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Attendance In Elementary School

EDUCATION AND COMMERCE.

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EDUCATION AND COMMERCE. It was a case of German schools versus Engl-ish schools, and, in view of this strug- gle, he made an appeal to Wales to have her large army of absentees into school. He, however, felt that attendance should be enforced by the school authority, as on the Continent, and not by the police court, it being, in his opinion, an abomination that cases of non-attendance should be dealt with amidst surroundings which gave children their introduction to the criminal classes (hear, hear). So gladly did school authorities in this country do their duty, that of the 2400 school boards which existed 2000 of them might be done away with, while the attendance committees were el- ected to perform duties which they never did perform (laughter). Taking but one case, that of Bethesda, which he visited on the previous day, he said that if the at- tendance there was only improved by 10 per cent. the school authority would receive an additional amount of R230 per annum from the National Exchequer. But, while in- sisting upon better attendance, he also emphasised the necessity of having proper teachers to educate the children (applause). Earnest people were agreed that the pre- sent state of things in this country could not be endured much longer. But, it a happy sotution was to be arrived at, the managers of voluntary schools must be prepared to abandon the greater part of their management, and take the veto of a central authority on the appointment of teachers the small school boards must be content to be merged in larger districts, and school attendance committees must go back to their -board of guardians' work. Nonconformists must also get rid of the idea that voluntary schools were main- tained expressly to proselytise children. A child of eleven years of age could not be' made to understand the difference between church and chapel; and it would ue a great pity if that were so. If teachers could manage to make Christian children to love one another rather than to have one tear- ing out the eyes of another, they would ac- complish something that was good. He had no patience with those who put for- ward the religious difficulty, which existed only on the platform (hear, hear). Could not Nonconformist and Church schools be brought together, and managed by one countyi authority (applause) P He saw no reason why this management should not be assumed by the county body already gov- erning the intermediate schools. The Rev J. P. Lewis (Vicar of Conway), in moving a vote of thanks to the speakers, suggested' that the adoption of something like military discipline at the schools would have a very beneficial effect on the attend- ance. The motion was carried, and a similar compliment was paid to the Mayor, on the motion of the Rev T. Gwynedd Roberts, se- conded by Mr Tegarty. At the Bethesda meeting on Friday, to which reference was made by Mr Gray in the foregoing speech, the subjoined letter was read from Mr Edward Roberts, M.A., Her Majesty's inspector of schools: "I shall be in London on the day fixed for the meeting which Mr Gray, M.P., is to ad- dress otherwise I should have much plea- sure in complying with the Committee's re- quest, as I am quite at one with Mr Gray in his efforts to bring public opinion to bear upon the greatest enemy the friends of education have to contend against in Wales. It is lamentable that parents value so little the one chance in life that children have of equipping themselves with the edu- cational weapons that will enable them to fight the great battle of life with some prospect of ultimate success (hear, heftr). prevalent, and it must be confessed that the local authorities often wink at and seldom endeavour to prevent premature de- partures from school. It is thought that children of 13 can leave school even when they have not passed or attempted to pass the standard1 for total exemption. This culpable iMiff^wSce "tBfe ^art of parents, ittanagers, ahd local aufSbxities accounts i cerued towards those children who often pay only 'surprise visits' to the schools of their neighbourhood. My experience is that unpunctual attendance operates more mischievously against progress than even irregular attendance (hear, hear). In this district, in spite of all I can do, it is a grow- ing evil. From nine to ten o'clock there is practically no real work going on. In this way one-fifth of the day is lest and the best hour wasted (hear, hear). Such parents as object to any sort of reKgious exercises, or to any particular form of it, should state their objection when the child is entered on the school books, when arrangements could be made for their secular instruction in an- other room. No more valuable habit can be acquired by a child than that of punc- tuality (hear, hear), and if not ac- quired early it is seldom thoroughly mas- tered in after life. Had I been able to at- tend 1 would have besought all to combine in all earnestness against this insidious foe with methodical industry, energetic activ- ity, and regularity of any and every kind. Teachers and parents should be able to cope with unpunctual attendance, but public opinion, acting with irresistable force on parents, local authorities, and the magis- tracy, can alone vanquish and banish irre- gularity of attendance."

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