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The Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847

This report was published by three English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name. Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist . One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others. [ Based on an article in"A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996]

This is an extract by Aidan Jones from the actual Report as far as it relates to this parish;

LLANFIHANGEL YSTRAD.

Day School..

On October 27th I visited and inspected the above school. The building was large and roomy. It was not in very good repair. It was lighted by three glazed windows, two in front and one in the pine end. There was a small fire-place completely at one end of the building, There was a fire lighted on the day of my visit, but the children could not have derived any benefit from it; they sat quiet at the end of the room, and the grate was far too small to warm the whole room. The room was not ceiled. The floor was a composition of earth and lime, and very damp. In one corner of the room was a large heap of coal, and a composition made of culm and clay, which they called balls, and which they burn. The furniture consisted of one lone desk, extending along. one end of the room, nailed to the wall in the same way as the National School desks are placed ; and another in the same way running along the front of the building as far as the door which is placed near the centre.

There were when I first entered the school twenty children, but six of them who had been frightened by some coal cart driver in the village by telling them that I was going to take them away, quietly made their escape. There were no outbuildings belonging to the place ; but the schoolroom being in the churchyard, the children made use of the wall-sides for a privy.

During the time of my visit they behaved themselves in a very orderly manner. I asked the master to call up the first class, and I heard them read to him the 1st chapter of St. John's Gospel. When any child made a false pronunciation the master referred the word to the next , and if he corrected him, he took his place. They read to the end of the 14th verse; afterwards the master gave out the word "man." The first repeated the word after him ; the next said the first letter, "m;" the second, "a;" the third, "n ;" and the. fourth pronounced the word, &c. He did not question them at all on the meaning or what they read. Not one of them knew the meaning of "in the beginning," though I put the question in Welsh sufficiently intelligibly to each of them. Had heard of Jesus Christ ; He was the Son of God ; His came on earth to reign ; did not know whether He came for any other purpose or not. Did not know anything of the Apostles; had never heard of them. Had heard of the Disciples; did not know what they were good boys go to heaven ; bad boys go to hell. Heaven was a glorious place (lle-gogoned-dus). Hell was a place burning with fire and brimstone. Had heard of the Queen ; she lived near London. Did not know the name of the county they lived in ; had never heard it. The master, a very ignorant man, and ill-fitted to be entrusted with the education of children, could scarcely speak English.

(Signed) DAVID LEWIS, Assistant.

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(Gareth Hicks)

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