I see that there are motions to refer back four or five of the Education Votes. These Votes are usually discussed together, but that, of course, will not prevent a decision being taken on each one separately. I presume that course will be followed—that the Education Votes will be discussed together and a vote taken on any one of them if desired. Specific questions may be asked on any individual Vote.
Committee on Finance. - Vota 39—Oifig an Aire Oideachais.
Go ndeonfar suim nach mó ná £190,690 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfas chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1951, chun Tuarastal agus Costas Oifig an Aire Oideachais agus chun Costas a bhaineas leis an gComhairle Oideachais.
An t-airgead atá á iarraidh in ocht Vótaí na Seirbhísí a riarthar ag mo Roinn-se, is é is suim iomlán dó £8,658,570, sé sin méadú £1,058,530, nó 14% nach mór, ar an méid a Vótáileadh anuraidh.
Sé an meastachán i gcóir Vóta 39 ná £285,890, sé sin, méadú £9,350 ar an méid a soláthraíodh anuraidh. Sé is bun den mhéadú ná an socrú deiridh a deineadh ar na scálaí tuarastail i ngeall ar an athchóiriú a deineadh ar scálaí páighe na Stát-Sheirbhíse le déanaí, agus an bhreis airgid a tugadh le déanaí i gcóir rátaí taistil agus i gcóir liúntaisí cothuithe.
Sé suim atá measta i gcóir BunOideachais ná £6,400,000, sé sin, méadú £988,360.
£5,582,800 an tsuim is gá a sholáthar i gcóir tuarastail múinteoirí, liúntaisí, táillí agus dá réir sin, agus i gcóir deontaisí do scoileanna clochair agus scoileanna mainistreach. Sé méadú atá ann i mbliana ná £895,540.
Cosnóidh tuarastail múinteoirí £4,130,000 i mbliana, sé sin, beidh méadú £673,500 ann. Den mhéid sin, tá £620,000 le cur síos don mhéadú tuarastail a cuireadh i bhfeidhm ón chéad lá de mhí Eanáir, 1950. Tá £50,000 eile le cur síos don chostas atá ag teacht as an "Réimniú Árd-Éifeachtach" a bheith ar ceal agus as roinnt athruithe eile a deineadh i bhfábhar na múinteoirí.
Tá sé measta go gcosnóidh liúntaisí agus táillí múinteoirí £286,200, in aghaidh an £250,100 a dáileadh ina gcóir anuraidh, sé sin, beidh méadú £36,100 ann.
An liúntas bliantúil do Phríomh-Oidí agus do Leas-Phríomh-Oidí, cosnóidh sé £203,500, sé sin méadú £25,500. As an méid sin tá timpeall £14,000 le cur síos don ardú a deineadh ar rátaí liúntaisí na mban chun iad a chur ar aon chothrom le liúntaisí na bhfear ón chéad lá de mhí Eanáir i leith, agus is don chostas atá ag gabháil fós leis an bhfeabhsú a deineadh ar choinníollacha seirbhíse na múinteoirí atá an chuid eile le cur síos.
Na deontaisí speisialta do mhúinteoirí i limistéir áirithe Fíor-Ghaeltachta, cosnóidh sin £20,000, sé sin, méadú £9,000.
Tá £20,500 dá sholáthar chun dhá dtrian de thuarastal ionadaithe a aisíoc le múinteoirí a tharlódh breoite. An tuarastal minimum atá leagtha amach lena íoc ag na múinteoirí lena gcuid ionadaithe le linn breoiteachta, tá san méadaithe chun é a chur ar dul leis an méadú tuarastail i gcoitinne, agus ar an ábhar sin is éigin £3,500 breise do sholáthar.
Tá £1,166,000 á sholáthar i gcóir deontaisí caipitíochta do Scoileanna Clochair agus Scoileanna Mainistreach, sé sin, méadú £186,000. As an méid sin tá £180,000 le cur síos don mhéadú ar na deontaisí caipitíochta atá i bhfeidhm ón chéad lá de mhí Eanáir, agus sé rud is cúis leis an bhfuíollach ná gur líonmhaire ná roimhe seo an méid dalta atá ag freastal na scoileanna seo.
Sé suim a chosnóidh pinsin, aiscí agus iocaíochtaí báis ná £638,200, sé sin, méadú £69,200 ar Vóta na bliana seo caite. Sé ní go bhfuil an méadú san le cur síos dó ná an méadú a deineadh ar phinsin agus ar na nithe eile sin ón 1 Eanáir, 1950.
Oiliúint Múinteoirí.—An soláthar a bhí ann chun an méid maximum múinteoirí a oiliúint, táthar ag leanúint leis.
Cosnóidh na Coláistí Ullmhúcháin £56,930, sé sin méadú £2,730 ar an mbliain seo caite, agus sé ní is mó is cúis leis an méadú sin ná tuarastal níos airde bheith á thabhairt agus a thuille múinteoirí bheith ar an bhfoirinn. £69,500 a chosnóidh na Coláistí Oiliúna, sé sin, beidh méadú £17,000 ann. An méadú ar na deontaisí caipitíochta do na Coláistí sa bhliain acadúil reatha cosnóidh sé £10,500 breise, agus táthar ag soláthar £6,500 eile breise mar chúiteamh sa gcaill a bhí ar choláiste amháin acu sa bhliain acadúil seo caite.
£63,000 a chosnóidh deontaisí chun scoileanna a théamh is a ghlanadh i mbliana, in áit an £60,000 a dáileadh ina chóir sin anuraidh.
£12,450 atá measta do Sheirbhísí Carr agus Bád, sé sin, méadú £3,200. An tseirbhís speisialta bhusanna a cuireadh ar fáil i gcóir na bpáistí sa limistéar úd, Bóthar Sarsfield—Bhaile Fearmada, cosnóidh sí £3,000. Tá suim £200 á sholáthar, leis, chun riar ar sheirbhísí nua.
Sé suim atá measta do Leithreasaí-igCabhair ná £98,970, sé sin, méadú £1,420, agus an chuid is mó den mhéadú sin sé áit a dtiocfa sé isteach ná trí níos mó airgid a bheith le fáil, do réir mar a ceaptar, as táillí mac léinn na gColáistí Ullmhúcháin ná mar a bhí le fáil anuraidh ó na táillí sin.
Sé an tsuim iomlán atá á soláthar i gcóir Meán-Oideachais ná £926,330, sé sin méadú £30,030 ar £896,300 na bliana seo caite.
An Deontas Caipitíochta.—Tá méadú £13,650 air sin. An méid daltaí a ndéantar an íocaíocht sin ina leith tá sé ag dul i líonmhaireacht i gcónaí. 47,052 de dhaltaí faomhaithe atá sna scoileanna i mbliana, 45,412 a bhí ann anuraidh agus 43,710 athrú anuraidh.
£513,000 atá measta do bhreiseanna ar thuarastal, sé sin méadú £9,400 ar an mbliain seo caite. Sé is cúis leis sin an fuilleamh ar na breisithe bliantúla do réir na scálaí tuarastail méadaithe a socraíodh i 1946.
Deontaisí Saotharlainne.—£3,000 de mhéadú atá orthu sin, sa tslí gur £39,700 an tsuim atá á soláthar lena n-aghaidh i mbliana. Tá 100 rang breise ann i mbliana thar mar a bhí anuraidh.
Beidh £3,000 ag teastáil le haghaidh Ciste Pinsean na Meán-Mhúinteoirí. Sin an easpa a cheaptar a bhéas sa gCiste de bharr an mhéaduithe a deineadh ar phinsean na MeánMhúinteoirí leis an Scéim (Leasaithe) um Pinsean Meán-Mhúinteoirí, 1949. Roimhe seo ba leor an t-airgead a chuireadh na Múinteoirí agus na Bainisteoirí sa Chiste chun riar ar na pinsin agus níor ghá go dtí seo ach suim éirnéise a chur faoin mhírcheann seo.
Beidh méadú £1,540 ag teastáil ar an £24,260 a chosnaigh scrúduithe anuraidh, de bhrí go mbeidh níos mó daltaí ag tabhairt fé na scrúduithe agus go bhfuiltear tar éis páigh na bhFeitheoirí do mhéadú.
Sé an tsuim iomlán atá ag teastáil i gcóir Ceárd-Oideachais ná £704,730, sé sin, méadú £44,350.
£653,548 an méid a bheas ag teastáil i gcóir deontaisí bliantúla do Choistí Gairm-Oideachais, sé sin, méadú £33,548 ar airgead na bliana seo caite.
An tAcht Gairm-Oideachais, 1947, cheadaigh sé do na hÚdaráis Áitiúla suimeanna airgid, a bheadh ag dul i méid ó bhliain go chéile, a ghearradh ar na rátaí i gcóir Gairm-Oideachais. -Nuair a dheineann siad sin, caithfear deontaisí an Stáit, deontaisí atá ag freagairt do na suimeanna a gearrtar do na Coistí, a ardú dá réir sin.
Tá soláthar £17,670 á dhéanamh do oiliúint Múinteoirí, sé sin, méadú £5,374 ar chostas na bliana seo caite.
An Cúrsa dhá bhliain do Mhúinteoirí Adhmadóireachta agus Tógála Tithe agus an Cúrsa dhá bhliain do Mhúinteoirí Miotalóireachta agus Innealltóireachta Gluaisteán, cúrsaí a thosaigh i mí Mheán Fomhair seo caite, caithfear bliain iomlán dá gcostas sin a bhaint as airgead na bliana airgeadais seo, maraon le costas leithbhliana de Chúrsa Adhmadóireachta eile atáthar ag beartú a chur ar bun i mí Mheán Fomhair seo chugainn. An deontas caipitíochta atá iníoctha le Coláiste Chaitríona le Tíos, táthar tar éis £940 a chur leis sin.
Tá soláthar £25,970 á dhéanamh i gcóir íocaíochtaí le hÚdaráis Áitiúla as ucht pinsean Múinteoirí agus Oifigeach Gairm-Oideachais. Méadú £2,470 atá i gceist anseo, agus méadú ar líon na bpinsinéirí is mó is cúis leis sin.
Cosnóidh riar do mhuirir iasachta na nÚdarás Rátaithe timpeall £2,000 breise, de bharr breis iasachtaí a bheith tógtha.
Sé suim iomlán atá á soláthar i gcóir Eolaíocht agus Ealaíon ná £122,550, sé sin, méadú £5,590 ar an méid a soláthraíodh anuraidh.
Cosnóidh scoláireachtaí ollscoile £17,500, sé sin, méadú £3,020. Tá 99 de na Scoláireachtaí dá dtógáil sa bhliain acadúil reatha, ach beidh deireadh le sé cinn acu sin ag deireadh na bliana. Tá beartaithe 35 eile de Scoláireachtaí a bhronnadh i gcóir na bliana acadúla seo chugainn.
Na deontaisí i gcóir tréimhseachán Gaeilge agus i gcóir nuachtán a fhoilsíonn nuaíocht i nGaeilge, táthar tar éis iad sin d'aistriú ón Mheastachán i gcóir Páipéarachais agus Clódóireachta go dtí an Meastachán seo. £9,600 an tsuim atá á riar.
An £560 i gcóir táillí agus costaisí a bhaineann le breithniú lámhscríbhní agus eagarthóireacht foilseachán a bhíodh á íoc go dtí seo ar an Vóta i gcóir Coimisiún agus Fiosrúcháin Speisialta, táthar tar éis sin a aistriú, leis, go dtí an Vóta seo.
Tuarastail, páigh agus liúntaisí i gcóir Institiúidí Eolaíochta agus Ealaíon, tá méadú £1,215 orthu sin agus sé rud is mó is cúis leis sin ná an socrú a deineadh ar scálaí na dtuarastal le linn scálaí tuarastail na Stát-Sheirbhíse d'athchóiriú le déanaí.
An deontas-i-gcabhair do Choimisiún Béaloideasa Éireann, tá beartaithe é a chur ag £11,000 in áit an £12,000 a bhí ag dul dó anuraidh.
Sé suim iomlán atá á soláthar do Scoileanna Ceartúcháin agus Saothair ná £155,210, sé sin, laghdú £19,640 ar Vóta na bliana seo caite.
An £153,750 atá ann don deontas caipitíochta do Scoileanna Saothair, tá laghdú £2,350 ann ar an méid a dáileadh dó anuraidh. Tá méadú beag áirithe ar líon na ndaltaí atá á gcur sna scoileanna sin, ach ar an taoibh eile beidh deireadh a dtéarma istigh ag níos mó de na páistí i mbliana ná mar bhí anuraidh.
Táthar á cheapadh nach mbeidh oiread sin daltaí ar fad ar coimeád sna Scoileanna Ceartúcháin is a bhí anuraidh, agus dá bhrí sin an riar £9,100 atá ann dóibh siúd i mbliana tá laghdú £150 air i bhfarradh is an bhliain seo caite.
Ní beifear á iarraidh i mbliana ach £5,000 i gcóir deontaisí tógála agus fearaistí, in áit an £18,550 a tugadh anuraidh. An £5,000 sin, is ath-Vóta é óir sé ní atá ann ná fuíollach deontais speisialta £40,000 i gcóir chostas tógála Scoil Saothair nua le haghaidh buachaillí sinsearacha.
An t-airgead a gheofar ó thuismitheoirí na bpáistí atá sna scoileanna seo, agus na liúntaisí a gheofar ina leith ón Roinn Leasa Shóisialaigh agus ó Aireacht Pinsean na Breataine Móire, táthar ag meas gur £15,700 a bheas ann go hiomlán, sé sin, méadú £3,643 ar an méid a fuarthas anuraidh.
Sé suim atá á soláthar i gcóir Institiúid Ardléinn Bhaile Átha Cliath ná £55,300, sé sin, méadú £430 ar sholáthar na bliana seo caite.
£55,000 atá dáilithe i gcóir riaracháin na hInstitiúide agus na dtrí scoileanna atá inti, sé sin, méadú £4,130 de bharr obair na scoileanna do dhul i méid. Ar an taoibh eile de, tá laghdú £3,700 sa deontas i gcóir foirgintí a cheannach is a chóiriú, rud a bhfuil £300 á sholáthar ina chóir i mbliana.
£8,560 atá á sholáthar i gcóir an Dánlann Náisiúnta i mbliana, sé sin, méadú £60 ar Vóta na bliana seo caite.
For the office of the Minister, the increased cost of administration accounts for £2,599 of the extra £9,350 required as compared with 1949/50.
As was recently officially announced, I have established an Advisory Council of Education, the functions of which will be "to advise the Minister, in so far as pertains to the powers, duties and functions of the State, upon such matters relating to educational theory and practice as they think fit and upon any educational questions and problems referred to them by him."
I am very grateful to the Very Reverend Dr. Denis O'Keeffe, Professor of Ethics and Politics in University College, Dublin, for readily and graciously accepting my invitation to take upon himself the great responsibility of chairman, and the labours that must inevitably go with that responsibility.
The council consists of 30 other members, distinguished as to personal qualification and experience. I am deeply grateful to them all for the generosity and readiness with which each of them accepted the invitation to serve on the council. One feature of the situation which I think throws a characteristic and a most encouraging light on the interest in education among all classes, and on the devotion to educational work on the part of those engaged therein, is that in no single instance did any person invited to serve on the council decline the invitation.
It is intended that the first meeting of the council shall take place on Friday the 5th May, when I hope to discuss with its members the matters likely to engage their early attention. I should like to assure the members of the Oireachtas that the full assistance of the Department of Education will be available for the council in any way calculated to lighten or guide their work.
I have indicated before that I consider that there are important reasons why the council should not be formed of representatives nominated by various bodies. In the actual setting up of the council, I have had to approach the matter from the point of view of my personal responsibility as Minister for Education and with a keen appreciation of what from my experience during the last two years I consider to be the most urgent and important matters which require consideration by a council. I stress this personal responsibility for two reasons: first, there is the fact that the setting up of a council of education is one of the ten points originally set out as common policy of the inter-Party Government. Different Parties or different persons may, however, wish to lay different emphasis on what are the more important matters in education requiring to be attended to, or may have different ideas regarding the structure of a council.
In the second place, the Report of the Commission on Vocational Organisation unanimously recommended the setting up of a council of a representative type.
We are obviously not yet in a position in which a council of education can be set up as a piece of systematic vocational organisation, as contemplated generally in the report of the commission; nor is it clear at this stage that, later on, an advisory council of education will develop exactly along the lines suggested in paragraphs 535 and 540 of the commission's report.
In his foreword, The Most Reverend Dr. Browne, Bishop of Galway, chairman of the commission, writes:—
"It (the report) has in more than one place made it clear that vocational organisations should develop from existing institutions and follow the laws of organic, vital growth, without violent breach of continuity."
The present day or more urgent reasons dictating the establishment of an advisory council of education are, it seems to me, clearly indicated in the report. It is pointed out that certain facts stand out from evidence given before the commission on behalf of many bodies vitally interested in education. The report, in paragraph 537, says:
"From this evidence certain main facts stand out: first, the need for better co-ordination of all authorities concerned with education; secondly, the neglect of agricultural education in primary, secondary and vocational schools; thirdly, the disproportion between the expense of vocational education and the number and skill of workers prepared by it for industry and commerce; fourthly, the absence of differentiation between the curriculum for boys and that of girls."
This, in fact, emphasises that the matters that require first attention are the better co-ordination of these three principal branches of the present system, and the improvement of the school curricula. The report further says, paragraph 537d:—
"There is no organ to bring together for the avoidance of overlapping or even for consultation the different educational authorities, with their common general interests. Primary education is not properly co-ordinated with post-primary."
And at the end of paragraph 539:—
"At present it is the practice of the Department to consult a limited number of educational bodies, such as the more important teachers' and headmasters' organisations. These are consulted only occasionally on selected subjects and always separately and privately, so that no one body is aware of the attitude of the others. There is no permanent consultative council representing all directly concerned, where differing views could be debated and harmonised, important questions submitted to steady and continuous examination and informed public opinion on educational matters expressed."
All this confirms me in the view that what is required at present is the bringing together of a group of persons competent and experienced in the working of primary, secondary and vocational schools for the purpose of considering with as unified a mind as possible the work which can and should be done in each of these three classes of schools, so as to give the best possible education to our children from the infant stage up to, say, 18 years of age.
The members of the council have been selected by me as persons fully competent detachedly to review and to make recommendations on the curriculum of these three branches of the present system.
The basic preliminary decisions must concern the work to be done in the primary schools.
The children will leave these schools, many to go directly into employment, the rest to proceed to secondary or vocational schools. Those who go directly into employment will require a foundation from which will develop an increasing knowledge and strengthening of character as they discharge the duties of citizenship and worker. Those who go to either secondary or vocational schools will require to be so equipped that the standard of work in these schools will be brought to the highest possible level. The primary school must, therefore, cater to the fullest possible extent for the education, the character development and the skill-acquisition of the children of primary-school age.
Conciliation and arbitration machinery has been established already for the Civil Service. I would hope that before the present year ended it might be possible to establish analogous machinery for the various groups of teachers. Such machinery would help to circumscribe the labour inevitably involved, sometimes in a rather widespread way, in discussing and dealing with questions affecting salaries, conditions of service, etc. I am anxious to see established as much harmony and satisfaction as may be secured by such machinery. I feel that it would release for many people for purely educational work energies that are now otherwise absorbed.
There has been an improvement in the printing situation. The report of the Department for the year 1945-6 was made available to Deputies in October last; that for the year 1946-7 was made available in November last, and I expect that the report for the year 1947-8 will be in Deputies' hands in the course of a week or two. It may be a disadvantage to Deputies to get three reports so closely together, but there may be an advantage in that, by a ready comparison, some estimate of progress may be made more easily.
As regards primary education, the accommodation in the training colleges is now being availed of to the full. The system of appointing or retaining teachers with reference to average enrolment as against average attendance appears to have increased the demand for teachers. Furthermore, the downward trend in the school-going population has been arrested, and in 1948, for the first time in 15 years, the number on rolls exceeded the number for the previous year. Since 1942, the number of births registered annually has been roughly 9,000 more than the annual registration in the previous decade For some years prior to the 1st January, 1945, women were required to retire on pension on reaching 60 years of age, provided they had then 35 years' pensionable service to their credit. As from that date, however, the easing of the problem of unemployment among teachers allowed of the gradual extension of these limits of age and years of pensionable service, so that now women teachers may be retained in the service up to the end of the quarter in which they reach 65 years of age. Those women teachers who reached 60 years of age in the quarter ending 31st March, 1945, and who were allowed to remain on in the teaching service, retired on the 31st March, 1950, on reaching 65 years of age. Similarly, future quarters will carry a quota of retirements greater than the corresponding quota for the past five years. These increased retirements will leave more vacancies for young teachers.
The non-availability of sufficient trained women teachers has made it necessary to postpone the introduction of the scheme for the replacement of the untrained junior assistant mistress by the trained junior assistant teacher. In this connection also, it may be noted that even the annual demand for junior assistant mistresses has shown a very considerable increase. To meet this increased demand in 1949-50 it was found necessary to modify in certain details the conditions for qualification as junior assistant mistress at the 1949 competition, thereby extending qualification to some 75 additional candidates. The modified conditions also apply to the competition being conducted in 1950.
Any decision to raise the age up to which whole-time attendance at school is compulsory will raise serious questions of curriculum, accommodation, staff and co-ordination with existing facilities.
I am actively engaged in the consideration of the problems which arise out of the existence of large classes in primary schools—particularly in the City of Dublin.
The primary school certificate examination was again successfully conducted in 1949. 29,673 pupils sat for it and 22,888 or 77.1 per cent. of them were awarded the certificate. The certificate testifies to the successful completion by the pupils of the national school programme up to and including the sixth standard and their success at a written examination in Irish, English and arithmetic. Normally, the standard for a pass in these subjects is: Irish, 40 per cent.; English, 30 per cent. for pupils from FíorGhaeltacht schools and 40 per cent. for all others; and 40 per cent. in arithmetic. In the case of the 1949 examination, however, it was decided for that year alone to accept 30 per cent. as the pass mark in Irish. Some criticism had been levelled at the paper in Irish as being unduly exacting for pupils of the sixth standard and it was felt, on consideration of the whole matter, that a reduction in the percentage mark required for a pass would, in all the circumstances, be warranted, but only for that particular examination in the year 1949.
Reference was made last year to the improvements which had been effected in the scales of salaries introduced in 1946, particularly in the application of those scales to teachers in the smaller types of school. Reference was also made to the abolition of the highly-efficient rating, as a result of which the teachers whose service was satisfactory but who had not been rated highly-efficient—some 70 per cent. of the teachers paid personal salaries—were enabled, as from 1st April, 1949, to proceed along the scale to the higher maximum salaries formerly reserved for those who were rated highly-efficient.
The committee which was set up early in 1949 to consider the remuneration and superannuation of national school teachers, and which has come to be known as the "Roe Committee", presented two reports—a majority report and a minority report—on 18th May, 1949. The main recommendations in matters of principle made in the majority report were accepted by the Government. It was found, however, that the actual scales of salary recommended in that report would place a burden of undue magnitude on the taxpayer and the Government were unable to approve of their adoption.
Following full consideration of the reports, and having regard to the circumstances of the national economy, I formulated proposals in the matter of salary and pension to give effect to the recommendations of the committee which were accepted in principle by the Government. These proposals were conveyed to the Central Executive Committee of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation on 21st September, 1949. The proposals in the matter of salary have been implemented with effect as from 1st January, 1950, but it was not found possible to make any payments arising out of the new scales until after the close of the financial year. In order to implement the proposals in the matter of superannuation, a scheme to amend the National Teachers' Superannuation Schemes must be presented to each House of the Oireachtas for approval. It is hoped to have the amending scheme ready for presentation at an early date.
The reports of the Roe Committee and the proposals made to the Irish National Teachers' Organisation have been presented to the Oireachtas for the information of Deputies and Senators, but it may be well to refer to the main features of the present salary and pension position.
Under the revised scales of salary introduced as from 1st January, 1950, substantial improvements have been effected in the conditions of remuneration of national school teachers. The actual scales themselves represent a considerable increase at the minimum and at the maximum for all teachers over the scales previously in operation and they must be regarded as being fair and just, having regard to all the circumstances of the time. The important principle of common scales of salary and allowances for women and single men teachers, which has long been strongly urged by the teachers and which was advocated in the majority report of the Roe Committee, has been implemented. This is a departure for which there is no parallel in England, Scotland, Wales or the Six Counties, and it is worthy of note that the new common scales apply in full to all serving teachers as well as to new entrants. The position has now been reached, for the first time, that the appropriate full-scale salary according to qualifications and service will be paid, subject to satisfactory completion of probation, to all teachers in national schools, irrespective of the size of the school. In addition to the common scales for single men and women, men teachers on marriage will receive a lump sum gratuity of £75 and will also enter, at the appropriate point, a marriage allowance scale rising from £50 a year at the minimum to £125 a year at the maximum. Married men teachers will, of course, continue to receive the rent allowance at present available.
The new scales of salary which have been introduced as from the 1st January, 1950, together with the new pension benefits which it is proposed to grant as from the same date will involve the addition to present expenditure of £750,000 a year rising to £880,000 after some years.
With regard to pension, the proposed amending scheme will provide for the payment of a lump sum on retirement to men teachers of an amount up to a maximum of one and a half times the teacher's pensionable salary in addition to the existing pension up to a maximum of one-half of the teacher's pensionable salary. In the case of women teachers, pension will be based on one-sixtieth of pensionable salary, instead of one-eightieth as at present, for each completed year of pensionable service up to a maximum of forty-sixtieths instead of forty-eightieths as at present. The result of this change will be that the maximum pension for women teachers will be two-thirds of the pensionable salary, instead of one-half as heretofore. These improved pension terms will be available to all national teachers without contribution from salary and without any devaluation of existing pensionable service.
The cost of the erection of new schools, and of the enlargement, reconstruction, etc., of existing schools is defrayed partly by State grants and partly by contributions from local sources. The grants are made by the Department of Education, up to a maximum total amount which is fixed by the Minister for Finance from year to year according to requirements, and are expended by the Commissioners of Public Works, out of moneys provided in Vote 9, the Public Works and Buildings Vote. Normally, the grant is two-thirds of the cost, but in necessitous districts grants of more than two-thirds may be allowed. The grants may be made only in respect of schools which are vested by official leases to which the Minister for Education is a party.
The principle of the provision of local contributions towards the cost of school building and improvement is an integral part of the managerial system. The schools are the property of the parish and it is considered to be most important that the people should provide a portion of the cost of erection and subsequent necessary improvements, as well as funds for maintenance, in order that the locality may be closely associated with and have a direct interest in the schools.
The basis of the arrangements for school building and improvement, which is embodied in the rules and regulations, is that the State contributes two-thirds and the locality one-third of the cost, unless in exceptionally poor areas where grants of more than two-thirds may be allowed. In recent years, however, the all-over local contribution has fallen far short of the expected quota. During the year ended 31st March, 1950, the State grants towards the total works programme, estimated at £579,000, amounted to £480,000, or approximately 83 per cent. of the total cost, the remaining £99,000, or approximately 17 per cent., being provided locally. This is some improvement on the previous year, when the local aid towards a total estimated expenditure of £574,000 amounted to £77,000 or only 13.4 per cent. of the total.
While building prices have increased to such an extent that it would be difficult, in many areas, to raise the normal quota of one-third for new schools or for improvements, etc., to existing schools, nevertheless it is felt that the position as regards local contributions is not as satisfactory as it ought to be. It is to be hoped that, with a fuller appreciation of their responsibilities and duties, the people of the parishes will, as far as they can do so, provide their managers with the necessary funds to enable reasonable local contributions to be made for the erection, etc. of the schools and for the upkeep of the buildings.
The net Estimate for Secondary Education is £926,330, an increase of £30,030 on last year's Vote.
The additional cost of £13,650 for capitation grant is due to the increase in the number of schools and pupils. This increase has been fairly steady and continuous over a number of years. Since 1930, the number of schools has risen from 306 in that year to 416 at present. In the same period, the number of pupils has grown from 30,996 to 47,065. It is gratifying to be able to conclude from these figures that, year by year, facilities for secondary education are being made available to greater numbers of our young people. I think some expression of gratitude is due to the bodies and institutions whose zeal and co-operation have made that extension possible.
There is an increase of £9,400 in the incremental salary grant. This is due to an increase in the number of teachers in receipt of incremental salary and to the necessity for providing for additional increments within the scales for existing teachers. At present only about one-third of the teachers in receipt of incremental salary have reached the maximum point on their respective scales.
Examinations are estimated to cost £1,540 more than last year. This is due to an expected rise in the number of candidates and to the fact that the remuneration of attendants has been increased. Since 1925, when the intermediate and leaving certificate examinations replaced the junior, middle and senior grade examinations, there has been a consistent upward trend in the number of candidates sitting for the certificate examinations. In 1930, there were only 5,250 candidates as compared with 14,440 in 1949. It is expected that the number for 1950 will be up to 15,000.
Laboratory grants show an increase of £3,000. The number of classes in respect of which the special grants for science, agricultural science, domestic science and manual instruction are payable has increased by 100 classes compared with last year. It is regrettable that, in spite of the higher grant payable in respect of agricultural science, very few schools have been willing to introduce that subject into the curriculum.
The Irish language continues to make reasonably satisfactory progress in the secondary schools. Of the existing 416 schools, instruction in whole or in part is being given through the medium of Irish in 215, and of these all the instruction is being given through Irish in 107 schools, that being the highest number yet reached in the class A category. Provision was first made for the financial year 1947-48 for special grants to schools to promote the use of Irish as the ordinary vernacular of the pupils outside the classroom. All schools are entitled to participate and the schools are divided for the purposes of the scheme into four categories, so that schools which have not yet made any considerable progress in oral Irish may not be in competition with schools where the standard is at the moment much higher. In the year 1947-48, 118 schools benefited by these special grants, and the scheme is regarded as having operated very successfully to extend the use of Irish as a spoken language in the schools concerned.
Payments to the Secondary Teachers' Pension Fund will amount to £3,000. This is the deficit anticipated as a consequence of the increase in secondary teachers' pensions under the Secondary Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1949. In former years the annual contributions to the fund by the teachers and their employers were sufficient to meet the payment of the pensions and only a nominal sum of £10 was provided under this sub-head.
Secondary teachers are in the position that there has been no alteration in their scales of salary since 1946. I have recently had representations in the matter, which are at present having consideration.
The net Estimate for technical instruction is £704,730, that is, an increase of £44,350.
Annual grants to vocational education committees show an increase of £33,548. The Vocational Education Act, 1947, gave local authorities power to raise progressively larger sums by way of rates for the purposes of vocational education. When they do so, the State grants, which correspond with the sums so raised, must be increased accordingly.
There are at present 182 vocational schools. The fundamental principle on which these schools are conducted is that, on the one hand, they give an education and a training based on the economic requirements of the local community and, on the other, care is taken that general education, character formation and continued instruction in religious doctrine are catered for as fully as possible.
The vocational schools have a threefold function. They provide for the continued education of adolescents who are not following a secondary course, for technical instruction for such, and for adult education generally.
Continuation Education.—Continuation education extends to both urban and rural areas. It is a full-time day school scheme for boys and girls between 14 and 16 or 17 years of age, and the immediate aim of the course is to prepare young people for employment. The course includes religious instruction, for which the committees are indebted to the co-operation of the local clergy, and also the teaching of Irish and of general educational subjects, but a very substantial amount of the instruction is in practical subjects.
Rural Schools.—Of the 182 vocational schools 120 may be described as rural schools.
The typical rural school has a staff of three teachers, who devote about two-thirds of their time to the day classes and about one-third to the evening classes for adults.
The backbone of the day school programme in them is rural science and manual instruction for boys, and domestic science subjects for girls.
The evening classes are, however, no less important than the day classes. In them, the rural science teacher, a university graduate in agricultural science, meets the young farmers of his area, and these classes, often called, rightly, "discussion groups", afford a stimulating opportunity of relating scientific knowledge and agricultural practice.
Similarly, the manual instructor gives invaluable help in his own sphere. The trend of modern life tends to reduce the number of tradesmen to be found in country areas, and so the farmer is being thrown ever more and more on his own resources. For this reason, the skilled services of the manual instructor will, there can be no doubt, be increasingly in demand in rural Ireland.
Domestic economy instruction is of first-class importance. The influence domestic instructresses have had on both town and country life is too well known for it to be necessary to dwell on it. Their work is excellent. I should like to see them take an even more active part in the life of the people generally and particularly in the activities of such progressive organisations as the Irish Countrywomen's Association and Muintir na Tíre and in association with Macra na Feirme.
In regard to the vocational system generally, the total number of students enrolled in all types of classes is increasing annually. In 1948-9 it stood at 81,077, as compared with 79,126 in the previous year. In evening classes, the numbers in attendance rose from 37,856 in 1947-8 to 38,866 in 1948-9, but a more marked increase has occurred in the whole-time day continuation courses. In these, the enrolment in 1947-8 was 14,771, while in 1948-9 it rose to 16,430.
The outstanding feature in the whole-time day continuation courses was the great demand in all centres for admission to the junior technical courses for boys, which are now regarded as the main avenue to the trades.
There has also been, in recent years in urban areas, a steady increase in the number of local training schemes arranged between representatives of particular occupations and local vocational education committees.
In Dublin, it is estimated that 4,500 apprentices were enrolled in classes in 1949-50, while in Cork over 100 apprentices were enrolled, in Limerick over 100, and in Waterford nearly 70.
Irish in Vocational Schools.—It is the policy of the Department to make the teaching of Irish in vocational schools as attractive as possible, and for this reason the training for the teastas timire Gaeilge, the qualification required in teachers of Irish, includes practice in the teaching of drama, of singing, of dancing, in so far as they are associated with Irish.
As a result of this policy, good attendance is recorded at Irish classes, not only in the full-time day courses, but at the evening classes as well.
Satisfactory instruction is given through the medium of Irish in the Gaeltacht counties, viz., Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Mayo and Meath; and certain subjects, e.g., geography, arithmetic and domestic economy, are taught satisfactorily through the medium of Irish in 57 schools in non-Gaeltacht counties.
In most vocational schools, a social feature is the production of dramas in Irish, and other activities in Irish include claisceadal, concerts, tráthanna na gceist, díospóireachtaí and scora-íochtaí.
A feature introduced under the County Limerick Committee in the session 1948-49 is worthy of special mention. There a series of meetings was arranged between students from various Irish classes throughout the county, for the purposes of inter-class debates, concert items, teas provided by the pupils of the centre concerned, and céilidhes or courts of poetry or lectures.
Nine in all of these meetings were arranged, and from 100 to 200 adults were present at each.
I should like to see activity of this kind imitated in other areas.
The following summer courses for teachers were held last summer:—
(a) Irish Drama.—A course in the production of drama in Irish was held at Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, and was attended by 19 teachers of Irish in vocational schools. The purpose of the course was to enable teachers, particularly those working in the Gaeltacht or Breac-Ghaeltacht, to foster local interest in Irish drama and thereby to strengthen the position of the language socially and as a medium of expression. All aspects of dramatic production were explained and demonstrated, and different types of drama were studied and rehearsed. At the end of the course, the teachers undertook the entire responsibility for the public performance of a drama, which they produced successfully.
(b) Irish and Continuation Subjects.—A summer course in Irish and continuation subjects was held at the Technical School, Galway. The course in Irish was organised to enable university graduates and undergraduates in their final year to secure qualifications as whole-time teachers of Irish and general subjects under vocational committees.
It was attended by 41 students, of whom 18 were awarded the full teastas timire Gaeilge at the end of the course.
The course in continuation subjects was designed to give teachers of Irish already employed under committees qualifications to teach English, arithmetic and geography, so as to make it possible to employ them economically as whole-time teachers. Of the 19 teachers who attended, 11 secured teaching qualifications in English, nine in arithmetic and three in geography.
(c) Rural Science.—A course in rural science, for students who had completed their course for the degree in agricultural science and for those in their second last year, was held in the Technical School, Kevin Street, Dublin. Eighteen students attended and certificates of satisfactory attendance and progress were issued to 12 of them.
(d) Agricultural Machinery.—A summer course in the repair and maintenance of agricultural machinery was held in the Crawford Technical Institute, Cork. This course, which lasted a month, was designed to afford a limited number of metalwork instructors experience in the repair and maintenance of agricultural machinery, so that they might be in a position to give instruction in these subjects in rural areas. Seventeen metalwork instructors attended, and a special feature of the course was the co-operation of engineering firms who provided special lecturers, as well as tractors and tractor implements.
(e) Rural Building Construction.—A special summer course in farm building construction was held at Bush, County Louth, for 25 woodwork teachers. The course was most successful, and many of the teachers who attended it are now planning and directing improvements in farmsteads in their own areas.
(f) Art Crafts.—A special course in art crafts was organised, in this instance not by the Department, but by the City of Waterford Vocational Education Committee, and was attended by 21 teachers. A wide range of exercises in handloom weaving, book crafts and fabric printing was undertaken, with a view to their subsequent use in classes in vocational schools. I would like very much to commend the initiative of the Waterford Committee.
(a) Demonstrations of Agricultural Machinery.—Through the co-operation of the various firms interested in agricultural machinery, a series of demonstrations were given during the past year at Ardee, Athy, Ballinasloe, Dungarvan and Kilkenny. Lectures and films were given in the local vocational schools, while practical demonstrations were given, by expert mechanics, of the working of the various agricultural implements, such as tractors, mowing machines, cultivators and combined harvesters.
Attendance at the lectures varied from 35 to 50 farmers, while the outdoor demonstrations attracted from 50 to 200 farmers, in each area.
(b) Rural Smithwork and Farriery.— Intensive six-weeks courses were held in 1949-50 in rural smithwork and farriery at Dungarvan, Tuam and Westport. The subjects of instruction were farriery, electrical and acetylene welding and repair of agricultural machinery. Thirteen smiths attended in Dungarvan, 12 in Westport and nine in Tuam.
(c) Rural Electrification.—A number of lectures and demonstrations on the use of electricity in the home was given by engineering teachers under the local vocational education committees—six lectures at Iniscarra, eight at Two-Mile-Borris, County Tipperary, and a short series to the residents of Inch and Tara Hill, County Wexford.
(d) Rural Building Construction.— Courses in rural building construction in connection with the farm improvement scheme of the Department of Agriculture were held in 14 counties. Of these there were four centres in County Kerry, three each in County Cork and in County Leitrim, and at least one in each of 11 other counties.
Of the projects concerned, poultry-houses were the most popular: eight were made in County Leitrim, 12 in County Mayo and 12 in County Limerick, of types to accommodate 50, 75 or 100 birds. In most cases, the joinery was done in the local vocational school and the rest of the work was carried out on the site. In County Cork, other projects included farm gates, pig troughs and chicken runs.
(e) Training of Building Apprentices. —Courses for the training of building apprentices were organised in three areas. All the courses were based on the work required for the construction of a two-storey dwelling-house, with special instructors employed to deal with plumbing and plastering. Ten apprentices were enrolled at a course held at Ennis, 12 at Carrick-on-Shannon and ten at Dunmanway. The courses lasted eight weeks, and were considered to have been very successful.
Training Courses for Teachers of Woodwork and Metalwork.—Vocational education committees have been unable to secure qualified teachers in manual instruction, that is, for woodwork and metalwork, to meet the great increase in the demand for instruction in these subjects in day and evening courses. The Department, accordingly, made arrangements for the holding of two training courses, one for woodwork instructors at Bolton Street School, Dublin, and one for metalwork instructors at Ringsend School, Dublin. These two long courses commenced in October last and will conclude in June, 1951. There are 20 students following the training course in woodwork instruction and 14 following the training course in metalwork instruction. Provision has also been made for instruction in Irish in the Gaeltacht for a period of two months during the summer of this year, with a view to affording these students every possible assistance for the examination for the ceard-teastas Gaeilge.
In view of the very considerable demand for woodwork instructors, it will be necessary to hold a further long training course for 20 students, and it is proposed to hold this course from October, 1950, to June, 1952, in the School of Art, Cork City, where the City of Cork Vocational Education Committee have very generously afforded us facilities.
A number of short courses for teachers will be held in 1950-51.
(a) Rural Building Construction.— During the present year it is proposed to hold a further summer course for about 20 teachers to continue the training already given. It has been decided by the Department to concentrate this year on training in the erecting of an extension to the art teacher's workshop which would be used by him for preparing and storing his materials. The teacher students will thus receive training in the various building processes, e.g., plastering, plumbing, decorating, etc. The course will be held at Ballina.
(b) Rural Science Course.—The usual summer courses for graduates and under-graduates who propose to become teachers of rural science will be held in Kevin Street School, Dublin.
Local Courses for Apprentices.—It is proposed to hold this year two local courses in rural building construction for apprentices also. These will be held in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, and in Tralee, and will last eight weeks. An attendance of 12 apprentices at each course is expected.
Four local courses in farriery and rural smithwork will also be held this year at Newcastle West, Roscommon Town, Kilkenny City, and Ballinasloe.
The testing of seed for farmers was continued in the rural vocational schools.
Another item worthy of note was the showing in vocational schools of a second collection of paintings by Irish artists. The courses for the diploma in social and economic science organised by University College, Cork, in conjunction with the vocational education committees, and held in Cork, Limerick and Waterford during the session 1948-49 proved extraordinarily successful. In Cork, 34 adult trade unionists were enrolled and 30 in each of the Cities of Limerick and Waterford. The attendance of these students rarely fell below 90 per cent.
A first year course has begun during this session in Clonmel, in association with University College, Cork, and introductory courses in preparation for the session 1950-51 have been organised in Fermoy and Killarney.
To Dr. Alfred O'Rahilly, President, University College, Cork, is due the credit for having initiated these courses, and for the enthusiasm and industry with which they were organised, and it has been a very great pleasure to me and to the officers of the Department to be in a position to cooperate with Dr. O'Rahilly in this very valuable form of adult education.
Similar courses have begun this year in Carlow and Kilkenny, organised by the authorities of University College, Dublin.
Building Projects in 1949-50 and 1950-51.—During the year 1949-50, there were sanctioned 13 building projects, comprising the building of new schools or of extensions to existing schools, representing a total capital cost of £151,000. It is expected that it will be possible to sanction approximately the same amount of building during the present year. I am referring to technical schools now.
This brings me to an important matter. The Vocational Education (Amendment) Act, 1947, enabled committees to obtain contributions from the rating authorities up to the amount of a rate of 9d. in the £ in the cities and scheduled urban districts, and of 7d. in the £ in country areas. It was not then expected that any addition to those rates would be required for some years to come, if at all. In the intervening period, however, the staffs of the committees, being paid according to the bonus system operating in the Civil Service, have received increases in pay, and this, combined with the need for expansion to meet the growing demand for vocational education, has upset materially the estimate of future requirements which had been prepared by the Department as the basis for the Act of 1947. As a result, a number of committees are at present at or very near the maximum point of their income from the rates, aided by the State, and so would be unable after next year to meet their obligations in regard to the salary increments of their officials or in regard to further expansion of their schemes. In these circumstances, further amending legislation will be necessary during the current year and the proposals for a Bill are at present under consideration.
REFORMATORY AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.
The net Estimate for this Vote is £155,210. This is a decrease of £19,640 on last year's Vote.
A reduction of £2,350 has been made in the provision for capitation grant to industrial schools and as a small decrease is anticipated in the number detained in reformatory schools the provision of £9,100 is down by £150.
Building and equipment grants are estimated to cost £5,000 as against £18,550 last year. The amount now provided is a revote, being the balance of a special grant of £40,000 towards the cost of building a new industrial school for senior boys.
The receipts from parents of committed children and the allowances in respect of such children from the Department of Social Welfare and from the British Ministry of Pensions are expected to reach £15,700, an increase of £3,643 on last year's figure. The total accommodation available in girls' industrial schools is for 4,531 girls. The number under detention on the 31st December, 1949, was 3,221, a decrease of 50 on the previous year.
The accommodation available in boys' schools is for 3,394 boys. There were 2,848 under detention on 31st December, 1949, a decrease of 89 on the position a year previously.
Provision is being made in 1950-51 for 6,200 children at a cost of £153,750, as compared with 6,300 children at a cost of £156,100 for the year 1949-50.
A new industrial school is being established at Celbridge, County Kildare, to provide for senior boys from the Dublin area. The need for this school arose from representations by district justices that, owing to lack of vacancies in the industrial schools in Dublin, they were obliged to commit boys from Dublin to schools at a considerable distance from their homes. It is expected that the new school will be ready for occupation this year. A State grant of £40,000 towards the cost of the school was sanctioned in the financial year 1946-47 and £34,932 has already been spent.
Nearly 2,500 children out of a total of about 6,000 were given home leave in 1949. I am satisfied that the school managers allow children home on holidays in all cases where it is possible to do so without prejudice to the best interests of the children. The maximum holiday period is 31 days. In cases where it was not possible or desirable to allow children to spend the holiday period out of school, arrangements were made by the school managers for picnics, excursions and outings for the children so detained. Four of the schools (two boys' schools and two girls' schools) provided holiday camps at the seaside for the children.
In the reformatory school for boys at Daingean, there is accommodation for 250. The number under detention on 31st December, 1949, was 187, as against 208 in the previous year. Improved accommodation is being provided by the erection of two new wings which will comprise class-rooms, dormitories, ablution rooms and workshops. One of the wings was completed and occupied in the summer of 1949. Work will begin on the second wing in the very near future.
The school for girls at Kilmacud, certified in April, 1944, has accommodation for 80 girls. The average number of committed cases under detention there for 1949 was only seven. There were also on 31st December, 1949, seven others who had been admitted other than by committal by the courts under the Children's Acts.
Payment on a national figure of 40 is being made to the management of that school as, owing to the small number of girls committed, current expenses could not be met if State grants were paid only on the actual number under detention.
The school at Limerick has accommodation for 50 girls and the number under detention at present is 31.
The place of detention, Marlborough House, Glasnevin, is the only one under the control of the Department. It has accommodation for 50 boys, and the average daily number under detention is about ten.
Tairgim go gcuirfear an Meastachán thar n-ais chun a ath-rite. Seanfhocal is ea é, beagnach, anois gur beatha teangan í labhairt, agus má tá aon cheacht ann d'fhoghlaimeodh Aire Oideachais, nó éinne eile a chuireann spéis in obair na teangan, trí obair na scoile, is é ceacht é nach féidir luí go ró-mhór ar labhairt na Gaeilge fhéin. Gidh go gcaithfear cúram maith a thabhairt do chruinneas i gcúrsaí scríbhneoireachta agus léitheoireachta is dóigh liom gurb é an bun-chuspóir ná labhairt na Gaeilge d'fheabhsú agus a leathnú agus gach uile dheis a thabhairt don aos óg chun é sin a dhéanamh. Ní bhraitheann an labhairt sin ar an gclár is ar an atmoisféir agus ar an spirid sa scoil a bhraitheas sé. Agus caithfimid a admháil gur beag a bhíos de bharr shaothair, go hiondúil, ag an múinteoir bíodh is go ndéanann sé a dhícheall, nuair atá an spirid sin ar iarraidh, spirid nach foláir dá thuismitheoirí féin a mhúscailt agus a chothú sa bpáiste. Tá a lán de thuis-mitheoirí na tíre seo lán-tsásta cabhrú lena gclann lena gcuid ceachtanna agus trioblóid a chur orthú féin leis an nGaeilge bíodh is gur iomó duine acu ar chaol-chuid Gaeilge. D'ainneoin iad a bheith taobh le beagán Gaeilge, iad féin agus d'ainneoin an trioblóid a chuireas ceachtanna Gaeilge a gclainne orthu, sílim go bhfuil siad i bhfábhar na Gaeilge tríd is tríd agus aon mhíthuiscint atá ann d'fhéadfaí an mhíthuiscint sin a scaipeadh. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil siad i bhfábhar, agus is féidir an ceo, má tá sé ann, a scaipeadh anois.
Tá dream neamhspleách éigin ann, gidh go bhfuil siad ag fáil roinnt airgid ón Rialtas, atá lasmuigh de chúrsaí poilitíochta, is é sin an Chomhdháil. Do mhol siad rudaí tábhabhtacha le gairid. Ceann de na moltaí sin ná go gcuirfí teist bhéil ar bun sna scoileanna. Rud an-dheacair é sin, is dóigh liom, ach má táimid le dul ar aghaidh caithfear é a dhéanamh chun labhairt na Gaeilge a chur ar an mbunús ceart agus caighdeán ceart a bheith ann. Ní dóigh liom go mbeidh aon slí as ach triail éigin a bhaint as teist mar sin. Mara bhféadfaí é sin a dhéanamh, b'fhéidir go bhféadfaí rud éigin mar atá ar siúl sna meán-scoileanna a chur ar bun agus duaiseanna leabhra agus mar sin a thabhairt do na daltaí a chleachtas an Ghaeilge go maith agus a bheir deá-shompla.
Is féidir a lán a dhéanamh tríd an Radio agus an Ollscoil, dá mbeadh toil ag an Ollscoil é a dhéanamh. Ba cheart go mbeadh sé de dhualgas ar Ollscoil mhuintir na hÉireann leanúint le cultúir agus tradisiún na tíre seo. Ba chóir dóibh a ndualgas a dhéanamh chun ár dteanga a chur in oiriúint, mar rinne na Iúdaigh in Ollscoil Ierusalem agus mar rinne na hAfricanders in Ollscoil Witwatersrand. Ní féidir leis an Aire, agus b'fhéidir nach féidir leis an Ollscoil féin, é dhéanamh gan dream faoi leith no bord faoi leith a chur ar bun chun tabhairt faoi théacsanna a chur ar fáil a bhéarfas caoi don dalta Ollscoile cúrsaí a leanúint tríd an nGaeilge. Ach d'fhéadfadh an Ollscoil a lán cúnta a thabhairt, agus tá mé lán-chinnte go ndéanfadh an tAire an cúnamh a thabhairt dóibh.
Sílim gur luigh an Chomhdháil go láidir, freisin, ar an nGúm. Sin seancheist agus gidh nach raibh mé féin sásta mar Aire, caithfidh mé a admháil go raibh an ceart acu faoi bhord a chur ar bun i gcóir clódóireachta agus obair an Ghúim ar fad a thabhairt don Bhord sin. B'fhéidir go bhféadfaí é dhéanamh. Rith sé im aigne go minic go mb'fhéidir go bhféadfaí socrú no conartha a dhéanamh le foilsitheoirí príobháideacha nó foilsitheoirí tráchtála, mar atá déanta anois ag an gClub Leabhar. Pé ar bith rud a déanfaí, caithfí an-aire a thabhairt d'obair seo an Ghúim. Mara bhféadaimís leabhra, agus i bhfad níos mó leabhra, a chur ar fáil, beidh deireadh le litríocht na Gaeilge, tá faitios orm. Gidh go bhfuil ag éirí leis an gClub Leabhar, ní leor é sin. Ba mhaith liom sreath leabhra a fheiceál, a bheadh oiriúnach don aos óg. Tá slí faoi leith le theacht orthu siúd agus tá daoine sa tír atá oilte ar an obair sin. D'fhéadfaidís na cnámha a fháil ó dhaoine oilte agus craiceann maith Gaeilge a chur ar na cnámha sin.
The Minister has referred to the question of the primary certificate and the dissatisfaction expressed last year with the paper in Irish. There seemed to be a good deal of complaint and I am afraid it was utilised to try to create dissatisfaction with the examination. I am sure that the Minister is going into this matter and if it were possible to have a body representative of the teachers, the managers and the Office of Education, perhaps more general agreement might be got about furthering this examination and making it more generally acceptable. Some years ago, a council in Great Britain, reporting on secondary examinations, gave it as their view that there should be a general certificate at 16, showing the subjects in which the candidates have satisfied the examiners. It has always struck me that that would be only fair as these examinations, being so largely of a literary character and having such a high standard, often offer considerable difficulties for young people who may be excellent in other ways. For example, they may be very good with their hands or they may be very good at certain branches of literary work but weak at mathematics. Or, as may happen in the case of boys, they may be good at mathematics but weak in the other subjects. If credits could be given to them, their potential employers would know that although they had not the complete certificate they had credits in some of the subjects.
The Minister referred to certain reports which he had received in regard to, I think, Irish and arithmetic in the primary schools and stated that he was asking the inspectors to report to him on the teaching of history and geography. Perhaps the Minister would give the House more information as to the result of these inquiries. It is always well to have all the information we can get. Some of us have a pretty good idea of how things stand, but the public generally and members of this House, perhaps, who are not acquainted intimately with education and directly connected with schools, might like to have that information. There have been so many strictures about educational standards and the poor state of education in this country during past years that it would be well, I think, to have these reports. I do not believe that you can have perfection or that there are any ready panaceas for the weaknesses which must naturally occur in education so long as human nature is what it is. We are bound to have widely differing varieties of standards among our pupils and even among our teachers. Whatever examination is being made, will, I think, have to bear in mind the conditions in the schools and the ultimate judgment will have to be on how that work is being performed. Is it being performed as satisfactorily as it is possible in the circumstances or can it be improved and, if so, in what directions?
I regret to say that I feel I have a cause of complaint against the Minister in regard to the extension of educational facilities generally. I remember some years ago the Minister used to remind me of the wonderful plans that were being instituted in Great Britain and the great strides that were being made and of how we were lagging behind. We also had motions in this House about the school-leaving age and frequent references to that matter. At the moment, the City of Dublin has a population of nearly 500,000. Most of us remember when it was nearer to 350,000. That population is still increasing. A very big housing programme is in progress. The question is whether the existing facilities are sufficient to meet the needs of our city. According to a statement which I received from the Minister we still have this problem. An example of the leeway that has to be made up is the problem of large classes. Some years ago the Minister had a habit of twitting me, when I occupied the ministerial seat, about these large classes and about the dreadful situation in Dublin schools under which children were being taught in hordes. According to a statement which I have received from him, there are some 1,300 classes in which there are 40 pupils or more—an increase over last year. There is a slight improvement in the number between 30 to 40. In reply to a parliamentary question last July the Minister said that there were classes of more than 60 pupils up to a number of 72 in the Dublin City areas and ten classes with 75 pupils or over. He then went on to say that he was fully aware of the existing conditions and of the fact that they militate against education of a completely satisfactory standard being imparted to the pupils involved. Finally, he said that he was having the matter carefully investigated and hoped that everything possible would be done to arrive at a satisfactory solution. Well, that indicated a certain improvement from a statement made by the Minister and reported at column 292 of the Official Report of the 28th April, 1949. It is as follows:—
"It is admitted on all sides that the position regarding the size of classes could be improved but, in existing circumstances, any movement in this direction would have the serious result of depriving the more out-of-the-way and less attractivelysituated schools of even their present quotas of staff."
Perhaps the Minister will tell us what improvement is being made in this matter. It seems to me that if we cannot provide proper accommodation for the existing needs in the primary schools then, of course, the other problems of extending educational facilities—particularly to those over the present school-leaving age—must be needlessly deferred and that a considerable injustice is being done to those pupils concerned.
Nobody who has listened to the rather extravagant pronouncements that we have all heard during recent years in regard to the question of the raising of the school-leaving age and, in fact, the provision of higher education of various kinds free for the people, can be other than disappointed at the very slow progress that is being achieved. Apart from the question of strengthening the position of the language in the schools there seems to be a strong case for adding an extra year —later two years, perhaps. There is the necessity for strengthening pupils from the point of view of their general character and of their future work as citizens. We have to bear in mind that we are in a highly competitive world in which, when the present conditions pass away, as they very well may—the present rather unreal conditions that we are experiencing—there will be very stern competition indeed and our whole standard of living and prosperity will depend upon our industrial and agricultural progress. Therefore, I think it should be a cardinal aspect of the national education policy to go ahead as quickly as possible with extending facilities for further education and making definite plans and arrangements for raising the school-leaving age.
There is the question of the training of skilled manual craftsmen and the question of apprenticeship. I think the present Government are in a position to secure the co-operation which, indeed, as far as I know, had always been forthcoming, of the trade union bodies in connection with apprenticeship committees. There has been no change in the position for a number of years—we have had the same number of committees. In other countries comparable with ours, but who have a long tradition of industrial training and a good standard of industrial activity and skill, the greatest possible attention is being given to these matters. I have always felt that this matter is so important that it would be well worth the Minister's while, if he believes that councils are going to be a cure for these ills of education and that he cannot have a policy without them, to have a special council to deal with the problem of technical education.
The position at present in the Dublin vocational schools is that the facilities are entirely inadequate. There is insufficient accommodation for even those who are attending voluntarily. There are about 10,000, perhaps less, school leavers between 14 and 16 years of age for whom accommodation ought to be provided as soon as possible, but from a reply of the Minister, all the progress that I can see that has been made since I left office is that there are three cases of improvement to schools, some of which used to be merely centres for Comhairle Le Leas Oige, and one new regional school at Crumlin. There are sites for four other schools. It is high time, when we hear so much talk of capital expenditure, and so on, that we should push forward as urgently as possible with a plan for extending these facilities in Dublin.
It is many years ago since the representatives of the schools planned a policy of development. Some parts of that plan may have to wait. Possibly there will have to be a priority but the question of a new school of technology for this city, with its 500,000 population, its increasing industries, is an urgent one. The fact that science is making great strides and that we must try to keep abreast of modern developments makes it essential that more should be done.
I am afraid the Minister has adopted a rather penurious attitude with regard to this branch of education. I could almost say that there has been an inclination to treat it as the cinderella of the educational service. There was a time when we used to hear of the expenditure on the building of vocational schools. I only wish that we had far more vocational schools and that we had built more of them, if that had been possible.
The Minister, after he came into office, announced that he had limited the amount of capital expenditure on the building of vocational schools. I think the figure was £50,000 for 1948-49 and this year it is £155,000 but, in the first year, there was only £37,000 actually expended, including the whole of the programme of new schools and improvements, of which £23,000 was expended in Dublin. Last year, it was estimated that some £56,000 was spent in the country as a whole and only £17,500 in Dublin.
When one remembers that the population of Dublin is increasing by some thousands every year, when one considers the hundreds of new families that are being established, when one sees that the number of school leavers is increasing one wonders how the Minister can possibly reconcile his attitude with regard to the extension of vocational education in Dublin with the promises that have been made.
I am afraid the Minister is rather inclined to put this question of the school-leaving age on the long finger. I regret that very much. I believe it ought to be possible to go ahead gradually. Big centres like Dublin should be tackled. It may be that there are special problems in establishing suitable facilities in rural areas but, in a big centre like Dublin, where you have a public opinion on this matter, where you have the necessary organisation and where everybody is prepared to go ahead, it seems extraordinary that, apparently on grounds of economy or through some prejudice or other against vocational education that I cannot understand, the necessary progress is not being made.
The Minister, I think, last year gave as an excuse for not going ahead the fact that the report of the Commission on Youth Unemployment had not been received. Whether it had been received or not, that commission presented an interim report in favour of raising the school-leaving age.
It is becoming rather a habit with the Government as regards matters which ought to be the subject of decisions in the ordinary way and on which the Government, through the agencies open to them, ought easily to be able to get full information, to postpone these essential decisions by referring matters to commissions.
If the Minister's point is that this is entirely an educational matter and that it is a question of how he, having accepted the principle, will proceed, no one will cavil at his taking advice. I should even think that if he went into direct discussions with the authorities concerned, he would probably get quicker and more satisfactory results. But, in his reply to a question of mine yesterday, he told me that this question of the school-leaving age must be examined, not merely from the educational point of view, but from the point of view of economy and finance. I should think the Minister for Finance would be fairly well able to look after that side of it. In the City of Dublin, large and all as it is and although the kernel of the problem is there, it is a sizable problem, a manageable problem, and the figures indicate that, with the necessary will on the Minister's part, with the financial issues settled, there should be nothing to stop that problem being well on the way to solution in the next few years.
We are spending some £78,000,000. We are spending some millions on sanatoria. As the man in the street might say: "We are spending a great deal on ill-health and disease. If we would spend a certain number of millions on the healthy, on the future citizens, the potential wealth of our country, the real wealth of the country, ought it not to be even more reproductive?"
The Minister mentioned the building question. I notice that building costs have been reduced. I am very glad to see that, but I admit the level is extraordinarily high still. It may be two and a half times what it was before the war. In the Book of Estimates and in the statements of the Minister for Finance we have a new policy announced to us in regard to school building this year.
There is provision in the Book of Estimates under the Board of Works for expenditure of £724,000 and the Minister for Finance is pursuing the policy that £500,000 of that money should be borrowed. Of course, it is very pleasant to be able to borrow, if you are in that happy position, but you have also to pay back and the charges are pretty substantial. It is also a pleasant thought that somebody in the future will have to repay if you have been somewhat extravagant or wasteful. There is no doubt that once that inclination towards borrowing starts, if lenders can be found, it may become somewhat accentuated and we may become rather a prey to borrowing. We may tend to put off obligations which should fall upon us in the normal course as they come due in the same way as rent, clothing, educational bills and other household expenses. We cannot put off those expenses or if we do we will create greater trouble for ourselves.
The Minister has told the House that this is the first year that segregation has taken place and, of course, he is quite right. Up to the present, money has only been borrowed for reproductive works that would repay the amounts expended upon them within a reasonable period of time. If you are going to borrow money for schools which up to the present has been regarded as normal recurring expenditure to be met from the proceeds of taxation, then there is no reason why you should not incur anything else which might be described as deadweight debt in the sense that it will not ever be able to pay any proportion of the charges upon it. There may be a temptation to go ahead and apparently the only limit is whether the lender is prepared to accept our terms. The Minister has given certain reasons for this:
"the works shown in the statement are regarded as being of a capital nature because they will be additions to or improvements of State property and will have a long period of life."
It happens that national schools are not State property but are the property of the parochial trustees, I believe. They may have a long period of life, certainly. The Minister goes on to say:
"It may be true of certain items that they will relieve the Exchequer of annual rent charges. A further justification...is that the present scale of expenditure is abnormal owing to the slowing up of building during the emergency."
Building was slowed up during the emergency but I think that a reasonable amount was carried on. In 1938-39, £200,000 appeared in the Estimate and if we assume that money has depreciated in value by 50 per cent, or more, we should allow £400,000 or £500,000 at least.
I do not understand how it can be argued that the replacement of school buildings is abnormal. If we take the Irish Banking Commission Report as the opinion of a body of experts who knew something about the subject on which they were expressing their views, we find that what they consider abnormal expenditure is expenditure carried out in periods of depression, public works and so on. There is no such depression at present, quite the contrary. If there were, one could understand it. In fact, the Central Bank thinks that we are in a condition of inflation and should be careful about adding to our public debt. The report definitely says:
"It would, however, be improper to admit into this category—even the category of works which admittedly would not repay more than a portion of the expenditure—items of expenditure like the provision of school buildings or Civic Guard barracks which on the analogy of commercial practice possess a certain capital character, but which in the life of the State are recurrent needs."
That is stated in paragraph 566.
There are 500 schools roughly and the Minister hopes to deal with 50 or 55 schools per year. According to one list which he has given to me there are 479 schools in urgent need of replacement and it was estimated that there would probably be another 5,000 which would require considerable improvement. At least that was the position in my time. Therefore, even if you take away the first 500 which are in urgent need of replacement you still have 5,000 more which, no matter what the Minister for Finance may think of their long life, may, as experience has shown, be reduced to a pitiable state if they are not attended to.
There is not the slightest doubt that replacement every year of a proportion of the 5,000 schools will be a permanent charge and I do not know how the Minister can justify borrowing money for that purpose. If you can borrow money for that purpose and meet in that arbitrary way items which were paid for out of taxation and were provided for in the annual Estimate, I do not know where you are going to stop.
I think that calling the new Council of Education by that name is likely to give the impression that it has some executive or administrative functions and I take it that it is not the Minister's intention that it should have any functions whatever of that kind but should be purely advisory. In view of all that has been said about this council in the past, I think that if it were called an "advisory council", as has been done in Great Britain, it would really meet the case better or, if the Minister feels that there are specific questions to which it should address itself and that its task is one of inquiring into particular problems, then a "commission". However, the Council of Education it is.
This Council of Education has been regarded as the prescription for all educational ills and now that it has been established one is inclined to transpose the saying of Dr. Johnson about the dog walking on its hind legs and say that it is not so much the way it has been constituted as the fact that it has been set up that must excite surprise.
I have always believed that the consultation which goes on between the Minister and managers on the one hand and teachers and the various associations on the other, worked out quite satisfactorily. Testimony was given of that fact, and not by the spokesman of one organisation only, but of several, and very important spokesmen they were. Under that system of consultation, we were able to arrange for changes in the programmes and able to arrange for the setting-up of the panel arrangement, with the co-operation of the managers and the teachers, and it came very largely from themselves.
The Minister came along last year and abolished the highly efficient rating. He said that he felt, after the discussions he had had with the representatives of the managers and the teachers, that the highly efficient rating had to go. Why had it to go? I suggest that the reason it had to go was that the Minister had committed himself in such a way that there was no other course open to him. We all recognise that there may have been inequalities, or anomalies, or perhaps injustices, in the determination of the highly efficient rating, but the Minister announced during the course of the teachers' strike that the highly efficient rating would have to go. It was one of the grievances of the teachers and at column 215 of the Debates of 23rd October, 1946, he announced that, in the interests of the children, it could not stand.
I suggest that the abolition of the rating was a ministerial decision and that we are going to be up against this question of who in fact is making the decision, who in fact is making the recommendation. At certain times, the Minister tries to give the impression that he does not wish to act in virtue of his office as Minister in making important decisions of this kind. He gives the impression in some of his statements that he would prefer to act rather as a liaison between the State machinery, on the one hand, and the Church, on the other. I think the Minister has his responsibilities, and certainly in this particular matter, whether we agree that he carried them out well or ill, it was the Minister who took the responsibility. There was consultation, but the Minister took the final decision and he took it because he felt that the existing situation could not continue and also because he felt that, in the long run, education would benefit.
I do not think I ever suggested that I did not take the decision on my own responsibility.
I asked the Minister categorically whether the association had recommended this course and the Minister said that they did not disagree with him. The inspectors will not disagree with the Minister—perhaps the teachers will and perhaps the managers will—but on an issue where they are all concerned, in respect of which they meet together, and where there is obviously a difference of opinion, or where one opinion is expressed very strongly and the other is rather mute, the Minister may say: "I feel it should be so," and he looks back to his own commitments in the matter, if they can be called commitments. It is rather like the position of the man who was being chased by a bear. He happened to have a few buns in his pocket and, every few steps he ran, he threw a bun to the bear, but the bear continued to come after him. The House can judge what was the end of that story. These promises of the Minister are coming along all the time.
If I knew the kind of bear that was troubling the Deputy——
Níor cuireadh isteach ar an Aire nuair a bhí sé ag cainnt.
I want to say in connection with this matter that we are giving increments to teachers for long service. We recognise that their experience and conditions require that they should get increments. We give them promotion and, according to the Minister, we still must have a position in which the managers must know how exactly the teachers stand. If they are not actually called highly efficient, the Minister nevertheless has provided that the managers will know exactly how they stand in their school work. At column 295 of the Debates of 28th April, 1949, he said:
"I am confident that the teachers will respond whole-heartedly to this great change and that by the removal of the irritant we shall be able to command an even more satisfactory standard of work than was being before achieved."
I thought the standard, from all we used to hear, had serious defects and in fact the Minister frequently told us that we were in a state of chaos as regards education. He continued:
"Managers will still receive the detailed statement regarding the work in each individual subject which is at present issued to them and it was the feeling of their representatives at the conference that with this data before them they would be in a position to glean all the information they required as to the progress being made in the schools under their care."
So that the managers have still to be acquainted with the position. We are paying bonuses to teachers who have degrees or diplomas. Apparently, we are not to have a professor of education in University College, Dublin, but we pay a bonus every year to a teacher who secures a diploma. What is the reason for that? The reason, presumably, is that the teacher is considered to be better fitted and better qualified for his work. He has acquired a wider knowledge. It is not always certain that he is a better teacher than he was before or that he has improved. The Minister admitted that there was no truth in the statement—I think I am not exaggerating what he said—that this highly efficient rating existed for reasons of economy. I think that, after he became Minister, he admitted that that was not the position, that it was as an incentive and a stimulus to teachers.
I do not know what purpose can be achieved by having a dead uniformity. We know that people recognise the merits of a highly skilled teacher. Where he has given meritorious service, he has that reputation in his area and people send their pupils to him. The Minister, however, has told us that he hopes the standard of work will improve. We may hope so, but I want to call attention to the fact that the reason given for abolishing the rating was not based on the children's future but rather on the annoyance to teachers, the trouble to inspectors and the irritant which the Minister saw in it. That was one of the Minister's promises coming home to roost.
We had also during the teachers' strike a lot of talk about conciliation boards and arbitration and one Minister of the present Government, the Tánaiste, recommended, at column 227 of the Debates of 23rd October, 1946, that there should be a board of arbitration set up ad hoc
"to deal with the merits of this dispute, and to make a report to the Government on the merits of the dispute, the Government and the teachers beforehand pledging themselves to accept the report of the independent arbitration tribunal, subject to the overriding authority of this House".
The Minister has a minority and a majority report and the Government have accepted the minority report. That is a matter for the Government, but I think it can be legitimately claimed that the teachers were led to believe that, in fact, this conciliation or arbitration machinery having been set up, the recommendations of that body would be accepted. The matter is now passed and I think it was rather a mistake on the Minister's part not to have conceded to the teachers what they were looking for in regard to the date, because there is no doubt that this review should have taken place before September last. It may be said that it was not definitely promised to the teachers in black and white, but I think that they believed that that would be the operative date.
With regard to the council, the Minister on various occasions proposed in this House that we should follow the recommendations of the Commission on Vocational Organisation in the setting up of the education council. He has since changed his plan. While Deputies, no doubt, will have their own opinions as to whether it is possible to have every interest possible connected with education represented on the council, whether in fact you can have industry and commerce and agriculture and the parents represented as well, it does seem to the man in the street that the representational idea has somewhat held sway with the Minister. I know that he has had difficulties in this matter and that he has tried to avoid this question of giving representation or even appearing to have given representation to particular organisations or associations.
I have no wish to go into the question of personnel. It would be a very invidious matter and I have no fault to find with the personnel in general. Of course it is not a matter for me; it is a matter for the Minister. Lest anyone might think there is anything personal in the matter, it is entirely a question of the principle of appointing persons, either on their own individual merit and being the best fitted persons to be appointed, or of being there as representing a particular organisation. It is inevitable, I think, when they are closely connected with an organisation that they should be regarded as representative, and perhaps in the long run we may have to face that fact. But I think it would have been better to have had a smaller body in regard to which the Minister would have had a freer choice and would have selected those whom he considered not to have a particular representational view in any way but to be persons of experience and capacity in educational matters qualified to approach these questions which will be referred to them in a broad general way and who would be of a type that will regard this matter not from the point of view of how it may affect any interest but from the point of view of the general welfare and the general interests of the children and also the spirit and the general atmosphere—the influence in the school is often more important than the programme—the general influence of the teacher and the relations between himself and the pupil.
We have three branches of education and, unless the Minister is going to follow this council by appointing three subordinate bodies, I am not so sure that he may not find it will be difficult to deal with each particular branch, because there will be a certain feeling that certain branches are more strongly represented than others and that only those who represent, or who are particularly associated with one of the three branches are in the best position to examine the work of that branch, to have views upon it and to report upon it. I would have preferred the council to be smaller and I think that if the members had no relations at all—perhaps that is impossible to achieve—with the Department of Education and could view the issues entirely in an objective way it would have been more satisfactory. I think there would have been better prospects, though I hope with the Minister that the whole idea will be to get a unified and, generally speaking, fairly agreed point of view in regard to fundamental questions. If there is a fairly general common ground and a fairly general coming-together of all the members of the council on the fundamental questions, then of course we can make progress. But if, as was stated, you are going to have the position that at some stage or other plans for educacational development or reorganisation are going to be adversely affected by having the views of particular interests overweighted and thrown too heavily into the scale one way or the other, it would not be a good thing.
I take it that this council will report in due course. I think the criticism of it is that, apparently, in matters like the school-leaving age, the Minister, as the Government has done on other occasions, is going to defer making necessary and vital decisions until he has had a report from the council. That places the council in a certain awkward position. The Minister has the final responsibility. You have the position that the country is waiting for the council's views. Then, when they publish their views, if they are not unanimous and if the Minister is not in a position to accept them, you will have a barrage of controversy which is not a good thing. I do not know what the Minister's view is about this matter of reports. It would, I think, be better to have majority and minority reports where you have two definite points of view put up, even though I do not think that is a good thing, rather than have a review which did not bring you anywhere, where definite points were not advanced upon which lines for progress were indicated. I know there was a report issued in the past few years which I have not been able to lay my hands upon dealing with education of a very general character and great disappointment was expressed with it because it was largely in the nature of platitudes. If we are going to make progress, we will have to face the position that the council will have to go into the question of the work of the schools and how that work is being carried out. If that is accepted by everybody in a good spirit, then we may have good results. In saying these things I am not finding fault, I am merely suggesting that there are little stumbling blocks which I hope will be removed. I hope that my fears, if they can be described as fears, will be found to have no foundation. I should like, however, that we should not have the position that important matters like planning for an extension of facilities generally and for the school-leaving age being raised would have to be deferred for another year or two until the council have reported.
I do not know whether the Minister has had brought to his notice the fact that under the Marshall Aid arrangements special facilities and special aids were to be given to the participating countries for scientific and industrial purposes. I wonder whether in connection with scientific education here, either by way of improving our apparatus and laboratory equipment generally, or perhaps, in addition to that, having our specialised teachers provided with facilities to enable them to see what is being done elsewhere, something could not be done.
It is difficult at present to get highly qualified teachers. There is such a call from industry in these countries for highly qualified men and for graduates in science that it is difficult and will be difficult here to get them to go into teaching unless you make it well worth while. I hope that the Minister will endeavour to make the conditions of these highly qualified teachers who have specialised knowledge—if they have industrial experience all the better—as favourable as possible. I am fully aware of the difficulties. I know that the attractions in other employment are very great indeed. I should like him, however, to look into that question of Marshall Aid. Although it appertains to the Department of External Affairs, I feel that the Minister would have an interest in it, in the same way as he would have an interest, as I said in the beginning, in the recommendations made by Comhairle Naisiunte na Gaeilge. Even though it is not the Minister's province, he has undertaken to do a certain little job in connection with the university and, apparently, that has been successful. In the same way with the radio, I think the Department of Education would have some interest in it from the point of view of its potentialities in extending the use of Irish. There is also the question of An Gum. Finally, I should like to ask the Minister whether there is any inquiry being carried out into the science and art institution and what is the nature of the inquiry.
I did not catch the Deputy's last question.
I understand some inquiry was being made by a former director, and I should like to know whether that is a casual inquiry with regard to a particular issue or whether he was carrying out a general inquiry with regard to a possible reorganisation of these institutions.
The Estimates for the Department of Education which are before us amount to approximately £9,000,000. While that may appear a very substantial sum, it is clear from an examination of the problem that, if we are to have an efficient system of education, we cannot have it on an expenditure of £9,000,000 per year. So far as we in this House are concerned, education is rather a difficult matter. While we provide the bulk of the money for education, we have not a great deal of control over it. That position has grown up over the years. As the Minister said in introducing the Estimate, only a proportion of the cost of school buildings is provided by the State. I feel that the burden of providing the total cost of school buildings should be on the State and not on the local people. If that were accepted, it is clear that the cost of education would be much higher than the Estimate now before us. It is clear also that, if the reasonable demands of the primary teachers in regard to remuneration were met, the bill for education would have to be substantially higher.
When this Government took over office, it took over a very serious conflict between the primary teachers and the State in regard to remuneration and most of the Deputies on this side of the House, at any rate, had made promises to the teachers that their just demands in regard to remuneration would be met by the new Government so that teachers would be able to free themselves from worries and to devote their whole time to the problem of education. I think that most Deputies felt when the Roe Commission was set up that it was the first step towards the solution of the problems of pay and remuneration that confronted the teachers and that that Roe Commission would remove the grievances under which the primary teachers existed for a very long time. The Roe Commission sat for a long period. It examined this problem. All the people, including the chairman of that commission—other than the representatives of the Department of Education and the representatives of the Department of Finance—came to a conclusion as to what would be just and reasonable remuneration for the primary teachers. Unfortunately, the decision of those independent people in that regard was not accepted by the Government. I think that was a mistake. I think it was a grave mistake on the part of the Minister and on the part of the Government not to accept the findings of that commission. During the sittings of the commission certain proposals were put forward by the representatives of the Department of Education and by the representatives of the Department of Finance. Those proposals were considered by the commission as a whole and were rejected. I think it must be clear to every Deputy that those proposals put forward by civil servants from the Departments of Education and Finance were not put forward by these officials on their own but were put forward with the approval and the authority of the Minister for Education and of the Minister for Finance. Those official proposals were rejected by the commission but, notwithstanding that, and when the commission had finished consideration and prepared and furnished its majority report, the Minister and the Government went back to their original proposals and put those forward to the teachers as a basis of solution of the problem. I feel that that certainly was a mistake because the only inference to be drawn from it was that the Roe Commission was simply a sham which was set up to spend a considerable amount of time considering the problem but that there was no intention that the findings of the commission would be given effect to in toto.
That action of the Minister and of the Government has disappointed the teachers and has disappointed the Deputies in the House who looked forward to the implementation of the findings of the Roe Commission and the ending of trouble in regard to pay between the teachers and the Department. When the Minister decided to accept the minority view—the proposals of the officials of his own Department and of the Department of Finance—he explained that decision by saying that as a State we would not be able to meet the costs that would be involved in accepting the proposals of the majority of the commission. But, notwithstanding that, and on pressure from the teachers, the Minister agreed to date back the operation of the increase in pay to, I think, the 1st January of this year. In a matter of this importance—when the commission had considered the matter in all its aspects, when the Minister had considered it in all its aspects and when the Government had considered it in all its aspects—the Government's proposal should have been a proposal on which they were prepared to stand but, clearly, they were not prepared to stand on those proposals or on that offer, and they were quite prepared, on pressure, to give something more to the teachers. That, again, has given the impression that if the pressure is strong enough on the Government, strong enough on the Minister, they will yet give the teachers the scales recommended by the majority of the Roe Commission. Instead of helping to solve the problem, what has happened in regard to this Roe Commission has left a bad taste in the mouths of the teachers, and it is regrettable that that is so. It would have been a statesmanly and sensible act on the part of the Government to have endeavoured to accept the majority report and to put it into operation. The result would be that we would have a satisfied body of teachers and that we would have a public that would have some confidence in commissions such as the Roe Commission. I move to report progress.