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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/239

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FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION.

ties belonging severally to Scot and Celt and Saxon have not yet permitted a uniform legislation. Ireland and Scotland each has its own scheme of Government supervision, and both differ from England and Wales. It is estimated that but ten per cent of England's laboring population is concerned with agriculture for support, while in Ireland there is scarcely ten per cent of the people who are not dependent on agriculture for existence. In consequence, we find in Ireland, as in France, intense interest centers upon the plan to teach agriculture and horticulture in the elementary public schools, while in England, until very recently, agricultural education served principally to produce a class of educated scientific men fitted for the Government home and colonial service.

In Ireland compulsory attendance on primary schools is made by law. In 1876 Ireland claimed to be the pioneer country in providing compulsory elementary agricultural instruction in all her rural schools. She has desperately clung to the theory that in providing such education in her elementary schools she would eventually train a nation of agriculturists. To attain this end, elementary text-books were prepared, which all teachers must use. The Government grant for a pass at examination in agriculture was much larger than a pass in any other study; teachers who held certificates to teach it were given higher salaries than others, and to enable teachers to prepare for such certificates, scholarships were offered them at teachers' colleges (normal schools), and their railway fare was free in going and coming. Plots of ground at schoolhouse or teacher's house were provided, where flower and vegetable culture could be constantly practiced, and a special grant was allowed to the school for cultivating a successful garden, and another special for classes showing proficiency in practical work. Gardens were cultivated at convents and workhouses, and the subject was taught theoretically to "half-time" pupils and students at the "evening continuation schools."

In December, 1896, Ireland had 8,606 national schools, with an average attendance of 815,248 pupils. She also had 150 half-time schools, 155 workhouse schools, 267 convent schools, 30 model schools, five training colleges for teachers, and two training agricultural institutes (at Glassnevin and at Munster), and in all of these agricultural science or practice is either a compulsory or a voluntary subject. What country can surpass Ireland's enthusiasm for agricultural training?[1]


  1. A bill for the development of Irish agricultural industry and Irish technical education, providing for Government aid to private enterprise in agriculture, and in manufacturing industries also, has just passed (August, 1899) the House of Commons, and is assured its passage by the House of Lords also.