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;
Church Day School. I visited this school on December 1st accompanied by the Rev. W. Evans, the. Rector, and Mr Penry. It is held in a miserable cottage with a floor pitched with pebbles, and a thatched roof out of repair, and no ceiling or fire. I examined the first class who were barely able to read the English Bible, and utterly unable to explain anything. They were questioned on Scripture by Mr. Evans in their own language but gave scarcely any correct answers. Three or four only were doing sums and writing in copy books. Welsh is almost exclusively spoken and understood in this parish, yet the 15 children are taught to read in the Old Testament in English, comprehending the meaning of none but the simplest words in the language, and that knowledge confined to six or seven of the elder children.
J. C. S. [Jelingar C Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]
Mydyroilin School .- I visited to-day a day school at Mydyroilin, in the parish of Llanarth. The room in which the school is held is a low, dark, damp building, erected partly of stone and partly of mud, and thatched with straw, altogether unfit for a place to conduct a school in. The floor of it on the day I visited it was completely covered with mud and water, worse than some places on a country road on a wet day. There was a small fire made of wood in a corner on the floor, yielding very little heat to the nearest to it, but filling the room with smoke. In this inhospitable place I had to remain on a cold, snowy day, to collect the information required to fill the schedule, and examine the scholars, for nearly two hours.
Eight boys read very imperfectly a part of the 3rd chapter of the book of Ruth. They spelled the most difficult words in the chapter very correctly, for there is generally more attention paid to spelling than to any other branch of school instruction in these districts. But when I examined them as to the meanings of some of the words, in order to see if they understood what they read, I found them quite unable to explain to me anything of what they read, or even give the corresponding Welsh words, but in a few instances.
They were also more than usually deficient in the knowledge of the events and persons recorded in the Scriptures, such as the deluge the call of Abraham, the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, and their journey in the wilderness, &c. They knew scarcely anything about Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, or even Jesus Christ. They said He came to save sinners, but did not know what is meant by the word sinner, nor what Jesus Christ had done to save sinners.
I asked each of them if they attended Sunday school, and they all said that they did, but seldom. In general knowledge they were all very deficient. Not one knew correctly how many days there are in a week, nor how many months, weeks, or days in a year, nor even the name of the present month. In arithmetic there was only one scholar, and he was just commencing numeration. The writing of the scholars was very badly and slovenly executed. The copies set by the master for the pupils to imitate were very imperfect. In English grammar there was one boy, but he did not know the parts of speech, nor did he understand anything of what he committed to memory on this subject.
The master is a man of 60 years of age, the same person as I named in my report for Dihewyd, as being unable to raise a school there this year, though he was there last year, on account of his incompetency. He was a labourer until he was forty years of age. and then he had no advantages to qualify him to be a schoolmaster. The principal persons connected with the Independent chapel near this schoolroom, and where the school was held until the chapel was recently rebuilt, informed me that they were aware of the need for a more convenient schoolroom, and a better qualified teacher, and that they had selected a piece of ground to build a new room, to contain 150 scholars, and they were about sending up a memorial to the Committee of Council on Education on the subject.
I left a schedule to be filled up for the Sunday school held at the Independent chapel here, with the principal person connected with it, named Mr. David Davies Tyhen; and one also with Mr. David Jones, for the Sunday school connected with the Wesleyan chapel, called Capel Vicar, who is living close by it, and connected with the school.
December11th, 1846. (Signed) HENRY PENRY Assistant.