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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;

LLANWNNEN.

I visited this place with Mr. Lewis on October 26th, 1846.

The only day school in this parish is an adventure school kept by a Unitarian, named Evan Lewis. The schoolroom is a thatched shed, adjoining the churchyard, and appears to have been originally used as a barn or outhouse. The walls are however in good repair, and the interior roomy, and well lighted with three glazed windows; there was also a fire-place, but no fire, although the day was cold and rainy. The door was very dilapidated, and large holes in it let in currents of cold air. At one end of the place were heaps of old furniture and miscellaneous rubbish which belonged to an old woman whose cottage had fallen down, and who was permitted to store away her goods here. A bundle of straw and some boards occupied the remaining space at the same end of the room.

The furniture of the school consisted of a long table full of notches and warped into every sort of curve, of which the legs were propped into perpendicular by two huge stones. There was also a small square table for the master, and three decayed forms. The floor was entirely of earth, neither paved nor boarded in any part. There were only four boys in attendance and no girls. I requested the master to select the most intelligent, which he did, a boy of apparently eleven years of age, the son of a miller in the neighbourhood, who had been half a year at the school and previously for half a quarter he said at some other, he was also at a Unitarian Sunday school. I heard him read the 3rd charter of Galatians in the English Testament which he did with great difficulty, spelling most of the words of two or more syllables. He knew the meaning in Welsh of only a few of the words. I then questioned him through Mr. Lewis, who interpreted all my questions. The boy declared he did not know, and never had known, who Jesus Christ was or anything about him. He had never heard of a good man coming on earth to save sinners. I here promised him a penny if he would tell all he knew; and on that condition only, he repeated the same assurances of his utter ignorance. He was then asked where he should go if he was bad, when he died? - He answered to the hot fire (tan poeth). Where he should go if he was good, he declared he had never heard. This county was called Wales. Ireland was a town. The Queen was a woman who made money. There were three months in a year, he thought, but he did not know which month this was. 3 x 10 made 30. 5 x 6 could not tell, believed 11. There were no other schools in the parish.

J. C. S. [Jelingar C. Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]

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(Gareth Hicks)

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