for a good many terms in the first years at school. Then, in due time, they could learn to read it and to write it. I think that idea worthy of consideration. I have no experience of teaching a language and I have no intention of putting forward my own opinion here but, when I hear responsible, successful teachers, some of them specialist Irish teachers, putting forward this view, I think it is only right I should pass it on to the Minister for examination.

On this Estimate, I always refer to discipline in the schools. We have a wave of over-benevolence in the world, if I may put it that way; all over the world you have people who say you must not correct a child; or, if a child is slapped, they describe that as brutality, not punishment. We should have trust in all the teachers of Ireland and should give them discretion. They should be defended in this House, too. I am not chiding the Minister for this, but I remember a pamphlet which was published and distributed about punishment in the schools. It was really libellous on all the teachers in the country. It was a scandalous affair, and I was very sorry that Dáil Éireann did not defend the teachers of Ireland more fiercely than they did. It was just passed over. A wave of violence comes along from time to time and people say it happens because children are not being taught anything in the schools.

That brings me to the point that I think there is something lacking in the homes. There should be better parent-teacher relations. I know this is a difficult task I am giving the Minister, but I cannot see any other way out of it. At the same time, I do not consider all the younger generation Teddyboys or blackguards. I consider that only about three per cent can be called juvenile delinquents. We hear a lot from them, but we do not hear so much from the other 97 per cent who are decent boys and girls. As I say, we hear very often from the delinquents. The Minister should have that problem examined.

Parent-teacher relations could be organised through a body like the Irish Countrywomen's Association, Macra na Feirme, or the various other organisations in rural areas. The threat that they can be punished should always be over boys and girls if the teachers are to have a grip on the classes. It is fine that that should be. Through the Ministers inspectors, it should also be made known in the schools that some of the old-fashioned discipline and old-fashioned customs which were current in the schools but are now dying out will be restored. It used to be the custom when a stranger walked into a classroom—whether a priest or a lay visitor—for the pupils to stand up. That still happens in a number of schools, but it does not happen in a number of others.

Good-mannered customs such as that should not be allowed to die out. One evening I saw a television programme on which some teachers were talking about their experiences. I was very impressed by them and I thought they were a very fine type of people. I was horrified when one person said that children were being sent to school who did not know how to bless themselves or say their prayers. I do not blame the Minister for that, but perhaps better parent-teacher relationship could do something about it.

In regard to vocational education, in Waterford city we have a very fine building. We also have an extension which was built about eight or nine years ago. We were very lucky in that two fine Georgian houses became vacant on the Mall and we were able to get them at the right price, as the saying is. In fact, we got them for practically nothing except that we had to pay the rent. There are many towns and villages in Ireland with fine Georgian houses which are very hard to heat because the rooms are so big, but they would be splendid as classrooms in technical schools with modern heating.

I am sold on the idea of vocational education and colleges of technology. For nearly 20 years, we have brought technicians or technologists into the vocational schools to give lectures to students who had made up their minds to work in the various factories. When we started the Waterford Iron Foundry, we erected a furnace, and the experts gave specialised courses to the boys in the theory of smelting iron and steel, castings and so on. After a short time, they were shown how to make moulds and how the castings should run. The art class was combined with the engineering class and they were taught precision drawing, how to make micrometer measurements, and so on. When they entered the factory, they had the theory, and in a matter of a few months, they were earning real money.

The same applied to the Waterford Glass Factory. As a matter of fact, so far as the shops are concerned, the glass factory recruit workers from the technical school. The boys have taken classes in glass-processing and so on, and they can start immediately as they have the theory and the practice, from courses of lectures and text books. The same applied also to ACEC. They make transformers and high precision electric goods which are sold in all parts of the world, including Africa, India and South America. That is an industry of which we can be proud.

The Allied Irish Foundries are selling their products in Glasgow and I should like to point out that it is a great tribute that they can sell them in Glasgow because there they have the Carron Foundry which is the greatest iron foundry in Great Britain. That is also something of which we can be very proud. The boys in our foundry were recruited from the vocational school. The same thing occurred with the National Board and Paper Mill and the Munster Chipboard Company. The promoters of these industries were able to tell the chief executive officer what they wanted, that they wanted certain specialised courses and that they would supply the technicians to give the lectures. That was necessary at the time because nobody here had got around to thinking that we should do this ourselves.

At the same time, when we have these schools of technology, and the sooner the better, it would be a good thing to follow that policy. I think the definition is that a technician is a man who has served his time to the business and the technologist knows the same thing but has taken out a university degree. You have these men teaching in the schools as specialists and it would be a good thing for the Department to say to the men employed by them: "Here is a good industry which is going to make such an article in County Clare and we have been in touch with the people who are going to erect this factory and they have Mr. So-and-So and Mr. So-and-So and we would be glad if you would arrange a series of lectures in conjunction with these men." I do not think we could do enough of this sort of thing.

I have had experience in England of the great care they take—this might have something to do with their examination system—in finding boys for specialised training. There are some great burses or funds in England, and as often as not, the people operating these funds take it on themselves to direct the education of very bright boys. This would not necessarily mean that they had been bright in school, that they had got 98 per cent in examinations, but it might happen that one of these boys at the age of 12 or 13 might have been able to make a radio for himself, that he had that skill in his hands. As far as his English, or as far as business methods or anything else would be concerned he might not be able to get 30 per cent in an examination but they take such a boy and give him special attention, and at the age of 15 or 16, he would know more than an electrician who is out of his time and perhaps has spent four or five years in the job.

I have seen young fellows coming from places where there was no tradition of industry or industrial work such as precision tool-making or anything like that, and these young fellows would have a skill which they had discovered in themselves. I know of one young fellow from a backward place and there was no kind of stationary engines which he could not fix to the correct timing and so on if it went out of order. He was only 14. We have many such boys in the country and it should be possible to have a report made through the teacher that there is such a young boy with exceptional skill in a certain line in such a school. You might find another Ferguson or a Ford or a Walter Chrysler. These are the people we are short of. If you find one of these and he comes up with great engineering gifts, then this is the kind of boy who, when he becomes a man, could build up a great industry. He could do more to build it up than a £1 million Government grant. I would ask the Minister not to lose sight of that.

Lastly I would say to the Minister in regard to building schools—I mentioned this on the Vote for the Office of Public Works—that usually when a school is built, it is called after one of our saints or perhaps it might be called after Our Lady, but I would suggest to the Minister that he and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance should get together and say: "Here is a school which we are building to Saint Kieran and there should be a statue or a mural or a painting erected to that Saint at the school." This should be advertised among Irish sculptors and artists so that they would produce a work of art to be put outside the school or into the wall of the school or in the hall of the school. That would be a great thing for Irish artists and in years to come people would say: "These fellows in the sixties were not so bad after all; look at the beautiful works of art they left us." I have spoken about this on about three occasions and I should like to remind the Minister about it again because it would be something that would perpetuate his name for all time.

Sílim go nglacann gach duine leis anois gurb é an Meastachán seo an Meastachán is tábhachtaí a thagann os comhair na Dála. Tá seo fíor mar feictear dúinn nach dtig dul chun cinn ar bith a bheith againn anois gan oideachas agus baineann sé seo go mór le talmhaíocht, le déantúsaíocht agus le gnéithe eacnamaíochta eile de chuid an Stáit. Bhí an t-am ann nár aontaíodh leis an bharúil seo ach tá an ré sin thart agus i láthair na h-uaire tuigeann gach duine a bhfuil suim aige i gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta an tábhacht atá leis agus ar an ábhar sin tá áthas orainn go bhfuil sé beartaithe ag an Rialtas agus ag an Aire níos mó airgid a chaitheamh ar oideachas ins an bhliain atá romhainn.

Tá sé beartaithe ag an Rialtas an aois a mbeidh sé ceadaithe ag páiste deireadh a chur lena scolaíocht a ardú go cúig bliana déag, agus go bhfuil scaifte mór dár ndaoine óga ag fáil oideachais go dtí an aois sin faoi láthair is maith an rud é an ardú aoise a bheith ann go h-oifigiúil. Sé an fáth go bhfuil sé seo a dhíth ná de réir mar atá an fhorbairt tionscail a gabháil ar aghaidh fé mar atá sé fé látháir beidh an dúil ag na daoine óga an scoil a fhágáil chomh luath agus is féidir obair agus páigh a fháil ins na monarcain. Tá seo le feicéail i mo Dháil cheantair féin fé láthair, agus ar an dóigh sin, caillfidh an duine óg an seans a bheadh aige an scil agus an ceárd a thiocfadh leis a fháil dá bhfanfadh sé fada go leor sa gceárdscoil agus is cuma caidé an rud a dheineadh sé bheadh sé íontach deacair air teacht ar an scil seo i ndhiaidh dó toiseacht ag obair i monarcan.

Ag tagairt arís don ardú aoise seo, tá sé so-fheicte nach dtiocfadh leat an riail úr seo a chur i bhfeidhm muna mbeadh dóthain múinteoirí ar fáil. Ar an ábhar sin, tá áthas orm go bhfuil aigne an Aire dírithe ar an deacracht seo agus go bhfuil siad fé láthair ag cur leis an Coláiste Oiliúna atá i nDrom Connrach, Coláiste Phádraig. Beidh i bhfad níos mó múinteoirí ar fáil nuair a bheidh an coláiste seo réidh agus dá bhrí sin, tiocfaidh linn an méid scoláirí atá ins na ranganna a ísliú.

Tá áthas orm freisin a fheiceáil na scoileanna úra á dtógáil ar fud na tíre. Sílim nár tógadh an oiread scoileanna le blianta fada agus a tógadh anuraidh.

I láthair na huaire tá tábhacht an-mhór leis na ceárdscoileanna agus tá a rian sin le feiceáil againn féin ins na Dáil cheantair. Nuair a thagann duine ó thír iasachta chun monarchain a chur ar bun isí an chéad cheist a chuireann sé ná: "An dtig leis na daoine óga a bhéas ag obair ins an monarchain scolaíocht teicniciúil a fháil?" Mar sin tá sé íontach tábhachtach go mbeadh na scoileanna sin againn. Tá sé tábhachtach chomh maith go mbeadh againn na múinteoirí a thig leo an oiliúint teicniciúil sin a thabhairt dona páistí. Tá sé íontach doiligh múinteoirí ceárdscoile d'fháil. Sílim féin gurb é cuid den fháth atá le sin go bhfuil na ceárdscoileanna ag iomaíocht fé láthair le déantúsaíocht chun na daoine oilte a fháil. B'fhéidir go bhfuil airgead níos fearr le fáil ins na monarcain ag daoine atá oilte agus gur fearr leo dul isteach ins na monarcain ná dul le múinteoireacht.

Tá áthas mór orm a fheiceáil go bhfuil sé socraithe ag an Roinn coláiste teicneolaíochta a chur ar fáil i nDún Dealgan. Tá coláiste mar seo a dhíth go géar agus bhí sé ciallmhar í a bhunú in áit a bhfuil cuid mhór déantúsaí agus daonradh trom.

Tá tús curtha leis an obair le h-oideachas a thabhairt dona páistí lag-inntineacha. Níl mórán déanta go fóill san ghné seo den oideachas, ach tá aire an phobail á dhíriú air anois agus de réir a chéile bhéarfaidh an Stát níos mó cuidiú dó. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuilimíd ag fanacht ar thuairisc ó Choimisiún atá ag amharc isteach sa cheist seo agus ba mhaith liom dá dtiocfaidh leis an Choimisiún an tuairisc seo a chur ar fáil go luath, ach ní h-ionann sin is a rá nach bhfuil rud ar bith á dhéanamh fé láthair le cuidiú a thabhairt do chuid, ar a laghad, de na páistí seo.

I mo Dháil cheantair féin tá obair mhór á déanamh ag na Bráithre Eoin le Dia. Tá scoil acu ins an ospidéal atá acu i nDromcarad agus tá múinteoirí oilte ag obair ann. Ba mhaith liom dá dtiocfadh leis an Roinn na múinteoirí seo a aithint fiú amháin in ospidéal in a bhfuil páistí lag-inntineacha is déine tinnis. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuiltear ag fanacht ar thuairisc an Choimisiúin le cinnteacht a dhéanamh de cé hiad na páistí a bheadh faoin Roinn Sláinte agus cé hiad na páistí a bheadh faoin Roinn Oideachais, ach má shíleann na daoine atá i mbun na n-ospidéal seo go mbaineann páistí tairbhe as an teagasc a fhaghann siad, agus ní bheadh múinteoirí fostaithe acu muna síleadh siad sin, ba cheart don Roinn Oideachais na múinteoirí sin d'aithint.

Tá sé cinnte go mbeidh cuid de na páistí lág-intinneacha seo faoi chúram na Roinne seo, agus ba mhaith liom a iarraidh ar an Aire pleananna a bheith réidh aige don saghas cúraim agus oibre a bheadh foiritineach do na páistí seo in dhiaidh dófa a bheith oilte chomh fada agus is féidir é a dhéanamh. Sin, sílim, ceann dos na fadhbanna is mó atá le réiteach againn fé láthair. Ní socrú ar bith é na daoine óga a chur isteach in ospidéal meabharghalair. Níl an galar sin orthu agus cailleann na daoine óga seo an oiliúint uilig a fhaghann siad taobh istigh de bhliain. Is ceart a fháil amach caidé an obair a thig leo a dhéanamh gan stró, obair mar seo a chur ar fáil dófa agus tithe maithe, slachtmhar, compordúil a bheith ann dófa fosta.

Tá obair mhór a dhéanamh san ghné seo den oideachas fosta i ndá scoil, ceann acu i nDún Dealgan agus ceann acu i nDroichead Átha. Tá an Roinn seo ag cuidiú leis an obair seo. Táimuid buíoch, ach sílim gur ceart i bhfad níos mó a dhéanamh agus beidh mé ag súil le seo in dhiaidh tuaraisc an Choimisiúin a bheith ar fáil.

Ag tagairt arís do mhúinteoirí agus an ollscoil sílim go bhfuil sé in am againn aon aicme amháin múinteoirí a bheith againn in ionad trí cinn mar atá fé láthair. Muna raibh ann ach aicme amháin múinteoirí bheadh sé in a chuidiú ní hamháin do na múinteoirí féin ach go mór mhór do na páistí fosta, mar bheadh dul chun cinn níos ré in a gcuid oibre. Sílim féin go bhfuil sé so-fheicse, fé láthair, chomh tabhachtach agus tá sé gan ach aon aicme múinteoirí amháin a bheith againn.

Rinne mé tagairt anuraidh do cheist an pháipéir údAmárach. Ba mhaith liom arís dá scrúdódh an tAire an rud seo. Má táimid chun na Gaeltachta a choinneál beo caithfimid cabhrú le muinntir na Gaeltachta. Tá aithne mhaith agam ar an nGaeltacht agus tá fhios agam go mbíonn ar mhuinntir na Gaeltachta na páipéirí Béarla a léamh leis an nuacht áitiúil a fháil. Má leantar de sin, Béarla a bhéas ag na daoine sa deireadh. B'fhéidir ná fuil an tAire sásta leis an crut atá ar Amárach fé láthair ach sílim gur ceart scrúdú a dhéanamh ar an cheist sin agus sílim go dtiocfadh socrú fóntach a dhéanamh fá dtaobh den cheist uilig.

Because of the fact that probably every Deputy who speaks on this Estimate speaks about the Irish language, the Minister tends to be looked upon as the Minister for the Irish language as well as the Minister for Education. Although I must admit that those two matters must have some association, their close association is not, in general, a good thing because it tends to associate the Irish language with the school, and with the school only, in the minds of our people. Those of us who are anxious about the revival of the Irish language realise that if we are to be dependent on the school only our hopes of the revival as we would like to have it are not too bright.

I should like to emphasise that the school in the non-Gaeltacht areas must be the foundation. Obviously, the language must be taught if it is to be learned and it must be learned if it is to be spoken and if the people are to have an interest in it. I should like to stress that, in case somebody misquotes me. An Coimisiún um Athbheochan na Gaeilge dealt with the main aspects of the revival of the Irish language. Their report is an exceptionally fine production. Many of us who are interested in the revival of the language have long been thinking along the lines advocated in the report.

There are two main aspects to the revival: first, the school aspect and secondly, the aspect outside the school. We are presently re-examining these two aspects and we are once again reconsidering the whole matter and endeavouring to find for ourselves the best methods to advance our aim, which is to have the language spoken again by all our people.

As I mentioned on the last occasion on which I spoke on this matter, the three main objections put forward by those who are opposed to the revival of the language or who have different ideas on it from mine, are, firstly, that we are introducing our children to the Irish language at too young an age; secondly, that we were teaching our children through the medium of Irish where Irish was not the vernacular, and, thirdly, that the teaching of the Irish language was damaging the education of our children and causing psychological difficulties. The educational experts who met in Hamburg a few years ago under the auspices of OECD effectively dealt with these objections and showed that these objections must have been common objections where a second language was being taught because, otherwise, they would not have spent so much time dealing with them. The experts showed that instead of doing harm the introduction of the language to children at a very early age and teaching through the medium of Irish were not only not harmful but a distinct advantage and that the teaching of the language was a very considerable help educationally.

While I agree with their findings— from my own experience, I know their findings are correct—and while I agree we have succeeded in teaching the language to our children to such an extent that it would be most unwise to shout a secret in Irish in any town or village where children were congregated, nevertheless I must ask myself what our aim is and how successful we have been in achieving it. The aim is, of course, that we would have the Irish language spoken. In this, I am afraid we must admit we have not been as successful as we would like to be. We have been successful in having the language taught, in having our children understand it, but we have not yet succeeded in having them speak it to the extent we would like.

If we have not succeeded in having the language spoken as we would like it, and at the same time, as the fundamental principle underlying the teaching of a second language is correct, then there must be something wrong.

I feel that what is wrong is the insistence of the Department down through the years on stressing too much certain aspects which are not conducive to the speaking of the language. Our aim was to produce Irish speakers and the methods we have been using, if followed to their logical conclusion, would be more likely to produce Irish scholars. For example, I feel we had too much reading and writing in the national schools and that, because of this, the child is subjected to constant correction in relation to aspects of this matter which have little to do with the spoken language.

When a child is constantly being corrected in his spelling, in his reading and his writing, in his grammar, it is understandable that after six or seven years of this, it is bound to be psychologically impossible for him to speak the language after school unless he is word perfect in it and, of course, as children of 13 and 14 years are not word perfect, the result is they do not speak it at all.

We are asked by those in authority and those interested in the revival of the language to speak Irish, whether it is broken Irish or not. I believe in this. I believe it is not possible to revive the language unless we adopt this method of speaking Irish, whether it is good Irish or not. That is how the English language was imposed on us in earlier times. It is difficult for the child, when his memory of the Irish language is the number of times he was corrected for a variety of errors during his most impressionable years, to speak broken Irish.

Therefore, the question arises of what are we to do. Obviously we must now clarify exactly what we want done. We must clarify for the teacher exactly what we want him to do. At the present time there is a reappraisal of our methods because of the report of the Commission, and I think that when we are deciding what we should do as the result of this, we should go as far as we believe to be desirable, even if it means knocking over some of the things we held sacred as regards language teaching. I would suggest we eliminate writing in Irish from the school programme to about the fifth class except, perhaps, in the form of transcription which would give the child some idea of writing the language.

I suggest that in fifth and sixth classes we should teach the children to write simple letters. I do not think we would have anything to lose by adopting this method. In our present method it is an aspect of our efforts at revival from which we gained nothing. I suggest further that the vocabulary taught to the children should bear close relationship to the vocabulary of a child in English, or in Irish in the Gaeltacht, in that age group.

Our problem up to now was to know what that vocabulary was. When we have got the report of An tAthar Colum Ó hUallacháin we will know what we want and what is expected. I should like to congratulate the Minister for having appointed An tAthar Ó hUallacháin to this important branch of the work.

With regard to the Irish readers, I feel they should be scientifically graded, particularly having regard to the day and age in which we are living. They should include the vocabulary for the particular age group, with simple forms of grammar, tenses and so on. I feel that there is no need to introduce reading before third or fourth class. In the lower classes we should concentrate on simple sentences and rhymes dealing with the child's own life at home.

I would agree that the ordinary normal language of the school should be Irish. From experience of teaching the lower divisions, I can say that the child has absolutely no difficulty in following conversation, orders etc. in the Irish language from a very young age. It is a sensible thing to teach a child the language as young as possible because the child learns his home language at a very young age and the same will apply to the learning of a new language.

I would do away with formal grammar in the national schools. The amount of time spent on explaining an tuiseal geinideach, an tuiseal tabharach and the various tenses is pure waste. At the moment, in the sixth class we have the primary certificate examination and in the papers children must answer questions on analysis and, to a certain extent, parsing. These are some of the things which give the child the impression of drudgery being attached to the learning of the language. If we eliminated some of the things I have mentioned and concentrated on oral work we would gain considerably from the point of view of speaking the language.

Before I conclude, I should like to say a few words about Fine Gael policy on the language. We are constantly being told by them that they would remove compulsion from the teaching of the language. The programme they are putting before the people, if one can call it a programme, is full of inconsistencies. They say they will do away with compulsion. If one is to teach in the school at all, there must be compulson because there is compulsion in the teaching of every subject in the school. Compulsory Irish is a term which is abused at the present time by many people for one reason or another. It is intended as a term of abuse. It is long after time we got rid of this phrase "compulsory Irish" because it really means nothing. If we put the word "compulsory" with other words, it is a virtue; if we talk about "compulsory education", it is a virtue. Nobody would dream of suggesting that we should not have compulsory education.

It was suggested by the Fine Gael Party that the leaving certificate should be awarded to a student, whether or not he passes in Irish. The problem there is that if you agree to this, some schools will drop Irish altogether. Other schools will select certain pupils to do the Irish paper and the remainder of the pupils will not have Irish as a subject at all. The result will be that we shall end up in very much the same position as that which now exists in the Six Counties where only seven per cent of the children there learn Irish.

Suppose certain students decide to do teaching, to go into the training college. Suppose some of these boys and girls did not take Irish under the system envisaged by Fine Gael. These boys and girls, could, if their marks were high enough, get into the training college and pass through it, and would then be expected to teach Irish in the schools when they could not speak Irish themselves. The only alternative would be to compel would-be teachers to learn Irish and that, of course, would be compulsion.

Take the aspect of the Irish outside the school. The second main reason why the language is not spoken much more frequently is that, when the child leaves school, he becomes immersed in a sea of Béarla. He comes to associate the Irish language with the school and with the school only. A greater effort must be made to Gaelicise our everyday life, to get more Irish in newspapers, more Irish in advertisements, more Irish in the shops. Some business premises and shops exhibit notices to the effect that business can be transacted there through the medium of Irish where they have the personnel capable of doing it. In most of the shops in Dublin, they are capable of doing it but only in a very few of them is there a notice to that effect.

I need not go into the various suggestions in relation to this matter put forward by the Coimisiúin Um Aithbheochan na Gaeilge but some of them are excellent. We should endeavour to unite the effort outside the school with the effort in the schools. We must endeavour to show the children that Irish is a living language. We must endeavour to show them that it is our own language and a national heritage. We must endeavour to show them that it is most important for the future of our nationhood that the Irish language be revived. It is really part of ourselves and it would be a shocking thing if in this generation, with the means to keep the language alive, we should let it die. It is pretty obvious that, unless we of this generation make an honest and sincere effort to revive the language, after our day, hope will be gone.

There are many ways in which we can show our young people that Irish is a living language. Wherever possible, we can speak it ourselves. We can encourage them to visit the Gaeltacht. That is about the best method because they can see people there at work in the fields and in the houses and going about their ordinary everyday task while speaking nothing but Irish. Possibly for the first time in their lives, they will find that the Irish language is not something associated with the school but is part of a living nation. In this House and outside it, we should endeavour to co-operate with each other in our efforts to revive the language.

Anything I have said in criticism of any other policy is sincere and, I hope, constructive criticism. I do not believe in making the Irish language a partisan issue. It is much too important for that, and if we do make it a partisan issue, our efforts for its revival will fail.

I wish merely to refer to the Irish language. We have failed in the revival of the language under the policy carried out during the past 40 years. Speaking against myself, I may say that 42 years ago I had the gold Fáinne. I did not learn my Gaelic in school. I learned it in an internment camp when our former President, Mr. S.T. O'Kelly, decided to teach a group of us the language. It was resolved that we would meet for a period during the day and speak only Gaelic. We used the expression "cuir Gaeilge ar sin" and we learned to grasp the language. Mr. O'Kelly did not give me my Fáinne on the first or even second occasion but eventually I got it. With my departure to America, my Gaeilge departed, too.

About 15 years ago, my children were playing in the garden on a fine summer evening. I noted that they were speaking in Gaelic and suddenly it came back to me. Speaking as a parent, I think teachers must depend quite a lot on the homework of their pupils. It is a great help to children who are not so brilliant in the classroom. It is important, however, to bear in mind that the mother tongue is not Gaelic. The mother tongue, in my view, is the language spoken in the home. I think the display of the Fáinne has done more harm to the revival of the language but I think the introduction of An Nasc, for which I can claim some responsibility, was a good idea. A person need not have beautiful grammatical Gaelic because I believe bad Gaelic is better than none at all. During the years, and in the immediate past, a pupil who failed in oral or written Irish in the leaving certificate or primary certificate probably evoked a disgust for Irish in his parents. We are not helping the language; we are even making the children hate it by using present methods. I sincerely hope that in the next ten or 20 years the Gaelic language will have taken its proper place in the country.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I really deplore the teaching methods. I must respect a teacher, as it is his job to teach, but I do not think teaching through the medium of Irish will ever succeed. It is a very difficult language with no ambiguity. Consequently, the number of irregular verbs is great and it is a subject that must be presented to the children without anything else to cause confusion, such as grammatical or mathematical terms. I trust there will be a new approach and that a child, in passing out at school, will not be penalised in the language.

If one put one's name in Gaelic over a shop 44 years ago, one was arrested and then people were attending night-time classes learning a few idiomatic expressions such as "Dia 's Muire dhuit" and "Conas tá tú?"

The position is changed now. It is not sufficient just to try to drive it down the throat of the child. Perhaps I should not use that expression. Everything is difficult for a child and I agree with the previous speaker that there is a necessary element of compulsion for all subjects that are to be taught. But there should be an appeal in it also. If in games there was an extra quarter of an hour for play during school hours with a proviso that boys could not play football unless they spoke Irish, that could help.

The language is very much alive but it is the approach that is wrong. I have every sympathy with the teacher trying to teach Algebra or any other subject through the medium of Irish. "Aids to Irish Competition" was more or less all your Irish 42 years ago with perhaps "Jimín Mháire Thadhg". I hope the Minister will not only accept our suggestion but go one better. We have rooms in the basement here where some of the enthusiasts, the fáinneoirí, could give an hour to the Irish language at night and endeavour to bring it back into this House, for example.

There is much more credit due to those who acquired the language in the difficult way than to those who came to the House as native speakers. Not only is it to the credit of the present Minister but also of past Ministers for Education that the countryside has been transformed by the many new schools provided. Even the great United States, with all their progress, have no language of their own. How proud, therefore, we should be of ours. I hope every incentive will be given by the Minister to the pupils so that it will be carried home and so that there will be the added help of the mother and father endeavouring to help in the interests of their children. They cannot help if there is a conflict of approach. That is something I think could be overcome without the expenditure of any great amount of money.

I liked Deputy Faulkner's speech and I found his references to my Party interesting because the members of Fine Gael hold a multitude of views. In fact, Fine Gael hold a multitude of views about many things, and I assume the Fianna Fáil Party are in a somewhat similar position, with diverse views in their ranks. Deputy Faulkner is probably in the Fianna Fáil Party what I am in mine, about midway between both extremes.

I want to remind him that my Party, under its first name Cumann na nGaedheal, began all this. If they fashioned the instruments through which the language should be restored too severely, we must accept the blame for it. I suspect that the present Leader of the Fine Gael Party is more adept at Irish than the present Leader of the Fianna Fáil party so that if it is a matter of the Parties having discussions about it, there is nothing between them except some honest confusion and doubt about what we have been doing and whether we have been doing it well.

If I can interpret Fine Gael policy —and I suppose I should—it is that we want to increase the incentive and decrease not only the use of compulsion but even the suggestion that there is compulsion. I agree that to talk about any subject and use the word "compulsion" is ridiculous in application to education because in all important subjects you must have a certain compulsion but yet we must avoid something that seems to have appeared in the last two generations, an active dislike for the language.

I do not disagree with any of the methods being used but I listened with interest to an educationist like Deputy Faulkner talking about where he thinks we have gone wrong. My disagreement lies at a much later stage in life and society when I think no technical appointment should be dependent upon a knowledge of the language. No skilled person, a technician of any kind, a doctor or an engineer, should require a degree of knowledge of the language which would enable him to defeat a person more fully equipped in technical knowledge. I think we have gone wrong there. I believe Deputy Faulkner's frank admission of the failure in detail should be listened to because he is quite obviously sincere and he does worry about the results. We should listen to it. I believe that we in this generation have not got the right to take any steps to discard the language. Neither have we the right to be incompetent in the methods which we used to restore it.

There is a very unusual atmosphere in the House debating the Minister's Estimates so very shortly after the Minister brought in his last set of Estimates. It seems only a few weeks since we had this before us and all the things we said then equally apply today. It does indicate the disadvantage to the House in letting Government business run out of its proper time. It seemed to be too late last year and it seems to be too early this year. That telescoping of time prevents us from having a fair picture, obscures the picture of what is being done and what is proposed to be done.

The Minister quoted figures in comparison with the past to indicate the Government's interest in education as expressed in terms of money and, roughly, over the period he quoted the present figure is £25 million as against £16 million then, an increase of something over 50 per cent, although the Budget estimates for the entire Government service are 100 per cent up. If the cost of running the State is doubled, the Education Estimate should be doubled also if we are as sincere as we say we are about the need to devote a great portion of our wealth to education Even if we add the promised Supplementary Budget which the Minister requires for increased salaries, the Estimate is still not maintaining its place in the pattern of State expenditure.

I believe that in inflationary conditions such as we have now, and which none will deny that we have now, any comparison should be of proportions of the whole. It is only reliable when you use that kind of equation. If you use the money equation, it is false. On this basis, we are spending less of our whole Budget on education than we spent in the '30's. We are spending a smaller proportion of the whole and I think the needs of the nation require that a much a larger proportion of Government income should be devoted to education because what was good enough in the '30's is not good enough today.

In primary, secondary and university education we have the weapons which we must sharpen and make more competent so that the generation who are now coming can do the nation's work in future. There is one complete section of education, that is, vocational and technological education, which must be refashioned completely.

The Minister evinced great awareness of this last year but there are no proposals in this year's speech of his. The Minister should beware of paper planning because an ounce of achievement is worth a ton of paper. I should like to know what practical things have been done to turn his glowing proposals of last year, and which were referred to by one speaker as the banner headlines, into bricks and mortar. What consultation has he had with educationalists and with those who run the existing institutions?

I am not talking as a politician when I say to the Minister that his time is short because all our time is short. The fruitful years are very quickly over. The Minister will find his greatest difficulty is the overcoming of inertia, not his own inertia alone, but the inertia of institutions and vested interest. Ordinary men can hold office but it takes more than an ordinary man to effect change and to get something done. The Minister ought to keep his eye on the clock—and I do not make reference to the late hour at which I intervene in this debate.

Undoubtedly, the Minister's current headache is this dispute with the secondary teachers and I am sure it is a source of distracting worry to him. I hesitate to make any comment about it because I can feel the difficulties in the situation. It is a very tricky subject and I do not want to add to his difficulties.

Of course, the kernel of the dispute is status and that is a very prickly subject always. It is very easy to ridicule the secondary teachers on this issue and it is very difficult for them to keep on asserting it but it is the kind of thing that affects all human beings. It was very distasteful to divide people on an issue such as this but it is a very easy thing to do. The Minister should resist the temptation to do so. He should be very careful not to use this easy weapon to depress the secondary teachers' salaries in relation to other salaries. The differential has always existed. It has been narrowed and is now diminishing. The reasons for it are, I am assuming, traditional. They state that they undergo longer training and require higher qualification. The ultimate result, if it is going to be a happy result, should see the old pattern restored, reconstituted, and the sooner it is done the better because nobody can win this battle and least of all the Minister and the children. It should be ended now.

I want to say that restoring this differential—which means, of course, appealing to the Minister for Finance to help you—does not depress the salaries of other groups of teachers. I do not have to say to the Minister, because I am sure he has learned it after his three or four years in Marlboro Street, that teachers bring attitudes and habits from the classroom and it makes them a difficult category to deal with. They have a habit of instructing us all. We will just have to make allowance for them because generally they are dedicated people and very often friends of their pupils for life.

In the past, the teacher, particularly the secondary teacher, had position and respect without very great rewards. Now the rewards have improved and this kind of setback, this present dispute, makes them uncomfortable and puts them in a role that I am sure is very distasteful to them. We should try to settle now because we want them badly now, not because of the forthcoming examinations, but we want this atmosphere removed from the schoolroom because I believe that secondary education is of vital importance and that is why the teaching staffs at this juncture should be well satisfied. Equally important, of course, is vocational education and technical education. All post-primary education is important.

On the last occasion that this estimate was before the House one Deputy said he felt secondary education was an encouragement to snobbery. Of course, that is absolute distortion. The kind of snobbery the Deputy referred to probably comes from about one per cent of the secondary schools but the remainder of our secondary students are products of very low-priced schools, generally run by religious. The end products are our most important citizens and the more we have of them the better. They run our businesses, industries and professions. They run our trade unions. We would be very poor without them. We can never sufficiently reward those men, those religious, who have been undertaking this work of secondary teaching over the last century.

I welcome the increased proposals of expenditure in regard to secondary education, increased capitation grants, but particularly the increased buildings grants. This is an overdue thing because many of our secondary schools, particularly those run by the Orders, are virtually in a state of collapse. The only fear I have is that they are all so desperately in need of restoration, rebuilding and expansion that the clamour for grants will become too great and the queue will be a long one. I hope the proper priorities are established. Let the well-to-do ones wait if you can, but make sure the very poor ones in the small towns get a break. I think the Minister might lower the figure he suggested of pupil rolls for grants.

We cannot overestimate the importance of secondary education. Our success in the future will be decided by the men and women coming from these schools. I want to refute what was said here about their being places where snobbery is produced. There is absolutely no class involved in this matter. The only class involved is that imposed by brains sharpened up by good education. We should hear no more about it. We have trouble enough without inventing a class struggle. There is no great difference in wealth between any of us in Ireland. I know men from the poorest homes in my native city who are now running great businesses and institutions in Ireland. The system that accomplished that is worthy of the utmost regard and we should not spoil it by allowing a bad spirit to develop among the teaching personnel.

We have great leeway to make up. In the current issue ofStudies, an article by Thornley gives the figure for seven or eight years ago—I am sure it has not changed much—of the proportion of Irish children from 15 to 19 years of age who move into secondary, vocational or technical schools. He says it is 36 per cent. He quotes a figure for Northern Ireland of 75 per cent and for Great Britain of 88 per cent. If these figures are true, they show a startling contrast. They will have to change. That is the Minister's task. The so-called banner heading proposals he made last year indicate his mind is moving in the right direction. I had hoped we would have heard something about them in his speech, that after consultation with all the interests involved— school owners, managers, teachers and local authorities—he would have made firm proposals. The Minister for Finance would have to be harnessed to the job also. I want the Minister to remember the clock is ticking away. I should like to see him do it before he goes out of office. He is the first Minister his Party has produced from whom I get any hope.

The need for expansion in vocational education is not denied by anybody. The old concept of vocational education has gone for good. It is now more than hobby training and a smartening up of the local carpenter. It provides very advanced training in techniques of an advanced kind in the trades and crafts. In many respects it moves into fields of the most modern technology. The existing difficulties are buildings and staff. I want to speak about the city of Cork from my own knowledge. There we run five schools, including a school of music and a school of art. We have a large pupil roll. We have a continuing and growing demand for those courses, particularly in science, engineering and technical crafts. I have spoken before, on the occasion of the Minister's last Estimate, on the collection of nondescript buildings in which we carry on this training. We are continually squeezing in pupils, although we expend almost £200,000 a year on the scheme. That is necessary because of Cork's growing industrial activity and its potential in that regard. I use the word "potential" advisedly, because the growth is obvious. You cannot take classes of this kind off the peg. The future needs must be anticipated.

We have made the case for the provision of a major technical college to relieve the pressure. The Department now should indicate its assent in principle to the proposal. If there is temporary money difficulty — and there was never a Government without money difficulty—let us be assured of a reasonable priority in this matter so that all the delaying detail that always takes place when final assent is given may be dealt with in the interim period. This is Cork's number one need and that is why I mark it urgent. Some millions have been spent in Dublin for this purpose in recent years although the proportionate industrial growth in Cork is greater. I want the Minister to bear that in mind.

One of our difficulties is getting teachers for advanced subjects. The Department should consult with the universities on this matter. Perhaps some adjustment of salaries may be needed if we are to get the men. If we want the best students, we must have the best teachers. The Minister may, but I will not, see the result of all this. It is a result well worth building up for. This kind of investment in money and men is necessary now. It should be the number one subject. If the Minister had been in the House last week, he might have heard that the expenditure on the Naas road is close on £200,000 per mile. I leave that thought with him in this regard.

There is one detail about the Cork scheme not requiring money. For five years the Cork Vocational Committee have run a school for architects. It has been very successful. We provide a three-year course in which the students are taken as far as the intermediate standard. From that they move either to offices or universities and complete the course. The first course has been completed and every student is now in professional employment earning very high money in Ireland, Great Britain or America. The second course is coming to its end. It seems to be equally promising. The Department are withholding the permission essential to begin the third course next session. I do not know why. The course costs almost nothing. It is self-supporting. If it stops, parents must send their children to Dublin or to Great Britain to be professionally taught. The costs could be prohibitive for poor families, and clever children might have to take up some other way of life—children who might have a gift for this profession. The results have been very good. I venture to say that the results per class are better than in any of the schools in Dublin. Is it centralisation? I do not think it can be. We will have to get a decision about it at once and I should like the Minister to refer to it in his closing speech.

Are there sufficient hotel training courses? I am continually being asked about this. I should like a reference to it by the Minister. I am very satisfied with the increase in scholarships. I am one of those who believe there should be no means test because I regard a scholarship as recognition of a child's ability. It is a great reward for a child to be given a scholarship. The money is not nearly so important as the stimulus provided to get on in life. The proportion of no-means test scholarships in the local authority to which I am attached is, I think, too low and we should move it up a bit.

Another curious subject I had been asked to raise here is the position of young Irish men and women teachers who go to teach in African countries. I believe the Minister has already heard about this. I regard this as a great 20th century work. These teachers generally teach with missionary foundations and they help mankind in general. In particular, they help Ireland in doing this work. Is there a hitch about recognition of this service when these young people return to work here? If there is, it is something we should attend to. They spend enough, I think, in giving five, six or eight years in helping these people in tropical climates to emerge from darkness. We should thank them rather than penalise them. We should certainly not show ingratitude and we should confer on them the same addition of service they would have earned had they continued to work here in much more comfortable circumstances.

It has often struck me that there are other things we could do in this matter of helping emergent countries. We are at the moment engaged in the praiseworthy work of bringing personnel from these foreign countries, Africa in particular, for training in the art of government and administration. I refer particularly to the development of Northern Rhodesia. I think that is a splendid thing. I wonder could secondary schools be helped occasionally to bring students here. There are other empires than the ones we traditionally hear about and we, by history and tradition, are very fitted, I think, for this work.

I shall leave education alone now and speak about the National Gallery. I have considerable hopes for the new director because he seems to have a knack of having very good public relations in art matters, and that is as important as anything else. The Charlemont Gallery, and the public interest in that Gallery, is a tribute to him. From what we can see, there is a fine collection in the National Gallery—from what we can see. I have raised this for some years past now. I want to find out what we have there. Will somebody tell me? I want to find out about plans for the extension to which reference was made. Where will the extension be? Who is designing it? These things are of interest to us all. I should like to see a catalogue of the works because I am pretty sure we have some fine things. I am also pretty sure we have some rubbish. Maybe we have more rubbish than fine work and really do not want a great deal more space. Someone should examine what is in store as well as on the walls and discard what is not good enough. Even if we get only a mimeographed catalogue it will be valuable.

I have asked before to be informed about the policy pursued by the governors. Are they attempting to build schools of painting? I should like to know what their proposals are It is a very bad time for galleries to get into the market. I suspect one of the things the new director will do will be to fix attention on the Gallery by invitation exhibitions. I envy the citizens of Dublin the treasures they have on their doorstep.

I should like to know what progress has been made with the legislation passed through the House to make provision for lending pictures. How much lending has been done? Has the lending been hampered by the charges embodied in that legislation? Is the insurance provision too high? I should like the Minister to answer the question I asked last year about the insurance of the Gallery itself and the works there. Can we possibly carry it if we relate it to present day values? Can we bear it if we try to value these pictures at the prices some of them might fetch on international markets? I think we should seriously consider carrying that risk ourselves because, if the cover we have does not bear any relation to current values, it seems ridiculous to waste money in premiums.

I would suggest to the new director and the governors that they might run a series of lectures on TV, as the BBC with Clarke, taking various schools from the Gallery and letting the people see them on the television screen and learn the kind of property they own. These programmes would, I think, whet the public interest in the Gallery. I should like to know how the sales of reproductions are going on and where the reproduction is done. Is the printing facility available in the city for that work? The modern method of reproducing great works of art through the lantern slide is very cheap and these reproductions are a great attraction to visitors to foreign galleries who go home with a dozen lantern slides of the famous works they have seen.

In addition to ordinary educational responsibilities, the Minister is also responsible for the graces of living, music and art. His work, if it is well done, will add to the richness of life here. It is, of course, part of real education and he will add a great deal of grace to the educational machine by ending this irritating dispute with the teachers. As I said earlier, we would all gain by that—the children, the teachers and the Minister. The Minister's task is to ensure that our children reach and move through adolescence as something more than examination passers.

Character is, I think, more important than skill. Well contented, properly rewarded teachers can endorse and support the efforts of parents in the forming of character. Courtesy and civic responsibility are acquired involuntarily from good precept and example. On the whole, I suppose the young people are reasonably good. Whatever relationship exists between the occurrences at Clonmel recently and similar occurrences at the seaside resorts in Great Britain, these must be attributed to some relaxation in guidance either in the home or in the school. I think it is the duty of all of us to ensure that such ugly occurrences are so rare as to be remarkable.

There has been a good deal of debate by people who want to protect children from firm teachers. I remember a debate in the Seanad some years ago during which I asked the mover if there was any chance of starting a society to protect the teachers and people like him from the children. There has been a tendency during the last few generations to believe we come into this world without any original sin. Certainly these outbreaks in Clonmel and Great Britain, concerted outbreaks of savage destruction and the calculated outraging of all civilised conduct, are a very frightening development. It must emerge from some dreadful vacuum in the minds and lives of these young people. That, of course, is an indictment on all of us, teacher and parent. We have not reached the British level yet, but Clonmel is a symptom and I think we would do well to heed it.

The demand for increased secondary and university education for every boy and girl is a very easy and a very attractive one to make. On the face of it, and in view of the ever-growing admiration for the welfare State, to me there does not seem to be much we can say against it, but there are aspects which we would do well to consider.

In the first place, there is the question of cost. It is questionable if, with the best will in the world, the Government can embark upon the colossal project of providing every boy and girl in the State with free secondary education. To my mind, the time may come perhaps when the overall increase in the national wealth, and the consequent prosperity of our people, will make that project a practical and feasible one. In the meantime, much can be done to ensure that the greatest possible number of boys and girls are given every possible educational opportunity.

The State can play its part by increasing the various grants and bonuses at present payable to the managers of secondary schools, and so enable them to reduce their fees. More scholarships could be provided not only by the State, but by the municipal authorities, and by private interests. There are many industrial and commercial enterprises which are enjoying the fruits of Irish progress, and their presence here is an expression of confidence in the country's future. How better can they renew and extend that confidence than by investing in the country's youth? The boys and girls which those concerns could help to secondary schools or university, or both, are the men and women of the future upon whom well may depend the successful continuance of Ireland's economic growth.

It is inevitable that the State will take over an ever-increasing share in the responsibility for education. Let us not be deluded into the belief that State-subsidised education is the panacea for all our intellectual, social and cultural problems. State control in this vital element of our lives can be a two-edged weapon. With one edge we can cut away the economic barriers, but there is another equally sharp edge which, in the wrong hands, could do incalculable damage to many of the principles which we in Ireland hold very dear. Those are Christian principles, and in them are enshrined the laws of charity, brotherhood and our dependence upon God. We cannot, perhaps, visualise any group of Deputies abusing the power which State-controlled education might give them, but the danger inherent in such a system exists, nevertheless, and we should be slow in introducing it.

It also seems to me that in the demand for compulsory raising of the school leaving age we are presented with something of a paradox. On the one hand, we have the psychologists and psychiatrists, and all the alleged experts in human behaviour, telling us that our children are now developing at a much faster rate than previous generations, that they are reaching the age of reason and manhood and womanhood at a much earlier age than did the children of, say, 30 or 40 years ago. To my mind, that would seem to be a good reason for leaving the school leaving age as it is at present, if not for reducing it.

Another good reason why we should think carefully before raising the school leaving age is that with the increase in family incomes, more and more children are attending secondary and vocational schools because parents can now afford to sent them. Our secondary schools are full to capacity, and our need now is for more schools. The Government are taking the reasonable and correct course in arranging legislation whereby grants can be given to existing bodies towards the erection of new schools.

It also seems to me that parents can be induced by the provision of adequate family income to send their children voluntarily to vocational or secondary schools and universities. Very soon the problem of raising the school-leaving age will have been solved in a manner in keeping with our traditions of independence and individual dignity. In that way our secondary schools will be enabled to preserve their independence—an independence which it might be unwise to take from them in view of the colossal contribution which the schools have made towards the development of the youth of the country over the years.

In the field of university education, there appears to be a need for more facilities for the practical study of atomic energy. Students in the faculty of science are at a disadvantage in this respect. Modern science seems to be centred around the splitting of the atom and the use of the tremendous energy thus released. Students in this field are handicapped by the lack of the necessary facilities for atomic research and the need for a nuclear reactor which would give our young scientists practical experience in their chosen field. Possibly the cost might be prohibitive at the moment, but perhaps the Minister could examine the possibility of enlisting the aid of one of the international organisations which are prepared to help in the advancement of science. It might, for instance, be possible to provide in the new science building in Belfield a small nuclear reactor similar to the one provided recently in Cork.

I also welcome the increase in the grant-in-aid to the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Westland Row. That academy has done, and is doing, tremendous work in the teaching and spreading of an appreciation of the great art of music. In order to attract the greatest possible number of pupils the fees must be kept to a minimum. The hard economic fact must be faced that the academy cannot pay its way without some form of grant. In fact, an organisation such as this could hardly be expected to pay its way, devoted as it is to the cultural advancement of our people. It is no less than justice that the academy should share in whatever economic progress the country may achieve.

I should like to support the recommendation made by Deputy Colley, speaking on the Estimate last year, for greater co-operation between parents and teachers. Too often the blame for unmannerly or unworthy behaviour of children is placed on the teacher when in fact the first cause could be the home. Discussion between parent and teacher, at an early stage of the child's school life, could go a long way towards producing a better type of citizen. Such co-operation could also help in forming a decision as to the direction in which a child's best interest lies. It would also lead to the realisation of the idea of the school being an extension of the home and help to make the home what it should be, that is, the best school of all.

Mr. Ryan

In the course of the last week, a matter has been brought to my notice which I should like to draw to the Minister's attention. I do not know enough about the individual concerned to know if he is a good or bad teacher but the principle is one which needs attention. In a school not five miles from Dublin within the past few weeks, the headmaster called on all pupils to subscribe or obtain from their parents three shillings for the purpose of purchasing a motor mower to cut the grass surrounding the school. One applauds the idea of keeping school surroundings tidy and one would like to see that done more frequently because in some of the modern schools in which landscaping has been carried out, the care leaves a great deal to be desired. It is a bad example to the parents and children.

In the school in question, like most national schools, the children are of poor parents and to many of the parents a levy of 3/- is a luxury in which they could not indulge and some children may find themselves put in an awkward positionvis-à-vis other children and will to some extent feel in an inferior position. Perhaps a teacher who is not well disposed to those who do not subscribe to such a fund may involuntarily take it out on the children. In this instance, when some children did not obtain the money from their parents, either because the parents did not pay it or could not afford it, the teacher called aside the children who had not paid the 3/- and inquired of them if they had any personal savings in a money box, in the post office or elsewhere, and those children who admitted they had were charged with taking out of their savings 3/- for the motor mower.

I cannot think of any better way to discourage children from saving than to have a teacher raid their money boxes even for a laudable purpose. It is the kind of thing that would encourage children to be dishonest and not admit that they had savings. I propose to make some further inquiries into the matter and I hope having raised it——

Can the Deputy give me the name of the school?

Mr. Ryan

For the moment I would prefer not to disclose the name without verifying the facts and giving the teacher in question an opportunity to mend his ways.

If it is proved, the Deputy will tell me and give the name of the teacher and the school? This should not be allowed by any of us and the Deputy will have to tell me if it is true.

Mr. Ryan

The Minister will appreciate——

And if it is not true, the Deputy will tell the House it is not?

Mr. Ryan

Certainly, if the opportunity arises. I have not mentioned any names. I have been told this by the mother of a child attending the school. It would be unfair to pillory the individual concerned because I am told that the headmaster is a very good headmaster and I should not like to pillory him. The principle is wrong and my own view——

I shall not pillory him.

Mr. Ryan

The Minister on more occasions than one has declined to state the findings of his particular inquiries because of the undesirability of pillorying individual teachers. I can understand that—it would create bad relations between the teacher and the parents and the children, and would be very bad for discipline, and in the long run bad for the children. I will make further inquiries and communicate with the Minister.

This brings me to an aspect of school life in Dublin which is undesirable and that is what I might call the commercialisation of schools. It appears that some salesmen have access to school rolls and get the names of parents of children attending the school for the purpose of canvassing the homes for the sale of encyclopaediae and other items which might attract parents to part with some of their hard-earned money in the interests of their children. Not infrequently, these salesmen attend the schools during school hours for the purpose of canvassing and of distributing their wares and advertising matter and the children return home from time to time seeking funds for the purchase of some of these items being advertised in the school. Again we have the position that the children who are denied the money go to school feeling in an inferior positionvis-à-vis children who are given the money. This is undesirable. Where we acknowledge the right of children to free primary education, we should not allow these State-subsidised institutions to be used for private commercial purposes. I hope the Minister, if he has not already done so, will direct his attention to this and ask the teachers involved to desist from this practice.

Is it not a matter for the manager of the school?

Mr. Ryan

If it is a matter for the manager, the time has come to say that the manager may not be allowed to do this because he is accepting public funds. In some case, the managers could not care less. While we all acknowledge the virtue of the managerial system, it is undesirable to allow these abuses to exist simply because we accept the wisdom of the managerial system and acknowledge it as possibly a virtue over direct State control.

That brings me to another matter which the Minister from time to time has said is a matter for the manager and not for him. In many parishes in Dublin where there are schools run by religious orders, by lay teachers and under the managerial or parochial authorities, you have children from the one family, boys and girls, attending different schools, with different hours and different lunch times. Where children are of tender years, this imposes undue hardship on the mother who has to bring the children to school and home again. I have asked for uniformity of hours in this connection and the Minister has said he was not prepared to interfere but it has reached crisis proportions in some cases.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 27th, 1964.