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;
I visited to-day the parish of Gwnnws, accompanied by Mr. Penry, and saw the Incumbent,. the Rev. - Hughes.
I examined a boy named William Evans, aged 11 years, the son of a labourer living at Tyn-y-Llydiad, in this parish, at the residence, and in the presence of the Rev. - Hughes. He said that he attends the Ystrad Meiric day school , and has been there for the last six months. He is taught to read in the Bible; the Latin grammar; to spell from a spelling-book; to write on paper; and to repeat the Church Catechism ; but no arithmetic, English grammar, &c. He did not know who Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Joseph were. He did not know anything about the sons of Jacob, Moses, Aaron. Saul, David: or Solomon. He did not know what a prophet was, nor the name of any Prophet mentioned in the Bible. He did not know who wrote the Bible, or any part of it. He knew that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, but did not know what he did to save sinners. He did not know what a sinner means, nor who are sinners. Did not know what to repent, or to be born again, means, nor what a sinner must do to be saved. Did not know what kind of death Jesus Christ suffered, but knew that he died on Calvary. Did not know how he might go to heaven, but knew that the righteous would go to heaven, and the wicked to hell. He did not know what a godfather or godmother meant, nor any other term in the Church Catechism that was asked of him respecting it. He did not know how many pence in 2s. 6d. or 5s., nor how much are 13 x 14, 5 x 6, or 7 x 8. He had never learnt the multiplication table. He did not know how many weeks or days there are in the year. Did not know the name of the present month, nor the name of the first or last in the year. In Latin he could neither decline musa nor hic, haec, hoc, nor anything else. He read in English, Matthew chapter ix, verses 1 and 2. Did not know what was meant by the words " enter, ship, came city, sick, bed, faith," &c. He could not spell the words, "palsy, sick, or forgiven".
He afterwards read the same portion in Welsh, but more incorrectly than in English and with all the persuasion of the Rev. - Hughes, he could obtain no answer from him as to the meanings of the words "ship, apostles, crucify" &c., in Welsh.
J. C. S., November 16th, 1846. [Jelinger C. Symons, the chief commissioner]
Calvinistic Methodist Sunday School.
I visited to-day, and examined, the Calvinistic Methodist Sunday school at Pont-rhyd-fendigaid in the parish of Gwnnws. I went round all the classes first, to observe the mode of proceeding adopted by the several teachers. I found all the Scripture classes reading the same chapter, and that chapter had been read by the teachers, studied and explained by them mutually in the morning, from 8 to 10, before the service. I was informed by the superintendent, that this is their regular practice to meet for the purpose of reading and discussing the lesson to be taught, so that the teachers may be prepared to explain the same to the scholars.
After I had made a general survey of the whole, I examined minutely one of the lower and one of the higher Bible classes. In the lower class, I did not obtain so many answers, nor as appropriate answers as I expected; but in the higher class, the answers to my questions were prompt, accurate, and comprehensive. This class evinced a thorough knowledge of Scripture, including its history, geography, doctrine, and experience. At the close, I examined the whole school, and the answers I obtained were correct and satisfactory.
I obtained the schedule filled from the Baptist Sunday school in the village, and also went to the church called Mynach-log-fawr, or Strata Florida, to visit, the Sunday school there in connexion with the Established Church, but no school is in existence there at present; it was given up because of the fewness of scholars that attended, and the little interest taken by all connected with the Church in its management and success.
November 16th, 1846. (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant