Wednesday, 30 November 1966
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £1,274,220 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1967, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education (including Institutions of Science and Art), for certain Miscellaneous Educational and Cultural Services, and Sundry Grants-in-Aid.
Is mór mar phribhléid agam é gur orm a thiteann sé Meastacháin an Oideachais do thabhairt isteach i mbliana. Deirim é sin de bhrí go measaim go mbeidh an bhliain seo ina bhliain stairiúil ó thaobh an oideachais in Éirinn. Na tairiscintí a chuirfidh mé faoi bhráid an Tí ní geallúintí a bheidh iontu ach céim mhór eile ar aghaidh i dtabhairt i bhfeidhm an pholasaí chinnte atá ag an Rialtas i leith an oideachais. Léireoidh siad an tábhacht agus an tosaíocht atá á dtabhairt ag an Rialtas don oideachas. Feicfidh sibh nach é atá i gceist leo “mair a chapaill agus gheobhair féar”.
The total provision in the seven Votes for which I am responsible, is £33,778,250. This represents an increase of £3,080,190 in the provision for the previous financial year. Under Vote 8 (Public Works and Buildings) £2,300,000 is being provided for the building of new schools and the enlargement and improvement of existing schools. The extent of the extra money we are now spending on education can be gauged from the fact that in 1957-58 the total expenditure was less than £16,000,000.
This Vote comprises (a) the administration costs of the Department, and (b) the provision for the services which formerly appeared in what was a separate Science and Art Vote. At £1,274,220 this year's Estimate shows an increase of £141,720 in the amount for last year.
The net amount under this Vote is £18,854,600, which is £1,483,200 in excess of the amount for 1965/66. The major portion of that excess is to meet the additional provision for salaries and emoluments of teachers.
In the school year which ended 30th June, 1965, there were 14,469 teachers employed in national schools as compared with 14,297 for the same date in 1964. The number of pupils on rolls on 30th June, 1965, was 506,552, an increase of 4,351 in the number for the same date in 1964.
Once again substantial progress was made last year in the replacement of unsuitable national schools and in the reconstruction and improvement of exisiting schools. In fact 1965-66 was a record year for national school building: 130 new schools were built and major schemes of improvement or extension were carried out in the case of 121 schools. In all, 23,940 pupil places were provided. This is  over 60 per cent greater than the average for the previous decade.
Members of the House will recollect that in each of the past seven years the teacher/pupil ratio has been improved. A further improvement has been made this year. The figure of enrolment required for a third assistant—four teachers in all—has been reduced from 140 to 130 and reductions have been continued up to and including the sixth assistant.
Two other developments this year which merit special mention are the steps taken to train untrained teachers and the revisions made in the conditions governing the competition for entry to the training colleges. In 1958 we ceased, as a matter of firm policy, to recruit untrained teachers. In that respect we then were and probably still are unique in Western Europe. There remained, however, in the service a number of untrained teachers who previous to that time had been granted permanent recognition as junior assistant mistresses or untrained assistants. Arrangements were put into effect this year whereby such untrained teachers who are under 56 years of age will by a series of summer courses and set studies during each year be enabled to reach the status of trained teacher. Such courses were held at two centres last July.
A committee consisting of representatives of the teachers, training colleges and my Department was appointed to examine the conditions governing the competition for entry to the training colleges, the curriculum for the training courses and the final examination. The committee made a number of recommendations in regard to the entrance competition, the majority of which have been accepted and will be in operation for the 1967 competition. Among the recommendations accepted was that singing should not be essential for men candidates and that needlework should not be essential for girls.
The net total amount provided for secondary education is £6,654,100. This is an increase of roughly  £800,000 on the amount provided last year in the original and supplementary estimates. The principal headings under which the increase occurs are grants to schools, teachers' salaries, scholarships for post-primary education and building grants to secondary schools and comprehensive schools.
When introducing last year's Estimate for this Vote, my predecessor said that within a few years the number of pupils on the rolls of secondary schools would have reached 100,000. This position was in fact almost reached in the 1965-66 school year with its enrolment of close on 99,000 students, an increase of 5,500 over the previous year. There is every indication that this growth rate will continue, so that the task of providing the increased accommodation and facilities necessary to cater for these numbers over the next few years will be considerable.
To help to meet this demand for places, the building grant scheme for secondary schools is being fully availed of by secondary school authorities. To date 149 applications have been received under the scheme. These involve total building costs of approximately £13,500,000. The majority of these applications relate to replacements of or extensions to existing buildings, but in all cases a greatly increased number of pupil places is being provided. The trend is generally, therefore, towards very much larger school units. The provision for such grants this year is £140,000, which was arrived at on the basis of the State contribution towards the initial repayments on loans obtained by school managers in respect of 29 building projects, the total capital cost of which was estimated to be approximately £4,000,000. I might point out here that the grants under this scheme take the form of an annual 60 per cent contribution towards the total repayments, capital and interest, arising from loans obtained by secondary school authorities to meet their building costs.
Of equal importance to providing school places is the need to have a sufficiency of qualified teaching personnel. We are fortunate here that there  has been a very considerable growth in the numbers entering secondary teaching. In 1965-66 the number of newly registered teachers was 416 as compared with 152 15 years previously, 1950-51. In the same period the number of registered secondary teachers in receipt of salary has increased from 2,219 to 4,253. In 1965-66, in addition, 370 teachers were paid the special supplementary allowance for probationer teachers.
The provision for refresher and training courses for teachers was extended still further this year: in all, five refresher courses—one each in Irish, classics, history, geography and domestic science—and 43 in-service courses were held. The in-service courses consisted of 24 courses in mathematics, 11 courses in science, three courses in Irish, two courses in French, and one course each in civics, which included sociology, physical education and music. Some of these courses were organised directly by the Department while others were organised by teacher associations or University Colleges in co-operation with and financed by the Department. I might mention in relation to the courses in Irish that this is only a commencement and will be followed next year by a wider series of courses linked with the introduction into post-primary schools as from September, 1967 of graded courses in Irish designed to improve oral proficiency in the language. These graded courses will go hand-in-hand with the introduction of an oral test in Irish as part of a revised syllabus in Irish for intermediate certificate pupils.
Much of the need for these training and refresher courses arises out of the complete revision which has just taken place of the syllabuses in all subjects of the intermediate certificate course. From this point of view the past year has been one of outstanding progress in which both secondary and vocational school associations have wholeheartedly collaborated with the Department in framing new syllabuses more in keeping with the times. For this and for their co-operation generally, I wish to express my gratitude. As a result of  the united efforts of all concerned, we have already issued the new intermediate certificate syllabuses and these have been in operation in the schools since September last. I have under review at the moment the whole question of the structure of the leaving certificate courses and examination and of the syllabuses that would be required. I hope to get these matters moving during the current school year.
In view of certain statements which have been made in recent months suggesting that reductions have been effected in the financial resources of vocational education committees, I think the House should be informed of the factual position in this matter. The total amount actually expended by all 38 committees on non-capital account in the financial year 1965-66 was £4,716,307. The total amount approved for expenditure in 1966-67 is £5,012,065 representing an increase of almost £300,000 on the previous year's expenditure. The total income of the committees for 1966-67 is estimated at £5,132,186.
Such has been the pace of the development of vocational education in recent years that it has become necessary to introduce special State grants over and above those which are related to the contributions made to committees by their rating authorities. These special grants have acquired the name of “solvency grants” and the amount provided for them in relation to the 1965-66 financial schemes was £891,000. The amount provided for 1966-67 after examination of the financial schemes for that year submitted by the committees in November, 1965, was £946,000.
The vocational education service continues to provide a wide variety of courses ranging from day continuation work at the immediate post-primary level to evening classes for adults and to the training of technicians  and technologists for industry. Last September, however, saw the commencement of a new era in the opening up of access to the Intermediate Certificate course to pupils in vocational schools. This has created new problems for committees, chief executive officers and teachers and has made the present session a more than usually difficult one for all concerned. I am glad to be able to inform the House, however, that the initial period of adaptation is being successfully coped with and that I am hopeful that with co-operation and goodwill the full benefit of the new courses will soon be extended to all the pupils in vocational schools.
Another feature of this year's Estimate for vocational education to which I should like to refer is the increased provision for teacher-training courses conducted by the Department. Existing courses have been extended in scope and new courses have been introduced, with the result that the number of vocational teachers in training under the Department in the present session is 50 per cent greater than the number in training in 1964-65.
The total number of permanent whole-time teachers already employed by vocational education committees according to their financial schemes of November, 1965, was 2,350 and the number of additional appointments authorised in sanctioning those schemes was 150.
With regard to the method of appointment of vocational teachers, I indicated last July that it was my intention to have the present system replaced by an arrangement under which these teachers would be selected for appointment by an independent body set up for that purpose.
A further development in technical education which has already been announced is the provision of regional technical colleges. I mention it now specially because of the steps which I have taken recently in order to hasten the erection of these colleges. In September last I set up an ad hoc steering committee drawn from industry and management to prepare an  educational brief for these colleges. Side by side with that I have appointed a consortium of architects, engineers and quantity surveyors to supervise the erection of the colleges. With the advances which have already been made I am hopeful that the building stage should be reached by the spring of 1968, and that the colleges will be open before the end of 1969.
The amount sought under this Vote for the financial year 1966-67 is £262,500—a decrease of £23,050 on that for the year 1965-66. This decrease is due to the decline in the numbers of children detained in the schools. At the end of 1965 there were 100 boys and 20 girls in the three reformatories as compared with 116 boys and 25 girls at the end of 1964. In the 42 industrial schools the numbers were 1,256 boys and 1,266 girls at the end of 1965 as compared with 1,388 boys and 1,444 girls at the end of 1964.
(c) a net decrease of £184,390 in the grants towards additional accommodation and equipment. These grants are as follows for the current financial year: University College, Dublin, £187,990; University College, Cork, £246,000; University College, Galway, £56,620; Trinity College, £311,000.
The net decrease is due in the main to the fact that the £187,990 to University College, Dublin, is a residual payment as against the £590,000 due  to the College last year in relation to the cost of its new science block.
The number of university students in whole-time attendance at the colleges increased from some 10,500 in 1959-60 to over 14,000 in 1965-66. This presents a serious problem of accommodation. The steps which I am taking and will take in the matter will, I am satisfied, meet the needs of these ever-increasing numbers of students.
Provision is made in this Vote for £26,070, an increase of £660 on last year's figure. While on this subject I should like to commend highly the very successful efforts of the Gallery authorities in recent times to bring the public to a better acquaintance with the national treasures which are in their keeping.
My policy in regard to post-primary education in general has as its objective the providing of comprehensive facilities in as many centres as is reasonably practicable so that as far as possible our children will have a genuine option in the matter of choosing the type of education which best suits their aptitudes and talents. Comprehensive facilities can be provided in two ways, by the establishment of comprehensive schools and by the dovetailing of the activities of the secondary and vocational school systems, including the effect of a common intermediate examination. The number of comprehensive schools will not be large, but while they will be few in number, they will act as a signpost for the two existing systems and point the way to what can be provided by a full measure of co-operation between these systems.
With this in view, my predecessor in January last sent a circular letter to the authorities of all the secondary and vocational schools in the country outlining his policy and asking for their  co-operation in breaking down the barriers which have hitherto existed between the secondary and vocational school systems. The response to this letter has been very heartening and has shown the great fund of good will which exists for anything which is designed to improve the educational opportunities available to our children. With regard to the comprehensive schools, three of these have been opened in Carraroe, Cootehill and Shannon. Plans for a fourth comprehensive school in Glenties are being finalised and I hope that work on its construction will be commenced by the spring of next year.
My Department is at present completing a survey of post-primary educational facilities in the country with a view to assessing the requirements of each area in catering for the raising of the school leaving age and the giving of post-primary education to all. Already the results of these surveys have been issued to the appropriate authorities of Counties Carlow, Donegal, Kilkenny, Laois, Waterford and Wexford, and meetings have been arranged to discuss how best the requirements of each county may be met.
The year that has passed witnessed a memorable event in the publication of the first results of the language research undertaken in An Teanglann at Gormanston by the Franciscan Fathers and by my Department. Under the title of “Buntús Gaeilge”, we have in one book the basic material to enable us to make a major breakthrough in the teaching of Irish through the framing of scientifically based courses which will be taught by scientific methods. Last year trial courses were followed in 12 national schools with most satisfactory results. This year further courses are being tried out in 200 national schools. All the reports we are receiving are, to say the least, most encouraging. Side by side with this, three committees, comprising representatives of the teaching profession and of the Department's inspectorate, are working out graded courses for primary and post-primary schools which it is hoped to have in general operation in September of next year.  Arrangements have been made with Radio Telefís Éireann to have a course suitable for adults broadcast on radio and television commencing in the autumn of 1967. The work on the preparation of a booklet which will accompany this course is well advanced. It is hardly necessary for me to stress that in the preparation of all these courses the emphasis will be on the spoken tongue.
There may be some people who may ask why are we going to all this trouble about the framing of courses in Irish. To my mind, the answer is the simple one which was given on another occasion recently, that is, the Irish language is the most Irish thing we have got. I would go a little further and say it is also the oldest part of our national heritage. That the national aim in relation to the restoration of Irish is sound is surely borne out by the fact that no country ever voluntarily agreed to the abandonment of its national language. We owe it, therefore, to our children to teach them Irish and to use the best possible methods of so doing.
Let it not be thought, however, that our efforts in relation to language teaching have been devoted entirely to Irish. This is very far from being the case. Several hundreds of our teachers of French, for example, have attended special courses in Gormanston dealing with the most modern methods of language teaching including the use of audio-visual aids with which the Department is assisting by special grants to equip the schools. The result of the efforts made may be seen in the fact that the number of secondary school pupils taking French has increased from 37,041 in 1960-61 to 60,956 in 1965-66.
Let me add that the position in relation to language teaching has not been achieved at the expense of science subjects. In fact the number of students studying science in secondary schools has risen from 41,643 in 1960-61 to 64,943 in 1965-66.
I have given the House the facts and figures together with some general  comments in regard to the Votes for which I have responsibility. It remains for me, now, to fulfil the promise I made by giving details of my plans for the provision of free education at post-primary level and for assistance at university level for students who have the ability to profit from higher education but who, because their parents are unable to meet the attendant costs are denied the opportunity for higher education.
I would remind the House of the Government's decision to raise the school-leaving age to 15 by 1970 and of my own policy, and that of my predecessors in office, Deputy Dr. Hillery and Deputy Colley, to provide within that compulsory attendance period, a post-primary course covering three years. If attendance at school is to be compulsory up to 15 and if the three-year period from 12 to 15 is to be spent in a post-primary school, then in keeping with the practice in all other countries free post-primary education must be available up to intermediate certificate level.
Furthermore, because of the importance of providing better-educated young people for our developing economy and with a view to utilising fully our human resources, it is essential that students be encouraged to stay at school beyond the compulsory age. The drop-out of pupils during the intermediate period is considerable. The Report on Investment in Education shows that in 1963 approximately 11,000 pupils left full-time education before reaching junior certificate level; 4,000 of these left secondary schools before completing the intermediate certificate course and 7,000 left vocational schools without doing the group certificate. This is the very time that training for craftsmen, technicians and the like begins—the area in which our national needs are the greatest.
The Report on Investment in Education and the considerable public discussion to which the Report has given rise, have high-lighted the extent to which ability to pay has governed the rates of participation in post-primary  education. Commenting on this, the Report states:—
6.92 These tables (6.27-6.29) and the accompanying diagrams show a very marked association between social groups and participation in full-time education. In particular they show a marked contrast between Groups B (Professional, Senior Employees, etc.) and C (Clerks, etc.) on the one hand and Groups D, E, F, (Skilled, Semi-skilled and Unskilled Workers, etc.) on the other, a contrast which becomes the more marked the higher the age group and the higher the level. If the same circumstances were to prevail in future it would mean that today's children of those latter social groups would have a relatively small chance of being in full-time education in ten years' time.
The National Industrial Economic Council's comments on the Report draws attention to the difficulties created for our economic system through the lack of adequate numbers of people having, as a basic requirement, education up to intermediate certificate level. The Council's comments include the following:—
The comparison of the potential demand for those with the different qualifications with the potential supply (see Table 8.4. page 201) suggested that there would be a cumulative surplus of about, 70,000 for those possessing no post-primary qualification and a cumulative deficit of a similar order for those with intermediate (or equivalent) certificate. The growing shortage of technicians is particularly disquieting because of the critical importance of this category of worker for economic expansion ... the broad picture as seen by the team is likely to remain; namely too many workers lacking the appropriate skills and too few with a higher educational qualification.
On top of that, there is a growing awareness among the public generally of the handicaps arising in later life from the lack of an adequate education. There is accordingly widespread and growing pressure for post-primary  educational facilities to be brought within the reach of all.
These then are the considerations that moved me to seek Government sanction to make available beginning in September, 1967, the opportunity for free post-primary education up to the end of the leaving certificate course. In this regard the Government decided that it would be highly undesirable to introduce “free” post-primary education at any level on the basis of a means test and felt that such a procedure should be avoided. The scheme which I now put before the House proposes a supplemental State grant to schools in certain fee ranges on the condition that they will discontinue charging school fees, that is, that they will offer free education to all pupils. I expect that the majority of day schools will opt to take this scheme.
I propose that the supplemental grant be the equivalent of the fees charged to the pupils at present subject to a minimum of £15 and a maximum of £25. The minimum is proposed for two reasons: first, to ensure that reasonably adequate facilities are provided and, second, to avoid the accusation that schools which have held their fees at a very low level are being penalised. In regard to the maximum of £25 it is my hope that this sum would make the scheme acceptable to all schools charging £30 or less at present, as there would be a guaranteed payment of £25 per pupil whereas at present in most schools the total fees actually collected fall short of those charged. On this basis, about 75 per cent of day pupils in secondary schools, 61,500 pupils, would have free education available to them. The remaining 25 per cent of day pupils attend schools charging day fees in excess of £30 per annum and will be free to continue attending these schools if their parents want them to do so and are prepared to pay the school fees.
The schools charging fees in excess of £30 would continue to receive the  capitation grants, science and other special grants payable by the Department and would continue also to have the incremental salaries of their teachers paid by the Department. I might stress that all secondary schools whether they would come within my scheme or not would continue to enjoy the same degree of autonomy as they do at present.
The existing fees in the comprehensive schools are £6 per annum and these will be abolished. The existing fees in the vocational schools and secondary tops attached to national schools are very low and it is considered that an additional grant of £4 per pupil would be sufficient to enable these schools to abolish fees altogether.
There are a number of pupils whose places of residence are so remote as to put them outside the range of a transport service. Because of the amount of time involved in travelling I feel that the effective radial limit of a school transport service should not exceed 15 miles. Such pupils would, accordingly, be precluded from post-primary education unless they attended boarding schools. I propose, therefore, to give their cases special consideration.
There are furthermore a number of other pupils who attend boarding schools because the vocation they have set before themselves makes their attendance at such schools necessary. I have in mind in that regard especially the Diocesan Colleges. I propose also to give special consideration to this other group of pupils.
The Protestant community could possibly benefit to the same extent as the Catholic community under the proposed scheme. While 75 per cent of Catholic pupils in secondary schools would benefit under the scheme only 7½ per cent of Protestant pupils would do so. The reasons are as follows: (a) the cost of education in Protestant schools is higher because of the nature of the organisation which must obtain in the case of these schools; (b) because of the dearth of suitable day schools, a very high proportion of Protestant pupils—two out of every five—can only receive post-primary  education by attending boarding schools.
The Protestant schools are, therefore, a special problem and, I feel, require special assistance. It could be argued that they would be discriminated against because the nature of their problem would put them virtually outside the scope of the scheme for free education. The transport scheme for Protestant pupils attending national schools already recognises the unfavourable position of these children vis-à-vis Catholic children in respect of accessibility of suitable national schools. The principle, therefore, of special treatment for Protestants to meet their special difficulties has already been recognised by my Department.
I found it necessary, accordingly, to devise a scheme of assistance for Protestant children receiving post-primary education so as to provide equity of treatment with Catholic children. My proposal is to give the supplemental grant of £25 per pupil to approximately 75 per cent of Protestant day pupils, that is, the same overall ratio as for Catholics. The amount of the fee which they are obliged to charge impelled me to offer the maximum assistance per pupil of £25. Obviously, it is not possible to operate a scheme on the school basis, as is proposed for Catholic pupils, and I am entirely opposed to my setting up a means test for Protestant pupils only. As an alternative, I propose to channel the grant through a central representative agency, as I do in the case of the transport scheme, and let that authority distribute the money to the individual schools on the basis of the needs of the pupils. It is understood that the Protestant school authorities would be prepared to operate such an arrangement. Protestant day pupils total 3,600 in all, and to provide a grant of £25 for about 75 per cent of that number would cost approximately £70,000.
 Under our present system of post-primary education the obstacles in the way of the student from the lower income family may be set down as follows: the inability of his parents to pay the school fees demanded; their inability to meet the cost of school books and requisites; the need for an additional breadwinner in the family; the absence of motivation from the family environment; and the cost of transport in rural areas.
This nation is dependent largely on our human resources and our economic and social well-being demands that we exploit to the full the abilities and aptitudes of our people. It is essential, therefore, that all pupils be encouraged to achieve an educational proficiency in accord with their varying abilities and talents. In particular, pupils who could profit from a course leading to the leaving certificate should not be baulked of it because of inability to meet the necessary costs. But it is not sufficient for pupils from the lower income groups that free tuition be available to them: the other difficulties in their way must be removed or alleviated as far as possible.
For such pupils, then, the State must offer more than free tuition. Financial assistance towards the purchase of books and other accessories must be provided for them. Already they will be lacking in reading opportunity and this initial disadvantage will be aggravated by their inability to purchase the text books they need.
The price of school books has increased considerably over the years and now represents a sizable sum, particularly in the case of a family with two or more children attending post-primary schools. On entering a post-primary school, books, excluding copy books, will cost about £10. While these books will bring a pupil to the end of the intermediate certificate course, he must provide copy books each year at a cost of about £1 a year. On entering the leaving certificate course, books, excluding copy books, will cost about £12. Any plan for free post-primary education must, I feel, provide for the supply of free books  and accessories to those who need them.
Having stated the case for assistance in this regard it is necessary to consider how best, from an administrative point of view, a scheme of assistance may be implemented. My approach to this problem is, if possible, to avoid setting up a means test scheme, and to find the most flexible administrative procedure.
In my view, the best approach to the problem and the one most socially acceptable would be to operate the free book scheme through the headmaster of the school. This approach would have the advantage of being easy and economical to administer. In the aggregate, free books would not be supplied to more than 25 per cent of eligible pupils—eligible pupils being defined as those attending schools providing free tuition. The headmaster would know the pupils most in need of assistance and he would supply the books to these pupils and be reimbursed by the Department. Copy books to a maximum value of £1 per year would be allowed in each year of the course. Each school would be allocated a quota or a percentage of the total enrolment depending on the area in which the school is situated and, to some extent, on the fee charged in the previous year.
For example, secondary schools catering to a large degree for lower income group families in urban and rural areas and vocational schools would be given a higher than average percentage. It may be assumed that about 25 per cent of the entrants to post-primary schools would normally be eligible and this overall percentage would be regarded as a constant factor. The grant in respect of each individual pupil will vary in accord with the course followed by him but on average it might be reckoned at £8 for the first year of the intermediate certificate course and £4 for each of the two subsequent years; at £10 for the first year of the leaving certificate and £5 for the following year. The cost in the first  financial year, 1967-68 is estimated at about £100,000.
In the lower income group there will also be a number of pupils whose particular family circumstances will be such that even with the provision of free tuition and free books the keeping of them at school will still be a hardship on their parents. When my scheme is in operation and I have had an opportunity to assess the extent of this problem, I shall have to see what special provision for such cases should be made.
I fully realise that provision for education does not stop at leaving certificate level and that any plan for equality of opportunity in education cannot ignore education at university level. In the proposals I have outlined already I have not made academic achievement a condition of assistance because my goal is to encourage all pupils to continue in post-primary education for as long as they can get value from it, in courses—academic, technical, commercial or apprentice— suited to their inclinations and aptitudes. Assistance at university level is however a different matter altogether. Here, I am satisfied that a high standard of educational attainment must be a prerequisite for assistance.
When I came to considering details of a scheme of assistance at this level, I found myself in the difficulty that we have a Commission on Higher Education examining all aspects of higher education. I felt that it would not be appropriate for me to work out a detailed scheme without awaiting the report of that Commission and studying whatever proposals in that regard they may decide to make. My present information is that the Commission hope to report in February. I propose, therefore, to wait until then before finalising my detailed scheme. In the meantime I will have whatever consultations may be necessary with the university authorities.
As the proposals contained in my scheme for post-primary will obviate the necessity for post-primary scholarships, I intend that schemes for the award of such scholarships be discontinued and that the moneys provided for them be devoted to other educational  purposes. Accordingly scholarship examinations will not be held after 1967. Existing holders of scholarships in September, 1967, will continue to hold them until the end of the normal period of tenure.
In the light of the Government decision to raise the school-leaving age to 15 by 1970 and the policy of providing up to three years post-primary education for all children, it will be absolutely essential to provide a State-supported transport system to post-primary schools. Full-scale attendance at post-primary schools could not be achieved in many areas without such a service because of the heavy burden which would fall on parents in respect of transport costs. Moreover, the rationalisation of post-primary educational facilities requires that we insist on reasonably sized units. But it will not be possible to adhere to the present policy of refusal to sanction smaller schools, which could not provide an adequate curriculum and would be uneconomic in terms of buildings, equipment and teachers, unless transport is provided to the larger centres.
State assistance towards transport costs will have to be provided in respect of pupils attending both types of post-primary school. Primary, vocational and secondary pupils often travel in the same bus. No new principle would be involved in State subsidisation of school transport as, in addition to the travel scholarships awarded by vocational education committees, the Department of Education already subsidises transport schemes in respect of national schools, special schools, and the new comprehensive schools, while Roinn na Gaeltachta subsidises school transport services in Gaeltacht areas.
One of the main findings of the Investment in Education Report was the great inequality based on social group and geographical location in the participation of children in post-primary education at all levels. I have already quoted the reference in the Report to inequality in participation due to social group.
 With regard to the effect of geographical location, the Report includes statistics for the year 1962-63 which show the distribution of national school pupils (aged 11) by distance of the national school to the nearest post-primary school. They show that almost a quarter, that is, about 10,000 pupils, were more than five miles from the nearest post-primary school and about 4.5 per cent, or 2,000 pupils, were more than ten miles from the nearest post-primary school. These are the distances of the national schools, of course, and not the distances of the pupils' homes. The finding, however, is still valid.
In reference to this, the NIEC, in their comments on the Report, said: “If we are to move towards the ideal of equal educational opportunity for all, the causes of the present inequalities must as far as possible be removed”. The underlying factor behind the proposal to establish a State-supported transport scheme is to remove inequalities based on geographical location. Progress with a view to widening the participation rate will not be achieved without a nationwide scheme.
A situation is now developing in which immediate action is required. There is first of all the position in regard to existing transport schemes run by local school authorities or local parents' associations. I should like at this juncture to pay the highest possible tribute to these public spirited citizens who have already organised transport schemes to post-primary schools and have with tremendous effort on their part raised funds towards financing them. It is being found increasingly difficult to maintain such schemes in operation in the face of rising costs and I am under severe pressure to come to their assistance financially.
In addition, the surveys of post-primary educational facilities to which I referred earlier highlight the need for the concentration of schools so that better facilities and greater opportunity may be available to all pupils. Proposals to this end inevitably raise questions in regard to transport and it will not be possible to get agreement  on these proposals unless financial assistance towards the cost of transport is forthcoming. The transport problem is particularly acute in the counties designated as small farm areas, because of the nature of the terrain, the low level of incomes generally and the number of widely scattered small schools in these areas. The density of population is lowest in these areas, and the only economic way of providing post-primary facilities in them is by means of transport.
Having reviewed the whole position, I have come to the conclusion that the only effective way of providing transport to post-primary schools so as to ensure equality of educational opportunity for all children is for the Government to defray the full cost without any means test of transport for pupils living more than three miles from a post-primary school. It is very difficult at this stage to give a precise estimate of the cost involved but it is anticipated that for 1967-68 it would be about £300,000. When the scheme is fully operational in all areas of the country, the annual cost will probably reach £1,000,000. It is my intention that the scheme will come into operation as from 1st April, 1967.
In relation to this figure of cost it must be borne in mind that in the long term substantial savings will accrue in respect of buildings, teachers and school equipment. The erection of a substantial number of new schools will be avoided; existing teaching staffs can be utilised to greater advantage; costly school equipment will be used economically. This policy is in line with that suggested by Investment in Education and is supported by the NIEC comments on that report. It is a policy that is right on educational and on economic grounds.
In the costings of my scheme which I have given I have confined myself to items of direct cost. There will of course be additional charges by way of increased accommodation and equipment and increased numbers of teachers. I prefer to treat these as normal growth items within the context of a national commitment to education. It would be highly unrealistic to  suggest that my proposals can be implemented other than by concrete arrangements for raising the money to meet them.
Every worthwhile development in the social and economic advancement of any nation calls for some sacrifice on the part of those best able to bear it —that is what we will be asking our people to accept in the implementation of these proposals.
In relation to my proposal, it must be borne in mind also that as Minister for Education and acting as a member of a responsible Government, I cannot place any Utopian scheme before the House. It is very easy to promise the sun, moon and stars when there is little prospect of your being called upon to implement such promises. When in September last I announced that I would introduce a scheme of free education the members of the principal Opposition Party told all and sundry that I was making a promise that would never be fulfilled. They asked where was the money going to come from. Suddenly it dawned on them that here was something that was going to be implemented and implemented in a responsible way. They then rushed out their policy for education and the scene changed over night. The country which was bankrupt in their eyes a few weeks ago is now so opulent that the buoyancy in revenue can be expected to be such as to pay for an education plan running into many millions without any resort to additional taxation.
Mr. Lindsay: I am not going to engage in the perennial fraudulent practice of introducing my speech on the Estimate through the medium of our national language. The Minister has devoted the shortest proportion in Irish on record, ten and a half lines. He read eight and a quarter, leaving the second last sentence out—why, I  do not know. What is remarkable about this document is what it does not contain and more remarkable still is the fact that obviously three full pages have in what must be recent times been pulled from what was obviously the original and the numbering of the pages from there on is different.
It is interesting to note, too, that the small typing, the last paragraph of the Minister's speech, the Minister's final but unusually restrained outburst at the Opposition, was a last minute effort. We hope, and let this be said once and for all, that the Minister will not alone be able to implement, if he is still there, the scheme he has proposed, but that it will be fully implemented by next September, as he has promised, so that he can be spared the embarrassment of having to resign. I notice the Taoiseach when asked about this in recent weeks said this was a remark made in the heat of the moment and that one could not reasonably be held accountable for remarks made at such moments so that he is let out already by his Taoiseach.
There are certain aspects of the speech on the Estimate which relate entirely to financial matters. This is not a policy on education. This is a policy in relation to certain fees, certain maintenance and to transport. It is spattered with pious hopes about availability but there is nothing to indicate to the House or to the country that during all those times the Minister was refusing to answer questions in relation to education, there was going on a mighty examination, a most exhaustive survey, of the things which require to be examined and require to be surveyed.
You do not alter education or you do not improve education in bits and pieces, as this document would tend to suggest. The Minister raised his voice occasionally during the reading of this document to indicate either the existence of a threat or a promise in that particular spot, but nowhere in the course of this whole document is there a single reference to the fundamentals of education or what education is. Nowhere have we got a guideline as to  what the aims are in the Department for primary education, for secondary education, for vocational education, or indeed as to what university education should be. This is the Minister, who when he gets a public opportunity, taunts people about not having a policy, thereby suggesting he has one or will have one.
This is not a policy and can never be construed as such. This is a makeshift document rushed over the weekend in order to combat the publication of the Fine Gael policy a few days ago. It is suggested by the Minister that the Fine Gael policy was begotten in a rush. I want to say here and now that the study of the policy and the proposals contained therein, which we have published in the course of the past few days, are the result of long and arduous study by people experienced in all fields of education and in related activities, by people who gave of their time, unsparingly and freely, without cost. We have produced a document which deals with aims, which deals with the manner in which we can carry out those aims.
The people must, I venture to say at this stage, recognise where the true interest lies in the case of a Party who, without the slightest amount of State aid, and with recourse only to their own funds and to people who offered to befriend them and to befriend, through them, the country and the schoolgoing people of this country produced a policy of magnitude and detail. That is the composition which we produced over the past few days. Here we have the Department of Education, with all their officials, with all their money, with all the buoyancy and so on who can only produce a document with ten and a half lines in Irish and about 29 pages in English dealing with certain unrelated facts and figures. Let nobody be under any illusion that this is a policy.
Wherever we went for the past few days after the publication of our policy, we were all told: “Wait until the Education Estimate comes in and Deputy O'Malley, the Minister for Education, will have such a programme, will be able to outline the aims of education, the policies in respect of the  various branches of education, that he will wipe all of this off the pages of the newspapers, and the people will realise that he is the real Messianic force of our time in relation to preaching the gospel of free education and all other things connected with it.” What will they think now when here today is presented, in relation to education, by the Minister who says he is a Minister of a responsible Government, the dampest squib which has ever been presented in this House? What are the people going to think? Will they not describe this Minister, who showed a bravery on the 10th of September at 7.30 p.m. in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire, that is not matched in this document on 30th November, less than two months later, in the words of Disraeli in Menjnoun as a “figure flitting across the stage, as a transient and embarrassed phantom”?
Let us examine this document. I do not propose to go through all the points in it but the Minister does use the words “university scholarship” on page 2. According to the Minister, the word “scholarship” has become a dirty word in recent times. That is true, of course. He said later on that scholarships would be abolished but I do not think he should go that far. There must always be a certain incentive for the truly academic in that respect. The word “scholarship” must be retained particularly in relation to research, in relation to post-graduate work, going abroad to different universities in Europe, America or anywhere else. It must be retained and let nobody try, particularly a Minister for Education, to cast aspersions on the connotations of that word. One would think that it was a dirty word associated in some way with a progress that was not clean and a research that was not honest. Let us not try to kill the essentials in getting rid of some unpleasant detail.
Reference was made to untrained teachers and the fact that no untrained teachers had been recruited since 1958. That is true. However, I should not like to think that any implication against any untrained teachers, particularly those who are still in service and who have given most magnificent  service, particularly those in isolated areas who produced extremely good pupils and taught them well would go out from this House. We are approaching an age in which training and longer training courses will be necessary. A view which I have held for a very long time, and which I expressed as far back as 1955 when I made my maiden speech on education in this House, in relation to the training of teachers is that there should be a very careful selection, and the selection should be made at a time when not alone the selection body has material from which to select but the selected have reached an age where clearly they are capable of making up their own minds about what they want, and particularly in relation to the fact that they feel that they have a vocation, because teaching demands a vocation more than any other profession. These untrained teachers who have stood us in good stead down the years have had that vocation. They may not have had the training and the highly finished off courses but they had the vocation necessary to carry out the particular job in the particular area in which they were situated and were called upon to teach.
I sympathise with the view now being adopted in regard to the rules covering singing and needlework being made less rigid for candidates entering the training colleges. I still think that singing should be there as a subject which one could take advantage of, if one were a singer. There are people who are singers and others who are not and will never be. I do not know so much about the abandoning of needlework for women because after all they are the needleworkers at all phases of their lives. I am not so certain that a girl should go through her training as a teacher without at least being able to instruct children in the very meagre, elemental things necessary in the average household, or at least being able to give such additional help as might be needed to supplement what the girl child already learns in her home.
On page 7 of the Minister's speech, he refers to the introduction into post-primary schools as from September, 1967 of graded courses in Irish designed  to improve oral proficiency in the language. He goes on to say:
I have under review at the moment the whole question of the structure of the leaving certificate courses and examination and of the syllabuses that would be required. I hope to get these matters moving during the current school year.
I would have thought that a Minister who was boasting a few weeks ago of having a policy and taunting others with not having one, would not at this stage of the academic year be merely surveying or examining or hoping to have something done by the end of the year. These words “survey” and “examination” are words frequently used in the course of this speech. On page 13, in the general section, the word “survey” is used and again on page 14, we have it in the references to the comprehensive schools and to the Department's inspectorate where the Minister says “which it is hoped to have in general operation in September of next year”. There is the pious aspiration again: “it is hoped”. Surely with the expert knowledge available to him in his Department, he should not, at the end of November, be hoping about what is going to happen next September. We are in the——
Mr. Lindsay: It is a good bit. I hope the Minister is not now going to break forth from the chains that were binding him while he was reading this and become the charming extrovert he usually is, so charming as to be dangerous. I welcome the provision of school books but once the Minister has gone any distance in this regard, he should go the whole way. I would deplore the spectacle of a headmaster in any school giving out school books to some pupils in the presence of others. It would be a very bad thing. This is a matter at which he should look again. It is not a field of national activity where costs, particularly small costs, should operate to affect any kind of division like that, although in other proposals the Minister is creating that trouble.
I also welcome the special consideration given to the Protestant community in relation to their schools, their transport and their difficulties as a minority. That is something with which I, personally, have a special sympathy having taught in at least two of these schools in my time. I must say that everything was done in them at all times to maintain a high standard of education and a breadth of education. As is not commonly supposed by our brethren, the national spirit operates in them just as strongly as—in fact in some cases more strongly—in some of our own schools.
I note that the Minister says that the  number of comprehensive schools will not be large. Is this a climb-down from the original expression that there would be pilot institutions in various places? If it is a climb-down or if it represents a re-assessment of the situation, perhaps the Minister will tell us why that is so and why he has said the number of comprehensive schools will not be large.
He has told us that the Department is completing a survey of post-primary education needs. This is not yet completed and yet we have a scheme and we have costings on page 22 of his report. I do not know if there is anything in this but I want to be quite fair to the Minister and give him an opportunity of explaining it in his reply. Is there any difference between what he said originally in regard to free post-primary education and what he now says about opportunity for free post-primary education? There may well be no difference but once phrases are changed, something always becomes suspect, and if there is one thing I do not want to happen either in regard to the Fine Gael policy or the Fianna Fáil lack of policy in respect of education, it is that there should be any element of cynicism getting into the minds of our people regarding these proposals. Perhaps the Minister is doing his best even in producing nothing; perhaps this is the position in which he finds himself in spite of all the help he has available.
On page 19 of his report where the Minister deals with increased capitation fees to schools that go over a certain fee per head per year, he is dividing our educational system into a two-class basis and that is not good.
Mr. Lindsay: But the Minister is doing it in his scheme. He is dividing the educational system into two parts on a class basis. That is the meaning of what is on page 19. The Fine Gael scheme, on the other hand, which was announced a few days ago, encourages the schools to come in and provide a minimum of one-third free places for children whose parents cannot now afford to send them to these schools. The Fianna Fáil policy introduces a  class division in that respect. I hope that Deputy Mrs. Desmond will speak later on this matter for the Labour Party. I think the Labour Party have erred a little in that direction also but perhaps the Deputy will be able to deal with that and satisfy us that this is not so. Our overall effort in this regard is one aimed at democratising these schools.
There is also discrimination by the Minister in favour of the high-fee schools as he offers them more than the low-fee schools. That is not equitable and is something he should look at again. He does not say anything about local maintenance grants. We have proposed them, as he will find if he has read our policy, at levels up to £100 for parents in the social welfare category. He talks of book allowances of £10 to £12 but I have dealt with that and pointed out what I consider the undesirable feature of it. By not having local maintenance grants, I think he will probably go a long way towards defeating this scheme because the non-adoption of maintenance grants will prevent real equality of opportunity. In so far as this is touched on in Investment in Education at page 398, the Investment in Education recommendation is rejected by the Minister.
On page 26 of his report, he tells us he has no provision for universities because he is awaiting the Commission's report. It is six years since the Commission was appointed. I know that to await the report of a Commission is always a good excuse for delay, but there is no need to wait for the report of the Commission to decide what to do as regards opening up the universities to all who can benefit. We have made our suggestion in this matter. We have come out boldly in relation to the number of places in Dublin University taken up each year by foreigners which could well be occupied by Irish students. We spoke of the ecclesiastical difficulties in the way and we hope that once goodwill is sought in that regard, it will be forthcoming from the particular ecclesiastical authority concerned. We are sure it will.
Speaking at Dún Laoghaire last  September, the Minister said a lot about universities and what he was going to do about them. I want to get this quotation, particularly the bit about our old university. The Minister has had the distinction, should I say, of going to the same university as I did in Galway. It was on page 7 of the Minister's speech last September:
I have decided, however, the problem of overcrowding must be tackled at once, and shall, therefore, very shortly give the green light to Dublin and Cork for the building plans which they have put before me.
Upon my word, he gave them consideration. It is dealt with on page 11 of the Minister's speech. University College, Dublin gets £187,990; University College, Cork gets £246,000, Trinity College, Dublin gets £311,000; and University College, Galway, to whose difficulties he was adverting last September, gets £56,620.
Mr. Lindsay: My information is that the difficulty is not on their side  and the Departmental attitude towards them is sharper than towards the other colleges. That is reflected in the amount that is here. If their plans are wrong, why give them anything at all?
Mr. Lindsay: On page 29 the Minister refers to transport without a means test. That is a better proposal than the one we have except, of course, there may be a question as to whether it is free transport. It says “State supported”. Whatever that means I do not know. The Minister, of course, will tell us in his reply. However, I am prepared to concede, on the face of it, that this transport proposal is a better one than that contained in our programme of a few days ago.
As I was saying earlier on, I have been dealing with the matters generally that struck me in the course of reading the speech itself but what I want to know is where is the Fianna Fáil Government policy on education, as promised? Ours has been published. I hope the Minister will tell us where the Fianna Fáil policy is. I also want to know from him what are the Fianna Fáil policies, first of all, on the reorganisation of the Department of Education. If he does not propose reorganisation, does it mean he is satisfied with it? I want to say we are not.
In reference to curricula and examinations, our proposal is that these be taken out of politics altogether through this education committee which is mentioned in the course of our policy document. In that way we would hope to take it away from politics and from the administrative side of the Department, giving it to a committee of experts on the outside who would have terms of reference. They would report publicly to the Minister on these  matters and the Minister, if he thought it in the national interest to accept them, would do so, but if he thought it was not in the national interest, he would say in public why he was rejecting them.
At the present time the aim of our primary education system is to provide a minimum. I think anybody who knows anything about any aspect of education will agree that a minimum should not be the aim, that the aim should be maximal with the facilities with which people can work. We want the aims of primary education stated. We have stated them and we want the Minister to state now what he thinks they are. We want the reform of the primary curriculum. We want to widen it and to give our children an education comparable with that of children in other countries. It is quite clear from our document that we want less time for core subjects, that is, Irish, English and arithmetic, thereby allowing more of the school time to be devoted to subjects that will improve the child and be good for him or her at a later time. At the present time 85 to 90 per cent of the teaching time in any day in a primary school is taken up with Irish, English and arithmetic, only ten per cent with history, geography, algebra, geometry, singing, needlework, any of these things one cares to mention. What can be done in ten per cent of the time of the school week in regard to these subjects? In our view, it is not long enough. For that reason, we propose to cut down the time for core subjects to one hour per day, thus leaving much longer time for the others.
We propose acceleration of the school building programme. There is no change in the present inadequate rate of building primary schools. We have proposed in our document a 25 per cent acceleration. There is a scheme for secondary school building which, to say the least of it, is fraudulent. If you want to get an extra classroom and there is anything like an oratory or a  dormitory, you will not get it. This kind of thing, particularly in relation to boarding schools, is ridiculous in the extreme.
What has the Minister got to say—he did not say anything in his speech— about the problem of the slow-learning child? This is nothing new. We have been talking about it down through the years. In a speech I made in 1955, I referred to the problem of the slow-learning child, the child who was slow for a time or slow all the time, but one who would nevertheless benefit if properly taught and who cannot be taught in a class with children of average intelligence because that kind of child invariably finds himself in the back desk. Through no fault of their own, these children do not make the progress they should make if they were properly handled. What provision is being made to get trained teachers in primary schools for these children? It must be conceded straight away that that will not be easy in rural areas where the densities of population are not that high, but it should be possible in the larger centres of population to make proper educational facilities available to these children and have specially trained teachers for them.
We have also advocated parents' committees in primary schools, and also an improvement in the cleaning and maintenance of these schools. Has the Minister any policy on these matters? He does not say so today. Perhaps he will say so in his reply. Has he any policy on the bringing of non-aided schools into the system, to get control of them and provide aid for the employment of trained teachers? In that respect I would say that, in an otherwise very good welcome given to our policy by a spokesman of the INTO, he said he thought this attempt to bring in the non-aided private schools was an unhealthy sign because the standard in them was low. We recognise that the standard may well be lower in some of them than in the average run of national schools, but what we want is to encourage these non-aided, small private schools to come in and take over the status of national schools by the employment of qualified teachers  and by the teaching of all of the required subjects in our primary school curriculum. I want to assure the INTO that they have misunderstood us in that regard. It was not a question of giving aid to people who were doing less than they were. It was a question of giving aid to people if they came up to the standard of the average primary school and employed teachers to do so.
We have advocated an improvement in education for apprentices. Have Fianna Fáil any policy for that? We have proposed the introduction of Irish technician certificates. Have Fianna Fáil any policy in that regard? We have proposed the elimination of Irish as an essential qualification in the leaving certificate and matriculation and require teaching through the language of the home, unless parents agree to the contrary. In this respect our policy with regard to the leaving certificate is that if a boy or girl gets the required number of subjects, five, it does not matter what they are, it would be our intention to give them the leaving certificate in those subjects. It would be a matter afterwards for those who seek their employment as to whether they will want them if they have certain subjects or do not want them if they have not got others.
In our language policy, which has been issued separately, we would have the teaching of Irish right through the secondary school. That would be necessary for the purpose of people entering the Civil Service, training as teachers or for many other purposes indeed. But, at the same time to anyone who wanted to develop any other subject and selected any other five subjects, which did not include Irish or even English, we would give them the leaving certificate, provided they were satisfied that was the kind of thing they wanted to do. We will never have the teaching of any subject through any language not the language of the home, thereby placing an extraordinary burden, one almost incapable of being borne, on parents at home trying to assist their children. That, I think, is logical and can be seen straight away.
I would like to know what policy  the Government have on this. I know the Minister said a few words at the end about the Irish language being our language. Of course, it is our language. These are beautiful statements; but I notice the Minister did not repeat a statement, with which I fully agree, which he made in a speech at Dún Laoghaire. In that statement he said that the Irish language—but I had better get this right because I want to get it on the record. In page 8 of the Minister's speech at Dún Laoghaire to the National Union of Journalists in paragraph 2, he said:
The language is not the property of any group or organisation. It belongs to us all equally. This week we celebrate the 750th anniversary of Ballintubber Abbey, the Abbey that refused to die. There is an analogy here for those who wish to ponder on it.
If we in this generation allow the language to become a political plaything or to become the preserve of any organisation or group, no matter how well intentioned, then we might as well be honest with ourselves and throw the language on the scrapheap.
I want to put it to the Minister now that at every available opportunity the Fianna Fáil Party seek to take the language unto their bosom and claim it specifically as their own. What one says at a meeting in Dún Laoghaire is quite different from what one says in this House. I would have far more admiration for the Minister if he had repeated that statement here in the House as well as making it in Dún Laoghaire.
Is there any provision in the Fianna Fáil policy, if such exists, for university research such as is contained in our policy? We have not heard from the Minister. We hope we will. What is the Government's policy on the training of teachers? We have suggested the university link. So have the Labour Party in their election manifesto, but they have not gone as far  as we have. They have gone to the point that they should attend lectures, but it is not suggested that they get degrees.
Mr. Lindsay: In our policy we propose that the primary teachers' period of training be increased and that they learn the mechanics of the job. Teachers in the training college would have a link with the university where they would proceed to take their degrees. We have also proposed one salary structure for primary, secondary and vocational teachers, all of them with university degrees. We propose to pay secondary teachers their increments immediately they start in their first year. They will not have to wait for this two-year period, always a period of great difficulty and almost starvation for some people in the past.
What is the Government's policy on the question of recognising the service of teachers abroad? I know they have gone the distance in accepting the service of those in the missionary areas in emerging Africa, parts of the East and South America. They have also accepted service in Northern Ireland, but the bulk of our graduates are in Great Britain. What is the objection to giving them recognition if they have the qualifications in the subjects which they seek to teach and for which there is a vacancy for them? Mr. Cathcart, Headmaster of Sandford Park School, mentioned this yesterday, as reported in today's papers, and dealt with it very clearly. He points out the academic and broadly cultural educational experience gained by these people while abroad. It is a speech which I would commend to the Minister.
The Minister told us he said last July he would change the method of appointment of teachers to vocational schools and take it out of the hands of the committees. I do not know where he said it or when he said it,  but I shall take his word for it, though I must point out that it is in our programme.
What is the programme of this Government on the training and retraining of teachers? Have they any programme for the improvement of promotional opportunities for primary and secondary teachers? Have they any programme or intention of including teachers in the policy-making group?
Over 20 issues are mentioned in our programme, issues that are occupying the attention of educationists and experts in education all over this country and about which we have speeches from day to day. There are 20 real live issues to which the Minister has not made the slightest reference. I invite him to refer to all of these matters when he comes to reply. Tell us what the Government policy is. Tell us where we can find it. Tell us if it is published or even if it is in a leaflet securely tucked away in some file in some departmental room.
These financial provisions which the Minister has announced here today are inspired by Investment In Education, this sizable booklet. There does not appear to be any original thinking done in the Department or even by the Minister or at Government level but even where this Investment In Education report has been drawn upon, it has been twisted so as to introduce a new class division in our education to which I referred earlier on.
Once we proceed to draw upon Investment In Education as a source of inspiration of policy, we should not miss, as I think the Minister is missing, the opportunity to have our schools, particularly the high-fee schools, more democratic or fully democratic, with, of course, their co-operation—a co-operation which I understand is readily forthcoming.
At the same time as trying to draw upon Investment In Education as a source for inspiration of a speech of this limited kind, its recommendation of local maintenance grants for post-primary education and the provision of these grants is, in our view, vital  to the success of any efforts to introduce equality of opportunity. It would appear to me, having listened to the Minister and having regard to what we expected today, that the Government had no idea at all on a whole range of educational problems which I have mentioned. The Government cannot know very much except what the Minister tells them in this regard as various Ministers have their own difficult problems.
The Government, through the Minister, are in the hands of the administrative civil servant who, as an administrative agent, must be regarded as extremely good and extremely sound but cannot be regarded by himself as the policy maker. He has not got the expertise and, in very many cases, he has not time to get the knowledge or to do the research necessary for the formulation of policy of the magnitude necessary with regard to the education of our children. As long as the administrative side is left in control of education in this country, we shall always have this predicament.
May I say, having listened to the Minister and, again having regard to what we were promised, a full range of policy, that this Government have been shown up, really shown up, this week as absolutely bankrupt of ideas on education and its primary aims and the necessity for the examination of these aims, the necessity for full research into every aspect of our education, primary, vocational, secondary and university?
There were some problems that might give rise to trouble in areas of sensitivity. We faced them in our policy document. I want the Minister to face up to them now because, there, it is not by piecemeal either in transport or in the payment of fees or in matters of that kind that we shall achieve the aims necessary for a proper education of our children. I do not think anybody can deny that our effort in putting forth this policy was an effort resulting from long and intense study with magnificent help given by interested people free of charge and in their spare time. To them we are deeply grateful.  We hope that the country will benefit by their work as well, realising at all times that the state of a country and the future of a country depend, in the last analysis, upon the education of our children.
Mrs. Desmond: This being the first Estimate which the present Minister has introduced since he took over responsibility for the Department of Education, I should like to begin by wishing him success in the Department as it follows that his success will result in better conditions for the children of the nation. Next, I wish to pay tribute to the group connected with the report Investment in Education. I think that for their two years of hard work they must now feel very much rewarded. Since their report was issued, an awareness of the deficiencies in the educational system, factual proof of the deficiencies in the educational system, has been general and widespread. An anxiety is now felt among all political Parties to bring about an end to the defects and injustices that have existed in our system down through the years.
All Parties, and possibly all people throughout the country, are conscious that, for economic and social reasons, the type of educational system we have had here for the past 40 years cannot continue and this, in toto— with the exception of the Labour Party, I might add at this stage, who were always conscious of these matters—is due to the evidence placed before the people by this team engaged in the publication of the document Investment in Education. We are all conscious, now that the facts are before us, that, by 1970, we shall have 70,000 posts in this country for which people with the necessary educational requirements will not be available.
We are all conscious, as the Labour Party always have been, that education for the lower income groups in our society is appallingly low. We are also aware that children of the higher income groups participate in post-primary education four to five times more than children of the semi-skilled and social welfare classes. We are aware, too, that as the education  system progresses, when we come to higher education discrimination is even greater still, and at this stage we find that participation is 68 times greater among children of the higher-salaried groups than among the lower income groups.
We are all well aware of these matters, and the social conscience has been drawn to the need for definite control and definite planning in our future educational system. There seems to be agreement that planning is necessary, not alone in education but in every sphere of activity. The Labour Party advocate planning. This was not popular a number of years ago and certain accusations were levelled against the Labour Party in that regard in this House. It is agreed now that in education planning must be an essential if we are to expand and utilise our physical and human resources and if we are to get some idea of what our future needs will be.
It has also been agreed that integration should take place in our educational system, and planning is necessary if integration is to take place. There has been agreement, certainly between the Fine Gael Party and Labour, that there should be more participation between educationists and public interests generally on planning and advisory committees. The Labour Party have since their foundation, always been cerned with the social and economic deficiencies in our educational system and for a long number of years we have been advocating the need for planning, integration, co-ordination and improved facilities in education for the lower income groups.
The Minister's proposals are good and are welcome to a point. They are proposals which I feel are necessary at this stage. They are matters for which we must not wait much longer and we shall have a lot to say about them. There are a few points with which we do not agree and there are questions to be asked.
I should like to start at the first level of education, that is, at the primary level. The Minister has no new proposals for primary education in his  document. When we speak of primary education, our main concern is with the form and condition of the structures in which education is provided. All over the country, particularly in rural areas, there are schools which are positive hazards to children's health. There are schools without flush toilets and many of them have not running water. When you speak about these things, the Minister, in particular, is inclined to say that he agrees that this problem exists, but he also seems to think that amalgamation of small schools will overcome it in the future. Amalgamation will take time. It is a welcome process and while the preparation of all the relevant factors that have to be taken into account before amalgamation takes place will take time, these small rural schools must wait in their present structural condition. That is No. 1 on my list.
Last year when speaking on this Estimate I mentioned that in 1944 there were 2,500 unfit national schools in this country. Twenty-one years later, in 1965, there were 2,150. That is very poor progress over the years. The Minister has given an account of the progress made this year but a lot more needs to be done. This, in my opinion, is a priority, in view of the fact that the conditions in which children have to spend so many hours a day are a positive health hazard.
We have spoken before about the necessity for revision in the number of classes in national schools. The OECD survey team estimate in their report that in 1971 we will still have 33 per cent of our children in schools with 40 pupils in each class. It is impossible for any teacher to cope with such a class and teach them and at the same time deal with those who may not be as quick on the uptake as others. Classes of 38, which are recommended, are still too large to enable the teacher to give the individual attention needed by the children. Teachers in our national schools are teaching in appalling conditions.
We have a total lack of audio and visual aids and these are very important in 1966 when school life has to  compete with all the other exciting and interesting things outside today. In an INTO document a number of years ago, it was stated that the teachers were fighting a 20th century battle with the weapons of Benburb.
Schools must be made attractive if children are to benefit from the education provided. The primary school curriculum has come in for much criticism down the years and generally it is argued that the curriculum is too narrow and that various other subjects should be added. Fifty years ago in this country, some kind of science subject was taught in all schools, and science is not taught to any extent in our national schools today. In a representative survey, it is estimated that only 40 per cent of our national schools teach rural science and only 40 per cent have domestic science on the curriculum. Agricultural science is vital if we are to compete in conditions of free trade and rural science should be taught to our children from an early age.
Physical culture is, to my mind, vital at national and higher levels. It is very in urban areas where the children's facilities for exercising themselves are restricted. But, in all areas, physical culture is something which should be developed. It develops human beings physically and encourages the team spirit and, in general, it fits children for competition in life. We assume perhaps that the question of physical science should be pursued at post-graduate level. The basis should be the national school level. I think this would be a very good thing.
When speaking of the curriculum, complaints have always been levelled at the system which has allowed so much time to be devoted to the Irish language in our national schools. I agree. I think that possibly it might not be necessary, with improved methods, to devote so much time to the Irish language. If we are to introduce additional subjects, we must make time for them or else extend our school week in terms of hours. The Minister has  told us of a new scientific method being introduced into all schools which he hopes will be very successful. Rather than a scientific method, I should like to refer to what I think would be a natural method of teaching Irish. A child comes to school at four years of age. Every Deputy will agree that that child, under the method of teaching Irish we had in the past, had a better command of the English language at four years of age than he had of Irish at 14 years of age. There is something wrong with a system that allows this to happen. The purpose for which we must teach Irish, I feel, is to ensure that it is used in after school life as a means of communication and for practical purposes, not that the child should regard it as another subject.
The child comes to school at four years of age. He has a fairly good working knowledge of English. How has he acquired that working knowledge of English? It is not by being taught. No mother sits down with a child for a portion of every day and repeats such phrases as “I close the door; I closed the door; I will close the door; I would close the door”. If that sort of thing went on, children would be afraid to talk at all. They do talk for practical purposes. A child, first of all, listens to English being spoken before he can talk it and he uses sentences as his vocabulary increases, and as the need for an increased vocabulary arises and as his own knowledge of the language naturally improves. He goes to school at four years old. Naturally he has developed, if he is from an English-speaking home, a working knowledge of English. Therefore, he proceeds now with no great effort to read and to write the English language. But the child from an English-speaking home comes to school at four without one word of Irish. I do not think it is fair, and I think it hampered and held Irish back for years that the child should be asked to speak it, to read it and to write it, all overnight. That builds up an antagonism and makes it difficult for children. The parents realise the difficulty for the children and a general antagonism has been built up.
 The natural method could be used in school. Children could be taught to read sentences but always with a purpose. The use of Irish could be increased gradually as vocabulary and ability to understand the language increased. In, perhaps, three or four years—I am not an expert and do not know exactly how long it would take —the child would readily understand and would readily speak Irish and would use it for practical purposes. Very shortly in those conditions I feel Irish would be used by children at school as a medium through which they told their stories to the teacher. Children love to tell their stories to the teacher. They associate that with pleasure and with the more enjoyable phases of their school life. If Irish could be used in this, the happier part of school life, the chatting, the talking, the stories, I believe it would result in a love of the language.
I firmly believe that once a child is able to speak and understand Irish, reading and writing would come easily in later years and only a fraction of the time being devoted to it at present would need to be devoted to it to develop proficiency. At the moment they never seem to come to grips with it. There are exceptions, of course. A number of children do very well. Very often the attitude of parents might result in this, but I think a greater love of the language could be inculcated into children and their parents if the emphasis were on speaking the language only in the first years of a child's life.
With regard to the primary certificate, I notice that the Fine Gael Party feel that the primary certificate should be removed and replaced by a system of school records kept by teachers. We in the Labour Party are also doubtful about the usefulness of the primary certificate as it is at present. Very often there is poor supervision and anyway it has been proved that 11,000 children leave school each year without achieving that standard. We believe, though, that perhaps school records alone, with no external test, might not be enough. We are all familiar with the situation in rural areas. Parents and teachers  know each other intimately and I feel that the teachers themselves would not like to have the records of a child's achievement which they have kept as the only criterion for the advancement of that child to a post-primary school. Perhaps they could be combined with an outside educational test, properly conducted and carried out, in order to ascertain the direction of the ability of a child at the age when he is moving on to post-primary schools.
I promised not to talk about the Minister's document until I had completed the other things I wanted to say but I am disappointed to find no reference in it to career guidance. I believe career guidance is of vital importance. In view of the fact that comprehensive schools are few, and, according to the Minister, will remain few, most children will have to make a choice at the age when they leave the primary school as to what type of education they will follow in the future. We in the Labour Party feel the emphasis should be on direction. In the past, parents who wanted to do their best for their children and who could afford it tended to equate doing their best for their children with sending them to secondary schools. This, I hope and I believe, is not happening to such an extent now that we have an enhanced status for vocational schools. They are no longer looked on as places where one whiles away six months or a year until a job turns up, now that the common intermediate certificate has been introduced and vocational schools are avenues to university and colleges of technology.
I still feel that children need guidance as to the type of education on which they will embark. Vocational education is for the activists in our society, the practical people who learn best, do best and make most progress by actually doing things. Those people are just as important and as talented as their more literary brothers and sisters. I think that parents should be guided as to where they should send their children when they leave primary school, as to where their interests would best be served, as to what form of education would, in the first instance, make their children happier  and, in the second instance, result in their getting suitable jobs. The latter is what the parents want for their children.
It has been generally agreed that career guidance is necessary at post-primary level. The NIEC Report has stressed that such guidance is very necessary even for those already in the labour force. Indeed, all sections are agreed that career guidance is necessary and I believe such guidance should be extended to cover all schools. It is essential that it should be extended to children leaving the primary schools. Such guidance, coupled with the records made by the teachers, plus some sort of external test or examination, would be of tremendous value to parents in helping them to decide what to do for their children. We are all agreed the parents should have the final word. The choice should be theirs, but they should have advice. They are entitled to that.
The Labour Party have always pressed for the setting up of parent-manager-teacher associations. Where these associations exist—it is only to a limited degree—they have done very good work in improving conditions in the schools and being constructively helpful. A great number of organisations and associations spring up in time of crisis. A healthier situation would be to have the organisations or associations established in peace time; if that were done, they would all the more readily rise to the occasion when crisis occurs. Parents can do a great deal in pressing for improvements and it is they who would really know what the need might be for transport. By and large, they can be very helpful if organised in an advisory capacity with the manager and teachers.
The need for greater participation in post-primary education is recognised by everybody. The startling comment is made by the NIEC in its Report on investment in education: “If education greater in extent and more suitable in content had been offered two or three decades ago the problem of adapting to freer trade would now be very much  easier.” That is from the economic point of view. From the social point of view there has been a lack of facilities for education for far too long and, in our opinion, the present situation can no longer be tolerated. We are glad, very glad, the Minister has decided to do something about it.
There can be no doubt that financial considerations in the main prevent a great number of children from participating in education beyond 14, 15 and 16 years of age, or at whatever age it is they drop out of the post-primary system. The number who drop out is very alarming: 4,000 in the secondary system drop out before reaching the intermediate certificate and 7,000 out of a total of 16,000 or 17,000 drop out of the vocational schools before reaching the group certificate. That gives cause for alarm. There are other influences at work, but the main considerations are financial and economic.
The Minister stated in his opening statement: “I propose that the supplementary grant be the equivalent of the fees charged to the pupils at present subject to a minimum of £15 and a maximum of £25” as from the 1st September, 1967. We welcome that, but we do not welcome it unreservedly. I doubt that a figure of £25 is realistic. From my own personal experience of schools which are by no means socially exclusive, I know that the fees are far in excess of £25. I sincerely hope this suggestion of the Minister will not result in some of these schools, which provide an excellent education, opting out of the Minister's scheme, since the grant would not go anywhere near meeting the cost of the education they are providing. The Minister has endeavoured to avoid a means test and on that I congratulate him. That is Labour Party policy. I hope other Ministers of State will follow his example at the earliest possible moment. The ideal is the avoidance of a means test. There are areas in which a means test cannot be avoided, but, where at all possible, such a test should be avoided.
Deputy Lindsay, speaking on behalf  of Fine Gael, said that this proposal would, in fact, create a social barrier between schools and his solution was that the higher fee school could opt into the scheme by making one-third of the places available to children of less well-off parents. I do not think that is the solution; I do not think it is a realistic approach because I know that the fee element is only half the cost. Even if the doors of the more socially exclusive schools were opened to all children, the parents still could not meet the high cost of uniforms and of the extra curricular activities which take place, activities which are very desirable indeed. I doubt if there are many in the lower income group who could avail of these schools, even if the doors were opened to them.
There are faults in all systems. So far as it is possible, it is very desirable to avoid a means test and social seclusion. Even if State aid were withdrawn altogether from schools which would not open their doors at all, even if that were done, we would still have a system of education at post-primary level which would of necessity result in some sort of social difference between the various schools.
The Minister states that education will be available to all. I am concerned that the Minister has not yet completed his survey of the educational facilities available in the different counties. As far as I remember, the survey has been completed in only six counties. There is, therefore, a large element of hope in all this. The Minister hopes the schools will co-operate; he hopes the facilities will be there. That is something I doubt very much. Facilities are not there in the urban areas at the moment with regard to vocational education. With regard to vocational education, or educational facilities generally they cannot even cope with those who already seek admission to their schools. Therefore, I would say, all in all, there is a great element of hope about all this and all the details have not been worked out, as the Minister states has been done.
The Minister talks about school books and transport. Transport is very important in rural Ireland, where such  a large proportion of our children live such a long distance from the schools. The Minister states, on page 28 of his speech, that almost a quarter, about 10,000 pupils, were more than five miles from the nearest post-primary school and about 4.5 per cent or 2,000 pupils were more than ten miles from the nearest post-primary school; and he proposes to make transport available free. We congratulate him on that. He proposes to defray the full cost of transport to post-primary schools.
There are a few questions I should like to ask the Minister in regard to this point. No. 1, who will organise this transport? I take it the Department will organise it. It has been organised very successfully by parents in a few areas, and I can visualise the Minister's system for post-primary school transport operating very well in those areas where the transport is already organised. But I hope, and wonder, if transport on a nationwide system will be organised by next September; if the needs of the areas will be investigated; if the facilities for education in the areas will have been investigated in time to operate what the Minister tells us will operate—a free transport system— next September.
I can visualise the plight of a child living in a rural area, we will say, four miles from the source of post-primary education. He qualifies for free transport but the nearest school to him has no vacancy for him. I hope that, in operating free transport, the Minister really means that transport will be freely available to all children, that where no vacancy occurs for a child or where he has chosen one type of education rather than another, which involves a longer distance, the transport costs will be borne also in those cases.
I want to speak briefly, too, about the position that obtains in industrial schools. Here again we have another section of our community—those boys and girls who are committed to industrial  schools. Those people who prepared Investment in Education did a tremendous service when they brought to our notice that 11 per cent only of the girls and 4½ per cent of the boys were in receipt of post-primary education of any kind in these industrial schools. A tremendous drive must be made to ensure that better chances are given to those unfortunate boys and girls who are committed to industrial schools.
the Minister has stopped short, and here the Labour Party are most disappointed. We are conscious that this is a tremendous social need; the fact that so many families cannot afford— regardless of the provision of fees, transport costs and the cost of books —to forgo the wages which their children would bring in and, instead of letting them go on for further education, encourage them to obtain employment.
In the lower income group there will also be a number of pupils whose particular family circumstances will be such that even with the provision of free tuition and free books the keeping of them at school will still be a hardship on their parents.
Surely the Minister must agree here —as I think he does agree—that special provision for these cases should be made and there is no need to await the operation of the scheme to realise that there are people in the community, that there are children of widows whose children's allowances are withdrawn when the child reaches the age of 16, that there are children whose fathers are unemployed, or ill, or have very low wages—in the £8 and £9 wage bracket—who cannot afford to forgo the income which their family bring in and, therefore, cannot afford to leave them at school beyond the age of 14. They have, quite possibly, other children growing up and the cost of maintaining these children increases each year. As they grow and reach their teens, the financial burden becomes greater and it is quite reasonable to understand that there are people whose circumstances must be well known to the Minister and to everybody: those who will not be able to avail of any free scheme made available unless maintenance grants are also added.
I am very sorry that the Minister who has done so much—and he has done a lot; he has abolished fees; he has catered for books, for transport, if this can be operated satisfactorily— has stopped short at these, the most needy sections of the community. I would ask him, between now and next September, to take another look at this section, at this proposal to wait until the scheme is in operation to see what special provision can be made for such cases. Special provisions are necessary and necessary now for these cases. This is underlying Labour Party policy on post-primary education—this point about maintenance grants.
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