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Education on the Bendigo

The Argus reported with great concern the lack of proper education for the children of Bendigo.

18 August 1854
Published Source
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The Gold Rushes and Australian English: a resource for researchers, teachers and students, Australian National University, 2005, http://www.anu.edu.au/andc/res/aus_words/gold/index.php. Details
This material is provided by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, a joint project of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.


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BENDIGO. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) Sandhurst, August 14th, 1854. EDUCATION ON THE BENDIGO.— A month or two since[,] I made some remarks upon the subject of education, expressing regret that so little attention appeared to be paid towards the instruction of the rising generation on the Bendigo. In doing so I expressed not only my own sentiments, but those of others who looked upon the provision made for the education of the children of this district to be lamentably insufficient. Others, however, held a different opinion, it would seem, for I subsequently heard these remarks dissented from, and a great deal said about the number of schools and schoolmasters here, and the attendance of large numbers of children. The visit of Mr. Orlebar, the Inspector of National Schools, to Bendigo, affords a fitting opportunity for resuming the subject, and I am sorry to say that the opinions of this gentleman, formed upon an inspection of all the schools here, confirm my previous strictures. Mr. Orlebar’s visit had reference not only to the inspection of the National schools at present in existence, but to the practicability of establishing others, and to the subject of education in this district generally. It appears that the number of schools at the Bendigo is seven, of which two are conducted under the national system, three are Wesleyan, one Presbyterian, and one Roman Catholic. There are no schools connected with the Church of England, the Rev. Mr. Gregory, the Episcopalian clergyman here, taking an active part in the establishment of National schools. Of these the Presbyterian school, which was established by the exertions of Dr. Allison, is alone unsupported by the Government. One National school is at Sandhurst, near View Point, and the other at the Seventh White Hill. Mr. Orlebar states that the most numerous attendance which he found at the former place was thirty-two children, and at the latter fourteen. All these children are very young, and none are far advanced in the several branches of education. This might naturally be expected in a district where there are such inducements to children as soon as they are serviceable to take employment of some sort. Altogether, he was very much disappointed with the National Schools of this district. The Wesleyans have a school at Sandhurst, another at Golden-square, and a third at the White Hills. The attendance at the first is about forty, at the third thirty-five, and at the second somewhat less. At the Presbyterian school the number of children in attendance is about thirty-four, and at the Roman Catholic about fifty. It will thus be seen that the largest attendance is at the Wesleyan schools, being about 108. The next is the Roman Catholic, while the National schools do not number more than forty-six children, although all the interest of the Church of England clergymen is thrown into the scale. Now, it needs no remarks of mine to prove that this is not as it should be; Mr. Orlebar himself seems quite convinced of this, and will no doubt take such steps as to secure some marked improvement. Besides the two masters of the National schools I have alluded to, there is a third gentleman, who was appointed to take charge of a school in this district, but there is no vacancy for him. He is, as may be expected, very much dissatisfied, and talks of compensation. Why not locate this gentleman at Milkmaid Flat, or at Bullock Creek? There is a large population at the former place, and the township at the latter is rapidly becoming filled with a permanent population. The total number of children at the seven schools I have enumerated is about two hundred and thirty-eight, and this in a population of some thirty thousand. Making every allowance for the peculiar nature of the population, in which there is so small a proportion of families, for the desultory and nomadic habits of gold-diggers, and for the many inducements to children to follow some employment instead of attending school—making every possible allowance, this number is ridiculously small, and cannot be one seventh of the number of children in this district who should be in regular attendance at schools. The character of a large portion of the succeeding generation, brought up amidst all the demoralising influences of such an unsettled and vagabond life as that of the gold-digger, and almost destitute either of religious or secular instruction, may be anticipated. One of the most serious and important duties of the Government is the education of the thousands of children on the gold-fields, and how well this important duty is at present attended to, let the condition of Bendigo testify. Argus, 18 August 1854