Committee on Finance. - Vóta 39—Oifig an Aire Oideachais.

Tairgim:—

Go ndeonfar suim nach mó ná £221,680 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfas chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá deMhárta, 1954, chun Tuarastal ague Costas Oifig an Aire Oideachais agus chun Costas a bhaineas leis an gComhairle Oideachais.

I gcaitheamh na bliana atá imithe tharainn do léas gach ceann a tháinig fém láimh de na léirmheasta a deineadh ar an gcóras Bun-Oideachais seo againne. Gach rud a luadh ina locht, do dheineas é d'iniúchadh; gach rud a moladh chun feabhsaíthe, do dheineas é mheá. Chítear go maith dom féin go bhféadfaí feabhas do chur ar ghnéithe áirithe den chóras agus go bhféadfaí obair níos éifeachtúla a dhéanamh fiú gan aon athrú, ach sé rud a chuaigh ina luí orm i gcoitinne ná nach raibh an cháinseoireacht ná na moltaí chun feabhsaithe bunaithe ar an eolas cruinn ceart atá le fáil de bharr fíricí an scéil go léir d'iniúchadh.

Tá iniúchadh mar sin ar siúl le tamall anuas ag an gComhairle Oideachais. Is áil liom mo mheas ar na daoine go bhfuil an tromchúram san orthu a chur in iúl, agus a rá nach mian liom go dtuigfí go bhfuilim ag teacht rómpu in aon rud dob áil leo a lua ins an dtuairisc a chuirfidh siad ar fáil. Idir seo agus Meastachán Coitianta mo Roinne-se a chur i láthair na Dála don chéad turas eile, tá súil agam caoi a chur ar fáil do Theachtaí an Tí a meas agus a dtuairim a thabhairt ar a mbeidh sa tuairisc atá dá hullmhú fé láthair ag an gComhairle Oideachais.

Is geal le croí gach glas-eolaí oideachais an clár scoile mar ábhar tuairimíochta. Do réir mar a bhíonn luí aige féin éilíonn gach glas-dhuine acu go soláthrófaí am chun obair adhmaid, nó chun talmhaíochta, nó chun tuaitheolaíochta, nó chun eolaílchta, nó breis a chur lena bhfuil d'am chun Staire. Is mian lion a rá arís go dtuigtear domhsa gur fearr d'ullmhú ar leanbh, i gcóir a bhfuil roimhe sa tsaol agus sa ghnó a thógfadh sé air féin, go mbeadh buneolas maith diongbhálta aige ar bheagán d'ábhair bhunúsacha in ionad maoleolas spréite, bearnach a bheith aige ar mhórchuid ábhar. Ní mór a chur san áireamh, leís, gur fíorthábhachtach an rud é, ar mhaithe le diongbháltacht meoin do mhúnlú sa leanbh, go leanfaí go ríalta d'iarracht treortha, agus isfíor go milltear aon tairbhe dá leithéid sin tré bheith ag iarraidh daltaí dochur ar aghaidh ó ábhar amaháin atá ar leath-eolas acu go dtí ceann eile go bhfuilíd dall ar fad air.

Sé is príomhaidhm don Bhum-Oideachas, dar liomsa, ná meon aná leinbh a mhúnlú, an duine óg a oilíúint chun rudaí áirthe a dhéanamh go ceart, slachtmhar, a shuím a mhúscailt—pé slí inar féidir leis an oide é sin a dhéanamh—ins an obair atá ar láimh, agus an bhaint atá ag an obair sín lena thímpeallacht agus leis an saol atá roimhe a chur ar a shúilibh dó.

Ní hionann agus cáineadh ar na hábhair éagsúla úd gur moladh iad a chur ar an gelár, a rá nach bhfuil ró-thábhacht iontu muna mbíonn bunobair na scoile déanta go maith éifeachtach ar dtúis. Gan an scéal a bheith amhlaidh, ní thiocfaidh an tairbhe is cuí de bharr ábhair bhreise a theagasc.

Le déanaí do dheineas tairiscint go ndéa nfaí leathlá sa tseachtain do chur ar leataoibh le caitheamh ag teagasc aon ábhar nó ábhair ar leith nó ag cleachtadh rud ar bith a dhéanfadh leathú ar réim aigne agus eolais a chuid daltaí, dar leis an oide áirthe a bheadh i gceist. Tá a gclaonadh agus a mbuadhanna féin ag gaháil le hoidí seachas a chéile. Dá gcuirtí roinnt uair an chloig sa tseachtain ar fáil dóidh chun go bhféadfaidís na tréithe sin a thabhairt i bplé, agus saoirse iomlán acu ó ghnáthrialacha, ba chóir go mba chaoi é chun tréithiúlacht ar leith a thaispeáint agus b'fhéidir, sa thlí sin, go mba shásamh é ar an éileamh ar scoilchlár níos leithne. Ba mhaith liom go dtuigfí ná gabhfadh éigeantacht ar bith lena bhfuil i gceist sa tairiscint sin; bheadh saoírse iomlán ag bainisteoirí agus ag oidí glacadh leis nó gan a dhéanamh, do réir mar be mhian leo féin, agus do réir mar d'oirfeadh dá scoileanna áirthe féin ar leith. Fanfad go gcloisfead na tuairimí agus na léirmheasta a thiocfaidh chugam i dtaobh na taíriscínte sin.

Rud a dhein mórchúram dom is ea an riocht atá ar a lán de na foirgrintí scoile, mar tá uímhir mhór díobh nach bhfuíl oirúnach agus is follas go bhfuil an bhaínt ag na coinníollacha féna ndeintear an obair scoile leis an dtoradh a bhíonn dá barr. Do réira chéile táthar ag tógaint nua-scoil-eanna in ionad na sean-cheann a bhí neamhoiriúnach, agus táthar ag deisiú agus ag cur leis an gcuid is mó de na cinn eile díobh atá creat-slán sa tslí go mbeidh nua-chruth orthu agus iad níos oíriúnaí chun an ghnótha. I ráiteas na Meastachán anuiridh do chuireas in iúl go raibh an £900,000 a cuireadh ar fáil ar an suím ba mhó do tugadh riamh chun na hoibre sin. I gcaitheamh na bliana dar chríoch Márta 31, do dáileadh suim £1,500,000 ina dheontaisí fé thuairim 58 nua-scoileanna a thógáil agus chun cur le 15 agus chun mórdheisiú a dhéanamh ar 317 eile, sin 390 scoileanna san íomlán—cuid acu nua ar fad agus an chuid eile chomh maith le bheith nua de bharr na hoibre a deineadh. Is mían liom a ndícheall a thraoslú do na hailtirí a bhí i mbun na hoibre. Ina leagan amach agus ó thaobh oiriúnachta, tá na scoileanna san chomh maith le haon scoileanna atá dá gcur ar fáil in aon tír sa domhan.

Ach ní dul chun cinn a bheidh déanta i ndáirire muna gcoimeádtar a bhfuil déanta ar dea-staid. Tógáil ar bith dá fheabhas, tiocfaidh droch-bhail uirthi i gcionn aimsire muna bhféachtar chuige go gcoímeádfar i gcaoi cheart í. Do thugas cuaírt ar scoil le déanaí agus bhí sí go geal cóirithe agus go slán iomlán cé gur chomh fada síar leis an mbliain 1847 a tógadh í. Do chonac scoileanna eile agus fíor-dhrochbhail orthu cé ná raibh aon cheann acu dathad bliain ina sheasamh. Ag labhairt dó i láthair chomhdháil de mhúinteoirí le déanaí, dúirt cainteoir go rabh titim mhór sa chéadchodán den chaiteachas a dháileann an Stát ar Oideachas. Níl fuaimint ar bith leis sín mar ráiteas. Tá méadaithe thar na beartaibh ar chaiteachas an Stáit ar mhaithe le hoideachas. Tuigtear domhsa nach rud inmholta é iomlán an chostais chun scoileanna a thógáil agus a choimeád ar dea-staid do thitim ar an Stát. Mura fonn leis na daoine ins na ceantair éagsúla aon chúnamh a thabhairt chun costas na scol, is comhartha san gur beag acu an t-oideachas agus gur lú ná san acu beatha an náisiúin. Ná tuigtear gur cúrsaí áitimh é sinagam chun laghdú a dhéanamh ar chaiteachas an Stáit ar an oideachais. Sé tá á áiteamh agam ná go nglacfaí rannpháirteacht phearsanta sa rud so, rud gur mór é a thionchar ar bheatha an náisiúin agus chun leasa an oideachais, agus gur ceart go bhféadfaí a thabhairt í gcrích—caithfear é thabhairt i gcrích—más áil linn toradh fónta a bheith ar ár n-iarrachtaí.

Is minic a deineadh tagairt do théacsleabhair anso le linn díospóireachta ar na Meastacháin so agus do tháinig gearánta ó áiteanna eile leis i dtaobh cuid acu atá in úsáid. Do scrúdaíos go speisialta an chuid sin díobh a úsáidtear chun léamh na Gaeilge agus léamh an Bhéarla a theagasc uathu. Táid go léir go maith. Tá cuid acu ar fheabhas. Bhí ceann amháin a mheasas a bheith ródheachair le haghaidh teagaisc i mbun-scoileanna. Ach taobh amuigh den cheann san amháin, ba léir dom gur lucht dea-eolais ar ghnóthaí oideachais, agus ar a raibh ag teastáil, a chuir na leabhair sin le chéile. Bhí mórchuid eolais i mbeagán spáis ins na leabhair. Dalta ar bith a ghabhfadh chuige féin an t-eolas san, ní fhéadfaí a rá go raibh sé gan oideachas. Na scéalta, na haltanna agus na dánta a bhí ins na leabhair sin, bhí dea-chaoi iontu don oide chun suim an dalta do mhúscailt ionas gurbh fhonn leis-sin dul ar thóir breis eolais.

Sé mo thuairim gur mór ab'fhiú an t-eolas breíse sin a chur ar fáil go saoráideach do na daltaí. Dá bhrí sin, táim go mór i bhfábhar leabharlanna a bheith ins na scoileanna. Do thiocfadh dá bharr san, in áit an téacsleabhar a shamhlú ina cheann de na scoil-dualgaisí nach féidir a sheachaint, gur ina eochair a bheadh sé a osclódh doras amach go dtí tír mhór na n-íontas. Daltaí a bheadh mall agus trom go leor iontu féin, b'fhéidir go mbíogfadh a n-intinn fé bhrí a mbeadh le fáil sa leabharlainn acu ach deathreoir chuige a thabhairt orthu, agus b'éadtroime de san ualach na foghlama ins gach slí. Tré chomhoibriú leis an údarás áitiúil, go bhfuil gach cóir cheana féin acu chun an ghnótha, ní fheicim bac ar bith ar leabharlainn a chur ar fáil ins gach scoil. Ní hé is áil liomsa baothaithrisa dhéanamh ar modhanna oideachais atá i réim i dtíortha eile ach, chomh fada agus a bhaineann le soláthar leabharlann, táimíd go mór chun deiridh ar an gcuid is mó de na tíortha agus táimse den dtuairim gur mhór an tairbhe d'ár gcóras oideachais na leabharlanna san a sholáthar.

Is trom agus is tuirsiúil í obair an mhúinteora sa ghnáth-bhunscoil, ach tá de bhuntáiste ag an oide ná bíonn air bheith ag plé le lucht éislinne. Fadhb de shaghas eile ar fad a bhíonn le réiteach ag an oide a bhíonn ag teagasc lucht daille, nó lucht daille's bodhaire, nó lucht díth mheabhrach. Obair í sin gur gá tréithe mórcharthannachta agus íbirte ann. Ní mór foidhne fhada agus cómhbháidh gan teora chuige. Is do-chreidte agus is iontach leis an ngnáthchuairteoir a fheabhas de thoradh a bhíonn ar an obair theagaísc a deintear i scoileanna ar a mbíonn daltaí dá leithéid sin. Ba chóir go mbeadh an obair a deintear ins na scoileanna sin ina shampla agus ina rabhadh do na daoine sin a bhíonn ag gearán go glórach ar leathnú riarachas an Stáit, agus ins an am gcéanna ag éileamh seirbhíse ar an Stát gurb éigean don stát réim a riarachaís a leathnú chun freastal ar an éileamh. Tá daoine ann a mheasann gur ceart don Stát freagarthacht níos leithne i gcúrsaí airgeadais a ghlacadh chuige féin, agus ní smaoineann siad ar an dochar a dhéanann sé an fhreagarthacht a bhaint de na daoine coitianta i leith rudaí a bhaineann le múnladh meoin agus beatha an náisiúin. Daoine atá ar an intinn sin, tá easbaidh tuisciona agus críonnachta ortha.

Tá fadhbanna agus constaicí á réiteach agus á sarú ag lucht na scol san i slí níos éifeachtúla ná mar a fhéadfaí a dhéanamh choíche de bharr reachta dlí agus riarachais oífigiúil. Iocann an Stát tuarastal na n-oidí agus deontas beag éigin chun fearas speisialta do cheannach. Tugann an Stát agus an tUdarás Aitiúil araon allúntas maireachtála i leith na leanbh. Ní hé amháin go ndeineann obair na scol so maolú mór ar mhí-ádhmharacht, ach cothaíonn sé solas dóchais agus misnigh i gcroí an leinbh. De bharr íbirte agus dílse an lucht stiúrtha tugtar gach cóir agus compord ar naleanaí gan trácht in aon chor ar na buntáistí eile thar míniú a gheibhíd uathu. Deintear an tseirbhís seo go léir i slí ná titeann ach beagán dá chostas ar phobal díolta na gcánach.

I bhfianaise shampla mar sin ba chóir gan aon mhí-fhonn a bheith ar an bpobal an bheagchuid de fhreagarthacht chostais a iarrtar orthu a sheasamh chun cúram glanta agus cóirithe na scol náisiúnta. Go bhfios dom féin níor theip an fhéile ná an fhlaithiúlacht riamh ar ár muintirne agus measaim go mba bheart nár chuí é gan cleachtadh na féile sin a iarraidh orthu, nó diúltadh dá dhéanamh san.

Ceist eile is ea cás na leanbh atá mall, maol-intinneach. Tá a líon súd chomh beag san ins na scoileanna beaga tuaithe nach dtagann a gcás chun práinne ansúd. Ach ins na cathracha, agus i mBaile Átha Cliath go speisialta, tá géarghá le réiteach a dhéanamh a laghdódh ar dheacrachtaí a thagann i gceist de dharr nithe nár tugadh áird go dtí seo orthu. I scoil amháin de chuid na cathrach tá rang do leanaí dá leithéid sin. Is geal liom a rá go bhfuil ag éirí thar barr leis an rang úd—chomh maith san go n-éiríonn le cuid mhaith de na leanaí dul chun cinn, isteach ins na ranga leis na ngnáth-scoláirí, agus déanamh rómpa ann chomh maith le daltaí na rang san féin. De bharr an teagaisc speisialta so, tagann do na daltaí sin go léir misneach agus meamna nach raibh acu roimhe. Im thuairimse, is rí-thábhachtach an obair í sin. Do cuireadh an rang ar bun de bharr dúthracht roinnt bheag d'oidí ard-thréithe gurbh áil leo freastal ar dhroch-chás na leanaí. Ba mhaith liom a ndúthracht a thraoslú dóibh siúd a thóg an gnó trom san orthu agus atá á fhreastal chomh éifeachtúil sin. Toisc an dea-thoradh atá ar an iarracht, táim ar aigne iniúchadh a chur á dhéanamh i scoileanna Cathrach Átha Cliath d'fhonn teacht ar an méid den chineál sin oibre atá ag teastáil ionas go bhféadfaí fóirthint choitianta a dhéanamh.

Is fada é mo chaidreamh leis na múinteoirí. Le dhá bhliain anuas táim ag obair i gcomhar agus i gcomhaon leo. Táim sásta go bhfuil ár modh oiliúna oide tar éis ár riachtanaisía sheasamh go maith agus trid is tríd le chéile go bhfuil idir fhearaibh agus mhnáibh de na múinteoirí ina ndaoine deathréithe, cultúrtha. Ceist mhór atá ar láimh ag lucht mo Roinne-se ná an ganntanas de mhúinteoirí oilte atá orainn—ceist go gcaithfear réiteach sásúil a thabhairt uirthi. Nuair a thagann oide go húrnua as an gColáiste Oiliúna is intuigthe go mbeadh díth na coda sin d'ealaín a chéirde air a thagann de bharr cleachtadh múinteoireachta agus maoirseoireacht daltaí. Caithfidh sé a chuid teoirice a chur ag obair i láthair nithe gur beag a thaithí orthu, nó b'fhéidir gan aon taithí in aon chor aige orthu; caithfidh sé a mhodhanna a chur in oiriúint dá riachtanaisí, agus beartú a dhéanamh a sháróidh constaicí. Is de bharr taithí dá leithéid sin a thagann sé chun tuisceana agus chun cothroma ina chéird. Toisc go dtagann san chun criche i gcás gach duine díobh, beagnach dealraíonn sé domhsa go bhfuil ár modh oiliúna oidí go héifeachtúil oiriúnach.

Féadaim a rá go bhfuil comhoibriú dlúth i leith gnóthaí oideachais idir an Roinn seo agamsa agus an pobal múinteoireachta, ach is ábhar díomá dom é bheith le rá agam nár éirigh leis an Rialtas—de bharr cúrsaí nach raibh máistreacht ag an Rialtas orthu —Scéim Idiréitigh agus Eadráin do na múinteoirí a chur ag obair in áit na bunscéime sealadaí a chuaigh as feidhm um Mhárta, 1952. Ba mhaith liom a rá, áfach, go bhfuil comhráite ar siúl agam le Cumann na Múinteoirí Náisiúnta fé théarmaí nua-scéime a bhféadfaí a thabhairt isteach nuair a réiteofar bealach chuige sin. Idir an dá linn, mar do léirigh an tAire Airgeadais ina óráid ar an gCáinfhaisnéis, is rún don Rialtas díolaíocht na múinteoirí do mhéadú, ar an mbonn chéanna leis an méadú a tabharfar do na Stát-Sheirbhísigh de bhárr Eadráin, ón gcéad lá de mhí Aibreáin na bliana so.

Leanbh ar bith a ghabhann tré chlár na Scoile Náisiúnta, tá rud curtha ar a chumas dó gur mór is fiú é, bíodh agus ná beadh aon oideachas foirmiúil thairis sin le fáil aige. Ach ba chóir go mba rud indéanta againn é caoi níos fairsinge a sholáthar dó chun tuilleadh a chur leis an mbunoideachassan. Bíonn na h-úirlisí agus an bhunoiliúint ag an leanbh a chuireann ar a chumas tuilleadh eolais a ghabháil chuige féin: ba chóir gur d'ár gcúramna an fonn chun tuilleadh eolais a chothú ann. Leanbh ar bith a chaitheann seal de bhlianta gan treoir gan cuspóir tar éis dó an bhunscoil a fhágaint, is measa de mheon an linbh sin é. I rith na mblian san is cuí agus is tuisceanach an rud é an leanbh a dhíriú ar bhealach a leasa, mar is iadsan na blianta is mó a fhágann rian agus treo ar a aigne. Ullmhúchán chun cúrsa saoil an duine is ea an t-oideachas agus, dá bhrí sin, caithfidh sé freastal ar an riachtanas atá leis an duine a oiliúint chun obair thairbheach a dhéanamh—agus iarraim gurb í an bhrí is leithne a bainfear as an gcaint sin.

Dá mbeadh barr foirfeachta ar chóras oideachais do threoródh sé gach duine fé dhéin an chuspóra is dual dó, ach ní saol gan locht é seo againne agus is beag de na daoine a chuireann ina bhun go n-éiríonn leo ionad a fháil dóibh féin ann a thugann caoi dhóibh lán-úsáid a bhaint as na tréithe agus as an acmhainn atá iontu. Dá bhrí sin, ní mór daoine a oiliúint ionas ná cuirfeadh deacrachtaí ná díomuaidh dá dtreoir ná dá n-aidhm iad. Is téarma neamhchruinn é ‘oibrí gan ceard.' I measc lucht oibre níl éinne gan ceard éigin aige ar a chuid oibre. Níl aon obair ná gabhann a ceirdiúlacht agus a deasláimhe féin léi. I saol síor-athraitheach na linne seo is rud riachtanach é go mbeadh sé ina chuid d'ár gcóras oideachais oiliúint a thabhairt sa cheirdiúlacht agus sa deasláimhe.

Anuas go dtí gearrthamall ó shoin, do réir mar a tharla, ní raibh ach bealach amháin ann ina bhféadfaí cur le hoideachas an linbh—b'shin bealach an mheán-oideachais. Maidir leis an meán-oideachas féin, cé go bhfuil ag méadú in aghaidh na bliana ar an líon a bhíonn á shaothrú, ní leor é mar sin féin chun ár riachtanaisí náisiúnta a shásamh. Tá an t-easnamh á líonadh ag an gcóras gairm-oideachais agus tá ag leathnú air sin in aghaidh na bliana agus caighdeán níos airde á shroisint ann. I mbliana tá 211 gairm-scoileanna ann agus líon 90,000 de scoláirí iontu. Sin an líon is airdede scoláirí a sroiseadh riamh anall agus d'fhéadfaí cur leis sin féin dá mbeadh ár ndóthain slí againn chuige agus breis mhúinteoirí. Tá gach dícheall á dhéanamh againn chun cur le líon na múinteoirí agus is mian liom buíochas a ghabháil le lucht ceannais Choláiste Ollscoile Chorcaí agus le Coiste Gairm-Oideachais Chathair Átha Cliath agus le Coiste Gairm-Oideachais Chathair Chorcaí as ucht a dtugadar de chabhair agus de chúnamh go fonnmhar dúinn chun cúrsaí do chur ar bun d'fhonn na múinteoirí atá ag teastáil uainn a oiliúint.

Ní fada ó shoin ó chonac féin i mBaile Átha Cliath anso dhá thaispeántas de shaothar daltaí na nGairm-scol agus bhí fairsinge go leor de cheird-réim ina raibh dá thaispeáint chun saothar gach déantúsóra sa tír, beagnach, a léiriú iontu. Ní hé amháin gur theaspáin an obair sin feabhas an teagaisc agus dúthracht na ndaltaí, ach ba chreidiúint í do na fostaitheoirí go léir sin go raibh sé de thuiscint iontu a gcuid príntíseach a chur go dtí na scoileanna, agus níor lú ná san de chreidiúint, leis, í do na Ceard-Chumainn a chomhoibrigh go feídhmiúil san iarracht agus a chuir mórshuim in obair na scol.

Tá eagraíocht an ghairm-oideachais ins na cathracha anois fén am so sa riocht gur féidir freastal ar a mbeadh eile ag teastáil ach cur lena bhfuil déanta cheana féin. Ní mór leanúint do réiteach a dhéanamh le haghaidh na gcathrach, gan amhras, ach as so amach caithfimíd gabháil níos treise i mbun na boibre ins na tuathcheantair agus cúram ar leith a dhéanamh de lucht feirmeoireachta a oiliúint chun ceirdiúlachta ina ngnó féin. Tá cúnamh tugtha chuige sin cheana féin ag lucht Mhacra na Feirme agus is áil liom buíochas a ghabháil leo as ucht an dea-shampla a thugadar dá gcuid ball i gcoitinne. Sampla amháin den dea-thoradh a tháinigh dá bharr san ná an scoil aon-tseomra ghairm-oideachais a dhein lucht Mhacra na Feirme a thógaint as a stuaim féin amháin i mBaile an Mhíola i gContae Phortláirge. Sampla eile de thoradh dea-spioraid an phobail isea an ghairmscoil dhá sheomra a thóg muintir na háite as a gconlán féin, leis, ar an gClochán Liath i dTír Chonaill. Séan machnamh agus an díospóireacht agus an grinn-scrúdú a deineadh roimhré a réitigh bealach chun go dtíocfadh borradh mar sin fén gcóras, agus samhlaítear domhsa gur follas uaid sin go bhfuil an beartas atá á dhéanamh againn go ciallmhar, tairbheach. Níl áireamh ar a thairbhí atá sé don leanbh, faid a chur le tréimhse a chuid oideachais fhoirmiúil agus, ins an soláthar atá á dhéanamh againn chun réim an ghairm-oideachais a fhairsingiú, tá córas á chur ar fáil againn a dhéanfaidh freastal ar gach gné de shaol eacnamaíochta an phobail seo againne.

Rud iontach é, agus rud nar mhiste don náisiún seo bheith bródúil as, an t-éileamh atá i ngach ceard den tír ar thuilleadh oideachais, ar oideachas gairmiúil. Creidim gurb é an t-éileamh sin ar oideachas agus ar léann an t-ábhar dóchais is fearr dá bhfuil againn. Ba mhór an peaca náisiúnta é gan freastal ar an éileamh sin, agus gan an dúil sin in oideachas agus in oilíúint do chothú i muintir na hÉireann. Tá rún daingean agam an freastal agus an cothú san a dhéanamh.

Is fada siar a théann stair an mheán-oideachais in Éirinn. Suas le dhá chéad blíain ó shoin, do réir mar bhí ag maolú ar dhéine na bPéindlithe, do cuireadh síol an chóraís a tháinig chun blátha ó shoin, sé sin, córas de scoileanna neamhspleácha, príobháideacha. Níl ach timpeall seachtó bliain ó thosnaigh an Stát ag cabhrú leis na meán-scoileanna.

Dá bhrí sin, ní beifí ag súil le mórathruithe do theacht ar chóras ná ar chlár na scol ó bhliain go bliain agus, tríd is tríd, is maith is ceart do phobal na tíre a bheith lán-tsásta le dílse an díchíll atá á dhéanamh acu súd go bhfuil cúram soláthar meánoideachais ag titim orthu. Le blianta beaga anuas sé is mó a dhein cúram don Stát ná feabhas do chur ar choinníollacha tuarastail agus pinsin na meán-mhúinteoirí.

Is ní inspéise é, áfach, go bhfuil ag méadú go leanúnach ríalta ar an líon de mheán-scoileanna, agus ar an líon na scoláirí iontu, agus ar an líon de ranga as a ndíoltar deontaisí speisialta chun Eolaíochta, chun Eolaíocht Talmhaíochta, chun Eolaíocht Tís aguschun Adhmadóireachta. Tá ag méadú amhlaidh, freisin, ar an líon de mheánmhúinteoírí atá ag fáil breiseanna tuarastail agus ar líon na n-íarrthóirí chun na scrúdaithe.

As an 439 scoileanna atá ann, tá an teagasc go híomlán nó cuid de á thabhairt tré Ghaeilge i 224 díobh. I 98 díobhsan, deintear an teagasc go léir tré Ghaeilge ach amháin a ndeintear de theagasc na nuatheangan tré mheán na dteangan san féin.

Ag deireadh na bliana airgeadais seo caite do thugas Scéim i bhfeidhm mar leasú ar na Scéimeanna Aosliúntais do Mheán-Mhúinteoirí. De bharr na Scéime leasúcháin sin do laghdaíodh óna haon go leith (1½%) go dtí a haon fén gcéad (1%) ar a mbeidh le díol ag baill na Scéime ionas go bhféadfaí seirbhís inphinsin a tugadh ón gcéad lá Lúnasa, 1929, i leith a áireamh ina seirbhís chun aisce a thuilleamh. Ina theannta san, bhí forála eile sa Scéim a bhí chun maitheasa na múinteoirí.

Tá ar aigne agam Scéim eile leasúcháin a thabhairt os cóir an Tí go luath chun feidhm a chur ins an mbreith a thug an Rialtas le déanaí go n-íocfaí cnapshuim le meán-mhúinteoirí a bhí ar phinsean ar chéad lá d'Eanair, 1950. Measfar méid na cnapshuime sin mórán ar aon dul leis an gcnapshuim atá leagtha amach cheana féin do na sean-mhúinteoirí bun-scol a bhí sa chás céanna.

An Scéim sin atá luaite agam, beidh dhá fhoráil eile inti, leis, agus ní beag é a dtábhacht do mheánmhúinteoirí, mar atá den chéad rud, ón dóú lá déag de Mhárta, 1952, amach, sé tuarastal ar a mbunófar idir phinsean agus aisce ná tuarastal an oide ar dháta a scuir agus ní hé, mar a bhí go dtí seo, meán an tuarastail a tuilleadh i gcaítheamh na dtrí mblian roimh dháta a scuir: agus, den dara rud, íocfar aisce scuir do réir ráta aon chéadú (1/100) den dtuarastal ínphinsin le gach ball den Scéím Aosliúntais i leith gach bliain de sheirbhís dea-mheasta teagaisc a tugadh roimh an chéad lá Lúnasa, 1929.

Is áil liom é bheith le lua agam leis an dTigh go bhfuil nuascéim Idirréitigh agus Eadrána do MheánMhúinteoirítar éis a shínithe le déanaí ag ionadaithe na Múinteoírí óna dtaobh san de agus ag an Aire Airgeadais agus agam féin ó thaobh an Rialtais de.

Dealraíonn sé domhsa go bhfuil faillí throm á thabhairt againn i ngnéithe áirithe oideachais go bhfuilimid freagarthach iontu agus muna dtagaidh malairt aigne orainn i dtaobh na nithe sin tiocfaidh damáiste mhór dá bharr. De bharr ceal spáis ins an Leabharlainn Náisíúnta, tá leabhair agus croinicí á gcur ar coimeád sa riocht agus gur ró-dhócha gurb é a n-aimhleas a thiocfaidh de. Ins an Ard-Mhúsaem Náisiúnta ní féidir nithe a chur ar taispeánadh i gceart ná cúram mar is cóir a dhéanamh dhíobh gan leorchuid spás. Dálta mar atá déanta i dtíortha eile cheana féin, ní mór dúinne, leis, Músaem Dúchais, sé sin, Folk Museum, a chur ar bun.

Ins an Dánlainn Náisiúnta táthar tar éis nua-chóiriú a chur ar shoilsiú, ar mhaisiú agus ar chrochadh na bpictiúirí, agus do cuireadh ath-eagar ar an dealbhra i dtreo go bhfuil nua-chruth ar an Dánlainn anois agus í i bhfad níos inspéise. Do tugadh sreath de léachtaí san Dánlainn agus bhí an slua éisteachta i bhfad níos mó ná mar a ceapadh a bheadh.

Ar cheann de na nithe luachmhara a fuairtheas le déanaí tá an "Teaghlach Naofa" de shaothar Fra Bartolomeo a mhair sa chúigiú nó sa tséú haois déag. Sileann lucht eolais gurb é an saothar is áille de chuid an ealaíonaí sin é.

Sa chuid sin den ghnó leis tá an easpa spáis ina cheataí do éifeacht na Dánlainne. Is ins na soiléir atá coimeád ar a lán de na pictiúirí áille, luachmhara, agus cé go ndeintear an cúram is mó is féidir díobh, ní hionann san agus a rá go bhfuil coimeád mar is cóir orthu.

Níor deineadh clár-liosta riamh fós dá bhfuil de oibreacha ealaíon san Dánlainn agus, in éamais mórán dua agus cuardaigh a dhéanamh, ní féidir freagra a thabhairt ar an iomad de cheisteanna a chuireann lucht Dánlann ó thíortha iasachta orainn ina dtaobh. Ba cheart an clár-liosta san a dhéanamh chomh luath agus is féidir.

Dalta gach Dánlainne eile dá chómhéid agus dá thábhacht ba chóirgo mbeadh glantóir oilte i mbun na bpictiúirí san Dánlainn Náisiúnta so againne. Tá súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas tairiscintí a dhéanamh gan ró-mhoill fé thuaírím na leasuithe sin a dhéanamh agus táim ag coinne le dea-mhéin agus comhoibriú na Dála sa ghnó san dom.

De bharr faillí na mblian tá géarghá anois le creat-dheisiú mór a dhéanamh ar Réadlainn Dhún Sionca. Is maith liom é bheith le lua agam gur deineadh gléasadh agus ath-eagrú na Réadlainne i slí tuisceanach, sásúil. Sé fáth a bhfuilim ag tagairt go speisialta don Réadlainn sa Dáil ná toise a laghad eolas agus tuiscint atá í gcoitinne ar a mbíonn á dhéanamh inti, agus ba mhaith liom a shocrú go raghadh Teachtaí as gach Páirtí ín aon-ghrúpa ar cuairt go dtí an Réadlainn. Táim ar intinn dul i gcomhairle leis na Páirtithe éagsúla i dtaobh an scéil sin.

Is gnáthach go ndeineann an Dáil ócáid den díospóireacht ar Mheastacháin an Oideachais chun léarscrúdú a dhéanamh ar an toradh atá tagtha ar iarrachtaí an náisiúín chun an Ghaeilge do thabhairt in athréim sa tír.

Ba mhaith liom a rá annseo go bhfuil obair mhaith, obair fhíor-mhaith déanta cheana féin, agus dá déanamh fós, ins na scoileanna i leith na teangan. Agus ba mhaith liom a rá, leis, go bhfuil dúthracht agus dícheall an Rialtais dá chaitheamh leis an gceist seo. An té adéarfaidh nach amhlaidh atá, níl taithí na tuíscínt aige ar an gceist.

Ach tar éis an mhéid sin a bheith ráite agam, ní mór dom a admháil nach bhfuil an toradh in aon ghar do bheith ag freagairt don síolrú atá déanta ins na scoileanna agus don chothú atá tugtha ag an Stát. Dá mbeadh, ní bheadh aon ábhar imní ná drochmhisnigh againn i dtaoibh na Gaeilge.

Ní le hairgead, ná le hobair, ná le hintleacht a thabharfar an Ghaeilge ar ais—ná fós leis na trí rudaí sin i dteannta a chéile. Is fíor-thábhachtach na nithe sin, cinnte, ach tá rud amháin eile atá riachtanach chun bláth a chur orthu, sé sin, an bharrshamhlaíocht— idealism. Agus ní hé cúram na múínteoirí amháin, ná cúram na Roinne Oideachais amháin é, an bharrshamhlaíoeht sin a chothú. Tá an dualgas sinorraínn go léir: ar an gcléir, ar mhuintir an Oireachtaís, ar lucht gaírme agus ceírde, ar gach saoránach den Stát seo. Muna n-aithnímíd go bhfuil aidhm éigin uasal romhainn in obair seo na Gaeilge, is deacair dúinn aon chiall a a fheiscint ins an obair ná ins an chaiteachas. Tá go leor teangacha ar domhan a dhéanfadh ríar ár gcáis dúinn i gcúrsaí gnótha agus tráchtála, i gcúrsaí caidrimh, agus fiú amháin i gcúrsaí litríochta. Ach níl ann ach an t-aon teanga amháin gur linn féin í, go bhfuíl ár ndúchas agus ár n-oidhreacht fite intí, a múnlaíodh ar intinn mhuintir na hÉireann agus gurb í fealsúnacht ár sinsir is anál anama di: sí sin an Ghaeilge. Agus muna bhfuilimíd sásta íobairt agus obair a dhéanamh le grá don teangain sin, ní fiú dhúinn bheith ag fógairt don tsaol gur náisiún sinn.

Sula gcuirfead críoch leis an gcaínt seo is mian liom a rá gurb é brí a mheasaim a bheíth leis an bhfreagarthacht atá ormsa, ná léargas níos leithne agus níos tuisceanaí a thabhairt í réim í leíth an oideachais. Sé modh a ghlacfad chun é sin a dhéanamh ná gach gné oideachais go bhfuil lámh ag an Roinn seo agamsa ann a thabhairt chun breís léire, de bharr a ríachtanaisí agus a lochtaí a lua, mar a chítear dom féin íad, agus díospóireacht agus léirmheas a iarraidh go coitianta. Na torthaí dob áil linne go léír do theacht de bharr an oideachais, ní féidir iad a thabhaírt i gcrích gan costas. Is mian liom aigne an phobail a thabhairt cleachtach ar an smaoineamh sin agus tacaíocht gach Teachta a iarraidh ionas go nglacfaí léargas níos saoíthíúla i leíth ceisteanna oideachais na tíre.

First of all, I should like to say that it is unfortunate that the Estimate for the Department of Education should come up to-day. The Minister is aware, of course, that we adjourn at 6 o'clock and I greatly fear that many Deputies who have other engagements availed of that to leave for their homes. Let us hope, however, that the debate will continue until next week so that the various Deputies of all Parties can give their views to the Minister and so help to try to bring about desirable improvements in the sphere of education. Secondly, I shouldlike to congratulate the Minister on his very detailed statement covering the various departments of education— primary, secondary, vocational and so forth. I should also like to say that, notwithstanding certain grievances which the teachers have—and it is only fair to meet the teachers in certain of their demands—on the whole the Minister has done his best during his period of office to do everything possible for the welfare of the teachers and of education. Perhaps, in cases in which he failed, the fault was not entirely his. We usually throw the blame on the Department of Finance.

This question of education has never been a controversial one in this House or, I suppose, in any Parliament, because we can all agree that it is a matter which requires the help of all. Of all the Estimates put before this House, I believe that we can regard the Education Estimate as not only one of the most important, but the most important, because really the progress of the State and the advancement of our people depend, first of all, on the education that they have received from the time they came to the use of reason and during all the years they were engaged in trying to bring about their mental development.

In considering education, I shall regard it under three headings—the school, the child and the teacher. We may regard the school as a factory, because really it is a factory. We can regard the children as raw material and the teacher as the skilled or expert worker. There are the other factors also in connection with the development of education. You have the inspectors, the managers and the heads of the Departments ruling over all. Now, when a company come together to erect a factory, they plan it carefully from every point of view that it will be sanitary and that it will be comfortable in every way for those who will work in it. The same thing should apply to the erection of a school, not only in regard to its situation and the style of architecture, but in regard to everything necessary to ensure that it will be comfortablefor those who work in it, the children and the teachers alike.

We know that ever since a native Government was established in this State each Government in turn has done its best to ensure that our national schools would be in keeping with the ideals of a people who always admired education, but I am afraid that the progress that we would desire is not being made. It is very easy to understand the difficulties. Many of our schools were in a shocking condition. Many of them were never meant to be schools and I am sure it will take many years yet, before we shall have proper national schools in all districts. The new schools that have been built are a credit to those who designed them, a credit to the Department of Education which made money available, and a credit to the local people who contributed their share towards their erection.

In speaking of local contributions I may as well state that in many cases there is great difficulty in getting the required sum. I believe the Department requires a local contribution of one-third of the total cost, but the Minister and the Department will very readily understand that in poor areas in the country one could never raise that amount. I do know, however, that in that respect, the Department is rather reasonable and so long as there is a local contribution of some amount it generally carries out the construction of the schools.

However, in some districts it is absolutely impossible to get any sum worth while although it is my personal view that if people wish to have a school in their area, as a centre, as it were, of culture, they should at all times do their very best to contribute as much as they possibly can afford. I think it is only right that people should be made to realise their responsibilities in that regard. If they have respect for their children and wish to ensure that everything possible is done to promote their educational advancement, I think they should be willing even to make sacrifices to ensure that the local schools would always be kept in a proper condition, not only in regard to the constructionof the schools but also in connection with the maintenance, heating and cleaning of the buildings.

This question of maintenance and of heating and cleaning is a sore problem which has existed over a number of years and it has become more acute in recent times when, of course, the maintenance of schools as well as the heating of schools has become so expensive. The local contribution at the present time is not at all sufficient to keep the schools sufficiently clean and heated. In fact, the State grant for heating and cleaning, to my mind, is not given in the proper way, because it is paid according to the average attendance at the school whereas it should be based on the space or the accommodation in the school. Take a school, for instance, with an average of 90 pupils. In that school you will probably have two or three rooms, each of which must be heated. In such a case, where you would have a fairly large number of families sending children to the school and where each family would contribute its share, either in the form of turf, wood or money, the local contribution would help to a great extent with the State grant to keep the school properly heated in winter time. Then you may have a school, also of two or three rooms, in which the average may be only 30 or even 40. In that case you may have only eight, nine or ten families to provide the local contribution.

It is easy to see that where you have only that small contribution, each family contributing a rail of turf or wood or giving a money contribution of, say, 2/6 per child, the school cannot be properly heated during the winter since you would have to keep at least two fires going. The State grant was fixed, I think, a number of years ago when the cost of fuel was not, I suppose, one-fifth or one-sixth of what it is nowadays. I can tell you further, and it is a remarkable fact, that it has always been my experience and the experience of most teachers in country districts, that parents who make their contribution in the form of fuel do not always bring the best type of fuel or turf to the school. That is rather unfortunate because I think that theyshould be ready to send the very best fuel for the sake of their children.

This question of the maintenance and cleaning and heating of schools has always been a problem for teachers and managers. In the first place I think that the Department should increase the grant to bring it more in line with the present cost of fuel. There is then the trouble of cleaning the school. We all know how our schools were cleaned. We brushed them, dusted them and did everything possible and we never grumbled. However, times have changed and, while I do say that I do not think it would actually do any harm to children to do a certain amount of this work in school—in fact I think some children like to ensure that their schools are clean and tidy—I suggest that in this modern age, children should not be required to do the type of work they did in the schools in years gone by.

Will the Deputy say why?

I do not know if I should answer that. We have our Government Departments. We have this Legislature. I wonder would the Deputy like to come in here to-morrow morning and help to clean it out.

It would do us a lot of good.

I doubt if the Deputy would like it however. I have said that such work does not do any harm to the pupils. Children are always willing and anxious to help. Even if there is somebody employed to light the fires the children during the day will tend the fires. Fires must be looked after constantly. The papers must be picked up off the floors and the rooms must be kept properly ventilated. These are tasks that the children can easily carry out. On the other hand, State officials go into their offices in the morning and they find them cleaned and heated. I see no reason why the same conditions should not obtain in our primary schools. I am sure the vocational schools are well looked after in that respect. The managers in the case of primary schools have no funds at their disposal to help in the maintenance,equipment, heating and cleaning of the schools. It has been my experience that the teacher himself does most of that work, no matter how expensive it may be. Very often he must put his hand in his pocket to provide fuel and equipment, to buy maps, school books for necessitous children, stationery and so on.

Teachers over the years have been a suffering body and they have become used to that situation. But that cannot go on indefinitely. I think the Minister should take steps to bring about a conference between the managers, the teachers' organisation and the representatives of the Department to discover what means they can devise in relation to the heating and cleaning of schools. This matter has been considered seriously by the teachers' organisation. I know the managers have had it under consideration too. Possibly it causes some antagonism between the teachers and the managers and I am sure the Minister would like to see harmonious relations at all times not only between the teachers and the managers but also between the teachers, the managers and the Department.

Now that deals with the actual factory itself. There is then the child or the raw material. We have the factory and the skilled worker. The next stage is to study the development of the child mind. There is, of course, a programme laid down.

That programme was drafted many years ago. It has been altered from time to time to suit requirements. Occasionally not alone Deputies but people outside demand the addition of new subjects to that programme. It is said that agriculture should be taught in the primary schools. That is quite impossible. I know it is the Minister's view, and it is the view of all educationalists, that a few subjects well taught in the primary school are better for the development of the child mind and for the child's educational advancement than trying to teach a number of subjects in a rudimentary way. I am sure the three R's will always be regarded as the foundation of primary education. Other subjects,such as history and geography, will be taught as essential subjects. It is quite impossible to teach rural science in the primary schools because there is not enough time for it. The child at that age cannot avail of such teaching because the subject is too difficult and the child is not sufficiently receptive. Agriculture should be taught in a practical way. We have in many areas vocational schools. It is in those schools that the pupil should be given a rudimentary knowledge of theoretical and practical agriculture. It is in those schools domestic science should be taught, though I will admit that in the primary schools the pupils are equipped with a good knowledge of cookery and needlework, and the Minister's Department has reported that these subjects have been successfully taught in many of the primary schools.

The programme is one of great importance and neither the Minister nor his officials should add, at any time, too many subjects to that programme. As the Minister stated in his opening speech, there is no difficulty with the normal child. There is always difficulty with the sub-normal or mentally deficient child. Various theories have been propounded as to how best these children can be taught. Some held they should be put into a special class with special teachers. Very often a mentally backward child is particularly deft with his hands. Putting such children into a particular class might create an inferiority complex because such a class would inevitably become known as the dunces' class and that label would have a bad psychological effect. I am sure the teachers do their best to try to equip these children with a basic knowledge of the subjects taught.

It has been the experience, however, that when inspectors come on an incidental visit they invariably pick on the dull child. It has been known that when the inspectors come along on a fiosrú mór visit they always speak to such an extent to the dull child that they show up that child in a certain way. They make the child feel bashful so that he or she has no confidence in himself or herself. They show the teacher up, too. Very often, in times gone by—I want to give the inspectorstheir due and say that there is a big improvement now—the inspector's report on the school was based, to a good extent, on the efficiency or rather the want of efficiency in the case of the backward child or children in that school.

So far as primary education is concerned, it is only when a child leaves school at 14 years of age that he or she understands what education actually means. Up to that stage, the child is learning perhaps more or less against his or her will. It is only when children have passed the age of 14 that they come to realise what education is, and to love it. They understand then its necessity. Therefore, I think the Minister and his Department should, at the first opportunity, make provision for the raising of the school age first of all to 15 years, and, later, when there is sufficient accommodation in city and town schools and a sufficient number of trained teachers, they could extend it to 16 years.

The point is that if you raise the school-leaving age you must make provision for an extended programme. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to have what one might call a higher primary school under a special teacher for children between the ages of 14 and 16, to teach them some extra subjects or advanced arithmetic, Irish, geography and history. I am speaking now of children who cannot go to a secondary school. After all, 90 per cent. of the children of this country receive their whole education in the national school. It is only when they have completed their primary and higher primary education that they can avail fully of the subjects taught in the vocational schools.

As I am on the subject now, and as there is a great deal of controversy about the progress of Irish in the schools and the revival of the Irish language, may I say that if the language is to be revived, as we all wish it would be, that can only be brought about by the children remaining in school up to the age of 16 years, with provision also for the teaching of Irish as an ordinary subject in the vocational schools. Of course, great differences of opinion exist among educationists as regardsthe method of reviving the Irish language. Some appear to hold that its revival depends solely on the national school. In fact, it is remarkable that since Irish was made a compulsory subject, and since it can really be taught everywhere, pupils seem not to take very much interest in its revival. Perhaps if its survival were banned, as it was at one time under the rule of the English Government, the people would take a greater interest in it. It may be that we are a contrary kind of people, and that when we are told not to do a thing, that is the thing we wish to do.

Many years ago the teachers' organisation sent a circular out to the teachers asking for their opinions on the method of teaching Irish in the schools and on the revival of Irish. The teachers, with all their vast experience, were almost unanimous in stating that no progress was being made with the advancement of the Irish language—that the teaching of subjects through Irish, where children had not sufficient knowledge of the language, and in cases, too, perhaps where the teachers had not a sufficient knowledge of Irish either, was not making the advance that should be made. That position still holds. That report was submitted to the Department of Education. I do not think any action was taken on it.

We still have the same system. We start teaching infants solely through Irish. I do not know what my own opinion would be about that. I do think that teaching subjects to infants through Irish does not matter very much. Perhaps they can follow the teaching because their knowledge of the English language is not very wide. But when Irish is not the language in the home, when the parents have no knowledge of it and cannot help their children with their home lessons, it is utterly impossible to expect children in the Galltacht or the Breac Ghaeltacht or even the Gaeltacht to learn subjects such as mathematics, history and geography through the medium of Irish. Of course, Irish is a compulsory subject. It will always remain that while we have an Irish Government. It might perhaps be better if it weretaught as a language, first of all, until such time as the children in the various areas—in some areas perhaps sooner than in others—are able to understand it to such an extent that they can really imbibe the knowledge that later on will be imparted to them through Irish in the other school subjects. I know that this is a controversial subject. I am only giving my own view, but I believe that in doing so I am giving the view of the vast majority of the teachers of the country. It is unfortunate that, no matter what we have done for the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and the Gaeltacht, Irish is dwindling in those areas. It is not for me to advance any causes now, as they are more or less well known.

I have dealt with the school, the child and the programme and now we come to the teachers, whom I refer to as the experts or skilled workers. It is unfortunate that in many of our schools we have not fully qualified trained teachers. I know it is the aim of the Department that we should have those. There are numbers of small country schools at present where you have teachers with only leaving certificate or matriculation, or those qualified as junior assistant mistresses. They may be good teachers, they may do their work and do their best. In many cases an untrained teacher has done work as good as that of a trained teacher; but training should be the hallmark. In the schools in the most remote areas, the children and their parents deserve the highest qualified teachers just as much as those in cities and towns.

I do not think that the Minister for Education, in the early days of native government, was wise in setting up the preparatory schools where pupils intended for teachers are segregated and cut off entirely from any intercourse with the people outside. I believe—and I have said so each time I spoke on this Estimate—that the training of teachers should be through the university. I heard Professor Dr. O'Rahilly deliver a lecture at the Teachers' Congress in Killarney at Easter and I was very glad to note thathis ideas were akin to mine. The idea is not exactly my own, although I, personally, always believed in it; it is also the view of the teachers' organisation. Just as doctors and solicitors have to go through the university, after getting matriculation or leaving certificate, and graduate there in certain degrees, so also a student who has taken out a degree such as Bachelor of Arts, Science or Commerce, and who expresses a wish to become a teacher, should be given facilities for entry to a training college. That student may be regarded as having finished his education and as entering a training college for specialised training in putting his education into operation in schools. That course should continue for at least one year and it is only when he has passed his final examination there in practical teaching that he should be regarded as qualified. That would be better than the present system, where student teachers are cooped up in a preparatory school for four years and in a training college for two years, cut away entirely from society. What I have suggested could be done, but I think the better system would be to complete the education in the university and get the practical training afterwards.

The teacher would then be regarded as a member of a profession. He would hold a higher social position in the community—which is only right, as the teacher who is moulding the minds of the young should be looked up to in the locality, not only as an educationist but as exemplary in every way and taking an active part in the affairs of the community around him or her.

Full provision must be made also for remuneration. It is only when a teacher is fully qualified that he can obtain the maximum salary of the profession. When there are untrained teachers of various kinds and junior assistant mistresses, their salary in these times is not a sufficient living wage—any more than it is for those who have attained the very highest rank and salary in their professions. This question of teachers' salaries has been a burning one down the years. Teachers have never been fullysatisfied, as they have never got what they asked. I suppose no one is fully satisfied—the civil servants are not satisfied, the teachers are not satisfied, the farmers are not satisfied, and so on. It was regrettable that once conciliation and arbitration was conceded in 1950 is was not continued by the present Minister. It was a pity—from the point of view of the relationship that existed between the Minister and the Department and the teachers for some time, for over three years, until about a year ago—that that unfortunate incident should happen by which conciliation and arbitration was not continued. Whoever was responsible for it, it was most unfortunate.

Then comes the point that the teachers will get some extra remuneration because of the award being made to the civil servants. The civil servants are not satisfied with their award from the 1st April last—and rightly so, because it should have been awarded from the 1st November last. The teachers should get the same.

I thought we had all that before.

Did you get all your forces in to vote for it?

If you must have conciliation and arbitration and it is conceded, there is no reason why it should not be continued, so that whenever the teachers had a grievance they could refer it to conciliation and, if that failed, to arbitration. The award of the Arbitration Board should be carried out just as the award of the Labour Court is carried out by employers.

In accordance with the agreement.

Furthermore, it was not fair that the Minister or the Department of Education should have tried to impose conditions on teachers before the arbitration would be set up. A certain class of teachers had a grievance and were taking their case to the courts, as they had a constitutional right to do. If you want to have education advanced in this country, you must have a contented body of teachers. If teachers are to be content,like any other body, they must have the wherewithal to live in fairly decent comfort. The conditions for the welfare of education are certainly well paid, qualified teachers, good schools, a suitable programme and an inspection system which will be agreeable to teachers and the Department. Any Minister of any Department should always endeavour to meet those demands and to see that they are carried out. I am not saying that our Department and our Ministers are not doing their best.

There is another matter in regard to teachers which has been debated and which has been put before the Department by the teachers' organisation during the past 20 years. It is the question of the marriage ban. I need not go into the details of the arguments in favour of removing the marriage ban. Of course, I know the Minister says there is no ban on marriage of teachers. There is not. But, when a lady teacher gets married she must give up her position. I do not know who was first responsible for that rule but I am sure it is the cause of having so many untrained teachers at the present time.

It cost a large sum, not only to the State but also the parents of a girl student, for training. After a year or two or, perhaps, three, four, five, six or seven years, a lady teacher may get married and must give up her position. That is detrimental to education because, if a lady teacher knows that she will have to retire on marriage and, as it is the desire, I am sure, of every lady and I am sure of the lady teacher, to get married, she will not pay that strict attention to her school work which she would pay to it if she were certain that she would be a teacher for 40 years. It interferes with education. It interferes with the welfare of the lady teachers. On ethical grounds alone, it is not right or just. I would suggest that the Minister should again examine this problem and bring together, perhaps, members of the I.N.T.O. and the managers and the Hierarchy and discuss the rule whereby lady teachers are forced to retire on marriage. Those lady teachers who entered the preparatory college or training college before the rule waspromulgated have a special grievance. They began their education in the preparatory college. At that time they did not know they would have to retire on marriage. Otherwise, perhaps, they would not have gone in that direction. It is not fair to those teachers. They, at least, for a start, should be allowed to continue to teach after marriage if they so desire.

There are many other aspects of this Estimate. There are aspects of it that concern vocational and secondary education. I have dealt with it sufficiently from the point of view of primary education and will leave it to others who are interested in other matters to give their views.

I have dealt with the trouble that arose between teachers and the Departments of Education and Finance. There is another question in regard to pensioned teachers, those who retired prior to 1950. The Minister gave an ex gratiagrant. That was welcomed and the pensioned teachers had the hope and still have the hope that they will eventually get the full sums to which they were entitled, to the same extent as the teachers who retired after the 1st January, 1950. The real grievance in connection with theex gratiagrant was that it was paid in three instalments except in a case where it was £50 or under. If the Minister could have paid it in one instalment it would certainly have brought about greater agreement amongst those pensioned teachers. As there is no provision made for the payment of it in one instalment, I suppose it must go on now to be paid in three instalments.

So far as the Minister and the officials of the Department are concerned, they have always been very courteous and anxious to meet my view in any case which I referred to them on behalf of teachers who had a grievance or any other matter. Despite what may be said about their being bureaucratic, so far as I am personally concerned and so far as I know from other Deputies or people with whom I have discussed the matter they are always ready and willing to do their best to try to meet the reasonabledemands of those who approach them on matters in which they or other parties may be interested.

Mr. A. Byrne

I have seen the Minister's statement, copies of which were supplied to Deputies who could not follow the Irish. It is very informative and encouraging. I wish to congratulate the Minister on the information contained therein. I note with a certain amount of gratification the progress that is about to be made in connection with the retarded or backward child. Almost every year I have had cause to refer to the neglect of the retarded or backward child. I want to congratulate the Minister on his personal interest in the matter. He said with regard to backward and retarded children that the number of these in small rural schools is so few that they do not constitute a problem, but in cities, particularly in Dublin, there is urgent need for action that will tend to ameliorate the defects which arise in conditions hitherto unconsidered. I am very happy to know that these children are now being considered and that the Minister has found a group of people highly interested in the backward or retarded child who, because of some little defect, is not able to absorb the education imparted to it. The Minister tells us that a class was started on the initiative of a few gifted teachers who are deeply concerned with the welfare of such children and that the class has been eminently successful, successful even to the extent that a significant percentage of these retarded children are now able to pass into the ordinary classes and look after themselves. The Minister will not mind my taking some little pride in the fact that I have been raising this matter for some years. It was very gratifying to hear the Minister say that that class is meeting with great success and that he intends to have a survey made of the other schools all over the city to see what can be done for any backward or retarded children in these schools.

While on that, I wish the Minister would not alone do it in Dublin but in other places. In almost every town and village in Ireland, in fact in nearly every parish there is at least one backwardor retarded child. These children should be collected with the approval of their parents or the parents should notify the Education Department that they are prepared to allow the children to go to some special place of training in order to overcome whatever little defect they may have. It would pay the parents handsomely to have such children made efficient or partly efficient. As well as that, in every town and village there may be a deaf or blind child. It is a pity, because of the fact that they are so distant from one another, that something cannot be done to bring them together so that they can be made the efficient citizens which the Minister has shown by his example he is anxious for them to become.

I hope the parents will take up the matter. Parents do not like to part with a backward or retarded child or some child which may be deaf or dumb. If the parents could see the advantage of having such children properly looked after it would be a very good thing for the children and for the parents.

The Minister also dealt very effectively and encouragingly with the question of vocational education. He said that the vocational system develops and reaches a higher standard of achievement each year, and that this year there are 211 vocational schools with a record number of almost 90,000 students, which number would be much swollen if we could provide the needed accommodation and the necessary extra teachers. For many years I have been drawing attention to the fact that every time a vocational school is opened in the City of Dublin there is a rush of boys and girls anxious to avail of the facilities for vocational education. It is a terrible pity that, owing to lack of accommodation and teachers, students who are anxious to avail of vocational training have to line up in queues and that more than half of them are disappointed because they cannot secure entry into vocational schools. That means that these boys or girls will very often drift into some sort of cul-de-sac employment. I would ask the Minister to encourage the corporation to open still more schools. I know that thereis co-operation between them at the moment and that every effort is being made to increase the number of vocational schools so that there will not be a number of boys and girls disappointed in the future. The corporation vocational committee is doing a wonderful job and doing it well, but I know the chairman, who is present in this House, will not mind my drawing attention to the fact that more and more schools are wanted in the City of Dublin.

Dublin City is extending rapidly. It is a pity that those who think that Dublin consists of the square mile around the Nelson Pillar do not go out into the outskirts, to Cabra, Crumlin, Ballyfermot, Milltown and Donnybrook, and see the magnificent houses that the corporation, with the aid of the State, are building. That means, of course, that more vocational schools and more national schools are required for the children. In that connection, I should like to express the hope that the Minister will still continue his interest in the provision of national schools. I do not want to throw blame on anybody, as sometimes there is a difficulty with regard to parish finances, but when the corporation decide on providing suitable housing schemes in outlying districts I should like the Minister to see that schools are started at the same time. In these districts the people have little or no money and the parish manager may be faced with the building of three or four big schools to hold 1,000 pupils. That is a very big job for a parish manager. I suggest that in these cases a site should be given free of charge for the building of schools and that, if possible, the school should be ready for occupation when the houses are built. Children in these districts who were formerly living in the city have to travel three or four miles in buses to schools in the city. I agree that the bus fare is not too high as the Minister made some special arrangement. But, if four or five children in a family have to come to the city from Finglas or Ballyfermot, the parents have to pay one penny each way for these children. I do not know whether it is a penny return fare, but the fact remains that they have to pay these fares forchildren coming into the city. If there are any free buses in the city I do not know of them. I think some arrangement could be made by which the Minister would be notified when the corporation intends to embark on a housing scheme in any particular area in which, perhaps, there might be up to 2,000 children and he should insist that, as far as possible, the new school should be ready for the children when they come to reside in the new houses.

I should like to refer also to the question of repairs to some of the old schools. First of all I want to say that new schools built on the outskirts of the city with the co-operation of the Government and the parish managers, are amongst the finest not only in Ireland but in Europe. We have some of the finest schools in Europe. As against that we have some schools in a very backward condition which could be much improved with a little extra expenditure.

Another matter referred to in the Minister's statement was the storage in the Museum and in the National Library of some very valuable exhibits. Whether they are of paper, marble or canvass they are stored, it appears, in the basement cellars. It is a great pity that we should have that happening in a city such as this—that for the sake of space some very fine exhibits of all classes are stored out of sight and cannot be seen by the people. I appeal to the Minister to see that the public will get an opportunity of seeing these exhibits and that the people in charge of our Museum and our National Gallery should get an opportunity of showing to the best possible advantage the treasures they have to exhibit.

There is just one other matter to which I should like to refer. The last speaker who has some practical knowledge of the people concerned has already dealt with it. Many teachers were retired say, five, six or ten years ago, on pensions of about £200 or £300. Considering that £200 ten years ago would be worth according to today's values only £86—so the economists say—I think the time has come when the Government should considergiving those people who served as teachers some compensation for the depreciation in the value of money since. This is, indeed, a matter that affects ex-officials of all kinds who retired some years ago on pensions that were considered very good at the time. I earnestly hope that the Minister will recommend that all these ex-teachers, for whom he is responsible, should get an increase in their pensions to enable them to buy the same quantity of the necessaries of life as they were able to buy when they first retired. At the present time they are not in a position to buy a sufficient quantity of the necessaries of life because of high prices. The Minister is, I think, in a position to recommend that the teachers who retired some years ago, for whom, as I say, he is responsible, should be placed in a position to share in the good things of this world.

I should like, in conclusion, to compliment the Minister on the very informative paper which he has supplied to Deputies. There is quite an amount of useful information in it. I have no doubt that other Deputies will have some comments to make on it and will give the Minister the meed of encouragement that is his due. My principal object in speaking was to bring to the notice of the Minister the position in regard to retarded children, the absence of facilities for vocational training, the number of people who are disappointed in consequence, and, lastly, the question of the position of pensioned teachers.

A good deal of reference has already been made to the question of primary education and vocational education. I propose to limit my remarks to a question that I think is unlikely to be ventilated otherwise here, at least judging from past experience. I want to make a strong plea to the Minister for an increase in the capitation grant to secondary schools. The capitation grant for juniors, that is, up to the intermediate certificate stage, has been £8; and for seniors, that is, up to leaving certificate stage, £10. That grant was fixed in 1929 and the grant has remained at the same figure since, in spite of the devaluation of the£ and the increase in outgoings of all sorts—repairs to buildings, new buildings and increased wages to employees such as caretakers, cleaners, groundsmen, etc. All these costs have soared, and still the capitation grant remains as fixed in 1929. I do not think that any figure fixed as fair in 1929 could now be regarded as fair. I think the grant could be doubled without leaving the schools one whit better off than they were in 1929. The secondary schools are privately owned, most of them by religious communities, and the Department does not contribute directly to the cost of construction or repairs. Of course, the capitation grant helps to defray the cost of repairs, to pay the basic salaries of teachers and to keep down fees, but I wonder does the 1929 figure hold good in any other Department with regard to upkeep or general expenses?

There are about 60 Catholic lay secondary schools throughout Ireland. Most of them are in small remote towns or villages. In the most remote town or village you may have one, two or three very brilliant boys or girls who would be an ornament to any profession or a success in any calling. Where they have to leave school, just after receiving a primary education and are unable to go further, I think it is nothing short of a tragedy.

Special consideration should be given to these schools in remote villages and towns run by university graduates, fully qualified teachers. Each of these schools must have three to four fully qualified teachers. Most of those teachers are married. But for these schools many of them would have to emigrate. As it is they provide facilities for education which would otherwise be lacking. If these schools did not exist children would have to travel long distances or their parents would have to send them to boarding schools. They may not be able to afford to do that and the children will have to go without.

These schools are run by private enterprise for the benefit of the working man's son, the labourer's son and the sons of tradesmen and small business people. Consequently the feeshave to be low and they range from six guineas a year upwards. These schools play a very important part and I appeal to the Minister to increase the capitation grant given to such schools. Usually these establishments hold their own with technical schools where the feet is as a rule a nominal charge of 10/- per session.

These teachers build their own schools. The building and equipment of a modest technical school in a rural area would at the moment cost about £30,000. The State pays that. It pays the teachers. It pays the caretaker. It pays for heating and lighting.

The request for an increased capitation grant comes from every quarter, from the Catholic clerical headmasters, the convents, the Brothers and the Protestant authorities. Several bishops have spoken about the matter. On the 20th December, 1952, the Most Rev. Dr. Rogers, Coadjutor Bishop of Killaloe, when addressing parents and students at St. Flannan's College, said that under a native Government, secondary schools had been seriously neglected in Ireland in regard to educational grants which were not now meeting the needs of such schools. The cost of living had considerably increased. Yet, there had been no increase in the grants. Money could, however, be found for other schemes and could be found for universities but, if the secondary schools were not given favourable consideration for grants, then the universities would soon be empty.

On the 20th December, 1952, the Right Rev. Dr. Harvey, Bishop of Cashel and Emly, Waterford and Lismore, presiding at the annual distribution of prizes at the Bishop Foy school in Waterford, referred to the financial aspect which he described as not being very satisfactory. He said that the service which a voluntary school, such as the Bishop Foy school, performs for the community is not receiving adequate consideration. He said it was very ironical and very tantalising to the board of governors that in all matters under their control they could achieve success and give pupils a balanced education but theycould not balance income with expenditure owing to the ever-rising cost of maintenance, which was beyond their control. He said that state of things could continue for a while but not indefinitely. There was a temptation to cut down or postpone repairs, to reduce dietary, to offer inadequate salaries to their staff and all the while the Government capitation grant remained stationary since 1929. His Lordship said that the Government had accepted in principle the subsidising of voluntary schools and he said that the corollary to that should be that this subsidy was in proportion to their needs, and it certainly was not that at present. He said other voices have been raised drawing attention to this fact and we should be failing in our duty if we did not add our own support to those voices.

That shows that this request is coming from every quarter in the sphere of secondary education. I appeal to the Minister to make special provision for the small rural schools with under 50 or 100 pupils. I think these should get £1 or £2 per head more than the large schools with 500 to 3,000 pupils. It is unfair to pay the same capitation grant to the small school as is paid to the large school. The secondary school with 30 pupils must have at least three teachers to cope with the pre-intermediate years, the intermediate year and the leaving certificate. A large school with three teachers can deal with, and teach, from 120 to 200 pupils.

The vocational schools are doing excellent work. I do not think that they are getting one penny too much for what they are doing. I think that if one were to make a comparison between what the technical schools are costing and what the secondary schools are costing one would find that the position is rather amazing. It would lead one to the conclusion that a great deal more should be done to help the secondary schools. I do not wish to say anything more on this question. The other points have been touched on already but that is an aspect of education that I feared might pass without comment during this debate.

I would like to say that I thoroughly agree with Deputy Palmer when he says that our method of recruiting teachers is really a bad one. He suggested another method which, I think, would be very good. From my own experience, I know for a fact that the old monitorial system of recruitment was far better than the one at present obtaining.

I also agree with Deputy Palmer when he attaches such great importance to education. I think it is the most important of all things. A great deal, at least, of juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime, if one likes to put it as harshly as that, is due to the lack of education in the home and, possibly, in the school, for the simple reason that very often these unfortunate children are not sent to school at all. That only points back to the fact that their parents themselves were not properly educated. Crime among adults, too, I am quite convinced, is largely due to the lack of proper education in the home, first of all, and, later, in the schools. If parents neglect the home and the school with regard to their children, there is no use in hoping that these unfortunate children will profit much by anything they will hear in Church.

There is one other point I should like to mention. I would like to express my appreciation of the school medical service. I wish indeed that it could be extended. A great deal has been said here this evening about mentally defective children. I was quite amazed, after years of teaching, to find that children whom I had regarded as backward or possibly bordering on mental deficiency were backward simply because of eye trouble or partial deafness. I found that when these children got proper treatment for their eyes and their ears they went ahead in a way that was most amazing to me. I hope that the school medical service will be extended, if possible. To my own knowledge, T.B., as well as defects in regard to hearing and eyesight, have been spotted in the schools on the occasion of the doctor's visit. I think that is a great development and agreat blessing. I hope it will continue, and that it will be extended.

Ba mhaith liom comhgháirdeachas a dhéanamh leis an Aire as ucht an óráid a rinne sé inniu. Theasbáin sé go raibh suim mhór aige in a Roinn féin agus sa cheist Oideachais ar fad. Ní rabhas anseo nuair bhí sé ag caint, ach is dóigh liom gur labhair sé i nGaeilge. Mhol sé é sin a dhéanamh. Táimse ag labhairt in ár dteanga féin chun déashompla a thabhairt do na daoine mar mé féin—daoine nach bhfuil ach beagán Gaeilge acu.

I should like to congratulate the Minister on the speech he delivered here to-day in the native tongue in which he is so proficient. My only reason for making my introductory remarks in Irish was to make some little use of the Irish I have, and thereby give some good example, for what it is worth, to those who have even a little less or a little more Irish than I have.

I should like, first of all, to refer to the Irish Language. I think that the Minister, in his brief reference to it, summed up pretty well the situation as far as the Irish language is concerned. There was one true remark that he made, although I think it could be given a wrong slant. I cannot get his exact words at the moment, but I think he did say that the progress of Irish in the schools was satisfactory. I think that is a fact. The progress of Irish in the schools is satisfactory, but the progress of the language in the country, as far as I can observe, is not satisfactory. That is so because I think the problem lies within the schools. The treatment of the Irish language within the schools is the source of the whole problem of the revival of the language. I have always been of the opinion—I think I have spoken in much the same strain on this practically every year—that, as long as Irish is regarded as a school subject on the same par with English literature, mathematics, geography and other subjects, the language will not progress. If the young boys and girls of this nation believe that Irish is an obligation, that it is a subject which must be passed in examinations,then the very first thought that enters their minds, when they leave school, is to have nothing to do with something that has been a burden to them while they were at school.

I know that argument can be knocked this way, that way, and the other way. As far as anybody's experience goes, it is this, that in the majority of cases young boys and girls in the primary and in the secondary schools will, immediately they leave school show that they have no great liking for the Irish language. What we should be trying to do is to get them to love the language. As I say, as long as we treat Irish as a subject, such as arithmetic, English literature, physics and geography, we are not going to have progress. I believe, not from experience, but from speaking with people who were active in the language movement at the time that much more progress was being made with regard to the revival of the Irish language when the Gaelic League was at its strongest than is being made now. I move to report Progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.