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The Administration of Agricultural Education


A MEMORANDUM has just been issued setting of out the arrangements which have been made between the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education in regard to agricultural education. It has been known for some time that a certain amount of controversy existed between the two departments on account of the anomaly arising from the fact that the Board of Agriculture inspected and gave grants to the various agricultural colleges and other institutions for higher agricultural education, whereas agricultural instruction in secondary and primary schools, like all other forms of education, was controlled by the Board of Education. On the one hand it was felt that agricultural education could not thus be dissociated from the general system of the country; on the other hand, there was the danger that so special, and in many respects so weakly supported, a subject would never receive the attention it deserved without the fostering care of its own special department. The situation became more critical as it appeared that the Board of Agriculture, however anxious to retain its connection with the colleges, was unable to obtain the funds either to make adequate grants to existing institutions or to promote the creation of fresh colleges where they were needed. The two Boards appear now to have arrived at a compromise which still leaves the higher educational institutions under the charge of the Board of Agriculture, but also secures an interchange of views by the creation of an interdepartmental committee. The Board of Agriculture is to take charge of advanced schools of agriculture serving, as a rule, more than one local education authority's area, and taking students of an age of seventeen and upwards; under its charge also will be such special institutions as deal only with one branch of agricultural instruction, as dairying, forestry, & c. As before, the Board of Education will be in charge of the agricultural instruction that is provided by the county councils and other local educational authorities, but it is not clear by which board, or in what way. pressure can be brought to bear upon the backward counties that are now doing nothing for organised agricultural education. For example, the East Sussex County Council uses part of its “whisky money” to maintain an agricultural college, which is further assisted by grants from the Board of Agriculture; the West Sussex County Council next door puts the whisky money to the relief of rates, and does nothing for agricultural education. The defect in the Board of Agriculture's administration has been the fact that it has been powerless in such cases; it could neither compel nor bribe such counties to do their duty, and what the public interested in such matters is anxious to know is how the new arrangement will be worked to ensure a provision of higher agricultural education for farmers in all parts of the country, a national system that is not dependent on the caprice or the poverty of any county council.

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The Administration of Agricultural Education . Nature 81, 428–429 (1909).

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