Mr. Francis to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Lisbon, December 29, 1883. (Received January 16, 1884.)
Sir: Portugal has made considerable and commendable progress in educational achievement during the past fifteen years.
A stimulus was given to this paramount interest of the state in 1869 by the testamentary appropriation of a large sum—£150,000, I am informed—by the late Count Ferreira, of Oporto, for charitable and educational purposes in this kingdom. This included provision for the construction of one hundred and twenty school-houses in needy districts.
Then the Government directed its efforts with more efficiency than ever before to the important duty of making additional provisions for the education of the children of the state.
Primary instruction as now existing in Portugal is based upon the decree of May 2, 1878, modified somewhat by subsequent legislation. The primary schools are intended for the instruction of children of both sexes, and are divided into two classes, namely, primary and advanced primary. They are for the most part under district control, and sustained by district contributions. Attendance at the primary schools is obligatory, unless evidence is adduced that the children receive instruction at home or reside at a greater distance than 2 kilometers from [Page 439] the public school. In case of non-attendance without the above valid excuses, parents or guardians are subject to fine. The primary schools are intended for all children from six to twelve years of age. As a rule every parish must have an elementary school, but in cases where the children of adjoining parishes do not exceed sixty in number, then one school may be organized for two or more parishes.
The parochial authorities are required to furnish house, books, and furniture for the school and residence for the teacher, and to pay the latter 100 millreis annually in rural districts, 120 in towns, and 150 in Lisbon and Oporto. In addition to this compensation, the teacher is entitled to 5 cents monthly for each pupil under his instruction, and 2 millreis for each pupil passing successfully the final examination in the elementary branches, and further, for every six years of acceptable service an advance of 25 per cent, on the salary. There is also a pension system of small allowance for “retired teachers.”
In the primary school boys are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, elements of grammar, of the metrical system, rudiments of drawing, “moral and Christian doctrine”—the latter excepted in the case of children not Catholics. The same tuition for girls with the addition of needle-work. Mixed schools are to be instructed by married teachers, a lady to teach needle-work. Boys may be taught by teachers of either sex.
In each district there shall be an advanced primary school, to be sustained by the municipality thereof; teachers of these schools to be paid at least 180, and in Lisbon and Oporto 200 millreis per annum, receiving also 2 millreis for every pupil passing into a higher school. The “advanced primary” teaching for boys includes: 1, reading and recitation in prose and verse; 2, writing and written exercises; 3, arithmetic and elementary geometry; 4, grammar; 5, legal system of weights and measures; 6, elements of cosmography, geography, and Portuguese history; 7, sketching; 8, moral and sacred history; 9, elements of hygiene; 10, elements of agriculture; 11, gymnastics; 12, choral singing; 13, rights and duties of citizens. For the female sex same as above from 1 to 9, inclusive, with lessons upon the duties of a mother; also embroidery, making patterns, taking measures, and lace and flower work. There shall be a regular assistant for every sixty pupils. The municipalities are to appoint the teachers and pay them.
There should be in Lisbon and Oporto two normal schools for qualifying teachers of either sex. Each school shall have forty pupils of either sex, who shall be entitled to 7 millreis monthly for maintenance, the same to be paid by the district. There shall be in other districts, normal schools of the second class to the number of ten. The state will appoint and pay inspectors and subinspectors.
In towns having more than one school, the municipality is authorized to establish “central schools,” with three or four teachers for each one. The establishment of evening and Sunday schools for adults is enjoined upon the various municipalities as a duty. In every district there shall be a school committee to aid the municipality, and in every parish a parochial delegate. There shall be conferences of teachers in each district annually.
The Government will give annually prizes of 100 and 200 millreis to students; it will provide books by public competition every five years. It will aid the parochial assemblies in the creation of a school fund to assist the municipalities in the payment of teachers, in the establishment of evening and Sunday schools, in the establishment of “kindergartens” for children, to enlarge educational institutions, to establish [Page 440] libraries, and to bestow prizes upon the deserving teachers and worthy pupils, to secure pensions for poor scholars who may enter the normal schools, to provide proper instruments for instruction in the natural sciences, &c.
Secondary instruction is given in institutions of three classes according to the decree of June 14, 1880, namely, central lyceums, national lyceums, and secondary municipal schools.
There is a central lyceum in Lisbon, in Oporto, and in Coimbra; in the capitals of other districts there is a national lyceum. All these are supported by the state. Other municipalities may upon petition open secondary municipal schools, they paying two-thirds and the state one-third of the cost of their support. The object of these lyceums is to prepare pupils for admission into schools of superior instruction. The course in the central lyceum embraces: (1) Portuguese language; (2) French language; (3) Latin; (4) geography, cosmography, universal and natural history; (5) architecture, geometry, algebra, bookkeeping; (6) elements of physics, chemistry, and natural history; (7) elements of civil legislation, of Portuguese law, and political economy; (8) drawing; (9) national literature; (10) natural and moral philosophy and laws of nature; (11) algebra, geometry, and trigonometry; (12) physics and chemistry; (13) Latin; (14) Greek; (15) English; (16) German.
There are taught in the scondary schools: (1) Portuguese; (2) French; (3) arithmetic and geometry; (4) drawing; and there maybe one or two professional chairs. No pupil under ten years of age is to be admitted to the lyceums.
No school for private instruction by individuals can be opened without informing the supervisor of the district.
The teachers of central lyceums shall receive an annual salary of 600 millreis; of the national lyceums 500; the rector of the central lyceums, 200; of the national lyceums, 150, and the teachers of secondary municipal schools, 200, with some additional fees for scholars and upon successful examination of latter.
The centers of superior education are Lisbon, Oporto, and Coimbra. The university at Coimbra has faculties of law, theology, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy or natural sciences.
In Lisbon there are the polytechnic school, the army and navy medical and surgical schools, school for superior course of literature, commercial and industrial school, general institute of agriculture, and an academy of fine arts.
There exist in every diocese of the Kingdom institutions for ecclesiastical learning.
At Oporto there are a polytechnic academy, an agricultural college, and an academy of fine arts. Near Cintra there is also an agricultural college with an experimental farm.
I have presented an analysis of the laws on the subject of education in Portugal. The system embraces a wide and extended field, with a great deal of machinery for its working, and, though it is imperfectly operated in many cases, the fact is conceded that decided educational advancement has been made in this Kingdom since the enactment of those laws.
No reliable statistics of the attendance of children at the public primary schools can be obtained. I have seen a statement that in 1875–’76 (before the adoption of the existing law enforcing attendance) there were in the Kingdom and adjacent islands 141,466 children attending school. This, I am assured, was incorrect, and to my inquiries in regard [Page 441] to the number now in attendance I am told in the proper official department that no statistics can be furnished which would be other than vague estimates.
It is a truth, however, that the want of school-houses is severely felt throughout the Kingdom, that those existing are uncomfortably crowded, and that in the city of Lisbon the want is painfully felt. However, gradually, but too slowly it is feared, buildings are provided for this purpose to meet the growing necessity.
The criticism I have heard pronounced upon the educational system of Portugal is that it expends its greatest forces upon higher education and fails to provide as good schools as should be maintained for elementary instruction.
As to expenditures for education by the Government (not including the larger local contributions for this purpose), it may be stated that under the head of “public instruction” there was appropriated in the budget of 1883–’84, 934,762 millreis for the following purposes:
(1) Refers to district schools and teachers; (2) to certain specified advanced schools and teachers; (3) galleries of fine arts (opera-house); (4) universities (Coimbra, Oporto, Lisbon); (5) academy of sciences, school of fine arts, Government printing establishments, &c., all of which are specified in the budget.
I have, &c.,