« PreviousContinue »
VERNACULAR SCHOOLS. - Lowest Stage. The course to be taken by the Missionary must depend, to a large extent, upon the advance already made. If he has an entirely new field, ånd is without efficient Christian teachers able to get pupils, he may, as the first step, endeavour to acquire an influence over existing schools. After he has determined which villages he will make the objects of special attention, let him ascertain whether they contain schools supported by the people themselves. If so, he should visit them, and become acquainted with the teachers. In all probability, he will find them very badly provided with books, and the Masters ill paid. Acting cautiously and prudently, he may prevail upon most of the teachers to introduce Christian books if he supplies them. In the first instance they must be given gratis. After a time, as they become appreciated, they may be sold, beginning with very low rates, and gradually rising. If means are available, inducements should be offered to the Masters to teach the Christian books and submit their schools to the control of the Missionary. The system of “ payment by results” will be the best. Let the teacher understand that the school will be examined monthly, and a certain payment granted for each child who passes a satisfactory examination on preseribed lessons. The allowance may vary according to the subjects, most being given for lessons purely Christian. To ensure payments from the parents, the teachers will, of his own accord, attend to the secular branches. After a little time the teacher will probabiy consent to the school house being used as a preaching place. Some of the parents will collect to hear their children examined, and at the close an address may be given to them.
A Catechist, or Christian Inspector, should visit the school weekly or oftener, to give direct religious instruction,
Second Stage.- Where a school already exists in a village, it is often difficult to establish another, as the influence of the old teacher is exerted in opposition. Hence, in many cases, it may be advisable to work through him in the first instance. The two great objections to him are, that he is not a Christian and has had no training as a teacher. At the commencement of a Mission, there will probably be no Christians to send to Normal Schools. The next best arrangement is to give a thorough course of Christian instruction to well disposed heathen young men. If there is a school already established, taught by an old teacher, he may have a son willing to be trained. Should there be no school, a young man should, if possible, be selected from the village. Such a person is preferable to a stranger, because he will have more influence in the village and be better able to secure scholars. Another reason is, that there is a greater prospect of retaining him at a moderate rate of pay. Persons from other parts require higher salaries, and there is always a hankering to get back to their native villages. Still, if no suitable youths can be obtained from the place itself, others from the neighbourhood must be chosen.
When young men are removed from the influence of their heathen relations and brought under Christian instruction for two or three years, experience leads to the hope that a considerable proportion of them will eventually seek baptism. With rare exceptions, all will at least entertain friendly feelings and do nothing tending directly to obstruct Mission work. Any who seem at all hostile, should not be employed. The principal of the Training Institution will be able to judge of this at an early period, and they can at once be dismissed.
Teachers who have received a careful Christian training, even although they have not been baptized, are greatly superior to indigenous teachers, and their schools will be valuable in proportion.
Third Stage.- At first, in many cases, Christian teachers cannot possibly be obtained ; while, even if available, they cannot collect pupils. If there are to be any schools at all connected with the Mission under such circumstances, the teachers must be nonChristians. Though their employment is recommended at the outset, every effort should be made to replace them as early as possible by Christian teachers. Two qualifications are necessary in the latter : 1. Consistent conduct. An outwardly moral heathen is better than a bad nominal Christian. 2. Some degree of fitness for teaching. It simply brings disgrace upon a Mission to appoint a Christian Schoolmaster who can barely read. When, however, these two qualifications can be secured, a higher step is gained than even by the employment of trained non-Christians teachers.
Fourth Stage.-Best of all is, when well trained Christian Schoolmasters can be employed. This, however, can only be looked for where Missions have been established for a number of years and made considerable progress. To attain it, it will generally be necessary to pass through the previous stages.
Conditions of Success.-Some Mission Vernacular Schools are badly attended; a farthing in school-fees is wrung with difficulty from the parents, who pay in other cases ten times as much to indigenous teachers. The Missionary, not unfrequently, puts it down to hatred of the Gospel-the school does not flourish because Christianity is taught. This, in general, is a. gross delusion. There are other Mission Schools in localities of precisely the same character, where the truths of the Gospel are far more fully stated, yet the attendance is numerous. The fact is, that in the former case, the parents are not satisfied with the secular instruction. Till the pupils show a desire for baptism, which cannot often be looked for in the young children attending Vernacular Schools, the parents scarce
ly give a thought to the religious lessons—the Missionary may teach as much Christianity as he pleases.
Supposing that the teachers are, in some measure, efficient and industrious, perhaps the most common cause of the want of success is, that the subjects which the people value most are not taught. There are some Missionaries and Teachers whose ideas of education are derived exclusively from England or Germany. They have never examined Native Schools with any degree of attention, nor consulted the feelings of the people. Servile copies of English or German models are all they aim at.
Now, admitting that much in the native system of education is positively bad, and other things worthless, there is still some good in it which should be retained. Like ordinary parents in England, Hindus value education chiefly as it fits their children for business. Arithmetic is perhaps held in greater estimation than any other branch. They wish it, how. ever, to be taught in a way which will be practically useful. In some schools under European management, the children are only exercised in working sums on slates, involving millions. An intelligent Hindu parent knows that his child, unless employed in some Government office, will perhaps never in his life require to solve such questions; but that he may sustain loss every day if not familiar with the modes of calculation used in the bazar. The true course is, not to exclude either system, but to teach both.
Writing probably ranks next to Arithmetic. This also should be turned to practical account. The following remarks by the Honorable W. Seton Karr should be carefully considered by all who have the management of vernacular schools :
“ These (indigenous) schools do supply a sort of information which ryots and villagers, who think at all about learning to read and write, cannot, and will not do without. They learn there the system of Bunneal's accounts, or that of agricul.
turalists ; they learn forms of notes-of-hand, quittances, leases, agreements, and all such forms as are in constant use with a population not naturally dull and somewhat prone to litigation. and whose social relations are decidedly complex. All these forms are taught by the guru from memory, as well as compli. mentary forms of address. On these acquirements, the agri. cultural population set a very considerable value. I think that we ought not too much to consider whether such attainments are really valuable. All I know is, that they are valued ; and it is the absence of such instruction as this, which, I think, has led to the assertion, with regard to some districts, that the inhabitants consider their own indigenous schools to be better tban those of Government. ..“I would have alt forms of address and of business, all modes of account, agricultural and commercial collected, and the best of their kind printed in a cheap and popular form to serve as models. I would even have the common suinmons of our Criminal or Revenue Courts printed off.”'*
Native classics are also held in high esteem. An English parent does not in general consider that his son has received a liberal education, if he has not read Virgil and Horace. The people of India value still more highly their standard authors. Some Missionaries, ignorant of vernacular literature, call the whole “ vile trash,” and boast that they do not allow a single native book in their schools. It is true that there is perhaps not one classic which does not contain very objectionable passages. But in addition, there is often much homely wisdom, interspersed with some noble sentiments. A single stanża may be quoted in proof:
“What is the fruit that human knowledge gires,
If at the feet of Him who is pure knowledge,
Due reverence be not paid ?" * A few of the native classics, the best, both in sentiment and language, should therefore be studied in carefully expurgated editions. One or two might be appended to the reading books, with some arithmeti
* Records of Bengal Government, XXII. p. 43.