Monday, 7 June 1926
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £2,270,838 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun costaisí Bun-Oideachais maraon le Deontaisí i gCabhair do Chiste Phinsin na Múinteoirí.
That a sum not exceeding £2,270,838 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the expenses of Primary Education, including Grants-in-Aid of the Teachers' Pension Fund.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: As far as possible, that will be taken into account; it will be considered how far I am to proceed in a matter of that kind. We hope, in connection with our pupil teacher system and the preparatory colleges system we will be enabled to do something.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I want to be informed as to how I stand in regard to the matter. Am I entitled to discuss it under these sub-heads? I see the Estimate includes a grant-in-aid to the Teachers' Pension Fund. I want to find out if I am entitled to discuss matters connected with ex-teachers. If I am not, I would like to know under what  Department the matter would arise. Is the Department of Finance responsible?
Mr. T. O'CONNELL: Is the Minister in a position to give detailed information with regard to his proposal relative to preparatory colleges this year? How many colleges does the Minister propose to set up? Does he expect to have them in working order? I notice an examination has been announced. I would like to know how many colleges it is proposed to have in working order this year.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Owing to a number of difficulties, principally because of the difficulty of getting suitable buildings in suitable places, there may be put upon us the necessity I indicated in introducing a supplementary Vote earlier in the year, of setting up new buildings altogether. I should say that probably by September one of the colleges will be actually ready. There may be some of the others ready, but there is one that I am very clear about because it is one where we had the house actually at our disposal. I refer to the Dingle College. On the Burnham estate there is a house that has been pronounced quite suitable for the purpose. There is a possibility that there will be colleges also ready in Dublin.
 When I mentioned one college I am sure I had in mind the colleges that are to be situated in the Irish-speaking districts. There are two colleges, as the Deputy knows, to be set up in Dublin, one college for Catholics and the other for non-Catholics. I think these two are to be set going by the 1st September. Then there is the question of where the four remaining colleges will be placed. It is possible that we may be able to set up a college in Donegal and we hope to set one up at Galway. The western seaboard on the whole will be the habitat, so to speak, of the preparatory colleges to be situated in the Irish-speaking districts. It is possible we might have another college ready to be put into operation in September.
Mrs. COLLINS-O'DRISCOLL: Does the Minister not think that the normal fee of £40 a year, which the parents of children are supposed to pay, is rather high, considering that the period of training will cover four years and the students afterwards have to enter the training colleges? A teacher, for instance, may like to send a couple of children to one of these colleges, but the normal fee of £40 a year will have to be paid for each child. Does the Minister not think that the fee of £40 is excessive and is likely to exclude the very material that he would like to get into the colleges?
Professor O'SULLIVAN: The full fee will be paid by a person who can afford to pay. I indicated when the Supplementary Estimate was introduced that it was very likely we would have to take in a large number of candidates without any fee whatsoever. What people will pay will, therefore, naturally depend on their circumstances. It will vary from £40 downwards to vanishing point. It is based on the capacity of the parents to pay as well as we can judge that capacity. I recognise that it is an extremely difficult thing very often to judge, but I think the House will agree on one thing—that we ought not to exclude any candidate merely because that candidate cannot pay. Seeing the particular sources of supply that the setting up of these colleges is meant to  tap, namely, the Western, SouthWestern and North-Western Gaeltacht, it is obvious that in a large number of cases it would be a mistake to insist on the payment of a fee. In many of the cases a fee might not be forthcoming. On the other hand, there are many cases in which possibly a fee of £40 might be quite justifiable. We cannot exclude a poor person from the training colleges, but neither can we exclude a person who is able to pay. If there are people able to pay there is no reason why they should not pay. I think on the whole the Dáil will agree with that particular principle. The working out of the details may cause some difficulty. I am quite prepared to admit there may be some difficulties, but I think the principle on the whole is perfectly sound. Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll referred to the question of a large fee, but in every walk of life if people send their children to a secondary school they have to pay for them.
Mr. HEWAT: The Minister has indicated that the colleges will be open to people who can pay and people who cannot pay. In the case of people who can pay, at all events, that means a scholarship. What qualification does he attach to that? Is there to be a certain standard that the student has to come up to before he is taken in free?
Mr. JOHNSON: I raised another question on the earlier discussion on the Supplementary Estimate to which I wish to refer again. I take it the Minister will have to be satisfied of certain qualifications before a boy or girl is entered on the college roll. These will be qualifications as regards health and educational ground-work. They are going into the colleges at 14 or 15 years of age. Some will remain in the college for two or three years, free. Some will pay a small fee; some will pay possibly up to £40 a year. If we take the first category, those who are not able to pay anything but who pass  an examination and in other ways are qualified at the age of 14, can it be said that there is any check or test that can be reasonably applied at the age of 14 that a boy or girl is likely to make an efficient teacher—whether they have the qualities to make a teacher apart from the qualities that enable one to pass an examination? Supposing, after three or four years, that a considerable proportion of the boys and girls have not that particular qualification for teaching, is it then to be expected that they will go on for teaching?
The question as to whether you are spoiling them for other occupations by training them as teachers when they are not at all fitted for teaching is a matter of very considerable importance. I would look upon it with a good deal of doubt and hesitation as to whether we are justified in sending boys at 14 or 15 years of age to these colleges with what may well be practical compulsion that they shall follow teaching, when they cannot be tested at that age as to whether they have the qualities requisite for teaching. It may turn out after three or four years that they have not the requisite qualities for teaching. Presumably, following the lines of Deputy O'Connell's query the other day, they will have been associating with a large number of boys who are also in training as teachers. This objective will be in the minds of the whole body of boys and teachers, and in that way their fitness for other occupations will be lessened by their particular surroundings.
I think that the policy generally is very doubtful, but having been entered upon and approved by the Dáil, I am not going to raise that as a question of principle. I would like to know what is the plan of the Minister regarding year-by-year tests as to qualifications for teaching, whether the students are of the particular temperament required, or is there to be some system whereby they can be sent to ordinary junior schools for test lessons and the like, such as is done with the teachers in training schools, and at what age is that to begin? It seems to me that there is a distinct flaw in the proposal, and unless some assurances are given  that the qualities of the potential teachers are to be adjudged, the system itself may do a great deal of harm at the same time that it ought to be doing some good.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: With regard to the preparatory colleges, I think, perhaps, a more elaborate explanation is due from the Minister in justification of his policy with regard to the establishment of these preparatory colleges. As I understand it, the greater number of these colleges is to be established in the Irish-speaking districts. I am not quite sure of the exact number; I think the Minister said that two were to be established in Dublin, but I understand the greater number is to be established in the Irish-speaking districts. I think the Minister's policy in this regard is one which may be justifiable, but so far I have not heard any reasons which fully justify it from this point of view. The boys will be kept within the bounds of the college to a very large extent. That being so, I cannot see what advantage is to be attained from the possibility of coming into contact with the Irish-speaking members of the population as regards getting a thorough knowledge of the language, if that be the intention. On the other hand, if it is the intention that the boys should move freely amongst the population, I think there is this advantage in that way: if we are to take it that the preparatory colleges are to be in a sense junior universities, my idea of the training and the opportunities that the boys should get is this, that they should be placed in some centre of population and allowed to move amongst the people so that they would come in contact with a greater variety of occupations. In that way they would, to a certain extent, gain advantages which perhaps they might gain by attendance at a university. It seems to me that one of the disadvantages with regard to the training of teachers in the past—I think Deputy O'Connell will probably agree with me —was that their training had been too narrow. The restrictions they were confined to were altogether too definite and were imposed regardless of the necessity of giving them a broad  outlook on the general affairs of the world. It has been contended, and is perhaps a fact, that teachers, as a class, are liable to be too narrow in their outlook owing to the restrictive training they received, and to the fact that they have to deal with juveniles and do not come in contact with the ordinary people of the world who have to make their livelihood in the ordinary way. I think that in training the young teacher some consideration ought to be given to that aspect of the question. I think they should be allowed to mix freely and come in contact with the ordinary people of the country, and not be confined to the narrow groove that the people in the Gaeltacht would be confined to by reason of the restriction on their occupations.
Mr. HEWAT: I desire to emphasise the question put to the Minister by Deputy Johnson. It is necessary, I think, that we should have a clear idea as to what the intentions of the Minister are with regard to these colleges as a whole. Undoubtedly one of the difficulties of parents is to ascertain, at an early age, and very often at a later stage, what particular bent or inclination a child has. That is a question that could not possibly be decided at 14 or 15 years, or even later in life. With regard to university education, one of the difficulties in the past was that universities, up to a certain point, catered largely for the professions, and to that extent I think they limited the outlook of boys entering college. As regards the colleges it is proposed to set up, apparently the intention of the Minister is to take on some boys with fees. In that case we may assume that the parents or people responsible for the boys may at a certain point find that they are not inclined to go forward for the profession of teacher, and may feel inclined to alter their vocation at a later stage. With regard to the boys entering the colleges who are not able to pay fees, the question of the tests they are to be put to in the first instance and at various stages later is a very important one for the Minister to consider and decide in view of the fact that the only outlook for these  boys entering these preparatory colleges is in one direction and one only.
I think we must all recognise that until a person gets into the actual operation of teaching, it is almost impossible to ascertain that the bent of that person is distinctly in the direction that the teaching profession would lead him to. We all know that there are many singularly able men who do not possess the qualities that go to the making of a good teacher as some people possess who would not be so gifted. That being so, I think it magnifies the question of the training of teachers in this particular way in that it may be a very expensive operation for the State.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Deputy Hewat has just pointed out that the difficulty about training teachers according to him is that at an early age you cannot determine whether they have an aptitude for teaching or not. He said that even at a later age you find it difficult to ascertain whether a person has an aptitude for teaching. The natural conclusion to be drawn from the Deputy's argument is, do not train teachers at all, and scrap the colleges you have for training teachers. You will have to run a risk in any system of training. If I could think of any system of getting what is known as a born teacher, that would certainly be the system to adopt. How to find that particular system, or how to invent it, I confess I am not able to do I quite admit it very often happens that a person has been teaching for a number of years before you can say whether or not he has an aptitude for teaching. We have to face, not an ideal condition of things in which you might have some métier to determine a person's qualifications. We have to do the best we can.
I do not claim that this system is perfect. All I do say is that in the difficult situation with which we are faced it is the best we could think of. I quite agree that there is a lot of truth in what Deputy Hewat said. There is a lot of sound truth in what he said, but I cannot for the life of me draw any conclusion from it. I could not quite follow Deputy Heffernan. I do not know whether he wanted us to keep the  pupils inside the colleges apart from contact with people outside or that they should move freely amongst the people or whether he wanted the pupils in these colleges to move in a less restricted atmosphere than you find in the Gaeltacht. If you are to place the colleges any place you will have to place them somewhere. If you place them in the Gaeltacht the pupils may be able to get into some touch with the people there, but if you place them in the most anglicised district in Ireland then you may be expected to have excursions all over the country for the pupils. I had not a very clear idea as to what the Deputy meant.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I was not dealing at the moment with the Deputy's question, but rather with his argument. The training of the teachers may have been too confined in the past. What conclusion does the Deputy want us to draw from that? Again I am not clear as to what the Deputy meant about these training colleges.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: The Deputy said it was unfortunate that the teacher's outlook was so confined in the past, and worse still that they had to deal with juveniles. I cannot change that, and I do not know whether the Deputy wants me to change it or not.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I am not suggesting that it is not debatable whether it is wise. We did debate it on the last occasion. The question was raised by Deputy Johnson or by Deputy O'Connell. But there are advantages and disadvantages. All I can say is that life is that way, and the problems put forward and the solutions to them are rather difficult. We believe strongly that on the whole the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The education  in these colleges is not intended to be a narrow education. It will, I hope, be a more liberal education for the great bulk of the pupils who will get into our colleges than they would get if they did not go into these colleges. I hope they will get there a good, sound, liberal secondary education. There is undoubtedly in the West a large source of ability from which we can draw, and which requires a secondary education perhaps more than in other places in the country, and this may be some help indirectly towards some solution of that particular problem. A choice has to be made some time, and what I have to say in this regard applies to the point raised by Deputy Johnson as well as to the point raised by Deputy Hewat, and the combination in this respect illustrates once more capital and labour in alliance.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: We hope to be able to get people for the teaching profession we otherwise could not get, and that the system will be as suitable as any general system for getting material of that kind.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I will deal with that point. If he shows himself unsuitable for teaching, the Deputy will notice that in the White Paper issued on the Supplementary Vote we pointed out that in the fourth year he would have to devote three or four hours a week to the practice of teaching,  and if he failed there he would have to be scrapped so far as we are concerned. Deputy Sir James Craig shakes his head. Well, he will have got at all events a secondary education he otherwise would not have got, and that is a matter to be borne in mind.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: We are not doing it for his sake, primarily, but for the State. It is accidental that a person of that kind will get the education, but we are not doing it in order to give a person who is not fit for teaching a secondary education. We have a choice of forcing him to go on if he is found not fit, or else cutting our loss. Then remember that the choice is made—I think Deputy O'Connell will bear me out—in the case of monitors. In this particular aspect, at any rate, we are not very revolutionary. They are not to be trained as teachers in the preparatory colleges. They will get there, we hope, a secondary education, not of the Latin and Greek type, but none the less it does not follow that because they will not get the Latin and Greek type of education, therefore, the education will be in any sense narrower than the Latin and Greek type of education.
Talking of the narrowing effect on the pupils, if they never went to one of these colleges, would their outlook be less narrow than if they lived on their own mountain side until they reached the age of eighteen years, attending a small school with a limited amount of accommodation, a school of the type that has been mentioned in the course of these debates, and where they would be associating with one or two others going on for the same profession as themselves? Here they will have, perhaps, one hundred to associate with. When they go into the training colleges proper they will associate with people drawn from the Easter examinations, and pupil teachers. Deputy O'Connell, I think, made the suggestion that it might be better if we sent these people to the ordinary secondary schools. These preparatory colleges will supply  only a portion of our primary teachers as candidates for the training colleges. There is still the pupil teacher system. For these we will use the ordinary secondary schools where these schools are suitable, by means of scholarships. For instance, for any student that has passed the leaving certificate examination we intend reviving the pupil teacher system. Any pupil that has passed the leaving certificate examination will be offered a scholarship to enable him to go on for teaching, and we intend utilising the ordinary schools as far as they are suitable in other respects.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: They do not. Deputy Hewat, I presume, was here when this was debated before. This is forced on us to a large extent because of the break-down of the old monitor system, and the pupil teacher system, as it existed, did not supply us with the material. Then I would remind the Deputies that there is also an entirely new problem that we are presented with here. We have to provide not merely ordinary teachers, but teachers capable of dealing with two languages. We are trying to solve that problem now. I made that perfectly clear on the last occasion.
That brings me to Deputy Heffernan's question, why should they be in the Gaeltacht? Because we hope to draw from the people there to a larger extent than from people anywhere else. The question has been asked: “Why not send them to County Tipperary; why not have a school there?” We hope the atmosphere in which they live and the opportunities they will have of coming in contact with the people will help them. There is the further point, if you can bring children to a college comparatively near them, why bring them away into the rich plains of Tipperary or elsewhere? Parents will be more ready to send their children to a school that is near at hand than to send them to a school at a distance. Deputy Heffernan dissents. I am speaking of ordinary parents as I know them. I say there is an attraction in sending children to  places that are not far removed from home. Hence the advantage of having these colleges in the Gaeltacht.
There is a question of utilising the secondary schools. Remember that it is difficult at present to place some of our scholars in the secondary schools, because there is no room for them, especially in the residential schools. In the city of Cork certain of our colleges could not take our scholarship holders as they had no place for them. Lodgings had to be found for these pupils in the city. I prefer to solve it in this way: We intend to deal with the pupil teacher system, and that will supply us with about 200, of whom two-thirds will be resident in the ordinary secondary schools, provided these schools satisfy our requirements. We have to face the actual situation as it exists, and though it might be desirable to be able to postpone the age, and though I recognise a certain disadvantage in not postponing it, still I think the advantages seriously outweigh the disadvantages.
Mr. JOHNSON: On sub-head B, I would like to ask the Minister for some information of the footnote to the explanatory paragraph with regard to school fees. The total fees from pupils of model schools for 12 weeks ended September, 1925, were £1,327. I would like to have some explanation from the Minister as to how these fees are fixed, whether the amount goes into any Exchequer account or whether it is paid away without that formality? What is the method of payment of the teachers? Does it apply only to those special teachers for drawing, music, elocution, etc.? In general, I would like the Minister to give some explanation of this method of charging school fees in model schools.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I am afraid I have not the information here that the Deputy requires. I know that fees are charged in model schools through the country, the idea originally being that these schools were supposed to be better than the others. These fees still continue to be paid and actually do go ultimately to the teachers. I understand the whole system is very complicated. If the Deputy wishes I can  get the information and supply it otherwise.
Mr. T. O'CONNELL: Under sub-head C (1) is included a Vote for salaries in schools paid by capitation. I would like the Minister to tell us the condition under which lay teachers engaged in Christian Brothers' Schools have been placed, as regards scale of salary, consequent on the taking over of these schools under the system. Complaint is made that several of these teachers have not got full credit for their years of service. I do not know if that complaint is justified or not. Two classes of teachers are concerned. One class is trained and qualified and the other class consists of those who are not trained but have been engaged in the schools and have given efficient service for a number of years. I would be glad if the Minister would explain what his intentions are with regard to these teachers; if all of them have to begin at the minimum salaries, irrespective of whether they have served a number of years or not, or if they will take their proper place consequent on that service? Has the matter been settled yet?
Professor O'SULLIVAN: We have not yet decided what credit they will get. Take the case of the untrained teacher. The Deputy may be under the impression that we will simply start him off as an untrained teacher at the lowest salary and leave him there with the increments of an untrained teacher. Undoubtedly, that would mean a very exiguous salary indeed for that man, after a number of years' service. There are a number of lay men at present  engaged in the Christian Brothers' Schools, and there were a number before they came under our system. Some are very young and there is no reasonable ground for taking them over. They have an opportunity of going on for training and there is no reason why they should not. Take the case of those who have a number of years' service. I think, on the whole, we may be able to lay down the rule that something on the lines of the Teachers' Agreement might be applied. I think there were provisions in that for the recognition of untrained teachers and, perhaps, something substantially of the same kind, though not fully, might be applied in this case.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: More or less on those lines. I think that would be fairest all round. Of course there is a question of the number of years' service to be taken into account. I think, roughly, about half, was the suggestion. The ordinary teacher comes out trained at 20 or 21, but in the Christian Brothers they often start earlier. Whether you will allow them any credit between 16 and 21 is a matter to be considered. I hope to be able to work out something on the basis of the agreement I mentioned.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: It is not in connection with the Christian Brothers' schools. These are a few teachers that did not go into the pension scheme. I understand that they were given the option many years ago —the golden days that Deputy Heffernan referred to when education was sound—but did not avail of it. Provision  has been made again and again for their retirement. They were relieved by not going into the pension scheme and they escaped paying their contributions to it. On the other hand, the State also escaped. This item has to deal with a few old teachers of that type.
Mr. O'CONNELL: I should explain to Deputy Hewat that the money set down here is not for the building of teachers' residences. No money has been advanced by the State for that purpose since 1914. That has been the cause of repeated complaints on the part of the teachers. Grants that were available are not now available. I intended to raise this matter under the Vote for Local Loans as the grants were given from that Vote.
Mr. HEWAT: Comparatively little interest has been manifested in the discussion of this sub-head, but the local people seem to be relieved of all responsibility in connection with the provision of schools. In other countries I think it is usual to throw a larger amount of responsibility on the localities concerned. The provision of teachers' residences, and of schools, should be borne to a greater extent locally. In that way greater interest  would be taken in the work of education. I think the tendency in all these matters in the country is to throw too much responsibility on the central authority. Now that we are starting a new era, I think that the responsibility should not be centralised but should be more fully shared locally.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: That is a big problem. The country is inclined to relieve local bodies and have the charges thrown on the central authority. I think I referred to it already. That is the whole tendency. We spent a couple of nights discussing the very same thing in connection with the roads. A very strong appeal was then made by Deputy Good that we should advance more quickly in the direction of having that work done by the central authority.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I am only using that to show that the country is advancing in that direction. Undoubtedly it is the fact that the tendency is to put all these things on the local rates. As I pointed out, in Denmark half these charges are borne by the rates. Here about one-fifth or one-sixth is borne by the local rates.
Mr. O'CONNELL: On sub-head D I would like to get some information from the Minister concerning the superannuation of teachers. I would like to know if any progress has been made with regard to the superannuation of teachers engaged in convent schools and junior assistant mistresses. I have put the claim of these teachers to receive superannuation allowances before the Dáil so often that I do not intend to go into the merits again. The Minister knows the situation. I only want to ask him now whether he is in a position to say if any decision has  been come to in the matter. In reply to a question of mine some time ago he stated that the matter was being considered by his Department in connection with the Department of Finance. It is high time that a decision was come to. The second point is that raised by Deputy Heffernan, the possibility of doing something for old pensioned teachers. In a reply which the Minister for Finance gave to a question of mine some months ago it was stated that there were 629 pensioned teachers with pensions under £52 a year, and that their average service was thirty years. I think I need not add anything to these figures to show what the condition of affairs is. On several occasions the case of these pensioned teachers has been pleaded here, and I have said that so far as any claim which the existing teachers have on the Pension Fund is concerned, they are quite ready and willing to agree to grants being made from the existing fund to bring the pensions up to something that would keep these people in existence, even.
I have said that more than once. The amount payable from public funds would then be almost negligible. I think we should be ashamed of the fact that so many of these old teachers are trying to drag out an existence on such miserable pensions, while under various pensions schemes that have been adopted since the Free State came into existence, we see comparatively young men drawing very substantial pensions, indeed. It is too bad that those who have given their lives to the service of the State should be trying to drag out an existence on such miserly pensions. The sum involved would not be a very large one. All of these people are old, and they cannot live very long. A sum of £5,000 or £6,000 annually, or less, would meet the case, but whatever the amount, it would be gradually decreasing, for these people are old, and many of them will not live long. I refer only to the people who retired before the new salary scheme came in, those who retired before 1919, 1920, or 1921. No claim is being made on behalf of any who retired after that date, or on behalf of any who are already in receipt of fair pensions. The claim is made on  behalf of those who have pensions of under £52 a year. I think the Minister will agree that it is a reasonable claim.
Deputy Thrift dealt with a matter with which I also wish to deal, only by way of emphasising it. That is the question of allowing for pension purposes the years of service of teachers who have been appointed inspectors. Many teachers have been appointed to the inspectorate, but though they enter the Civil Service they are not allowed to count for pension purposes their years of service as teachers. I know that that very fact has resulted in keeping many fully qualified teachers from entering the inspectorate, because they did not want to lose these years of service. The principle of allowing service in one capacity to count towards pension in another capacity has been accepted in the Local Government Act, and there is no reason why it should not be in this. It is not fair that a man who serves twenty years as a teacher, and then enters another branch of the administration— for that is all it is—would have these years denied to him so that he can only count for pension purposes from the time he took up his appointment as an inspector.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: Deputy O'Connell has practically covered the ground that I intended to cover in regard to these pensioned teachers, but as the matter was put before me in correspondence by the secretary of the Pensioned Teachers' Union I would like to give my views on it. I would be slow to suggest that the Government should make advances which would be a charge on the Exchequer, but I believe that we must have reason in regard to matters of this kind, and that economy carried too far may be very unjust and very unfair. We have passed Acts from time to time which gave pensions to different people that the State was under obligations to. Some of these have been given to people in the prime of life and some of them are very liberal. In regard to this matter, having swallowed the camel we are straining at the gnat. We have swallowed the camel of millions spent in pensions, but we are straining at the  gnat of a few paltry thousands in regard to these pensioned teachers, who certainly have as good a right to considerate treatment on the part of the State as any other class of people that I know of. Deputy O'Connell made the matter very clear to me when he stated that the existing teachers have no objection to having their Pension Fund called upon with this end in view, provided that the State gives its portion. I think that meets the case very fairly, and in view of that approach by Deputy O'Connell, representing the Teachers' Association, I think that the Minister ought to reconsider the whole position and see what can be done.
The fact that these people retired before 1921 was their misfortune. If they had continued for a year or two longer they would have been entitled to pensions based on a very much higher salary scale, and I think that that is palpably unjust. The number concerned is very small. The gentleman who communicated with me on the subject stated that only a few hundreds are living of the original number who came under some Act of 1923 that he refers to. As has been pointed out, the expense of doing what is asked would gradually decrease. The scale of pensions paid in cases of retirement before 1921 is certainly very low. I have a statement showing that in the lowest scale, class 3, teachers have only £35 per annum male, and £25 female and the scale goes up to £60 as regards men in the first class, and £47 as regards women, after 40 years' service. From an actuarial point of view I believe that the Teachers' Pension Fund is in a sound position, and that it could afford to meet this demand upon it without any danger to its financial stability. The expenditure of public money would be very small, and I do not think it is the kind of expenditure that we ought to cavil at in view of the services given by these people, and of the fact that their numbers are decreasing year by year, and I would ask the Minister to consider whether something could not be done to increase their pensions to such a level as would give them a sufficient amount to live on, having regard to their standard of life before retirement.
Mr. A. BYRNE: Last year I also spoke on the claims of the lay teachers in convent schools for inclusion in the pensions scheme for national teachers. I briefly put forward a number of points and I shall repeat them now. Lay assistants in convent national schools claim the right to be included in the national teachers' pension scheme, and I base their claim upon the following grounds:—They are full certificated national teachers, most of them having their training diplomas, and all of them eligible for appointment in any national school. They received their qualifications through the same examination test as all other national teachers. They teach the same programme and are subject to the same inspection marking as all other national teachers. They are appointed under the same agreement forms and are paid directly by the Education Department as all other national teachers are. When one of these lay assistant teachers secures an appointment in a non-convent national school she, automatically, becomes entitled to pension rights.
Were the nuns to vacate any convent national school and the lay assistants, employed in that school, to remain as the staff, then all these lay assistants would, automatically, secure pension rights. In case nuns vacated a convent school and the lay assistants remained on the staff, no change whatever being made in the programme, the methods of teaching, or the inspection of the school, the lay assistants would secure pension rights. It is clear, therefore, that the presence of nuns in a school is the sole reason for refusing pension rights to lay assistants warranted by the Education Department's rules regarding average to teach in that school. The Northern Government, realising the injustice of this extraordinary victimisation of convent lay assistants, hastened to include, retrospectively, their convent assistants in the teachers' pension scheme.
An example will best illustrate this injustice. Two teachers go through the training course together. Both are appointed as assistant teachers upon the same day, one in a convent school and the other in an adjoining national school. During forty years both have  taught the same programme; their efficiency has been reported upon by the same inspectors, they have received the same increments and promotion, and both are ordered to retire together. Does it not seem incredible that one of these teachers will receive annually a sum amounting to 40/80ths of her salary as pension while the other is cast adrift without one half-penny?
That is the case made, and I do not see any argument can be advanced in furtherance of such an injustice. Last year I instanced the case of a lay teacher of a convent school about to retire after having had almost forty years' service. It was hoped that this Irish Government would make haste to treat a case of that sort, and it is to deal with a case of this sort that I ask the Government to speed up the consideration of this question which has been so often brought before the House by Deputy O'Connell.
Professor THRIFT: I would like to support again what has been said by Deputy O'Connell with reference to the comparatively very few very old teachers who are left in receipt of exceedingly low pensions. We have been putting this forward for three years now without success, and although there were nine hundred teachers when it was first put forward, only six hundred now are left. As Deputy Heffernan has stated the facts I need not go over them, but it is sad to think that there are many people who served for thirty or forty years and more and who are now dragging out an existence on receipt of £40 a year.
With reference to the point I raised before, I think the Minister was right in saying it would more properly come up on the Vote for the Department of Finance. I only want to refer to it here for the purpose of getting some information. The point stated by Deputy O'Connell is that an inspector on retirement has his service calculated only on his actual years' service as an inspector, no matter whether he served as a teacher before or not. If he were serving as teacher before he became inspector he loses his years of that service notwithstanding that during the time he served as teacher he contributed  towards the pension fund. What I want to know from the Minister is what happens to these contributions.
Professor THRIFT: I suppose it would be better to raise the general question of getting recognition for all their years of service both as teachers and inspectors on the Vote for the Department of Finance instead of this Vote.
Mr. ALTON: I would like to add my voice to the appeal made by Deputy O'Connell and others to the Minister to do something for those old teachers on pension. It certainly seems to me that we ought to do something. I am sure the Minister for Finance would think it would be wrong to charge the State with ingratitude, still it looks to me as if we were ungrateful when we reward a person with forty years' service with a pension of £30 or £40 a year. That does not seem to be in keeping with the policy observed in the Civil Service and elsewhere of taking into account the cost of living. We should at least frame some kind of cost-of-living bonus to meet the case of these old teachers. They were very few when this appeal was first made, and they are fewer to-day. The other point, too, I think, is a good one, though perhaps this is not the place to raise it. That is that we ought to recognise the teaching years of service in the case of teachers who join the inspectorate. It would certainly do much to recruit better men to the inspectorate. I think, perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, that in the North of Ireland they do recognise such years of service in the case of a transfer from teacher to inspector. But whether the North recognises it or not, I think it will appeal to the Minister's sense of equity.
Professor MAGENNIS: I desire to reinforce what I have so often over a long period of years advocated both here and outside. When I first advocated the reform it was not altogether feasible because there was no unity of control in the educational world. We have that unity of control to-day and it ought to be possible to make the situation right as regards the pensioning of education officers throughout the entire Department of Education and the teaching and inspectorate sides. The model is there. It exists in the Scottish Superannuation Act. Under that Act it is possible for A.B. to begin his career as a primary teacher. He may then be promoted junior inspector, pass thence to the head of a secondary school, again become master of a secondary school, return into the inspectorate, and reach still higher office, and all these years of educational service count to him in computing his superannuation allowance.
It is obvious that a time comes in the life of a man when he will refuse promotion if that promotion is to be bought at the sacrifice of pension rights that have accrued to him through the earlier years of his service. The result is that while obviously the best man is there and the position waiting for him, he is not available because he cannot afford to make the financial sacrifice that is demanded. The result is that public education suffers. Now it is not as if I were proposing some theory, something speculative, to which objection could be made that it would not work. It exists. It works in Scotland, and it seems to me that the Minister would do well now to attach to the history of his period of office as Minister for Education the fact that he had made this development and co-ordination that makes for greater efficiency.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: A number of matters have been raised—the lay teacher in the convent school, the junior assistant mistresses, the old retired teachers on pension, and the rather wider class that Deputy Magennis has in mind—he had all teachers in mind. There is no doubt about the desirability of all these things that have been mentioned. That is quite  clear, but again it is a question of finance. Undoubtedly the Minister for Finance is always faced with the extreme difficulty not so much of rejecting a scheme that is unsound—there would be no trouble about that or about the rejection of a plea that is obviously unjust—but the difficulty here is as between two different Departments. I have put that point of view before.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: No. Already, before the Deputy came in, I explained. I firmly believe that were it not for the hard-headedness, or, as some Deputies would probably put it, the hard-heartedness of the Minister for Finance, it is not the newspapers that would be saving us from a Budget of £60,000,000 a year. I rather think that with the exception of an occasional relapse on their part they would shove us on to a Budget of £60,000,000 a year. I doubt very much if it is the Dáil would save the country from £60,000,000 a year, or that the other Departments in the State would save it. The most effective obstacle we have to reaching that possibly desirable figure is the Minister for Finance. When putting up this case to him, and when arguing with him, he has to bear all that in mind. I would ask Deputies, no matter how desirable all these things are from the educational point of view—and not altogether from the point of view of humanity—to consider that there is from the educational point of view undoubtedly an advantage.
The Minister for Finance has to weigh the different claims of the different Departments, and try to fit them all within his Budget. That is the psychology of the matter. If the Minister did not do that, we would be very far from the twenty-five million Budget that we have now. It is not the newspapers that prevent us going far beyond that particular Budget. It is this very unpopular attitude that the Minister for Finance must take up. Now, of these cases that have been mentioned, there is a very strong case undoubtedly to be made for the lay teacher in the convent schools. It is  almost an accident that that particular teacher has to be deprived of her pension. I understand that it requires legislation to deal with that matter, but I did not like to make that particular objection when the Deputy was speaking and ask to have it ruled out of order. The junior assistant mistresses are not quite in the same position. I notice that the Killanin Report, which Deputy O'Connell is so fond of quoting from, was not quoted by him in this particular instance. But leaving that aside these two classes are not by any means in the same position. They are not on all fours. The lay assistants in the convent schools are a very different class from the J.A.M.'s.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: They are not in the same position as the others. The lay assistants in the convent schools are fully-trained teachers, and if they were employed elsewhere they would, undoubtedly, have pension rights. That is a fact. But before a definite decision can be reached on this matter it must be borne in mind that suppose you grant any of these mentioned pensions or increases of pensions, you will first have to make up your minds as to where it is to come from. It will come partly from the State to the extent of 15 per cent. of the total sum granted in the previous year in pensions. To that extent it comes from the State directly. Then there is a fixed grant from the State. Next there is the Teachers' Pension Fund.
Deputies will recognise, looking at it from that point of view only, from the purely financial point of view, even taking the strongest case, the case of the lay teacher in the convent schools, that the suggestion of putting them on the pension list raises immediately a question that has been causing anxiety to the Minister for Finance. That is whether or not the Teachers' Pension Fund is in fact solvent. That fund was built up and it was capable, perhaps, of meeting the situation when the teachers had a smaller salary. The pensions were smaller, and also the  amount paid by the teachers was smaller. The ten per cent. deducted off the teachers' salaries is one of the items that go to build up this fund. The pensions in the future will be much higher. That will necessitate an increased grant from the State, increasing for the next 20 years until a sum much larger than 15 per cent. will be needed; that is an annual contribution roughly of £30,000. Whether that will meet these claims in the future is the question. That will have to be ascertained before any definite answer can be given, and the Teachers' Pension Fund must be examined by an actuary first so as to determine whether or not it is in a solvent position. I hope that that examination will be undertaken within the next four or five months. That seems to be necessary before any new class of people can be put on this fund.
I mention this matter as Deputy O'Connell said that there was no objection to new classes being put on the fund, but the Minister for Finance must take into consideration whether the fund is solvent and, if it is not solvent, what steps will be necessary to meet the situation.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Yes, but even a layman looking into the figures will see that a time will come when the outgoings will be greater. That will be the difficulty. An actuarial investigation seems to me to be necessary before the Minister for Finance could give me any definite answer in this matter, and it will involve consideration as to how that fund could be put in a solvent condition.
Mr. T. O'CONNELL: As regards sub-head E, with reference to appropriations-in-aid, I just desire to point out that one of these appropriations-in-aid consists of fees from candidates for admission to training colleges. Candidates who go to training colleges pay an annual fee of £22 10s. under present regulations. Taking the cost of clothes, books, and incidental expenses which a student has to bear, it may be taken that the annual cost of  a student to a parent would be in the neighbourhood of £40. It strikes me it would be advisable if attention were called to the fact that county councils give scholarships every year to young men going from their districts to a university to become doctors, engineers or, sometimes, clergymen, but no provision is made whereby county councils can give scholarships to persons going on to be teachers. If it were possible that that could be done, the money which county councils would have to spend on scholarships would be, at least, as usefully spent in making teachers as in making doctors or engineers. The teacher goes back to the district where he comes from and gives full value to that district, whereas that cannot be said of the others.
There have been cases brought to my notice this year in which young men leaving secondary schools with a leaving certificate were entitled to county council scholarships in universities. One boy, however, chose to enter a training college at the invitation of the Ministry, and, because he went to a training college and not to a university, the county council refused to give him a scholarship. I think that is a great injustice. I know another case in which a boy, a tradesman's son, also got a university scholarship, but, because he chose to go on for teaching and entered a training college, the county council refused to give him a scholarship. That, at least, is my information. I do not know whether there is anything in the university or county council regulations by which this can happen, but, if that is so, the Minister for Education, in conjunction with the Minister for Local Government, should arrange to see that the county councils are at liberty to give scholarships to encourage young men to enter training colleges. There are many young men who would go forward for the teaching profession if they could afford it, but everyone cannot afford to keep a boy, educate him until he is eighteen years of age, and then pay forty pounds for two years at a training college.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Deputy O'Connell has got in a very useful lecture  to the county councils under the pretence that he was discussing this particular appropriation-in-aid. I am afraid that I will get into trouble if I do not rise when debates of this particular character take place, to point out that that kind of speech is out of order on the ground that it advocates legislation.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I desire to point out that I have no control over county councils. Deputy O'Connell was referring to county council scholarships for those going to university colleges. The county councils exercise that power under the Universities Act, which compels them to give scholarships and make them tenable in university colleges. That is the reason for suggesting that his argument was not in order.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Yes. They must attend the university. As regards the £22 10s., which the Deputy says students in training colleges have to pay, he will see that these fees are not £22 10s., as £22 10s. multiplied by the number of entrants will make up something more than £450.
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