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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 Nov 1962

Vol. 55 No. 16

Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill, 1962—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill, although it contains only six small sections, is a Bill of great importance. It is important because it proposes to provide more money to vocational education committees. By means of this additional finance committees may be able to continue and to extend the excellent work that they are doing in the spheres of culture and social and economic development.

Vocational education, as you all know, is financed jointly from funds obtained from local rates and from grants from the Central Fund. Existing legislation fixes a maximum rate for vocational education in the various local rating authority areas. In most cases this maximum rate is 15d. in the £, though there are a few areas in which there is a maximum of 18d. in the £. With the development of the vocational education service in recent years, and the increasing costs apart from development, many of the vocational education committees have reached this maximum of rate income. They find that further development will be impossible—and, indeed, maintenance of the present standard of the service will be difficult—unless more money is made available.

The work and the achievements of the vocational schools have been so often and so widely extolled that it is scarcely necessary for me, on this occasion, to praise them further. But this I would like to say: these schools will be called upon to play a major part in the great effort which we must make, as from now, to adapt ourselves to the rapidly changing conditions in which we live. I feel that the record of progress, development, advancement which is the story of vocational education over the past 30 years is such that we can feel confident that the vocational education committees, the teachers and all others connected with the system will play that part well and will capably discharge the responsibilities laid upon them. To do this they will, of course, need help. Financial help is their most immediate need—an gad is giorra don scórnaigh.

This Bill, therefore, proposes—in Section 2—that the maximum rate for vocational education be increased to 24d. in the £ for all areas. This does not mean, however, that the vocational education rate would jump immediately by sixpence or by ninepence. At present, a vocational education committee may, on demand, obtain an additional rate of 1d. in the £ from the rating authority over the amount provided in the previous year. I am not proposing any departure from that existing situation. I am not asking that a vocational education committee should be able to increase its income from local rates, as of legal right, by more than one penny in the £ over the rate for the previous year.

There is, however, in existing legislation a provision that permits the local authority to grant an increase of more than one penny, but not more than two pennies, from one year to another. Almost invariably, when a committee has found itself in the position that it must approach the rating authority for a rate increase of more than one penny, the additional amount has been granted. That this has been the case is a clear indication that the work of the vocational education committees is very highly valued, locally. In Section 3 of this Bill, it is proposed that this limit of twopence on the amount which the rating authority may give should be advanced to threepence. Industrial and economic development in some areas will, I am sure, be such that immediate demands for vocational and technical education will be great, and may warrant a heavier call on the local rates than the ordinary one penny annual increase. I should like to point out, however, that there is no element of compulsion in this section. It is permissive, merely. And, of course, it does not affect the over-riding maximum of 24d. provided for in Section 2.

Section 4 is rather technical. The principal Act—the Vocational Education Act, 1930—states in Section 2:

"the expression ‘rateable value' means the annual rateable value under the Valuation Acts".

For the past 30 years, this has been interpreted as meaning that a rate of one penny in the pound in so far as vocational education was concerned was equivalent to the income which a penny in every pound of the gross valuation of a rateable area would produce. For example, if the schedule of valuation gave a figure of £100,000 for a particular area in a particular year, the vocational education committee would get 100,000 pennies in respect of each penny rate available for vocational education. Certain rating authorities have recently challenged this interpretation and have claimed that the value of the penny rate should be calculated on the figure of valuation on which rates are collectable.

I understand that the question could not be determined except by submitting it to the courts, or alternatively, by clarifying the law. It appeared to me that the occasion of submitting a Vocational Education Bill to the Oireachtas was an opportune time to remove all possible doubts in this matters. As regards Section 5, this merely provides that the provisions governing the payment of travelling and maintenance expenses to members of county vocational education committees shall be on the same basis as provisions in other legislation concerning similar payments to members of county councils, members of joint mental hospital boards and members of county committees of agriculture.

The passing of this Bill by An tOireachtas will, of course, mean that the State grants to vocational education committees will also be increased, since State grants are related to the amounts provided from local rates. I have no doubt that An Seanad will agree, as the Dáil has agreed, to this measure for the provision of more money for a very important branch of our educational system.

I entirely agree with the Minister that the Bill is a welcome one. We need to keep our educational system up to date and to meet the new needs arising from time to time. To do that we require to invest more money in every branch of education. So far as this Bill is a Bill to provide more money for vocational education, I welcome it. I think I can speak for many here when I say that we are all agreed with regard to it, but there may be certain points in relation to the financing of it with which certain people may not agree. I do not intend to go into that.

The Principal Act in 1930 was introduced by a colleague of mine in University College, Dublin—Professor John Marcus O'Sullivan. I think it is only fair, when discussing a vocational educational Bill, to mention his name. But we should go even further back and say that our vocational schools Act goes back to technical schools organised under the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction under a British Act of 1899. At that time agricultural and technical instruction were combined, and very substantial work was done. In fact, that Department was, I think, under T.P. Gill, really the beginning of an almost self-governing Irish Department. I saw in last night's newspaper that a new vocational school was opened in Borrisokane in North Tipperary. This is a school in which a number of young farmers will do a special course under the auspices of the County Committee of Agriculture and the Vocational Education Committee of the County. There is, of course, a connection between the two. We have separated them, but we have, since 1922, continued to develop both of them.

It should be said also that, although these schools were called technical schools, they went from the very beginning beyond being merely trades schools. They taught languages. They got grants for Irish. It should be remembered to the credit of T.P. Gill that, under his régime under the British, grants were given to summer schools for teaching the Irish language. The system has worked very well and with considerable flexibility. Adaptability and sometimes originality have been displayed by both executive officers and teachers. These schools have made a considerable difference in rural Ireland and in towns outside Dublin.

In University College, Dublin, we run a number of adult education classes, following a lead given by University College, Cork. When we were organising classes in certain places in Leinster we found it was indispensable to have the assistance of the chief executive officer of the vocational committee. Not only have these schools trade and commercial classes, but an effort has been made in Dublin and elsewhere to meet other needs by a programme of public lectures on the problems of the day. The Minister will agree with me, however, that we should not allow anything to obscure the fundamental idea, which is, in the case of these schools, the acquiring and improving of skills. Our great need today, whether or not we enter the European Community, is for technicians and craftsmen. Those of our people who emigrate make very poor headway if they have no special skills.

There is another point I should like to make in relation to vocational schools. We have to look to education as a whole. We must consider its parts as well. There is necessarily some overlapping but there has been a tendency in certain places for pupils to leave the primary school at the early age of 12 or 13 and go to the nearby vocational school, what they call the "new tech". The latter is very often a brighter and better building than the primary school, but I do not think it is desirable that the vocational schools should be what one might call continuation schools. We have a primary certificate which boys and girls may take at the age of 12. There is a tendency, I think, when they get that certificate for them to leave the primary school and go to the vocational school. I am not sure that that is a good thing. I think it would be better for them to remain in the primary school until 14, doing a suitable course, and then go on to vocational school properly equipped to pursue a course in craftsmanship, commerce, or any other course offered.

I spent some time in Dublin Technical Schools teaching French and one of the difficulties experienced at the time—I do not think the position is quite the same now—was that the people coming to the school for the course had either not been long enough at a primary school, or were too long away from school, and had gone rusty. It would be much better if pupils could be kept in primary school until 14 and then enter a vocational school. There seems to be, if I may say so, some uncertainty or hesitancy as to what is to happen in the primary school between the time a pupil gets the primary certificate and the time he or she leaves to go to work at 14.

It should also be said—I hope it will not be regarded as irrelevant—that the vocational school would be much more crowded were it not for the fact that there is a very big increase in the number of pupils in secondary schools. In accordance with the rules which Governments seem to follow, irrespective of Party, once the vocational schools came under the aegis of a Department of State they got good buildings. The old Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction built a magnificent College of Science, which University College has now, to train teachers, but the British Government gave a very mean grant for University College. At present, the vocational schools are well built, well lit, and pleasant to work in and to attend, but the secondary schools are in a very difficult position where building is concerned.

I do not want the Minister to argue this now. I know he will not. I also know there are difficulties with regard to grants for secondary school buildings. These are all privately owned, but they are doing national work. I think the Minister will agree with that. They are doing a job which is becoming almost impossible now because of the position with regard to building. Building costs too much. If the Minister were to come along with an offer of money I am sure he would have no difficulty in talking himself and the owners of the school out of whatever difficulties they are in. A grant to the secondary schools would prove a solvent of their difficulties. I should like to say quite seriously that the building of secondary schools is one of our great problems. It is relevant inasmuch as you cannot solve one of the problems in isolation from all the others.

A good deal has been done in the vocational sphere. The secondary schools will have to have some solution of their building difficulties. There is a certain amount of talk about vocational schools helping us to prepare ourselves for entry into the European Community. Whether or not we go in, we will certainly need training in craftsmanship, design, commerce, and continental languages. I do not think vocational schools can make a very great contribution in regard to continental languages because they are, in the main, dealing with people who are already working all day. There is some misunderstanding—this may be the occasion to clear it up—with regard to what will happen us educationally if we enter the European Community. We will certainly gain some educational advantages. There will be a great dissemination of documents, an interchange of teachers and an interchange of students.

The EEC has done a certain amount of groundwork in economics, and a great deal in education, but no one should go away with the impression that the intention of the people in Brussels is that there should be cultural uniformity. If we make any preparations for going into the European Economic Community they should be based upon the notion that we are going to remain very firmly Irish. There is no intention of making a Dutchman less Dutch, or a Frenchman less French. We should not lessen in any way our essential Irish-ness.

We can make a better contribution to the European Economic Community if we remain Irish, but we should make an endeavour to learn some Continental language. If this country is ever in the position that educated people know no language but English and Irish, they will have become more Anglicised than ever before. I feel that perhaps the Minister should give a lead in the vocational schools in language teaching. One of the difficulties is that people are not quite clear what they are aiming at.

I know the French language and I have taught it. It seems to me to be quite futile to make a young fellow who is not a specialist in the language, who is simply learning it in the ordinary way as a pass student, translate Irish or English into French and do free compositions or write essays in a language which has the best writing in the world and which he would have no chance whatever, even if he had tuition, of writing satisfactorily. Particularly if we are to have more European connections we should frame courses which would enable the ordinary student to read a modern language and we could even go a step further and teach him to read it out aloud reasonably well instead of trying to speak polished sentences. In that way we would give him something on which he could build later.

If that could be done in French and the other Continental languages, instead of trying to teach people grammar or how to write or speak polished French—which they will never be able to do—and if we could give them an interest in the life behind the language, it would be a step in the right direction. Lectures in schools, even in English, on the life of other countries would do a great deal of good.

Indeed, as I am on that point, I think that the reason for part of the failure in regard to the Irish language movement is that the people who are taught Irish begin to feel that it is a collection of irregular verbs. They do not know what is behind it. If that movement were successful it would have taught Irish children — and particularly city children—something about rural life. In that respect, in my judgement, it has not been successful at all. It is very desirable that both in regard to Continental languages and the Irish language something of that kind should be done. The students should be taught something about the life behind the language so that we would have a window upon the world and know that there is something in the world outside the island next to us with which at one time we were at loggerheads but to which we now seem to be getting closer and closer as we get more and more independent.

I entirely agree with the Minister that this is a desirable Bill. It is expensive, perhaps, but the expense is inevitable. It is something that is needed and well worthwhile and upon which its originators in 1930 or in 1899, and those who have worked it since, should be complimented.

Ní mór atá agam-sa le rá ar an mBille seo. Dar ndó, is Bille leasuithe é agus ní dóigh liom gur ceart é do phlé ró leathan. Cuirim fáilte roimis mar gheall ar go bhfuil ar inntin ag an Aire a thuille airgid a chur ar fáil le h-aghaidh Gairm-Oideachais. Go deimhin tá san ag teastáil, más mian linn dul ar aghaidh leis an saghas san oideachais agus ba cheart dúinn feáchaint rómhainn mar más rud é go mbeimíd páirteach sa Chó-mharghadh beidh ar muinntir i gcomórtas le muinntir Roinn na h-Eórpa go bhfuil cur amach acu ar cúrsaí teicniúla.

Ach taobh amuich de'n Chó-mhargadh, ní mor dúinn a thabhairt fé ndeara go an tír seo againn-ne ag dul ar aghaidh go maith agus go tapaidh maidir le tionnscaluíocht agus d'réir mar a bheimíd ag dul chun cinn sin, mar is mó a bheidh tá le h-eolas teicniúil an saghas oideachais, cuid de ar a luighead, atá le fáil ins na gairm-scoileanna. Sín é an fáth go bhfuil tábhacht fé leith ag baint leis an nGairm-Oideachas agus sin é an fáth gur ceart dúinn níos mó airgid a caitheamh air. Tá's againn go léir nach ionainn luach an airgid anois seachas an luach a bhí air deich mbliana, nó fiche bliain ó shoin.

Ag éisteacht dom leis an gcaint éifeachtach a dhein an Seanadóir Ó h-Aodha, agus an gearán a dhein sé i dtaobh scaolaini a bheith ag fágaint, na bun-scoile chun dul go dtí an ghairm-scoil——

Níor dhein mé aon ghearán.

Do dheinis tagairt don rud go h-airithe. Ar aon chuma ní bheinn ar aon aigne le's an Seanadóir sa rud san, mar tá's agam go bhfuil saghas áirithe scoliárí ann ná fuil dúil ró mhór i gcursaí liteardha agus do bhainfidís níos mó tairloch as an ngairm-scoil.

Ach caithfidh siad an bun a bheith acu.

Béidir go mbeadh bun a ndóithin acu in aois a dó dhéag, nó mar sin, agus níor cheart cosg a chur leo nó mór ceart iachall a cur ar a dtúigmítheoirí gan leigint dóibh dul go dtí an ghairm-scoil mar béadir gur saghas scoláirí ina mar aduairt mé na beadh dúil ró mór acu i gcúrsaí léinn, ach a bheadh go maith ar bhrainnsí eile mar adhmadoireacht, miotaloircacht, etc., dá mba buachaillí iad agus cócaireacht, obair snáithide, luath-scribhneoireacht, teidhpealacht, etc. Da mba chailíní iad. Is fearr mar a duairt mé, an scéal d'fhágaint fén a dtúismitheoiri.

Anois, maidir le ceist na Gaeilge ins na gairm-scoileanna, aontúinn go bhfuil an teanga á múineadh ionnta ach ba chóir luí níos truime ar labhairt na teangan dar ndó, bheadh bunteagaisc fachta ag na scoláire ins na bun-scoileanna agus ba cheart leanúint de'n dteagasc san ins na gairm-scoileanna agus níos mó spéise a chur i labhairt na Gaeilge. Beatha teangan í labhairt, mar a duairt duine eigin agus ós ag trácht ar ceist na Gaeilge dom ní fheicim cé'n fáth na cuirfí ranganna tuatha ar bun chó maith leis na bailte móra fé mar a deintí fadó. Do múntí an Gaeilge go maith ins na ranganna san agus do múintí ábhair eile chó maith drámuíocht, stair, etc., do deintí obair fónta fé'n sean-scéim sin. Cuir i gcás go mbíonn ar an dteagascóir talamhnúchta dul amach fé'n dtuaith chun léigheactanna a thabhairt ar thalamhuíocht agus d'fhéadfadh an múinteoir Gaeilge an rud céanna a dhéanamh agus d'fheadfadh sé ábhair eile a mhúineadh có maith dá mbeadh sé oilte.

Sin a bhfuil le rá agam. Mar a duirt mé i dtosac, cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille.

I think the Minister summed up the Bill fairly well when he said that financial help is the most immediate need. I would agree thoroughly with that statement. If the Minister had not introduced this Bill there would be absolute chaos in every vocational committee in Ireland this year. As a matter of fact our vocational committee made a demand last year for twopence and, having made it, we were told by the county council that we had exceeded our limit by a farthing, so last Monday we made a demand for a penny-three-farthings but unless the Bill became law we could not continue our vocational scheme. With this penny-three-farthings, that is 16¾d., we are told that to run our vocational business for a year will take about £56,227. The average attendance of day pupils in vocational schools in Westmeath is 500 so we see that it takes an average of £112 per year per day pupil attending the schools. I would like to see these figures compared with the amount it takes per pupil to run primary schools. I am sure I would get quite a shock to see how much less it takes in primary schools than in vocational schools.

If we exclude Dublin I could safely say that the problems confronting committees in the rest of the country are more or less identical. Having been at a congress in Athlone this year, I could say that the problems every committee throughout the country have to face are exactly the same as we have to face in our own country of Westmeath. The problem at the moment with us is that we have got the green light to erect two more schools and extend two of the present schools. We could not proceed with that work unless this Bill this evening to provide more money became law. I am of the opinion that the Minister will get the full support of the Seanad to implement the Bill.

Personally I do not agree with the Minister's policy regarding the erection of schools. I am all in favour of central schools and the provision of transport to bring the pupils to them. I can see all the difficulties in the erection of two, three and four teacher schools, the difficulties of schools in rural areas, of getting staff to stay, of getting teachers to take a real interest and settle down in a country area. You find that at night time they move off to towns and will not remain among the people. In the two or three or the three or four teacher school, the number of subjects the boys can do is very limited. They can do woodwork, metalwork perhaps in a four teacher school, but in a three teacher school they cannot do metalwork.

Girls can do domestic economy and needlework. They will not have art or music or several other subjects which they should have in any vocational school. It is my opinion that if the Minister decided on central comprehensive schools it would work out much cheaper eventually. My contention is that in the next four or five years we will require at least two schools in every county. That would be 50 schools and the average cost per school would be £30,000. If we work that out, we find that the Minister will be spending at least one-and-a-half million pounds on the erection of vocational schools in the next three or four years. It is for that reason that I think the Minister should at this very moment decide whether three and four teacher schools are the solution to our vocational problem or whether the solution is the comprehensive school with transport provided.

For the first time since vocational schools were erected in Westmeath we had the privilege this year of getting transport from an isolated area to the school in Mullingar. The general opinion of parents at present is that the worst day they ever saw was when a school was erected three or four miles away from them. It is much better to have to find transport—money and transport with help from the Department is the solution. A bicycle would cost many parents much more than to pay over a year a third of the cost of transport to a vocational school.

We have had trouble recently about getting teachers. We have very many teachers in our schools at present on a temporary basis and teachers who are not really fully qualified. Our biggest worry is to find metalwork teachers. I understand the Department supplements the education of people who wish to become metalwork teachers but, when they come out of training colleges fully trained and qualified to take positions in vocational schools, they are snapped up by various industrial concerns who give them a greater initial wage than we could give in a school.

In Athlone, in spite of the fact that on four different occasions over the past three months we have advertised for metalwork teachers we got no reply from anyone who wanted to take up any vacancy. I understand that these teachers are trained at the expense of the Department of Education to a certain extent and when they come out of training instead of going and teaching in vocational schools these people go into industrial concerns because their initial wage is much better than ours. The Minister should take note of that fact.

I happened to be on a deputation to the Minister some months ago and discussed central schools with him on that occasion. I went home with the opinion that the Minister was not in favour of extension of the provision of central schools.

I would ask the Minister on no occasion in the future to sanction the purchase of an old building for a vocational school. That was done in the past. It was done in our county, in Athlone, and it created a terrific problem for the vocational committee — the very fact that the old workhouse was purchased. Some time ago we asked for two extra rooms to be put on there at a cost of £20,000. It went up to the Department and came back to us and we were informed that in the opinion of the Department the extension we were thinking of was not sufficient for our needs. We asked for an opinion from the architect and it was before us on Monday evening of this week.

The architect was of the opinion that what the Department wished would take £40,000, and he also makes the recommendation not to spend it there, that the vocational committee should seek a new site and build a new school instead of throwing away £40,000. I agree with that report which came in from the architect because there are no facilities around the vocational school. In fact, there is barely enough space to put up the building and when the children are on recreation they must have their recreation on the streets of Athlone. This should be avoided at all costs. I am sure that the Minister so long as he is Minister will not ever advocate, agree or sanction an old building being taken over and converted into a vocational school.

We have reached the stage when the Minister should consider the provision of regional colleges of technology. These should be located in such a way as to cover the maximum area so that top-class pupils in vocational schools could continue their education by means of scholarships. It is a problem that should be faced because outside Dublin there are no facilities at all for higher education. A child can only get his group certificate and get out into the world. The Minister should take this seriously and do something. In the future our committee could make use of the 9d. extra given here to provide these, perhaps, but when we come to higher education the Minister should take the bull by the horns and see that the State provides the colleges required.

When I mention scholarships it prompts me to beg the Minister not to reduce scholarship ages to the 11 to 13 group.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have allowed the Senator considerable scope but there is not anything about scholarships in the Bill.

We provide scholarships out of the money provided by the Minister this evening. That money will be used to provide scholarships and for that reason I hold that I am not out of order in discussing scholarships.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

There is the question of who can hold that.

I do not know. This 9d. is being used for scholarships and that is what we are discussing on this Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is not. I rule any further references to scholarships out of order.

If I make any further reference to scholarships, you will rule me out of order?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


I am sorry if that is the case. Protests have come in from several counties about the change of the age in relation to scholarships. It is for that reason that I raised the matter here this evening. A child of 11 years of age may get a scholarship.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have ruled references to scholarships out of order and the matter must stay that way.

I am sorry. I have to obey your ruling but I am sorry that you would not allow me to raise this matter because I maintain that it is in connection with the money that the Minister is asking us to give.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This Bill deals with the manner in which money may be collected and not with its disbursement.

If money is being collected, the manner in which it is being spent should be before us also.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Maybe it should but that may be the fault of the Minister in not putting it into the Bill.

I will say this— a child who would get a scholarship at 11 years of age would find himself with his group certificate at 13 years of age.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Call it a day.

I will finish by saying that I should like to know who would give that child employment at 13 years of age?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I cannot tell you.

Perhaps I will have to go on from that.

The Senator has done very well, Sir.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

He has.

There was something else I wanted to say about scholarships but I had better not. As regards the allowance for vocational education committee members, I can assure the Minister that no Party has been hurt more than the Labour Party because of the fact that there were no allowances for people living within a certain radius. I do not think that the concession he has given meets the case. Take a tradesman. There is a tradesman in the town of Mullingar who is a member of the county council. His rate of pay is 5/- an hour. A meeting of the county council starts at 11 a.m. If he spends his day at that meeting he gets an allowance of 13/6 but loses the 45/- he would otherwise earn. The same would arise in regard to the vocational education committee, but not to the same extent because their meetings are usually held in the evening. A man may lose two hours work and the least he should get is two hours pay. We have lost very good members of the vocational education committee for the simple reason that they were workingclass people who were of great ability but they could not afford to give their time to vocational education committees or county council business or anything else. I welcome the move to give these people some concession.

I welcome the Bill. I should like the Minister to know that there is a big change in the situation as regards adults attending courses. For example, in the boat building class in Mullingar there was always an enrolment of 20 or 30 and nine or ten had to be eliminated. There was a class in farming started in Moate two years ago for which there were 60 applicants. This year, there were eight. It is worth noting that in Mullingar the art and craft classes were combined because of low numbers and the cookery class closed down. There was not a single application for an itinerant Irish class whereas there were 54 applicants for a French class in Athlone and 52 applicants for a French class in Mullingar. It is an extraordinary trend. Attendance by adults at vocational school classes is diminishing. That is a matter the Minister should consider when schemes are being drawn up in the future.

Beagán atá uaimse a rá. Is Bille chun soláthair airgid é seo, airgead a chur ar fághail dos na coistí ar fúd na tíre agus, mar gheall air sin, is dóigh liom go bhfuil fáilte ag gach duine roimis, go mór mhór mar tá cead aca níos mó airgid a chaitheamh ná mar a bhí aca roint bliana ó shoin.

Is riachtanas is bun leis an soláthrachas seo, riachtanas chun freastal ar obair atá le déanamh nó atá an phobal á éileamh dá gclann. Is chun na riachtanasaí sin a chólíonadh agus seirbhísí a chur ar fághail atá an t-airgead seo á bhronnadh.

Beidh beagán mí-shásamh, is dócha, i measc lucht diolta an airgid seo, feirmeoiri agus lucht tithe agus talúntaí agus seirbhís, ach tá ní amháin ba cheart a chur in a luí ar an bpobal, gur fiú oideachas airgead mór a chaitheamh air. Támuid tagtha in Eirinn chun an tuiscint sin agus raghaimid ar aghaidh leis san agus caithfimid an t-airgead agus 'sé gnó na Roinne Oideachais féachaint i ndiaidh caitheamh an airgid sin, rialacha agus nósanna agus teagasc a chur ar fagháil chun go gcuirfí chun tairbhe é.

Tá tagairt déanta do leanaí a bheith le dul as na scoileanna nuair gheibheann siad an teastas bun-scoil agus ná fanann siad le 14 bliana d'aois. Cuid aca a dheineann é sin ach tá a lán aca a imthionn as na scoileanna ag 12 bliana d'aois nó níos luadha ag dul le mean-oideachais. Ba cheart go mbeadh cead ag leanaí dul le ceardoideachais chó maith. Ní ceart dúinn bheith ag gearáin mar gheall ar na tuismitheoirí. Tuigeann siad cad é atá ar a gcumas féin maidir le oideachas a sholáthair dá gclann agus is amhlaidh gur ceart dúinn bheith anghríosach chun aon ní is aoirde na bun-oideachais a thúirt do leanaí. Is maith é go mbeadh bun-oideachas do leanaí ag dul ar na ceard-scoileanna. Bíonn sé ag cuid aca, an cuid aca a gheibheann an teastas bun-scoil. Tá bun-oideachas cuibheasach maith aca agus is maith dóibh dul go dtí na ceard-scoileanna mar 'sé sin is fearr a oireanns dóibh ar an saol. Is riachtanas é agus tá éileamh mór á dhéanamh ar fúd na hÉireann ar oideachas breise agus 'sé gnó an Rialtais agus gnó an Oireachtas an chaoi a sholathair do dhaoine chun an t-éileamh san a chólionadh.

Maidir le Gaeilge, is dóigh liom, gur cheart leanúint de úsáid na Gaeilge a bhíonn ins na bun-scoileanna in oideachas na ceard-scoileanna, fé mar a deintear é ins na mean-scoileanna. Ní'l ciall ar bith gan leanúint leis an Gaeilge i gceardscoileanna agus úsáid na teangan a bheith á chleachtú ins na ceard-scoileanna a d'fhoghluim na micleinn ins na bun-scoileanna.

Tá an nós ann, deirtear liom, i cuid des na ceard-scoileanna, ná bíonn focal amháin Gaeilge á úsáid ionnta. Ní chóir é sin. Má chaith an Stáit agus na múinteorí bun-scoileanna iarracht agus obair ag teagasc Gaeilge do leanaí go dtí 12 bliana d'aois nó 14 bliana d'aois, de ghnáth, ní ceart ná leantaí de sin i gceardoideachais fé mar a leantar de i mean-oideachais.

Ceist ar leith—gur dóigh liomsa go bhfuil an tráth tagaithe nuair a chaithfidh an Roinn Oideachais smaoineamh ar ghléas éigin chun múinteoirí ceard-scoileanna a oiliúint fé mar a deintear oiliúint ar múinteoirí bun-scoil agus an oiliúint a faightear ins na h-ollscoileanna do mhúinteoirí mean-scoileanna. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil an tráth tagaithe nuair caithfear machtnamh ar an scéal san.

Ní'l a thuille le chur agam leis na neithe a duirt a lán daoine agus a aontuim leo, cinnte.

I welcome this Bill. We are about to allow vocational education committees to spend more money on vocational education. Money spent on education is money well spent. The investment now will pay dividends in the years ahead. As to whether or not more money should come from the central authority or some other body, as a member of a local body I believe that it is our duty to live up to our responsibilities and provide extra money for education in the different counties. At the same time, I think the present system is unfair. It is a definite hardship on the poorer counties. Consider the position of Leitrim or Longford, where the rates are 50/- in the £. A penny in the £ brings in only £500 or £600. Apart from that, it constitutes a grave hardship in these counties to put on another twopence or threepence in the £.

There are few industries in these areas and the boys and girls educated in these vocational schools eventually find their way to Dublin or Cork, or Galway, or to other more highly industrialised counties. Because of that, I think there are good grounds for giving greater grants to the poorer counties. In some ways the system seems to be unfair. Some hold that it is designed to develop a small intellectual élite. In other countries there is what might be described as education of the masses with subsequent selection based on quality. The danger I see in our system is that it may exclude valuable talent because so many go no further than the national school. I believe the school-leaving age should be raised. Perhaps that does not arise on this Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It does not arise.

These boys and girls should be encouraged to attend vocational schools. Education unquestionably stands high in priority as a charge on our national resources. We have very little natural resources, very little underground wealth. The ability of our nation to earn its keep and to improve its standard of living in the years ahead will be founded more on brains and skill than on mineral or other wealth.

The main purpose of vocational education is to equip for life the thousands of young people throughout the country who have to go to work at an early age. All vocational education students come from the primary schools. Some few receive a higher education in other institutions. In the rural areas the bulk should attend classes provided by the county committees of agriculture.

I believe there should be closer liaison and closer co-operation between the three branches of education. There should be more co-operation between the vocational committees of education and the county committees of agriculture. Primary education and vocational education are undoubtedly complementary. There should be closer co-operation between these groups, officially and unofficially. As a result of a joint memorandum issued by the Departments of Education and Agriculture in 1946, or 1947, there has been growing up over the years in Counties Westmeath and Longford a greater realisation of the benefits which can be gained by closer co-operation between the staffs of the vocational education committee and the county committee of agriculture. A harmonious association between these groups in the great task entrusted to them is not only desirable but necessary. I hope that the aim of educational policy in the future will be to co-ordinate the activities and the objectives of these, to my mind, complementary organisations to the greatest possible degree. We have a young CEO in Westmeath who did wonderful work as headmaster in Castlepollard.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

There is not a word about Castlepollard in this Bill.

He is co-operating in this work.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Would the Senator now co-operate with the Chair and stick to the Bill?

I believe that the present position of vocational education shows a growing demand for this branch of education which has consequently called forth an effort on the part of the committees for further progress and development in every sphere. Because of that increased development extra money is now needed in every county in Ireland.

In the administration of vocational education there is a trinity of organisations. There are the committees and their chief executive officer, the body of teachers and the Minister. It is quite obvious, therefore, that if a scheme is to succeed in any county there must be complete harmony between all three. Such harmony can only be achieved by a complete understanding by all of each other's role, position and difficulties. This calls for the fullest consultation between all parties, and it does not exclude criticism. I believe healthy criticism can be of great benefit.

Vocational education as it is operated in Ireland requires a high degree of dedication on the part of the teachers and the members of the committees who are, to a large extent, doing voluntary work, and also on the part of the Minister. The sacrifices asked from the teachers are balanced, I suppose, by the restraint required from the individual members. The present system has been successful because the over-riding consideration at all times has been the welfare of the student. The remarkable success—and we have to agree there has been a remarkable success—of vocational education is due to the harmony that has existed at all times between all concerned: the different Ministers for Education, the teachers and the committees.

It is no harm to say that vocational education is, of necessity, of a very complex character. It has to meet not only different needs in different areas but also demands which change from session to session in the same areas. I suppose it is peculiar to its nature that it provides training to meet the many vocations that exist in modern agricultural, industrial and commercial life. We will all agree that flexible machinery can easily adapt itself not only to the changing vocations, but to the alterations in the vocations, and to the methods in use in agriculture, industry and commerce which are changing daily. We have new methods as invention follows invention.

If vocational education is to be really effective it must keep pace with these changes—the revolutionary changes as well as the evolutionary changes. It must afford to the students instruction based on the most up-to-date methods and by its ability to do that it will be judged. Our present system is responding well to that test. To-day more than ever before, with the advent of our entry to the Common Market, I hope in the next year or two, the country needs skilled hands and the technical knowledge which only vocational schools in town and country can give.

If we are to expand production in industry and agriculture—and I think that is the earnest hope and desire of each and every one of us—we must increase our technical and scientific skills and we must bring the opportunities to avail of this knowledge to our people whether they live in the country or in town. I know you can bring a horse to the water and at times it may be hard to get him to drink, but I believe the Irish worker must be put, as fully as our resources permit, on a basis of equality with his foreign competitor. Even if some people claim we are spending money to educate people for emigration, we must remember that education is no weight to carry and even if they go abroad they will be in a position to get good employment.

The vocational education committees are engaged in work of a very high nature. Any of us who are members of such committees know that our aim is the provision of such training as will turn out Irish citizens who are intelligent and cultured, people who have a sense of responsibility towards the community, boys and girls capable of earning their own livelihood because they have been taught a craft and also capable of providing for those who are dependent upon them, people who are alive to social justice and charity, and young men and women who are fitted to be the heads of Christian families.

This may not be very relevant but when I look at the papers I wonder are we succeeding in turning out as good citizens as we would desire. When I read of the calls that are made by the police for people to come forward and give information which would help them, I often wonder are our pupils in our schools being taught enough about civic spirit, and are they as good citizens as we would all like them to be.

The importance of the aims of vocational education both to the individual pupils and for the country as a whole cannot be exaggerated. I claim that of all the educational services, vocational education has the most directly stimulating effect on national production. That is my opinion although I have heard a contrary view expressed here to-day. It has close links with agriculture, industry and commerce, and it has numerous ties with organisations such as Muintir na Tíre, Macra na Tuaithe, Macra na Feirme, the Irish Country-women's Association, the different apprenticeship committees and other organisations.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

While our system of vocational and technical education has shown excellent progress during the past decade much more remains to be done. I wish to bring the following urgent reforms to the notice of the Minister.

First, all vocational and technical students should have the opportunity of proceeding to higher education, that is, to technological colleges in areas outside Dublin, as well as in Dublin, and to the universities. At present the deplorable lack of scholarships and our failure to make secondary education free to all who can benefit from it prevents the exercise of this natural right of both parent and student. The Minister and his Department should pay attention to those often-repeated proposals of such bodies as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the vocational teachers, the Irish national teachers and the secondary teachers.

Secondly, the Department of Education should forget the idea that vocational education is the poor man's university and should recognise the claims of such areas as Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick, Wexford, Kilkenny and other towns, to technical colleges. Thirdly, it is necessary to add a third year to the present two-year vocational course. The present course is too short.

I suggest that as regards agricultural education, this badly-needed development should take place under the vocational system in consultation with the Department of Agriculture. I was surprised to see the lack of consultation with the vocational teachers' organisation in the preparation of the report on small farms in the western area.

Lastly I desire to congratulate the Minister on the technical survey now being undertaken and the OECD national education survey. I hope he will really influence the Department to accept the need for such change.

Just a few brief remarks on this Bill. First I should like to welcome it very much as we should welcome any move to provide greater educational facilities. We should avail of this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the teachers concerned. It would be rather indivious to select the vocational teachers from among the body of teachers because all our teachers are doing excellent work whether on primary, secondary or vocational school level. We should congratulate all. Despite the many handicaps under which they work—the greatest of all being the depressed position in the salary scale which they occupy relative to other groups — they are doing excellent work. I hope the good work of raising their position in the salary scale will be continued by the Minister who has already done very good work in this regard.

A few remarks on vocational education in general. It is well, I think, to recognise in this age of modern transport that distances covered by schools can be increased considerably. Previously a three or four mile radius might be regarded as much as could be served by a school, but now that can be extended to six, eight or ten miles. I would specially make a case with regard to certain specialist activities like highly expensive engineering work done in technical schools or other types of work which involve fitting out a very expensive workshop. Where such are available within eight or ten miles, or even more from a particular centre, rather than incur the very heavy additional expenditure involved in fitting another school in the centre, the Minister should consider the provision of free travel or assisted travel for students outside the area served by the vocational school which has got these facilities. This would enable the provision of a better workshop and better staff in that particular subject in the vocational centre selected. It would also encourage the student body to take the subject and they by their numbers alone would help one another.

Another point which I would suggest for the Minister's consideration is all the modern talk about schools of technology. That is all very nice and proper in its own place but I would suggest to the Minister that he should be careful to avoid any wasteful overlapping here and to see that, on the one hand, the universities are not doing the work that should be done in the technical schools and, on the other hand—and perhaps it is of more relevance at the moment—that the technical schools are not attempting to do the work that should be done in the universities, that is, by attempting to provide full degree courses in subjects at night.

It would be a far better use of the taxpayers' money to give scholarships to worthy students who would otherwise have to take their courses at night—scholarships that would permit them to attend the regular classes in the university. Again, this would be in the direction of rationalisation and it would enable the facilities in that subject to be increased at the university centre and greater contribution to be made.

I suggest it is a matter of study at all times to know where the line is to be drawn but we should be very careful in this regard about the confusion that arises in the very name "institute of technology". In America, institutes of technology are really at the highest level and are what you would call scientific universities in the fullest sense. All that distinguishes them from the older type of university is that their range of degrees is somewhat narrower and they do not provide courses in the humanities or perhaps B.A. degrees like the regular universities do.

Apart from that, they are in every sense the modern approach to the scientific training in a university. I would say to the Minister that there is no case whatsoever for our vocational schools to aspire to that title, to that range of subjects. There is plenty of work to be done by all engaged in the field of education and all we require is simply to prevent any undue overlapping and to co-operate in the best interests of the nation.

Also, I should not like it to be felt that because one system of education may have slightly better contacts or be more closely under control by the Department of Education it would be regarded as being favoured over others that are slightly more removed. We might take it that vocational education is somewhat more closely linked to the Department than either secondary education or university education. We would like to feel that that incidental linking would in no way impair either the harmony of working between or the co-operation between the various bodies and the Department concerned.

One other point I would put up is that vocational education is such a wide subject today that there is a need for continuous study of developments abroad and seeing how these can be fitted to our developments at home, a continual need for the modernisation of courses, and so on. To carry out those studies, I suggest to the Minister, requires many trained people. It is not right or proper that the Department of Education should be expected to do all that work itself. I would suggest to the Minister that he has in the body of vocational teachers themselves splendid material from which to draw such staffs. It could become quite a feature of vacation work during the Summer. A certain team would be selected to do a six or seven weeks' study of some facet of vocational education. Of course, that should carry its proper remuneration because salaries in vocational education are all too low. It would be a very good idea that there should be supplements available for those who were prepared to do such needed work during the summer vacation or at any other times.

Finally, I would suggest that in the consideration of vocational education for the future we have a question which is intimately connected with the question of raising the school-leaving age because it will affect the numbers considerably. I would suggest to the Minister that when that happy day comes about, when the school-leaving age will be raised the Minister should always provide a certain, not exactly escape clause, but alternative, by which those who had a bent for vocational education or for the most practical type of craftmanship would be able to meet the requirements of the raised school-leaving age by attending a regular evening or night session in a vocational school and taking the necessary examinations something that would ensure that they would put in an equivalent amount of study as they would put in if they were full-time day pupils. At present the boys released from work to attend vocational schools cannot aspire to that. One day a week is certainly no substitute for increasing the age.

I welcome the Bill and hope that before long the Minister will see other ways and means of increasing the amount available to all education and to vocational education as one of the branches of education.

I should like to be associated with the welcome extended to this Bill. It is a Bill to provide further money for technical education. For that reason, I am very glad that it has been introduced. It enables the local authority to provide further money from the rates for technical education and it follows that further money will also be forthcoming from the State.

At the present time the State makes available in grants £ for £ raised by the local authority, but I understand that the same rate of grants is not paid in all counties. I should be glad if the Minister would clear this point up for me when he is replying because it is not possible in this House to put down Parliamentary Questions.

I have been informed that several counties in Ireland are given more than 50 per cent. grant, or given more than the £ for each £ raised locally. Some people say that only happens in cases where the maximum rate of 15d. in £ has already been reached locally, but I understand that that is not so. I understand that, even in some counties where the local rate has not reached 15d. in £, additional grants have been given. I should like to know if that is so. If it is so, I should like to know the reason for it.

Some Senators have advocated the establishment of larger technical schools in which advanced technical instruction could be given. I certainly think that at least one such advanced school should be provided in each county. It is not possible to give all the instruction necessary, or required, in every technical school in the country. It is not possible to give such instruction in the three-teacher or even the four-teacher school. I agree with the Senators who said that there should be, in this year of 1962, a large school in the county town or in some central town in each county, equipped to give advanced technical education in engineering and, to some degree, in science and other subjects. At the moment vast areas are debarred from benefiting in the employment given by the ESB because there is no instruction locally in electrical engineering. That is the position in the town of Cavan. I know there is a fairly large technical school there, but there is no instruction given in electrical engineering. The result is that local boys cannot become technicians with the ESB.

Finally, I should like to say a word about departmental delays. I hold the view that local vocational committees are doing excellent work, but I believe some of the members are disappointed and frustrated because of the length of time it takes to get a project through the Department. I fully appreciate that the Department must give considerable thought and perhaps considerable time, before deciding that a technical school should be built in a certain place but I believe that, having approved in principle of the building of a school in a certain place, there should be no further unnecessary delays.

It is, I think, unreasonable that it should take from the month of December, for example, until the following October or November to approve of a site. It should be possible to approve of a site in a month or six weeks. It should be possible to approve of plans within a reasonable period, say a couple of months. The experience of some committees is that it is a matter of years from the date on which the building of a school is approved in principle until the tenders can be invited. I say that is unreasonable. I say it has a bad effect on the local committees. I say it would be really better not to give the approval in principle until the Department is ready, financially and otherwise, to go ahead with the project.

Duine ar bith atá gníomhach i gcúrsaí oideachais, ba shuarach uaidh gan fáilte a chur roimh foráil ar bith a chuirfeadh breis airgid ar fáil don oideachas sa tír. Marabh ionann is cuid eile de na Seanadóirí agus na Teachtaí, is lú is cás liomsa agus le mo leithéidí cé as a dtagann an tairgead ná é a bheith a chur ar fáil. Sé an imní is mó a bheidh ormsa faoi nach gcuirfí chun críche é ar an mbealach is fearr agus is éifeachtúla. Tá an chontúirt sin ann agus is cuid den learmheas a déantar go hiondúil ar an gcóras gairmoideachais nach bhfuil toradh mar ba chóir ar an méid atá á chaitheamh ar an ngné sin dár gcóras oideachais. Do réir figiúirí a foilsíodh i mbliana is mó go mór in aghaidh an dalta a chosnaíonn an gairm oideachas ná ceachtar den dá Roinn eile agus gan toradh dá réir air, do réir cosúlachta.

In considering the difficulties under which vocational education operates in this country, I think the first and major consideration is the approach of parents who are in favour of secondary education and who are prejudiced against vocational education. At the end of the primary stage a choice has to be made and in 999 cases out of 1,000 the parents plump for secondary school irrespective of the aptitude of the child. I think this is due primarily to a failure on the part of people to appreciate the different functions of the two types of school; and that failure has led to the position in which secondary schools have on their rolls many pupils who are entirely unsuited to secondary education and who have no aptitude for the type of education the secondary school provides. Even though the child may fail in the intermediate certificate the parents will still insist in presenting the child for the leaving certificate.

We all know the considerations that motivate parents in taking this attitude. There is, first of all, the widespread idea that vocational schools are intended for the intellectually inferior. There is also the undoubted confidence that parents have in institutions run by religious as opposed to those run by lay people. Arising again out of that, there is the undying hope in the breasts of most parents that little Johnny will one day be a bishop and that desirable end can only be achieved by sending him to a secondary school. Vocational education has no avenue towards that end.

I do not wish to deal with this very closely but one of the most powerful considerations that operate against it is the fact that the secondary school is still nearly the only gateway to higher things, whereas for the majority of vocational pupils a dead end is reached at the age of 15 or 16 years after a couple of years in the school. For that reason I am very partial to the suggestions that have been made in the other House and in this House that regional colleges of higher technology should be established here and there throughout the country, with adequate scholarship schemes to support them which would ensure that interested and deserving pupils of vocational schools would have an opportunity of developing their technological aptitudes to the full. It is only in the realm of agriculture in the various parts of the country that any higher outlet is afforded to the pupils who go to technical schools, and also in the big centres of population such as Dublin and Cork. There must be a great waste of talent and ability all over the country amongst the pupils of the rural vocational schools who have no further outlet for their abilities than the local schools, and then, possibly, a dead and job.

In the educational expansion that is envisaged in this Bill, it is obvious that the system which is best for expansion is the vocational one. After all, in proportion to our population the numbers attending our secondary schools are not small. They really are not out of proportion as compared with other countries. It is obvious that any great expansion that is to be made has to be made in the realm of the vocational schools and that, of course, in the context of our proposed entry into the Common Market—because a consequence will be a demand for skilled craftsmen and it is the function, and should be the function, of vocational and technological schools to provide that man power—anything that could be done to break down the prejudice against them and promote confidence among the people should be done as soon as possible.

Such a change of attitude should be natural and spontaneous. Otherwise, I see no alternative to providing some system of selection at the end of the primary school period and that, as we know, is fraught with serious difficulties and dangers and should be avoided if at all possible. I mention these things because I should like to point out that no matter how much is provided in this or any other Bill for vocational education, it will not have its due effect unless the people accept vocational education as being equal to any other system of education they have. The money will be squandered in trying to attract teachers and perhaps erecting palatial buildings because it will have little effect if we cannot attract the pupils into the schools.

In deference to the wish of the Minister to get through the Bill as quickly as possible I shall be brief. I welcome the provisions of the Bill. Many people imagine that there is a certain amount of jealousy as between the various groups of teachers, but I should like to say as a member of the Irish National Teachers' Executive that we most heartily welcome provisions which will extend our educational facilities and I think they will be welcomed by everyone who takes an objective view.

We have already referred here on the Appropriation Bill to the low expenditure on education and I shall not reiterate the point. It is well known that we are not spending sufficient money on education, but we are concerned that when money is collected and is to be expended it should be expended in the proper fashion. Looking at the Statistical Abstract which gives the figures for education for 1961, we observe that those who participated in whole-time day continuation courses amounted to 25,368, while those who participated in whole-time technical courses amounted to the small figure of only 954. We must ask ourselves are we squeezing all we can out of vocational and technical education, unless these figures are completely wrong —and when I look at them I become suspicious of the fact that there are only 954 genuine technical students in the whole set up in the whole country.

We should not get too confused about the glitter of vocational education because it is glossed over to a considerable extent by adult education courses in mountain climbing. Those courses are very fine and very attractive, and they provide a wonderful opportunity for adult education, but we should not lose sight of the fact that our chief aim at this critical hour in our history is to ensure that technical education is fulfilling its real function.

Another point about which many people are perturbed is the nature of the day continuation courses. Many of us who look at this question in an objective way, and not in a carping critical way, feel that more could be done in the day continuation courses. We welcome the fact that many thousands of students participate in the whole-time technical education. That should be our objective.

I welcome Senator Quinlan's remarks about the remuneration of teachers. I shall not say any more on that subject except that no system of education can rise above the level of its teachers. If they are kept on a low level of remuneration, as compared with people in other services, you cannot expect the best, and above all you cannot expect the enthusiasm which one should find in a teacher. When you have a person in charge of a class who is not enthusiastic, and who has not the proper spirit, outlook and drive, he has a withering and blighting effect. You cannot have enthusiasm, drive, perseverance, and the proper outlook, if you keep the teachers on a low level of remuneration. If they are jealous of the people in other services you will not get enthusiasm no matter what curricula you devise or what buildings you erect.

I agree 100 per cent. with Senator Quinlan's remarks about having more propaganda on the difficulties of vocational education. Let us look for the reason. We all know that parents can try to fulfil their own emotional needs in the careers of their children and want their children to be what they were not, or to be what they would have liked to be themselves. We know this is a big factor which comes into play when parents are sending their children on for education. It is a bit hackneyed to say it because everyone is talking about it, but the time has come for some form of direction when children are due to cross the bridge between primary and post-primary education. There should be some direction there, some form of guidance and consultation so that the child would have a reasonable chance of being diverted into the right course.

The last point I wish to make I shall state briefly because I do not wish to delay the Minister. It is in connection with the over-all educational picture. Many of us are not happy about it at all. While this is a very good provision it is only patching a leaky craft. We should take a look at the whole vessel and see how it is carrying us through. You cannot take this whole question of education piece-meal as we have been doing up to the present, having a report on this and a report on that. Nobody has been set the task of looking at the whole problem and of reporting on it. That is what is needed.

We must consider seriously raising the school leaving age and ensuring that no child is deprived of further education through lack of means. Those two things are the sine qua non for any advance in education. It is a significant thing that the recent report of the European Economic Community showed that the only country in it which had a surplus of labour was Italy. It is significant from this point of view, that it carries the greatest number of illiterates of all the people concerned. It has about two million illiterates. There is a surplus of labour there and there is a surplus of labour here. We have been cheaply supplying the British labour market whereas John Bull ensures that his children will not leave school until they are 15. In Scotland they do not leave until they are 16 and in Northern Ireland until they are 15. Here they leave at the age of 14.

If we are to face up to the conditions within the developing economic scene we must ensure that child for child our children will be on the same educational footing as the British child, the French child or the Danish child. Patching the craft is not sufficient. A good over-all look at the situation is what is needed because we are involved in spending money and we should ensure it is spent to the best advantage.

I feel a little disconnected having listened to so many views. I started off with a Bill which is intended to provide some more money for vocational education committees but certain matters have been raised about which I should perhaps say something. One of them is in connection with taking a look at the whole craft, this leaky barge which has floated for so long. I should like to assure the Seanad that I am taking a look at the total system of education. I am very conscious, as I am sure is anybody who is familiar with the system, that through natural growth it is a very peculiar system, and when I say "peculiar" I mean peculiar to Ireland, in that the different parts of it have grown up separately through our history.

At this time I am very earnestly aiming at a post-primary system of education which will be available to every child who can benefit from it. It is one thing to plan something and another thing to achieve it but the Government, as an earnest of their intention, have brought about a scholarship scheme which ensures that 5,000 to 6,000 extra scholarships will be available to children who have the capacity to benefit by this post-primary education. The same Act also provides for about 500 extra university scholarships.

As I have said that was just a beginning of the implementation of Government policy to see that every child who could benefit by it would have this opportunity to go the whole way up the educational ladder and would not be stopped from so doing by lack of means. Secondary education is not available to all children in any country in Europe but post-primary education is a possibility; again it might not be demanded by everybody.

The school leaving age here is 14. In Great Britain and Northern Ireland it is 16; I think in some of the landgraves in Germany it is 15 but not in the other landgraves. In very few countries in Europe is the school leaving age anything more than ours; it is 15. The attendance at school of children over 14 years, say, in the 14-16 age group, is very high. Two-thirds of our children in that age group are in full-time attendance at school and this figure is higher than in those countries with a 15 year old statutory leaving age. I mention these facts because sometimes we may be discouraged by hearing how badly off we are.

I do not think the Senator meant to cause a misunderstanding when he said there is a surplus of labour in Italy which is related to a high illiteracy rate there and that there is a surplus of labour here. If we were to take that in a logical way it would convey there was a high illiteracy rate in Ireland. That is not true. We have, as Senators have said, a very high standard of teachers and teaching in the country.

The overlapping of the functions of the technical schools and the universities is a problem which I have left for the present to the deliberations of the Commission on Higher Education and I expect they will make recommendations to me on that. I do not think it would be proper for me to deal with it here now while they are considering the matter.

I would agree with Senators who state that one of our real needs at the moment is for technicians. As regards the question of so few people taking technician courses, if I were to go into it—I have not the book with me—I think it would show them to be full-time technician courses in an older age group. The real purpose of the vocational schools is to give continuation education, not just to supply technicians. In other countries the technical schools are absolutely limited to supplying technical education but here our vocational schools are doing a very good job in supplying continuation education and as well as that when it comes to examining the value you are getting for your money from the vocational committees you must remember that apart from the continuation education, technical education and adult education courses, very useful services have been made available to the rural community in particular through the vocational schools.

There is an explanation for the funds but it gets so complicated that sometimes you wish you had a blackboard when you are trying to explain it to any group. The first part of the rate raised for vocational education is called the minimum annual liability of the county and in most counties, in all indeed except Cork, it is a penny three farthings. That was there when the 1930 Act was enacted. Above that the State gives usually £1 for each £1 collected by the county from the rates. If the county therefore collected £50,000 the State would give £50,000. The idea is to give a fund to the vocational education committee out of which it can provide adequate vocational educational services.

There are some schemes—not counties—quite incapable of doing this on a £1 for £1 basis. One is Cork city which is a very limited area and a very big scheme. Others like Tralee are smaller. These cannot, on their own rate, raise the money to give a scheme. Those are getting £4 for £1. Certain counties are not able on a £1 for £1 basis to get the money for schemes because they were regarded as being in some way poor or others had a Gaeltacht area and one at least had a special scheme which warranted extra expenditure by the State. They got a ratio of £2 to £1, some all the way up above the minimum annual liability and some on a part of their own contribution. Apart from this contribution by the State in ratio to what is raised by the local rating authority, the central fund can also give special grants to certain committees and this has been done in several of the counties because many counties have already gone up to the maximum permitted by law which they can collect from the rates but could not continue without help.

Might I ask if some committees which have not raised the maximum of 15d. in the £1 have got more than £1 for a £1?

Yes, some of them.

What is the reason?

There is only one of them that has not gone to the full 15d.

I am not objecting. It is just that I know another county which might be looking for it.

They are all looking for it. They are all very near the maximum but the basis is not that. The basis is ability to meet commitments.

I do not know if I have explained how the money is supplied but, globally, the State supplies about two-thirds of the cost of vocational education and the raising of this maximum rate which is permissible also raises the contribution which will be made by the State.

I shall investigate the question of delays. I think there may be an element of exaggeration in the example I got, but I have already got some echoes about delays in the provision of schools and I will investigate this. I think I have answered all the questions.

Tá mé an-bhuíoch don Seanad as ucht an fháilte a chuir sibh roimh an Bille seo. Tá súil agam go n-eireóidh go geal leis na coistí san obair tábhachtach seo atá idir láimha acu.

I would like to ask the Minister if he is aware that children who get scholarships to secondary or vocational schools have not availed of these in vocational schools. Is he aware that the standard for scholarships for vocational schools is too high and that the age for the scholarships—11 years—is too low for scholarships to vocational schools? I would ask the Minister if he could not prepare a special scholarship scheme for vocational schools alone and let the secondary scholarships stand as they are.

The first thing is that the entrance age to vocational schools is 14, or possibly 13 if the child has completed one year in sixth standard in a national school, so there is no question of a child getting it at 11.

If he won the scholarship at 11 could he not take it?

But he could get into a secondary school?

Not as a recognised pupil I think. I think the age is 12.

Is not 11 the age from the 1st January under the new regulations?

It is 13.

Eleven to 13.

Thirteen. This is not in the Bill, but the scholarship age up to now was 14 in August and the age now is 13 in January or 13 plus eight months in August or four months younger than before.

May a child not do the scholarship at 11?

There is no reason why he should not do it but I do not think he can go to a vocational school on it. It is quite right that there is no lower age limit but he cannot go.

No one who has won a scholarship has gone to a vocational school.

If a child wins a scholarship you cannot make him go to any particular place. The Constitution protects the right of parents.

You can avoid that by having a special scheme for vocational schools and a special scheme for secondary schools.

That is a matter for the committees. The schemes are made up by the local committees and sent to me for sanction. It is a possible suggestion for committees who know the situation in their own counties.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill put through committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.