1880 TO 1891.

In 1880, the Public Instruction Act was passed, to take the place of the Public Schools Act. By the Public Instruction Act the Council of Education was abolished, and a Department of Public Instruction, to be under the direct control of a responsible Minister, was constituted for the management of Public Education.

In addition to enactments similar to many of those which the Public Schools Act had contained, the Public Instruction Act further provided:—

  • (a) For the discontinuance of all State-aid to Denominational Schools from December 31, 1882.
  • (b) For all officers and teachers under the Department of Public Instruction being civil servants of the Crown.

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  • (c) For a uniform scale of school fees of 3d. for each child, or 1s. for four children from the same family; and for the payment into the Treasury of all such fees collected.
  • (d) For the establishment of superior Public Schools and High Schools for the purposes of secondary education.
  • (e) For the division of the colony into School Districts, and the appointment of Local School Boards for such Districts.
  • (f) For the compulsory attendance of school pupils between six and fourteen years of age.


1880  1890 
Schools ....  1,265 ....  2,630 
(including 150 Denominational) 
Enrolment ...  101,534 ....  195,241 
Teachers ...  2,300 ....  4,181 
Expenditure ...  £381,797 ....  £704,260 

The following summary will show the progress made under the Public Instruction Act of 1880:—

  • 1. In 1880, when the Public Instruction Act came into operation, there were:—schools, 1,265; scholars, 101,534; teachers, 2,300.
  • 2. In 1890, the number of schools had been increased by 1,365, or 108 per cent.; the number of scholars by 93,707, or 92 per cent.; and the number of teachers by 1881, or 82 per cent.
  • 3. To provide education for isolated families, and the sparse population in outlying districts, ‘House-to-house’ schools were established in 1883, and, in 1890, ninetyfive of such schools were in operation.
  • 4. Kindergarten schools and classes have been established; improved arrangements for carrying on introductory scientific and technical work in Public Schools have been made; and workshops for manual training for boys, and cookery classes for girls, have been established. In 1883 a Board was appointed to promote and manage

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    technical education throughout the colony, but the whole of such work has now been organised as a branch of the Public Instruction Department, under the direction of a superintendent. Very satisfactory progress in technical education is now being made.
  • 5. To promote secondary education, sixty-four superior Public Schools and five High Schools have been established; and High School and University State Bursaries have been instituted for deserving children of parents in poor circumstances.
  • 6. School accommodation is now provided for 198,898 children, about 96 per cent. of which is in vested buildings, the property of the State.
  • 7. The Training Schools for teachers, carried on under the Public Schools Act, were continued under the Public Instruction Act; and they have now been reorganised and connected with the University.
  • 8. 554 Public School Banks have been brought into operation, and, for the four years ending 1890, their deposits amounted to an aggregate of 42,770l.
  • 9. The Public School Cadet Force has been completely reorganised, and nearly 6,000 cadets are now enrolled.
  • 10. In 1880, 4·8 per cent., and in 1890 only 3·4 per cent., of the total population of the colony were apprehended for crime.


1867  1880  1883  1890 
(1st year under Pub. Schools Act)  (1st year under Pub. Inst. Act)  (1st year after aid to Denom. ceased) 
Schools ..  642  1,265  1,850  2,630 
Enrolment ..  57,000  101,534  155,918  195,241 
Teachers ..  971  2,300  2,980  4,181 
Expenditure .  £100,610  £381,797  £821,853  £704,260