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fairly efficient education at a moderate cost, the private-adventure schools for the education of girls of a corresponding social position, conducted in many cases as a mere commercial speculation, by persons who have had no training or experience in educating, at a cost which is often exorbitant, and with no satisfactory guarantee as to their efficiency, exhibit, in the Report of the Commissioners, a state of things which is hardly credible in a country like this.
It is the habit in many families to educate girls up to the age of 14 or 15 by means of the elder sisters, or by governesses, who are frequently employed, not because they are competent to teach, but because they are gentlewomen in reduced circumstances, or because the heads of families do not consider it necessary to provide more expensive instruction for young children. The unfortunate effect of such teaching is manifest when the parents send the girl to what is popularly known as a " Finishing School." Then it is found that the groundwork of the education is bad, that the rudiments of knowledge Lave been only partially or imperfectly taught, and the result is that the amount of instruction which is expected to be given in the " Finishing Schooi" is unattainable. In this way an imperfect foundation of knowledge, covered by a smattering of accomplishments, is substituted for a solid education.
That this district is no exception to the general rule is shown by the results of the recent examinations for girls which were held in Southampton by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. At the Cambridge Examination in 1870, out of twenty-two girls who presented themselves from different schools in the country, only four passed; and at the Oxford Examinations in 1871, out of fourteen girls four also alone passed, all of those who failed having done so in the preliminary subjects ! When it is remembered that these preliminary subjects are those which are taught, and taught well, in the National and other elementary schools of the county, to hundreds of girls who pass a very good examination in them, a sufficiently vivid idea may be formed, without further illustration, of the system which evolves the above-mentioned results, and of the contrast in efficiency between it and that which is provided for the working classes in these elementary schools.
Although the standard of scholastic education of girls amongst the working classes is as good in this county as elsewhere, and requires little, if any, assistance, beyond that which is derived from the Government, to maintain it, there is a great want of more extensive and thorough industrial training for such girls, which it is hoped that the Association may be able in time to provide.
It is considered that the first step which it is necessary to take in order to effect the objects of the Association, is to establish in some part of the county a College for the education of Girls, on very much the same plan as those which have been founded in London and several of the provincial towns, in which a complete and graduated course of study, conducted by a competent staff of male and female teachers, and under a supervision which shall give the most unquestionable guarantee of efficiency, shall be provided at a moderate cost. At the present time no such institution exists in this country, and its want has been for some time urgently felt. J n regard to the localisation of this College, Southampton appears to offer advantages such as no other town in the county possesses, in its central position and ready accessibility from all parts of the county, and in the facts that it is a local centre for the Oxford and Cambridge examinations, and that it possesses, in the staff of teachers
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