« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
you the following extract from the " Times” of the 17th October, in which Professor (now Sir George) Darwin gave his impressions of the South African visit on the homeward voyage from Beira, where the Portuguese Authorities, with the grace and heartiness characteristic of the Latin race, fittingly crowned the welcome accorded our distinguished guests by all the other towns and districts of the country.
Professor Darwin says :- When I accepted nomination to the office of President of the British Association at the meeting to be held in South Africa, I felt doubts as to the value of the scientific work which would be brought before the several sections. The scientific reputation sectional President exercises a great influence on the character of the communications which are read before him, and it seemed uncertain whether a sufficiently large number of scientific men of eminence would be able to spare the time needed for so long an expedition. It was therefore with feelings of relief and satisfaction that in the autumn of 1904 and the spring of 1905 I saw our list of presidents gradually filling up with men of the highest scientific rank. When a correspondingly able body of recorders and secretaries was enlisted the success of the meeting was in a great measure secured. In view of the very exceptional character of our meeting unusual pains were taken by the sectional presidents and committees to secure the contribution of important and appropriate papers. The outcome of these preliminary steps was very encouraging, and a full list of promised communications was drawn up. A good many of the papers were contributed by men already resident in South Africa, and by several experts sent on in advance, so that the total contribution to science, especially as applicable to Africa, has proved to be of considerable magnitude. For the present year the South African Association for the Advancement of Science was fused with ourselve and the preliminary steps which I have explained were taken in consultation with, and by the help of, the President of that Society, Mr. Theodore Reunert, and of other active members. At the special request of our African friends invitations were issued to some fifty foreign men of science of the highest eminence; and, although only a comparatively small number found themselves able to accept, yet the reinforcement of our scientific strength was very great. be worth mentioning that there were men from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, Japan, and the United States, and although we were disappointed of a promised Australian contingent, Canada was worthily represented. This is not the place to speak in detail of the large fund, raised principally in the Colonies, for assisted passages to South Africa, of the generous reduction of ocean fares by the Union-Castle Line, of the free railway travel in the several colonies, of the great facilities afforded by the Rhodesian line, or, lastly, but not least, of the truly amazing hospitality, both corporate and individual, extended to us; but enough has been said to show that nothing which could be foreseen was omitted from the preparations. And yet on looking back on our visit I see clearly
that it has in every way surpassed our most sanguine expectations. The rush from day to day during the sessions at Capetown and Johannesburg was so great that it left me but little time for attendance at the sectional meetings. I shall not, therefore, attempt to give any appreciation of the valuable presidential addresses which were delivered, or of the papers which were read. Since Capetown is the seat of the Royal Observatory, and since Sir David Gill's eminence as an astronomer is well known, it was to be expected that the crop of astronomical papers would be large. Moreover, we were fortunate in having among us Dr. Kapteyn, of Groningen, who has collaborated largely with Sir David in the study of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. Prominent among the papers read were Sir David Gill's account of the survey of South Africa—a scientific enterprise of the first importance--and Dr. Kapteyn's study of the motion of the stars, which seems to give us some insight into what is happening in that vast universe of which our sun is so insignificant a member. Dr. Roberts, of the Native College at Lovedale, gave us an account of his study of double stars carried out in South Africa. This paper was especially interesting to me, since it seems to afford some evidence of the actual efficiency of tidal friction in changing the configuration of a pair of stars even within the lifetime of a man. I am unable to speak at first hand of the work in the biological sections, but I know that in our subsequent journeys the entomologists and botanists found much to interest them, although our visit coincided with the deadest time of the year. The geologists, among whom were Penck, of Vienna, Sollas, of Oxford, and Davis, of Harvard (more properly a geographer), reaped a rich harvest of observation in the geologieal excursions whicu filled up the fortnight between the meeting at Capetown and that at Johannesburg. The engineers and chemists must have learned much, and perhaps may have taught a little, at Johannesburg and Kimberley.
Finally, I cannot pass over in silence Sir Richard Jebb's very remarkable address at Capetown in the educational section, repeated with some additional matter at Johannesburg. It should be read by all interested in education, whether at home or in Africa. A volume of papers read before the Association which have a special bearing on South Africa is to be printed, and some generous citizens of Johannesburg will defray the incidental expenses. It will, I hope, be found to repay in a measure our debt of gratitude for all the kindness shown us. In conclusion, at the risk of being irrelevant, I cannot refrain from mentioning that I had the pleasure of meeting an old lady, Miss Maclear, daughter of the former Astronomer Royal at the Cape, who had actually seen my father when he was there in 1835. She told me that, as a young girl, she remembers him riding round the Observatory Hill-at that time bare of trees-clad in a white Chilian dress. This is a link with the past that I little expected to find."
Reference was made in the first annual report of your Council to the petition presented to the Transvaal Government for the establishment of an observatory in this neighbourhood. As you are aware, that petition was very favourably received, and duly acted upon, and the meteorological observatory under the direction of Mr. R. T. A. Innes, on the most commanding position overlooking Johannesburg, has given its name to one of the rising suburbs of this town. Thanks to the liberality of the Bezuidenhout family, the Observatory has secured, at a nominal cost, a site covering ten and a half acres in a situation which can never be obstructed by future building operations. Our belief in the excellence of this site was very strongly confirmed when some of the astronomical members of the British Association met the High Commissioner there on the 30th August last, this party consisting of :
Sir David Gill, His Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good
who unanimously expressed the opinion that it was one of the finest sites in the world for the erection of a large telescope, both on account of its actual position, and because of the great need of such a telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Thus, for instance, Professor Kapteyn said :—“In all researches bearing on the construction of the universe of stars, the astronomical problem of the age, the investigator was hindered by our ignorance of the southern heavens. Work was accumulating in the north, which was to a great extent useless, until similar work was done here. He was convinced that the erection of a large telescope here would be of the greatest service to Astronomy generally.
Had time permitted it would have been a grateful task to go over the eleven sections of the British Association in succ
ccession, and enumerate the illustrious men representing each branch of science who were among our visitors, as well as to point to the probable practical outcome of the discussions and recommendations of the meetings held, both here and in Capetown, but to do this would be far beyond the limits of a single address. My successor in office will have the pleasant duty, I hope, of reviewing the promised volumes, which are more likely to be three or four than merely the single volume anticipated by Sir George Darwin. This evening I propose to confine myself to reflections suggested by the work done in one of the eleven sections only, namely, that dealing with education.
Fortunately for my purpose, some of the papers read before the Education Section of the British Association in Capetown and Johannesburg have already been published in pamphlet form, including the address of Sir Richard Jebb, the President of the section, which was re-delivered in Johannesburg, with additions bearing on the educational problems of this Colony, before one of the largest audiences that listened to any of the papers or addresses of the whole meeting. This noteworthy gathering was, of course, mainly due to the fame and well-known eloquence of Sir Richard Jebb, and the natural desire of all who were acquainted with his writings to take the opportunity of listening to one of the most brilliant scholars of the day; but it is also largely accounted for by the exceptional interest that is being taken in educational matters at the present time. There is what
may almost be described as a wave of enthusiasm for education passing over the country, and it is only natural that the South African Association for the Advancement of Science should eagerly avail itself of so auspicious a moment to concentrate public attention on the educational needs of the country, and on the efforts that are being made in so many different directions to render every branch of education more widespread and more efficient.
As you know, education, in so far as it is equivalent with instruction, consists of three stages : primary or elementary education, secondary or higher education, and the highest or University education. To have gone through these three stages constitutes a liberal education. The great majority of children in this country never get beyond the first stage. They are taught to read and write, generally in one language only, and the merest rudiments of two or three other elementary subjects, such as simple arithmetic, and the outlines of geography and of English and South African history. Time was, within the recollection of many in this room, when even this modicum of education was considered more than enough for what was contemptuously called “the masses." But now, owing to the gradual awakening of the public conscience, and a better understanding of the public interest, any civilised community demands, in the words of the present Lord' Mayor of Sheffield, an open door for every child from infant school to University." Or, to slightly vary the simile, we may regard elementary education as the key to knowledge, whilst secondary and University education are successive steps to the storehouses of knowledge, to those treasure-chambers enriched with the spoils of time, where the accumulated wit and wisdom of mankind have gathered together the triumphs of philosophy, the marvels of science, and the glories of literature. To all practical intents and purposes access is denied to the bulk of our children to these higher kinds of education. All the more reason, then, why we should make sure that such elementary education as we provide is at least universally provided, and the best of its kind. A great and increasing effort is being made to ensure this, but as yet we cannot flatter ourselves that the effort is completely successful.
It will probably come as a shock to many to learn that there are not less than 50,000 white children of school-going age in South Africa who are receiving no instruction at all. Until the full official figures of the last general census of 1904 are published in detail, it is not easy to frame even an approximate estimate with any approach to finality. But there is evidence enough to prove that the above appalling number of uncared-for children of European descent-I am not considering the native or coloured population at all for the present—is rather under than over-estimated. That this is so may be shown in various ways.
The preliminary census returns of British South Africa give the total number of the European or white population in the five Colonies, on the 17th April, 1904, as 1,133,756. It is generally assumed that in a properly educated country 1 in 6 of the population should be at school. Thus, in England and Wales, with a population in 1904 of 33,763,434, there were 5,967,868 children on the registers of primary day schools, or a proportion of 1 in 5.7. In Scotland, in the same year, out of a population of 4,627,656, there were on the registers 785,473, or 1 in 5.9. In Ireland, there were 726,552 pupils on the rolls, out of a population of 4,398,462, or 1 in 6. In specially well-educated countries, like Switzerland, for instance, the proportion is as high as 1 in 5. Now, as there are about 1,200,000 white people in the five South African Colonies, if we apply the rule of 1 in 6, it is evident there should be 200,000 children at school. But what are the facts ?
In June, 1904, there were only 115,000 pupils enrolled in all the Government or Government-aided schools for white children in South Africa. So that, making the most liberal allowance for children receiving private tuition, and allowing further for the abnormal proportion of unmarried men in districts like the Wit watersrand, the conclusion can hardly be avoided that at least 50,000 white children of school-going age are receiving no schooling at all. Startling as these figures are to those who may have been under the pleasant impression that at least primary education had been successfully dealt with by the State, they are amply corroborated by the recent utterances of the official heads of the several education departments.
In a paper read before the Educational Section of the British Association in Johannesburg, Mr. H. Warre Cornish, late ActingDirector of Education in the Transvaal, stated that of the 300,000 white inhabitants of this Colony at the time of the last census, 145,000 were living in towns and dorps, and that in the rural areas embracing the other half of the population about one-fifth were of school-going age, that is, 30,000 children in the rural districts alone, of whom not more than 10,000 were enrolled in Government schools of the country area, while not more than 5,000 were estimated by Mr. Cornish as receiving education of some kind