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CONSULAR REPORTS ON EDUCATIONAL TOPICS.
[This Bureau is indebted to the State Department for documents on educational topics sent by United States consuls in various countries. Some of these documents deserve publication in their entirety; others refer to educational measures in foreign countries as causes of conditions observed. Many of such references appear to be of importance; hence excerpts have been made and are here inserted.]
RECENT PROGRESS IN RUSSIA.1
Report of Mr. THOMAS SMITH, vice and acting consul at Moscow, Russia.
During the last two years the columns of our papers and journals have been enlivened with discussions as to the requirements of our education. Sometimes they speak of the deficiency of our national and elementary schools, and sometimes of the necessity of reforming the gymnasium and realistic schools, and finally the universities. In the commencement of 1897 much was written concerning the necessity of reforming the universities; during the autumn the question was raised regarding the remuneration and salaries of professors, then the question of technical schools and technical faculties. Everywhere and in everything is noticed a desire for progress, and a thirst for reform shows itself. The desire appears not only in Russian society, but, what is more, it has taken hold of Government spheres. In nearly all departments the work is going on. Wherever the Government concerns itself with the problem of the education of the Russian people-the education of the lower, middle, and higher classes-permanant and temporary commissions are at work. The problem of education has become a problem of reform.
But something unaccountable is putting on a drag in the matter of reform. They talk a great deal, but without arriving at any result. They begin to talk from a new point of view, and, as it were, of other things; and again, although the subject is always the same—i. e., the reform in education—nothing comes of it. The whole consists of only ideas and wise and good plans, but the matter remains immovable. There is a reason, it must appear, in every natural and general manifestation, though we do not see it; but the reason in this instance is a very ordinary one. In fact, we are told-and it is constantly repeated to usthat we have no money. We all wish for reforms; we acknowledge their necessity and importance. We require both national education and reforms of the middle schools, and augmentation of the budgets of the university, and the extension of technical education; but we have no money.
Here unwilling doubts arise. On the one hand financial estimates with a large surplus, the brilliant exhibition in Nijni Novgorod, the exchange of paper currency for gold and silver, and much more make one think that we are rich; on the other hand, it appears that we are poor, that almost nothing more can be undertaken for the spreading and perfection of education in Russia. Are we rich or poor?
1 Translation from the Russian newspaper, Novoe Vremia.
In deciding this question, society is at a loss; but, allowing that we are neither rich nor poor, but that the State, people, and society are possessed of fair means, what do we do? Out of the more than a billion budget, we spend 20,000,000 rubles ($10,280,000),1 2 per cent, on national education. Admitting that other departments in line with the ministry of national education expend on schools and education another 20,000,000 rubles (besides the budget of the ministry of national education), and that the State expends altogether nearly 4 per cent of its budget, is such a condition normal? We shall not compare these figures with the expenditures of other Governments; the comparison would be too unprofitable for Russia. Let us examine the matter as it is, in connection with the condition of our Fatherland and of Russian society. We require a low medium instruction and higher education in a much larger measure and proportion than actually exist. Everyone agrees with this contention; but let us only verify this condition from a general point of view. The State spends on the needs of education about 4 per cent of its budget; how much does society itself expend on it?
Let us take the middle class of our population, a class of people possessing means, but not rich. The income of this class amounts to from 1,000 to 5,000 rubles ($514 to $2,570) per annum. Of course the matter concerns the people with families, . . . where there are three or four children (the usual number in a middleclass family). The outlay on the education of the children fluctuates between 300 and 700 rubles ($154 and $359) per annum. It is beyond doubt that a Russian family spends on the education of its children (each one of us will find sufficient confirmation of this) from 10 to 20 per cent of its annual income. The State expends on education 4 per cent; a family 10 or 20 per cent of its budget. But up to the present, we have been speaking of the middle class of society. If we had in view the people and the lower classes, it would appear that with 4 per cent of their income, the peasant and artisan could not pay for the most elementary education of their children; consequently, the education of the people must be almost gratis. For this purpose, must be taken at least one-half of the 20,000,000 rubles ($10,280,000) budget of the ministry of national education. Certainly, we have rich people who spend on the education of their children less than 10 per cent, and even less than 4 per cent of their incomes; but in Russia, there are so few of them, they are but units in the millions of population. In statistics of the expenditure of society on the education of youths they can not be taken into consideration, being quite an exception.
The result is therefore perfectly clear. Russian society, striving toward education, expends five or seven times more than the State. Is such a state of things correct? To secure an indispensable equality between the needs of society and expenditure out of the State budget, the Government should, by an augmented outlay for education, equalize its contribution to that of the public. When the State shall begin to spend on education the same percentage of its budget as is expended by a Russian family-say, about 10 per cent, or 100,000,000 rubles ($51,400,000)—then, of course, we shall not have a deficiency in any kind of schools—in national or lower, or in middle and higher schools. Of course, it is impossible to attain such a condition at once; but if the Government annually and gradually increases the budget of the ministry of education by 5,000,000 rubles ($2,570,000), which can not be burdensome, considering the immensity of overestimated appointments, then in the course of four years the budget would be doubled, and we would almost have double the number of school establishments, and the existing ones would flourish perfectly.
Moscow, January 4, 1898.
1According to the valuation of the Director of the United States Mint, January 1, 1898, the paper ruble equals 51.4 cents in United States currency.
AMERICAN COMPETITION IN EUROPE.
In an extensive report on this subject, Mr. Frank H. Mason, United States consul-general at Frankfort, Germany, says under date of December 31, 1897: "The year now drawing to a close will be remembered as an epoch in the industrial and commercial relations between the leading European countries and the United States. The remarkable fact of 1897 has been the enforced recognition of the truth that in several important lines of manufacture-notably that of iron and steel-the scepter of economical production, combined with payment of the highest wages to labor, has passed from the Old World to the New.
"For years European economists have struggled against the conclusions which practical men are now forced to accept. It has been argued that, through what they regarded a false fiscal policy, and the exaggerated wages accorded to labor, high cost of living, and lack of general technical education, American manufactures, in which labor formed an important percentage of cost, could never seriously compete in the world's markets with the low wages, frugal living, and patient twelve-hour toil of the Old World, where, in many places, communities have been trained for generations in specialized forms of industry.
"But it has been demonstrated that, under intelligent, progressive management, highly paid labor, especially when employed to use complicated machinery, is, after all, the cheapest, and that in the race for supremacy, the inert, congested populations of the Old World have been in many cases left behind by the people who, more than any other, have reduced economy of labor to an exact science.
"It seems impossible to repeat too often or emphasize too strongly the futility of trying to reach the German market with circulars and catalogues printed in English, with weights and values in pounds and dollars, or the importance of showing and explaining goods to the dealers and consumers in foreign lands who may become purchasers. Neither is it any longer sufficient for machinery and other merchandise to be exhibited only at London or Paris. In order to reach the German trade, they must be shown, and, in case of a machine, set up and put to work at Berlin or some other large German city. Germany has now reached a stature that, it is felt, entitles this country to be treated as a national entity, and however much public opinion here may, upon abstract principle, deprecate the increased importation of manufactured products, those immediately interested in their sale or use are gratified by every liberal, well-sustained effort to attract and retain their patronage. . . .
"The contest narrows down, ultimately, to one of comparative resources, economy in manufacture, and skillful enterprise in selling; and in all these, except the last, our country has assuredly nothing to fear. With the most modern and effective machinery, the most efficient labor, ample capital, and an unequaled factory system the Republic, in the closing years of the century, fixes new standards in cheapness of production and passes definitely from the rôle of customer to that of competitor. . . .
"From all that can be foreseen, it would appear that competition in Germany will sharpen and become more determined as processes are improved and the whole economy of production brought more and more nearly upon equal terms. The contest will be one between natural resources, the inventive capacity to economize labor, reduce freights, save waste of material, and, above all, the ability to skillfully sell surplus products in foreign markets. In all these, except the last, Americans are acknowledged masters. When they learn and act unitedly upon the knowledge that foreign trade must be found, developed, and maintained by the same means that have been so effectively employed at home-by the persistent personal efforts of competent salesmen, showing the goods in presence of the cus
tomer and offering them to him in the weights, values, and measures, and upon terms of sale and payment that prevail in foreign markets-there need be no fear of the result."
UNITED STATES STUDENTS IN FRENCH SCHOOLS.
Gen. Horace Porter, United States ambassador to France, writes from Paris under date of January 11, 1898, in answer to an inquiry in regard to the admission of a student from the United States into the School of Mines. No foreign student, he says, can enter any of the schools of France-medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, painting, design, architecture, music, declamation, engineering, etc.—without the formal application of the diplomatic representative of his country. In most cases two letters suffice, one making application, the other expressing thanks when the request is granted. Sometimes more correspondence is necessary, for the reason that those proposing to enter any of the high-grade schools have to produce certain certificates of studies or diplomas, which the authorities accept only when they come through the embassy. These rules, says General Porter, apply to all foreign students. No discrimination is made against Americans; on the contrary, the authorities extend all possible facilities to them. There is a large number of American students in Paris, and, as a rule, they are much liked by the teachers in French institutions.
As for the School of Mines, he continues, foreigners can be admitted there either as foreign pupils, in which case they have to stand an examination, or as free auditors, in which case there is no examination. The courses, however, are not all open to that class of students, and no diploma is granted them. In both cases they have to pay 50 francs ($9.65) for matriculation. If the school is full, as occasionally happens, the application for admission is put off until the next year.
COMMERCIAL HIGH SCHOOL AT LEIPZIG.
According to statement of Mr. Thomas Ewing Moore, commercial agent at Weimar, under date of February 22, 1898, it has been decided to open a commercial high school in connection with the university the coming Easter at Leipzig. The conditions governing admission have now been made public. Candidates for matriculation must have pursued one of the courses, or have the qualifications hereunder specified:
(1) Graduates of nine-grade secondary schools (Gymnasia, Real-Gymnasia, and Ober Realschule).
(2) Graduates of a commercial secondary school, the course of which conforms with the aforementioned institutions.
(3) Merchants who have received the certificate of the one-year volunteer military service and who have successfully completed their apprenticeship.
(4) Graduates of German teachers' seminaries who have passed the qualifying examination ("second state examination ").
(5) Foreigners who establish proof of a corresponding education and who are over 20 years of age.
The two last points were not definitely decided upon at the commercial high school conference at Hanover. Up to the present, entrance examinations have not been considered. Students of the University of Leipzig, merchants, teachers, etc., may attend certain lectures. As to the admission of students of the commercial high school to the university lectures, definite arrangements have been made with the authorities.
A seminary for training teachers for the commercial high school will be established to which students of the University of Leipzig, as well as other educated candidates for commercial high-school teacherships (including teachers and mer