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THE EDUCATION QUESTION IN…

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THE EDUCATION QUESTION IN WALES. Canon Brownrigg's Views. At a meeting of London Welsh Unionists held on Monday night, at Caxton Hall, Canon Brownrigg, Secretary of the National Society, gave an address on "The Education Crisis in Wales." If we may summarise the cry which is now being raised in the Principality" he said at the ,outset, "it is this Nonconformists want educa- tion and they want religious instruction, but they conscientiously object to pay towards that par- ticular religious instruction which is distinctive of the Church. We might say that this con- scientious objection which is now being so loudly proclaimed in the Principality is exactly the conscientious objection which Welsh Church- men have had since 1870. The Welsh Church- man has been paying very largely during the past thirty-four years in the Principality towards undenominational religious teaching, and, strange though it may seem to our Nonconformist friends, many of our Welsh Churchmen object quite as strongly and quite as conscientiously to unde- nominational religious teaching as Noncon- formists do to the Church Catechism. Many Welsh Churchmen object to the letter only of Holy Scripture being taught or read. Still we admit that this is no argument. Two wrongs do not make a right; the fact that Churchmen have, in many cases, paid for the maintenance of schools the religious teaching in which they disapproved is no reason for calling upon the Nonconformist to pay one single penny towards such religious teaching as is definite and distinct Church teaching. We do not desire to take ,one penny out of any Nonconformist's pocket to pay for the teaching of the Church Catechism, and the Act does not call upon him to make any such payment. Churchmen under the Act in Wales will continue to pay wholly for all the dis- tinctive teaching to which the Nonconformist objects. A great deal of the irresponsible talk with which our country is now being inundated is owing to the fact that people do not under- stand the agreement. The 1902 Act is an agreement between Voluntary Schools and Board Schools. Let us examine with the simplest statistics what the Church agreement is so far as the Principality is concerned. We can prove up to the hilt that in the Principality the effect of the Bill is that the Church gives 24,5oo a year and receives back £ 4,959. We arrived at this conclusion by so simple and arithmetical a process as to be within the reach of the most ignorant. Roughly speaking, there are, at the present minute, in the Welsh Church Schools, 70,000 children. The Church offers the buildings brought up to efficiency which provide the housing of those 70,000 children. Assuming that these buildings, together with their sites and other matters, have cost Church- men £ 700>000—it is not an excessive estimate, "certainly they are worth that sum in the open market—it would cost the ratepayers a great. deal more than ^700,000 to replace them. Three and a half per cent. is a very moderate interest to ask for capital sunk, especially when the landlord has to keep the house in order. We may therefore assume that the sum which Welsh Churchmen are now giving to the rates amounts to £ 24,500 a year. It will not be denied, even by the bitterest Welsh Noncon- formist, that for the secular instruction and for all religious education allowed by the Cowper- Temple clause he should pay. This is not dis- puted. What we have got, therefore, to deduct rom the ^24,500 is the cost of teaching those distinctive Church doctrines for which the Non- conformist objects to pay. At an excessive 'computation we may reckon these at two of the religious lesson times during the week, because ti can be no doubt whatever that on three of e days the religious teaching given in every school of the Principality will be well within the compass of the Cowper-Temple clause. We have, therefore, got to pay for eighty minutes' teaching given to each child per week." Accord- ing to the last available return before the passing of the Act, the Welsh Board School child costs the Welsh ratepayer £ 1 55. rrd. for religious4 and secular instruction. Welsh Churchmen will continue to pay for the Nonconformist religious teaching of that child as well as for his secular teaching; they ask for nothing to be taken off their rates, and from our rent contribution we will take off the money value of the time during which the child is being taught the Catechism and the Prayer-book or any other distinctive teaching to which the Nonconformist will object. This amounts, giving the odd shillings and pence against the Churchmen, to £ 4,959. Therefore, we may say with absolute truth that, after de- ducting the cost of our religious instruction, Welsh Churchmen, besides paying their own rates towards the religious instruction of the Nonconformist child, are making an annual subsidy rate of £ 19,541. We cannot but think that if these figures could be better known in the Principality much of the impassioned oratory which is now being indulged in would lose its effect. We would, however, now pass from dry statistics to general advice. The main question at the present moment is what, having estab- lished the justice of our position, should be our attitude to those who disagree with us. We must answer briefly, but distinctly. Every pos- sible conciliation, but no compromise which surrenders our right to preserve for Church children definite religious teaching given by teachers who are qualified to give it genuinely as well as efficiently. Every possible conciliation should be persistently sought for. It is impos- sible too strongly to emphasise the great impor- tance at the present moment of avoiding every- thing which can possibly irritate, or hurt, or offend the very sensitive consciences of our Noncon- formist countrymen. There is a great deal that Churchmen can do to promote the peaceful working of the Act. Whenever anything is done which needlessly annoys others, it should be given up. As an instance of what we mean, we would refer to the practice which has obtained in some places of marching the children from school to church, asking the Nonconformist children to fall out and stay behind. The practice of this is very rare in the Principality, but it is the kind of thing which, at the present moment, should be most carefully avoided. We shall best answer our friends by showing them that to promote the friendly working of the Act we are willing to make the longest steps in the direction of conciliation so long as these steps do not involve the surrender of what we cannot honestly give up but with all this desire for peace, with all this resolve for conciliation, let us with perfect good humour remind those who are endeavouring at the present moment to make the working of the Act impossible that we are Celts like them- selves. St. Cadoc, in one of his triads, points out wherein lies the strength of (a) the English, (b) the Irish, (c) the Welsh. He is so un- complimentary in what he says about the Irish that it would be utterly inconsistent with our previous exhortations to conciliation to quote what he says about them, but we may say that he teaches us that the strength of a Saxon lies in his cunning, and the strength of a Welshman in his impatience. We can thoroughly realise that the national temper remains unchanged. Mr. Lloyd-George and his friends are on tour throughout the whole of the Principality in their impatience to make an end of our Church Schools, but they have not the monopoly of our national character. Welsh Churchmen are getting very impatient too. There is a holy and righteous impatience, and this is what we are beginning to feel that it will be wrong for us not to show. We are keeping to our side of the very bad bargain made in 1902. We have been assured by the Board of Education that, if we go on adhering strictly to our side, they will defend us. The national character of im- patience has been largely repressed by obedience to our Bishops; we have restrained, and will continue to restrain, all unlawful impatience, but we cannot get rid alto- gether of the peculiarity which St. Cadoc ascribes to the nation. The time has now come when, though we will continue our attitude of conciliation, we must, with all respect, ask from the Board of Education that it will no longer suffer the teacher of the Church School to be underpaid, and that only long after the salary is due; the child in the Church School to shiver from want of coal in the winter, and to be inadequately supplied with the books and apparatus which are necessary for its proper education, or the Church pupil-teacher to be dismissed from the Centre because of his faith. We have done nothing to precipitate or embarrass the crisis at which we have now arrived, but we are quite determined not to yield up those schools which we hold in trust from our forefathers. Modern critics have been less friendly than St. Cadoc, and have ascribed to the Welsh character obstinacy rather than impatience. Perhaps this is so. It is quite certain that the attack which has been made upon us is obstinate to the extreme, but here again we claim that the Welsh Nonconformist has not got the monopoly of national obstinacy. We mean to be quite as obstinate in our defence as he is in the attack. We have no doubt as to the issue, and we only hope that all our friends will so conduct the campaign that, when it is over, there may be no bitterness left. To further this much to be desired end let us close with three more triads of St. Cadoc as our guide in a situation of much difficulty Three things ought ever to be kept open—-the ear, the eye, and the understanding. Three things best to be kept closed, unless there should be just cause-the hand, the lips, and the thoughts. Three things which make a man equal with an angel-the love of every good, the love of charity, and the love of pleasing God."

CYMRY Y "T AIR TREF."

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