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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;

TREFILAN

Day School - October 29th I visited and inspected the above school. Mr. Griffiths, the Rector, accompanied me and was very ready in rendering me every assistance to procure what information I could. He told me that he had obtained a grant of 5l. per annum from the Church Union Society towards educating some of the poor children in the parish, but could not possibly get them to attend, as their parents were too poor to give them victuals and clothing, and consequently they were obliged to go into service. The room was a small low building adjoining the churchyard. The floor was pitched with large uneven stones, and rather damp. There was no grate in the room ; a large chimney, in which they burn turf, as is very generally seen in Cardiganshire, served the purposes of a fire-place. The room was not ceiled, and from the roof hung innumerable strings of cobweb. The door was also in a very dilapidated state, there being large holes in it, which let in currents of cold air. At one end of the room the bier belonging to the church was hanging. The furniture consisted of one small desk, which was in a miserable state of repair, and a few decayed benches, one of which had no legs at one end, but was placed to rest on the end of another, which served the purpose of legs.

The master selected five whom he considered to be his best scholars, and I heard them read to him the 1st chapter of the book of Proverbs, which they did very imperfectly, hesitating at almost every word, and continually making false pronunciations. When they had finished reading, he gave them a few words from the same chapter to spell, which they managed very badly. He then called the second class, and I heard them reading to him, or I should rather say spelling, the 1st chapter of St. John's Gospel.

In the same manner as the first, he gave them also a few words to spell, all of which was done wretchedly. I afterwards examined the two classes together, and got the following answers to questions put: - Jesus Christ was the Son of God: came on earth to die for sinners. Had heard of the Apostles; did not know how many they were, or what they did. Did not know who the disciples were. The mother of Christ was Mary Magdalene. A godfather meant Jesus Christ. Seven knew their Catechism by rote, but not in one single instance so as to understand what they were repeating. There were twelve months in a year; seven days in a week did not know how many days in a year. Had heard of the Queen; she lived somewhere in England; her name was Victoria; she reigned over the country. Had heard of Ireland; it was a town the other side of the sea.

5 x 6 = 30. 6 x 2 = 8. 5 x 9 = 45. 4 pints , 1 quart; and 4 quarts, 1 gallon. I should have added, in describing the building, that there were no manner of outbuildings, and the adjoining fields served the children for privies. There are no other schools in the parish.

October 29th, 1846. (Signed) DAVID LEWIS, Assistant

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(Gareth Hicks)

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