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MS137_AJ95_150_4
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94
NINTH ANNUAL REPORT.
and are huddled together like sheep. The worthy master is-found either in a corner or in the midst of his pupils. These Schools are situated chiefly on the ground-floor, in the courtyard, which forms an essential feature of Bagdad buildings.. The atmosphere becomes somewhat vitiated, but fortunately there is always a free admission of fresh air. A pernicious-influence is here exerted upon the pupils. The masters, who know nothing of discipline, are generally very poor, and the School premises small and wretched.
The smaller children are taught in turns. A monitor, holding a leaf of Hebrew words in his hands, calls some child to read. The pupil screams out the letters with all his might. After a lesson of about ten minutes, during which the other children remain idle, the next infant receives a similar amount of instruction, and so on. The elder pupils sit round about their master, and listen to his explanations, which they are then expected to be able to repeat. They are sometimes-beaten on any part of the body.
This may be taken as a fair description of the proceedings in the small Schools. The pernicious effects of the want of discipline and the false notions which are imparted remain observable for many a year. The Jewish Community supports two institutions. One is a large Boys' School, and the other a Medrash (place of study) for the young and the old. The Boys' School is composed of two large courtyards, surrounded by square recesses like rooms, and built of brick. They are, so to say, open play-grounds, and are exposed to the air, the classes being formed round the courtyard. Here about 1,000 children are taught. Their ages vary from three years to-sixteen, but the majority are between six and twelve.
There are 20 classes, conducted by as many teachers, mostly old men. Only boys are admitted, and all being very poor, there is no fee for schooling. After midday, each boy receives a slight meal, which is generally composed of a slice of bread and a few dates. Meat is never distributed ; rice and the fruits of the season, together with bread, form the ration.. The pupils arrive early in the morning, having previously breakfasted at home, and they stay until sunset. The afternoon and evening prayers are said before they leave. During the day they have about two hours' rest, and on one occasion I found about 80 children sitting in the middle of the courtyard warming themselves in the sub. They all rose from the ground at a given moment, producing great dust as they went to their respective places. The children were very attentive
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