Report - Education

The subject of education has been kept in view throughout our inquiry as one of the most important of all the agencies affecting the welfare of the people, though it was not pressed on our attention so much as its importance would have justified. Considering that the national provision now supplied to meet the educational wants of the country has laid a new pecuniary burden on the people, and makes the duty of giving elementary education to their children compulsory, under stringent penalties, the fact that they generally appreciate the new order of things is creditable to their intelligence. It cannot be said, however, that they take advantage of it to a satisfactory extent, or that it is so popular as it ought to be.

The progress of education in the Highlands and Islands has necessarily been slower than in those parts of the realm more favoured in situation and circumstances. This has been especially the case in the more remote localities where the English language comparatively is known to the natives only as a foreign tongue, in idiom and every other respect differing from their own more than either Latin or Greek. That the material condition of the great majority of the people in these comparatively inaccessible regions should be much behind that of the rural population in other parts of Scotland is what might naturally be expected, and this has not been sufficiently considered in judging of the people and their requirements. The conditions of life for a family in the island of Heisker, in the Outer Hebrides, or Foula in the Shetland Isles, are almost as different from those of a family in Midlothian or Middlesex, as if they lived in another hemisphere. The application to such places of the same rules, to entitle them to benefit by the national provision for education, as are suitable for densely peopled localities of smaller area, would be unjust and absurd, and in point of fact it is not done. But some further modification of these rules for the benefit of such places is still required, and more consideration of geographical facts.

While it is true that the physical conditions of life in the remoter parts of the districts in question, and the possibility of utilising the means of modern progress, are far behind those of the more favoured parts of our country, it is pleasing to know that the general character of the inhabitants is not so by any means. It may be said, on the contrary, that in no part of Your Majesty's dominions are there to be found, among the humbler ranks of society, more intelligence, better manners, purer morals, than in the remotest parts of the Highlands and Islands, from the Mull of Kintyre in Argyllshire to the Skaw of Unst in Shetland.

The improvement in the means of education in this part of the improvement kingdom has been very marked since the Scottish Education Act 1872 came fairly into operation. There was necessarily much delay, in many parishes, in the erection of the necessary buildings, the natural result of which was temporary paralysis of educational effort, and a gradual abandonment of schools in some places where they had previously been kept up by ecclesiastical agencies or benevolent societies, as a necessary supplement to the parochial system of education. The injury thus sustained by a large number of children, with results affecting their future lives, is beyond question. Generally speaking, it may be said that the benefits of the Act did not for several years come fairly into operation in the Highlands and Islands, so far as they came within the scope of our inquiry. In one large parish, Barra, the two new schools erected under the Act were not opened till 1882. School-houses have still to be built in several places; and in various remote corners some of the benevolent agencies referred to above still continue to supplement the deficiencies of the public educational provision.

It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the education of the adult population of the Hebrides—of the women in particular—has not advanced much for the last twenty years, so far at least their capacity to write their names is a test. The percentage of men in the Hebrides that signed their names by mark in the marriage registers in 1862 was 47.6, and of women 64.8. In 1882 the male percentage had fallen to 32.6, the female percentage only to 61.2. The improvement in this respect in these islands will, no doubt, be more marked by the time that the boys and girls who have attended school since the Education Act came into operation come to sign their names in the marriage registers.

Table I., made up from the Registrar-General's annual reports, gives some interesting information in this connection. These figures, though liable to accidental fluctuation, and not to be made the basis of hasty generalisation, are instructive. It will be observed that the percentage of signatures by mark is small in Orkney and Caithness compared with the Hebrides. Orkney, in particular, occupies in this respect a high position. Only one other county, Kinross, stands above it.




I. Northern District
(Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland)
II. Northwestern District
(Inverness, Ross & Cromarty)
III. Northeastern District
(Nairn, Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen, Kincardine)
IV. East Midland District
(Forfar, Perth, Fife, Kinross, Clackmannan)
V. West Midland District
(Stirling, Dumbarton, Argyll, Bute)
VI. Southwestern District
(Renfrew, Ayr, Lanark)
VII. Southeastern District
(Lothians, Berwick, Peebles, Selkirk)
VIII. Southern District
(Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown)
1. Orkney
2. Shetland
3. Caithness
4. Sutherland
5. Ross & Cromarty
6. Inverness
7. Argyll
8. Bute
9. Perth
10. Kinross
11. Peebles

The educational statistics of the last census show, however, that while the education of adults in the counties of Inverness and Ross is much below the average of Scotland, the number of children now being educated in these two counties is greater in proportion the population than in any other county except Caithness. Looking to the extraordinary disadvantages under which a great number of the children in these counties labour, especially in the Islands, this fact, with all due deduction from the value of the figures, gives them a strong claim to liberal consideration from the Education Department.

Table II. is compiled from the Appendix, Table LVI., in vol. ii. of the Scottish Census Report, 1881; and it has to be remembered, that while the calculations in Table I. are founded on figures taken from official registers, those in Table II. are founded on information received from the parents of the children by the enumerators, and probably include all the children on the school rolls at the time, whether in actual attendance or not.

Percentage under 5 years

Percentage 5-15 years

Percentage of total population receiving education
I. Northern District
(Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland)
II. Northwestern District
(Inverness, Ross & Cromarty)
III. Northeastern District
(Nairn, Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen, Kincardine)
IV. East Midland District
(Forfar, Perth, Fife, Kinross, Clackmannan)
V. West Midland District
(Stirling, Dumbarton, Argyll, Bute)
VI. Southwestern District
(Renfrew, Ayr, Lanark)
VII. Southeastern District
(Lothians, Berwick, Peebles, Selkirk)
VIII. Southern District
(Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown)
1. Orkney
2. Shetland
3. Caithness
4. Sutherland
5. Ross & Cromarty
6. Inverness
7. Argyll
8. Bute
9. Perth
10. Peebles
11. Lanark
12. Edinburgh

Notwithstanding the educational loss caused during the transitional state of things between 1872 and 1882, and the unequal burden laid on the poorest and neediest localities, it is due to the Act of 1872 to say, that its .visible effects are almost as remarkable as the state of the Highland roads after they were constructed by Marshal Wade. Formerly, good school buildings and apparatus were uncommon, pleasing exceptions in the midst of general poverty and discomfort. Now, the school buildings everywhere attract the eye as among the best and most ornamental
buildings to be seen, while internally they are well furnished, and arranged for the comfort both of teachers and of scholars. We have been indebted to them in many places for the accommodation required for our meetings. If the design has been in some cases unnecessarily costly, not to say extravagant, the advantage, from an educational point of view, of accustoming the children of the poor to rooms which are patterns of cleanliness and order, cannot be reasonably questioned. The more they are impressed by the contrast between the tidy comfort of the schoolroom and the rude poverty of their homes, the more likely are the dwellings of the next generation to be improved. The more attractive the schoolroom, is made, the better also should be the attendance. The number of schools is not so great as it was before 1872, but the accommodation is larger. Though some remote localities are still in need of additional provision, the buildings on the whole have been erected in the situations most suited to the convenience of the people, and with accommodation far more than sufficient for the actual attendance.

As the natural result of a compulsory clause and better accommodation, the attendance has improved. Statistics are not required to show that the number of children in rural districts now on the school rolls embraces nearly the whole of those of the school age. Twenty years ago, probably ten years ago, a considerable proportion of the children were not on any school roll in some remote districts, and the attendance of those on the roll was very irregular. It is so still, unfortunately, in a great part of the Highlands and Islands, in spite of the compulsory clause, with the necessary consequence that the amount of Government grant realised is much below what it should be, in the very places where it is most required.

The extraordinary rise in the remuneration of teachers has been one of the most remarkable results of the Education Act, and does honour to the ratepayers who have to bear a great part of the burden. It was a just recognition of the merits of a class of public servants, up to that time seldom remunerated adequately, more often miserably.

A single example will sufficiently illustrate this. In 1865 there were 47 schools in the island of Lewis, with 62 teachers. Their total income was .£1555, 7s. 10d., being an average of
£ 33, 1s. 8d. per school, and of £23, 18s. 4d. per teacher. Of this sum only £ 169, 10s. were contributed from the public revenue. The number of schools in that island aided by Parliamentary grants in 1882 was 36; the number of teachers is not given ; but the amount expended on their salaries was £3070, 4s. 1d., being an average of £85 per school. Of this sum £1999, 3s. 4d. were obtained from Parliamentary grants.

School fees formerly were seldom exacted with any regularity; in some parishes they were never paid at all. Of the scholars on the rolls of all the schools in the Hebrides in 1865, 74 per cent, paid nothing, and the total amount of fees in the district was £657. In this respect also there has been a considerable change. In 1881-2 the fees amounted to £1183 in these islands.

The results of the improvement in the means and organization of popular instruction, if not so marked as the improvement in the position of the teachers and the quality of the buildings and apparatus, have been, we believe, very considerable, even in those parts of the country where the proper carrying out of the provisions of the Education Act is most difficult and burdensome. The essential elements of primary education are being taught and learned more extensively and efficiently from year to year; and though in the opinion of many, the higher branches, which it was the glory of the parish schools to have taught so thoroughly in former days, are comparatively neglected now, under the pressing exigencies of the Education Code in favour of the elementary branches, there are experienced judges who think that the injury done in this direction has been exaggerated.

The supposed ' religious difficulty,' which so long stood in the way of a national system of education, seems to have disappeared in the Highlands and Islands as completely as the Fairies or Second Sight. Even in 1865 it was reported to the Education Commission that this difficulty did not exist in those parts of the Hebrides where the schools were conducted entirely by Protestants, and the majority of the population were Roman Catholics.

The 'conscience clause' of the Act of 1872 was practically in operation in those parts before it ever became statutory. It has, however, been represented to us as a grievance, on high clerical authority, that of the esteemed Roman Catholic Bishop of Argyll und the Isles, that under the present administration of the Act in South Uist and Barra, where the majority of the population are Roman Catholics, due regard has not been shown, in the selection of teachers, to the religious principles of the majority of the population. If this contention is well founded, and if the School Boards, as at present constituted, should not hereafter give due consideration to the wishes of their constituents, the remedy is in the hands of the ratepayers at any ensuing election of the Boards. While there is reason for congratulation on the progress that education is making in the Highlands and Islands, there are circumstances peculiarly affecting it which are very far from being satisfactory, and which, we think, ought, in the interest not only of the people specially concerned, but of the country at large, to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Prominent among these circumstances is the extreme costliness of education in some of the poorest districts, of the Islands in particular. The school-rate in some insular parishes, as compared with other parts of Scotland, is exorbitant—all the more so, that the most of the ratepayers on whom half the burden is laid are in parishes, very humble and straitened circumstances. This is especially the case in the island of Lewis, in one parish of which, Barvas, the school-rate reached, in 1881, the highest point it has ever attained in Scotland, 6s. 8d. in the pound. The aggregate amount of rates levied parochially in Barvas, amounted in that year to the extraordinary sum of 11s. 6d. in the pound.

A result such as this was certainly not contemplated by the framers of the Scottish Education Act. It seems not to have been anticipated, when that Act was passed, that the school-rate over Scotland would amount to anything like what it has generally attained, even in the most favoured localities. The provisions of the Act sufficiently show this. A rate of 3d. in the pound was apparently regarded as likely to be exceptional; and in cases where the produce of that rate would not amount to £ 20, or to 7s. 6d. per child in average attendance, an additional grant was provided for by section 67, to bring the total up to £20, or 7s. 6d. per child. By another clause of that section, a special building grant, irrespective of the amount locally contributed, was allowed for any parish in certain Highland and Island counties (Inverness, Argyll, Ross and Cromarty, Orkney, and Shetland) where the rate would amount to 9d. in the pound which was evidently considered an extraordinary rate. So far is it, however, from being so, that it is quite moderate compared with the rate in a large number of Highland and Island parishes. The total number of parishes in Scotland in which the rate in 1881-82 exceeded 9d. was 115, and of these 76 were Highland and Island parishes. All the parishes mentioned by the accountant to the Scottish Education Department, in his report for that year, as having a rate exceeding Is. in the pound, are, with one exception, in the counties embraced in our inquiry.

In 12 insular parishes of Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, and Shetland it exceeded 2s. in the pound. The chief cause of this extraordinary taxation has been the expense incurred in building and maintaining an exceptionally of buildings, large number of schools, rendered necessary by the enormous extent and scattered population of most of the Highland and Island parishes. The keeping up of ten schools with their proper staff of teachers, in a parish of 30 miles in length and 20 in breadth, with a rental of £3000, must necessarily be more costly than the maintenance of two schools in a parish of equal population, higher rental, and area in the proportion of 1 to 10. These Highland and Island school buildings were erected under the stringent regulations of the Scottish Education Department, in a style and on a scale often beyond the requirements of the people, and at an expense quite disproportioned to their means, at a time when building was exceptionally costly. In point of fact, the necessity for the erection of so many schools in these remote localities, within a certain time, produced a rise in wages and in the cost of building beyond all previous experience.

A few figures will illustrate this:—Taking the island of Lewis, presenting, on the whole, the most striking exhibition of poverty combined with excessive taxation, the population in 1881 was 25,487, and the rental in 1882-3 £24,231, 17s. The number of children for whom school accommodation has been compulsorily provided is 5071, which would suffice for a population of above 30,000. The average attendance in these schools in 1882-3 was only 3061. The amount spent in school buildings since 1873 was £54,549, 13s. 7d., of which £33,210, 2s. 11d. were advanced by Government, at 3 ½ per cent, interest, payable in fifty years. The balance due on 15th May 1882 was £22.4O3, 17s. 1d. One parish, Lochs, with a population of 6284, and a rental of £4670, has expended the sum of £20,311, 17s. 2d. on school buildings, and still owes £8983 out of £12,428 advanced by Government. These £20,311 were expended on twelve schools, including dwellings, &c, all admirable in structure, and no doubt conformable to the regulations of the Department, but in a style and at a cost so much beyond the wants of the people or the finances of the parish, as to excite very qualified approval. Of 152 ratepayers in the parish, 107 pay rents under £7. This case, though remarkable, is not at all singular. Similar are the parishes of Harris—population 4814, rental £6194,3s. 1d.; ten schools built or repaired since 1873 at a cost of £14,803, 13s. 10d.; parish schoolrate, 1882, 2s. 8d.; North Uist— population 4299, rental £55469, 16s. 10d.; nine schools built or repaired since 1877 at a cost of £9384, 7s. 7d.; schoolrate, 1882, 3s. Many other parishes in the Hebrides and Shetland show an equally striking contrast to such Lowland parishes as Liberton, Midlothian—population 5731, rental £48,944, 6s. 7d., six schools, for which only .£249, 17s. 6d. had to be borrowed; schoolrate, 1882, 2½ d.; Dalmeny, W . Lothian—population 3074, rental .£18,549, 6s. 1d., two schools, for which £528 of building grant; schoolrate, 1882,6d.; Ettrick, Selkirkshire —population 397 ; rental £11,651, 11s. 1d.; one school, for which no loan or grant for building ; schoolrate, 1882, 2d. So far, therefore, as such parishes are concerned, where the outlay on education and the local resources are so painfully disproportioned, the Education Act of 1872, otherwise so beneficial to the nation, has laid a burden on the people quite beyond their strength, with the sad result of rendering that which they are naturally disposed to appreciate highly not only distasteful but grievous. There could be no greater misfortune than so to administer the blessing of education as to make it oppressive to the people.

The loss to school revenues caused by the irregular attendance of so many of the children is considerable, and involves not only the by loss of the ordinary grant, but, in many cases, the inability to take attendance, advantage of the exceptional provision of clause 67 of the Act, for the benefit of parishes where a schoolrate of 3d. in the pound does not produce 7s. 6d. per head on the number of scholars in average attendance. The blame of this lies, to a great extent, on the parents, who have but a defective appreciation of the importance of punctuality and perseverance in learning, and imagine that the amount of education which they deem adequate may be acquired in a much shorter time than is really necessary. The excuses for non-attendance are often trifling; but no humane person can blame those who keep their children at home on days when they could not go a quarter of a mile without being wet to the skin. The number of such days in the Highlands and Islands is considerable, and so is the number of children whose clothing is scanty and poor. They are a hardy race, and have little dread of weather; but in the calculation of the average number of days of attendance entitling to a Government grant, we think there should be some consideration of the physical facts peculiar to the district. Such are the inclemency of the weather during a great part of the year, the distances which many of the children have to walk, the want of roads and bridges in some places. It appears to us that, on these among other grounds, the number of days qualifying for examination should be reduced in this district.

The attendance, as already said, has improved, partly from the moral effect of the compulsory clause of the Education Act of 1872. But the working of that clause has been found difficult all over Scotland, and its enforcement in a great part of the Highlands and Islands has been found almost impracticable. The local management is also, in many cases, defective. There are parishes in which the compulsory officer lives at such a distance from the majority of the population as to make it quite impossible that he should be of any use unless he devotes his whole time to this function. The provision is simply unworkable in a large insular parish, with a population scattered over a wide area, including, perhaps, several distant islands. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the amount of dues recovered under this clause all over Scotland in 1881-82 was only £280, 9s. 2d., while the expense of prosecuting the defaulting parents was £1449, 15s. 6d. The expense is more than 5 to 1 of the amount recovered. In the districts to which our inquiry refers the process, as might be expected, is still less productive.

The amount of dues recovered in 1881-82 under clause 70, in the counties of Argyll,
Caithness, Inverness, Orkney, and Ross, was £12, 2s.; in the counties of Shetland and Sutherland, no fines were recovered. The expense of prosecuting in the above counties amounted, however, to £107, 8s. 6d., being nearly in the proportion of j69 to each pound recovered. This process has hitherto been conducted by the Procurator-Fiscal before the Sheriff-Substitute, both resident at great distances from some of the parishes within their jurisdiction—distances in some cases implying a journey or voyage of days. It need not, therefore, be matter of surprise that prosecutions under this clause are extremely rare—Schools Boards cannot afford them. The loss caused by non-attendance of children in some places has led to the attempt on one estate (Lewis) to make up for the deficiency in the school revenue by a process less expensive than the statutory one, viz., the addition of the grant forfeited by the defaulting child to the rent of the parent. This expedient, though well meant, cannot be recommended, and has been given up on the estate in question. The new provision of Education Act the Education (Scotland) Act of 1883, empowering School Boards of 1883. to bring such cases before one or more Justices of Peace sitting in open court, may be found useful in districts where the parent in default resides at a distance from the Sheriff Court, making his being summoned to appear there unreasonably expensive. The prosecutor in such cases should be the School Board clerk or the compulsory officer, if resident in the parish.

The amount of school fees paid in the counties of Shetland, Sutherland, Ross, and Inverness, in proportion to the population, is much below the average of Scotland, as the following table will show:—

Percent to population
£209,231 19s 4d
1/1 ¼
1. Shetland
£798 4s 11d
6 ¼
2. Sutherland
£483 18s 9d
4 ½
3. Ross
£2136 5s 5d
6 ¼
4. Inverness
£2378 12s
6 ½
5. Caithness
£1606 12s 2d
6. Argyll
£3313 12s 7d
9 ¾
7. Orkney
£1568 14s 11d
11 ½
8. Bute
£1127 14s 10d
1/3 ¼

The poverty of the inhabitants is the only satisfactory reason to be assigned for this, there being no evidence otherwise that education is less appreciated in these counties than in the rest of Scotland. The extent to which they avail themselves of the provision in sect. 69 of the Educational Act for the benefit of persons unable to pay for the education of their children is not greater, however, in these counties than in any other part of the kingdom. The following table gives the figures :

Population between 5 and 15
Pauper children paid for
Cost of their education
Non-pauper children paid for
Cost of their education
No of applications under sect 69
Percentage of pauper and non-pauper children paid for (5-15)
£16,742 9s 5d
£7,969 11s 0d
£213 3s 8d
£128 11s 5d
£159 1s 9d
£137 6s 5d
£327 12s 5d
£89 2s 11d
Orkney & Shetland
£111 10s 1d
£48 3s 7d
Ross & Cromarty
£327 1s 8d
£100 17s 10d
£64 7s 7d
£19 10s 6d
£1202 17s 2d
£523 12s 8d

The unwillingness of respectable people to be classed among paupers is fortunately very prevalent still. There would be no such objection, however, to the gratuitous education of their children, a suggestion seriously made in regard to the districts now in question by persons who have given much consideration to the subject.

We recommend that the 69th clause of the Act should be altered, to the effect of transferring from the Parochial Board to the School Board the duty of paying for poor children, which was
the provision in the Bill as originally framed ; and further, that the School Board should have a discretionary power to remit the fees in part as well as wholly, taking into consideration the whole circumstances of the family.

We think it advisable that at the close of each quarter or halfyear, payment of the fees due should be summarily enforced, so long as fees are exigible, or that the debt should be there and then wiped out. Nothing has a more deterrent effect on attendance than a burden of debt for fees hanging over the heads of a poor family.

The provisions of clause 67 of the Act have been already referred to. They were specially devised for the benefit of the poorer districts, and of certain Highland and Island counties in particular; but they have not met the difficulty which they were intended to overcome. We are of opinion that, in any parish where the schoolrate exceeds Is. in the] pound, further relief should be given to the ratepayers than is provided for under the existing law ; and that where a rate of 2s. in the pound is insufficient, along with fees and grants, to cover the educational expenditure of the parish, the deficiency should be directly made up by a grant from the Treasury; and we recommend that the Scottish Education Department should be authorised to frame a scheme to carry out this suggestion. It is believed that such a provision would result in much benefit to poor and sparsely populated districts in the Highlands and Islands, and that the increase in the expenditure of public money so incurred would be so small as to be scarcely worthy of consideration, in comparison with the result. We recommend that in all parishes where the cost of the school buildings and other expenses under the Act have produced a rate exceeding Is. in the pound, on an average of the last five years, the debt so incurred should be thenceforth cancelled. This recommendation is founded on the extraordinary expense incurred, as already stated, in the compulsory erection of school buildings in poor localities, on a scale and at a cost disproportioned to the circumstances of the population for whose benefit they were erected.

We recommend that the county of Sutherland should be admitted to participation in the benefits now enjoyed or to be conferred exceptionally on Highland and Island counties.

The weakness of the educational staff in a large number of the schools in the more populous localities is a defect not peculiar to this part of Scotland, but none the less does it seem to us to call for improvement, and for reasonable help in poor districts. We think that a graduated grant might be allowed for every additional teacher, pupil-teacher, or monitor employed, beyond the requirements of the Code, in the work of a public school, whether certificated or not, with results satisfactory to the inspector of the district.

We think it desirable that the number of female teachers in the Highlands and Islands should be increased, whether as sole teachers or as assistants. They are generally not less successful than male teachers, up to the measure of their qualifications; they can teach branches of which men know nothing, but which teachers are of great practical importance; they cost less; and they contribute a little more of those civilising influences which women exert, and which cannot be estimated by arithmetic. The weakness of the provision for secondary education constitutes the only serious defect in the educational system of Scotland, and it is more peculiarly felt in the Highlands and Islands. Every rational effort for an improvement in this direction is to be commended, and we have pleasure in noticing what has been done to stimulate competition and encourage talent, by county clubs and associations, by societies of ladies connected with the Established and Free Churches, and, in particular, by bursary schemes. The proposed scheme of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, to be submitted to the Scottish Endowments Commission, contains liberal provisions for this purpose, which, if carried out, may be expected to lead to most valuable results in the Highlands and Islands.

The want of higher class schools or academies to carry on the education of ambitious pupils and fit them for the universities is much felt. There is none on the west of Sutherland or of Rossshire, none in all the Western Islands, or on the whole western coast, from Cape Wrath downwards, till Campbeltown is reached. This is a matter belonging more properly to the Commission, already named, to which we recommend the claims of the Highlands and Islands for consideration with great confidence. Whether any new upper schools can be established in these parts or not, much might be done by a well-framed bursary scheme, enabling meritorious youths to prosecute their education in such institutions. It is very desirable, in any case, that there should be in every parish at least one school with all facilities for teaching the higher branches, and that special encouragement in this direction should be given by the Education Department and by School Boards to the masters of such schools.

We come now to a question affecting only those parts of the districts to which our inquiry was confined in which the native language is Gaelic. These are in the counties of Argyll, Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland. The proportion of the population of Caithness who speak Gaelic is so small that it may be left out of account. According to the census return of 1881, the number of persons in Scotland who speak Gaelic habitually is 231,594; and of these, 184,230 belong to the four counties above named. The mode in which the Gaelic census was taken was not quite satisfactory, and the result can be taken as but a rough approximation to accuracy. Taking the figures for what they are worth, they show that Gaelic is still the native and habitual speech of a very large proportion of the population of these four counties, the percentage being—in Argyllshire, 60.81; in Inverness-shire, 70.80 ; in Ross-shire, 71.40 ; and in Sutherland, 75.31. The question we have to do with is, whether and how far that fact should be taken into account in considering the provision made for the education of the people ? For us it is not a question of sentiment, nor of comparison between the English and Gaelic languages as vehicles of thought and influence, but a practical question in education. The first object of all the educational machinery set agoing in the Highlands at the public expense is to enable every Highland child as soon as possible to speak, read, and write the English language correctly; and the question is, can that be done efficiently, in the case of a child who hears and speaks nothing but Gaelic at home, without making any use of the only language the child understands ? The answer to that question seems so obvious as to make it matter of wonder that any persons claiming to be experts in education should ever have answered it in the affirmative. The time-honoured custom of teaching English boys to learn Latin out of a grammar composed in that language has been generally abandoned. Even when such an absurd practice was followed, explanations were vouchsafed in English. But the poor Highland children have too seldom been allowed the privilege of being addressed in the only lauguage intelligible to them. They have been treated as if endowed with the gift of unknown tongues; and men specially entrusted with the duty of superintending their education have considered this reasonable, for reasons satisfactory to themselves.

The authority of the great Dr Johnson, who was no admirer of the Gaelic language, may be cited in proof of the absurdity of the system which he found prevailing in the Hebrides in 1773—the native language proscribed in the schools, and the children taught to read ' a language which they may never use nor understand.'
The illiberal prejudice which caused this neglect of the native language was shared, curiously enough, by the illiterate parents and the educated men who had the instruction of their children in charge. The opinion of the ignorant on a question of practical education was accepted and cited, in this country, as it has been in Ireland, as if it were of any value. The result has been that the intelligent education of the Highland people, and even the progress of the English language in the country, have been retarded in a degree of which the statistics already given in reference to the adults are an illustration. Many of them, we believe, were taught to read English, whose understanding of what they read was never tested by the simple process of translation to and from their native tongue. The result was, that though they could read English, they could not speak it, far less write it. Their inability to do so necessarily unfitted them for competition in the labour market, and made them less willing to seek their fortune in other parts of the world. This is, in fact, the chief reason why so many of the inhabitants of the remote Highlands and Islands are more home-keeping and averse to migration than their fellow-countrymen in districts where the same difficulty does not prevail.

The directors of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge took this matter into special consideration in 1824, and after careful inquiry, came to the conclusion that great injury had been done by the neglect of the vernacular language in the work of education in the Highlands. 'There seems to be,' they say, 'in the heads of the people, a very general prejudice against the use of the Gaelic as a school language, a prejudice which has been found in its full strength even when the older people could themselves use no other language But these poor people have not reflection enough to perceive what is the truth on the subject, that so long as their children talk no other language but Gaelic, it is a mere waste of time and entirely vain to burden their memories for a few years with a vocabulary of dead and unmeaning English of Christian sounds’. Among the directors of the Society at this time were Dr Andrew Thomson, Dr Robert Gordon, Dr David Dickson, and Sir W . Moncreiff. As the result of their inquiry and consideration of the subject, the Society had a set of new lesson-books prepared, and made it a rule that the children should be taught to read Gaelic first before being taught English.

This matter appears to have at intervals been brought under the notice of those specially concerned in the administration of parliamentary grants for education, and in March 1849 Sir J.P.K. Shuttleworth, the Secretary to the Committee of the Privy Council, addressed the following communicatiou to the late Dr John Gordon, senior inspector of schools in Scotland :—
Sir,—The Committee of Council on Education are convinced that it is expedient that a better provision should be made for the education of Her Majesty's subjects in the Highlands of Scotland, by promoting the employment of the Gaelic as well as the English language as a means of instruction in the Highland schools.
The Committee of Council on Education are satisfied that to instruct the children of the Gaelic population by lesson-books written in the English language alone, by means of teachers not familiar with the written and colloquial idiom of the Gaelic language, as well as the English, must fail to give the scholars of the Highland schools a grammatical knowledge of the Gaelic as well as any useful acquaintance with the English language. This important decision was not followed by any practical result, we know not why.

The Scottish Education Commission of 1865 called special to this subject, and reported as follows:—' It may not be essential that a teacher should be able to give instruction in Gaelic, when he is appointed to the charge of a school in which a majority of the children can understand and speak English ; but it seems obvious that in districts where Gaelic alone is understood, the teacher should be able to communicate with his pupils in a language the meaning of which they can comprehend. It is a mistake to overlook the difficulties of the scholar who is sent to learn what is to him a foreign language, without having first acquired the art of reading his own.’

Notwithstanding this expression of opinion, the Act of 1872, while making some exceptional provisions for the benefit of the Highlands, ignores the fact on which the judgment was founded. Those interested in the matter used every exertion to induce the Education Department to make some such provision in the Code, and in 1877 a parliamentary return was obtained, from which it appeared that sixty-five out of ninety School Boards in the Gaelicspeaking districts of the Highlands, which sent in returns on the subject, gave it as their opinion that the use of the native language in the instruction of the children was desirable.

The result of these representations was the insertion of this clause in Art. 19 of the Scottish Education Code of 1878:—'In districts where Gaelic is spoken the intelligence of the children, examined under any paragraph of this article may be tested by requiring them to explain in Gaelic the meaning of the passages read.' To this a footnote was added, stating that' Gaelic may be taught during the ordinary school hours, either by the certificated teacher, or by any person specially employed for the purpose.'

Another footnote, to Art. 17 (i), says that the income of the school' may include part of the salary of an organising teacher, or a teacher of Gaelic, drill, cooking, or any other special subject, employed by the managers of several schools.'
The concession thus made is good so far as it goes, but something more is required. If it be expedient to use Gaelic in a Gaelic-speaking district to test the intelligence of the children, and the efficiency but enjoined, of the instruction they are receiving, by a habitual process of oral translation from the one language to the other, the practice ought to be not merely permitted but enjoined. It has, in point of fact, been used by m a n y of the best teachers, and with the best results; but it has not been sufficiently encouraged by persons in authority.

We believe it to be a matter so seriously affecting the intelligent education of Gaelic-speaking children, and thereby affecting the whole condition of the district to which they belong, and the
future prospects of its inhabitants, that we have no difficulty in making the subjoined recommendations.

We have the satisfaction of knowing that the Vice-President of the Council on Education, who was recently addressed on this subject in Edinburgh, expressed an opinion in consonance with the view on which these recommendations are founded. We trust that, if approved of, they may have effect given to them in the next edition of the Code in place of the existing references to Gaelic. The supply of qualified teachers possessing an accurate knowledge of Gaelic is more limited, we believe, than it used to be.

Before the Education Act of 1872 came into force, special encouragements, in the shape of bursaries, were given to Highland students, male and female, entering the Training Colleges of the Established and Free Churches, to qualify themselves for being teachers in Gaelic-speaking districts. This practice has been given up since 1872, and there is comparatively little inducement for Highland students to prefer employment as teachers in their native districts. Much has been done to encourage young Highlanders to devote themselves to the ministry, but very little to encourage them to become teachers.

It was also the practice, before the Education Code was revised, to give grants in money for the special encouragement of teachers qualified by a knowledge of Gaelic for the better instruction of the recommended, children in Highland districts, as tested by examination. This practice is not consistent with the system on which grants are now given, but we think that special grants might still be given to School Boards employing teachers so qualified in Gaelic-speaking districts. It might be expected, as the result, that the services of teachers more highly qualified than can now be obtained could be secured. We are of opinion that in the examination of a school where Gaelic is the habitual language of the inhabitants, the inspector should be required to report specially that in examining the children as to their intelligence, he had satisfied himself that the teacher had during the year made profitable use of their native language in testing their understanding of the English they were being taught. In consideration of the difficulty and disadvantage under which teachers and children in such circumstances labour, —we recommend that the grants under Art. 19, c. 1 and 2, of the Code should be increased in these districts from 2s. per scholar to 4s.

We are further of opinion that the Gaelic language, in virtue alike of its being the vernacular tongue of so considerable a population, and of its now recognised place among ancient languages, is entitled to something more than permissive recognition, and a place in a footnote along with drill and cookery. It seems to us not less entitled to a place among specific subjects, with special grants allowed for them, than any of the languages so classed. Its literature is of limited quantity, and not to be compared with that of the great nations whose languages are exclusively recognised. But it is and ought to be of great interest to the natives of the country in which it sprung, and a due acquaintance with it ought to be encouraged rather than despised. This has been done in Ireland, where the native language is classed among specific subjects, along with Latin and Greek, and a grant of 10s. is given for passes in any of these languages. We recommend that the same grant as is allowed under the Scottish Code for other languages should be given for Gaelic, where the teacher has proved his ability to give suitable instruction, and the pupil has been presented for examination in English Literature.

We think it very desirable that all children whose mother-tongue is Gaelic should be taught to read that language; and the rule of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, that Gaelic should be taught first and English afterwards, seems founded on reason. There are practical difficulties in the way at present, such as the want of suitable lesson-books, and the want of a sufficient number of teachers for the purpose. We believe, however, that these difficulties are not insurmountable; and we think that in the meantime pupil teachers duly qualified might be profitably employed in teaching the younger scholars to read their native language; and that a small additional grant for those so qualified and employed would be a beneficial expenditure.
We also recommend that teachers should be encouraged by inspectors to submit some Gaelic songs among those to be sung by the children on the examination day, in order to obtain the music grant.

We think that the discouragement and neglect of the native language in the education of Gaelic-speaking children, which have hitherto so largely influenced the system practised in the Highlands, ought to cease, and that a knowledge of that language ought to be teachers, &c considered one of the primary qualifications of every person engaged in the carrying out of the national system of education in Gaelicspeaking districts, whether as school inspectors, teachers, or compulsory officers.

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