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MR. W. E. FORSTER, M.P., ON SCHOOIà BOARDS. Mr. TV. It Forster, M.P., was present on Friday night In last week at a complimentary dinner given by the Bradford Liberal Club to the past and present members 01 the Brad- ford School Board. Mr. Isaac Holden, president of the Club, occupied the chair. After tke toast of The Queen and Royal Family," Mr. J. V. Godwin proposed" The House* of Parliament." Mr. Forster responded, and proposed The Health of the past and present mf mtiers of the Bradford School Board." In the coarse of his speech Mr. Forstec said— When he introduced the Education Act he said he thought the education rate would not be more than 3d. in the pound. He believed some gentlemen regarded him as a defaulter because his prophecy had not come true, but on that occasion he was only stating what he and the gentlemen in the Education Department thought would be the cost. There were various reasons why they had made a mistake in their estimate, but, after all. the increase was not so large as was gen- erally supposed. The average rate for the last three years before the present for London and the 26 largest towns was rather less than 3i-i, in the pound. Foe Bradford and London it was rather more than 411. But how came it to be more than 3d. ? He would acknow- ledge that he had made one great, though an un on- scious mistake. He had underrated at the time be had brought in the Act, :tnd those who gave him intormation had also underrated, the educational deficiency of the country. They knew it was very bad, but they did not know it was so bad. Until the school census was actually taken they had no idea of the enormous multitude of children that were un- taught, and the immense danger that the country was in of being overwhelmed by an ignorant population. especially in the large town?. Of course that meant that the School Boards, especially in the large to -no. would have more to do, would have more schools to set up, and therefore more money to spend than was supposed but his estimated cost would not have baen far off the mark if the cost of maintenance, the cost of teaching,and the cost of the buildings had remained the same as it was at the time the Act was passed. The increased cost of teaching was more than he had ex- pected, but it was a cost that could not have been avoided. One chief reason why there had been this increase, especially in the salaries of the teachers. was that there had been an enormous and sudden de- mand for teachers. He had not only underrated the extent of the demand, but—and he was glad of it—he had also underrated the readiness of the country to supply the demand. He might have been too sanguine about the cost. He bad not been sanguine enough abont the willingness of the English people to respond to the Act of Parliament and to do their duty. He could not have supposed that the people of the metropolis would have taken up the matter so ener- getically as they did, or the town councils in the kingdom, and vie with one another as to how soon they would bring the Act into operation. He could not have imagined thit in the country districts there would have been such a large increase of schools, in many cases by voluntary managers. The country rose to the want. It said, We are convinced it must be supplied and we will have schools everywhere." That made an enormous demand for teachers. Con- sequently, labour in that particular walk of lift. had a pull on the market, and the salaries of teachers were very much raised. He was very glad they were, be- cause teachers were disgracefully underpaid before. He was not sure the salaries would remain at their present range, bat he hoped and believed that they would never return to what they were before 1870. Another cause of the increased cost of educa- tion was the improved buildings that were erected for school purposes, and he did not think they were too good; but some people might say, Oh but we know what is the cause; it is the ridiculously and extra- vagantly high education you have been giving the children." That really had had nothing to do with it. He pledged his knowledge of the matter that the in- crease of the cost from 3d. to 3f3. throughout England and Wales was by no mean* owing to what was called teaching special subjects. It waa a ridiculously small proportion of the children who learned these special subjects. In Bradford the higher Board schools had not increased the rate even yet. nor would they do so. because they were determined that inasmuch as the teaching therein cost more than at the other schools, parents of the children attending them should pay for it. But the teaching of the lowest elements-reading. writing, and ciphering—to those children who had been swept by the Education Act and by the compulsory provisions of that Act into the schools had increased the cost of teaching. Mora teaching power was re- quired in the Board schools to deal with those children who had never been taught before than with the gene- ral average of children at the elementary schools. He admitted that it was the duty of School Boards to look very closely to economy, and to be as economical as was consistent with efficiency, and he hoped not one whit more economical. They must take care that the children had good schools to go to, and were well taught, and any economy which prevented this being accomplished he hoped members of School Boards would resist, and boldly appeal to their constituents whether they desired it. There was some daDger of foreign competition, for what were the competing nations doing? Were they not giving their future workpeople the advantages of education? Depend upon it, if we starved education they would not. He had just come from Austria. We looked upon that as a backward country, but in the villages and towns of the Tyrol he found good schools, compulsory byelaws, and technical schools every- where, and it was quite evident that as far as education gave an advantage Austria would obtain that advantage for its workpeople. He hoped the Bradford School Board would not give up the higher Board schools, and that they would keep strictly to the determination to make the parents by the 9d. fee pay the greater cost of the education over that in the other schools, and in that case he thoncrht no ratepayer would have a right to object. He was glad to see that the Education Departmens had now taken the matter up. He thought their letter showed that they felt that the whole question came very eeriously before them, and he did not see that the letter had been written in any retrograde or re- actionary spirit.

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