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tion was extended to the establishment of twentyfive schools, twenty of which reported an attendance of 627 pupils, or an average of 314 for each school. Allowing the same for the five which made no returns, the whole number of children being educated under this system in 1845 was less than 800. The feeling of the great mass of the people towards the system may perhaps be judged from two petitions presented to the legislature shortly after its inauguration. One of these, from the Newcastle district, set forth, “That your petitioners find the said appropriation (£100 for the district grammar school) to be entirely useless to the inhabitants of this district in general.” They therefore pray
that the said acts “may be repealed, and that such other provision may be made to encourage common schools throughout this district as to you
your wisdom may seem meet.” The other, from the Midland district, where one of the oldest and one of the best of these schools was established at Kingston, speaks in these terms: “Its object, it is presumed, was to promote the education of our youth in general, but a little acquaintance with the facts must convince every unbiased mind that it has contributed little or nothing to the promotion of so laudable a design. By reason of the place of instruction being established at one end of the district, and the sum demanded for tuition, in addition to the annual compensation received from the public, most of the people are unable to avail
THE SCHOOLS OF THE PEOPLE
themselves of the advantages contemplated by the institution. A few wealthy inhabitants and those of the town of Kingston reap exclusively the benefit of it in this district. The institution, instead of aiding the middle and poorer classes of His Majesty's subjects, casts money into the lap of the rich, who are sufficiently able, without public assistance, to support a school in every respect equal to the one established by law."
This want of the people also voiced itself in another and more practical form. It led to the large establishment of private and subscription schools, some of them of the more elementary character afterwards known as common schools, and others more pretentious and known as academies--a term borrowed from the United States. It is not possible for us now to obtain exact statistics of the number of the common schools in existence throughout the province prior to the triumph of popular education in the act of 1816. But in the next year, 1817, Mr. Gourlay collected statistics of no less than 259 common schools already in operation, and these were by no means the whole number in the province. From this we may safely infer that the voluntary efforts of the people to provide for the education of their own children had, even before the act of 1816, far outstripped in extent of influence the class system inaugurated in 1807.
The extension of the public schools to each of the eight districts, while seemingly in the interests of the mass of the people, did not prove so from several causes. They were secondary rather than primary schools; there was but one in each district -a district covering the area of three or more counties; the trustees were appointed by the governor and the executive council, i.e., the irresponsible ruling class; and finally the teachers selected by them were men fitted to support their views, and frequently clergymen of the English church. The schools were, besides this, beyond the reach of the people, on account of the expense of residence at a distance from home, and of the high fees charged. Their unpopularity appears from the fact that in almost every session a repeal bill was introduced, though failing either in the assembly, which at this time was Conservative through the influence of the war, or in the legislative council. The influence of popular feeling finally resulted in the passage of the Common School Bill of 1816. The main provisions of this act were the following:-(1) It authorized the inhabitants of any locality to convene a meeting at which provision might be made for building or providing a school-house, securing the necessary number of scholars (twenty or more), providing for the salary of a teacher, and electing three trustees for the management of a school. (2) It conferred upon the trustees power to examine teachers as to qualification, to appoint such to the school, to dismiss them if unsatisfactory, to make rules for the governing of the school, including
SCHOOL BILL OF 1816
books to be used, and to grant the teacher a certificate on presentation of which he would be entitled to his proportion of the legislative grant to the district. (3) It made provision for grants in aid to the several districts, amounting in all to £6,000 per annum. (4) It authorized the lieutenant-governor to appoint for each district a board of education with the following powers:—to receive quarterly reports from the trustees of each school; to exercise superintendence over the schools; to disallow at their discretion the regulations made by the trustees, or the books used in the schools; to make further rules and regulations for the schools, and to distribute or apportion the legislative grant. These district boards were required to report to the lieutenant-governor. Their power to “proportion” the legislative grant was unrestricted, and they could use a part of it—up to £100—in purchasing books for use in the schools.
It will be seen that the first part of these provisions relating to school meetings, trustees and their powers, was simply a continuation of the existing institutions which the people had already created for themselves. The loyalist immigrants, from the time of their first arrival in the country, had organized voluntary municipal institutions for themselves on popular principles, and before the passing of this act a considerable number of schools had been thus created and supported in the older settlements. The new provisions of the act were the legislative grant and the district boards, and the chief purpose of the latter would seem to have been, besides the apportionment of the money, the
, exclusion of disloyal teachers and text books.
The educational development of the province from the passing of this act (1816) to 1825 may
be summarized as follows: (1) The reduction of the grant to common schools in 1820 from £6,000 to £2,500; (2) the introduction into a central school in York of the Bell system (the Church of England national system); (3) the constitution and appointment in 1823 of a general board of education for the province, consisting of the following gentlemen: the Honourable and Reverend John Strachan, D.D., Chairman; the Honourable Joseph Wells, M.L.C.; the Honourable George H. Markland, M.L.C.; the Reverend Robert Addison; John Beverley Robinson, Esquire, Attorney-General; Thomas Ridout, Esquire, Surveyor-General; (4) the passage of the
) extension and amendment act of 1824, which continued the grant and other provisions of 1820, made a further grant of £150 to be expended by the general board in the purchase of books for Sunday schools, to be equally distributed among the districts of the province, made provision for the extension of the benefits of the common school acts to Indian schools, and required that all teachers participating in legislative aid should pass an examination before the district board of education. In this act the provincial board of education was