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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Following the expulsion of the Jesuits


[Sidenote:

Efforts for the betterment of primary and secondary education.]

Primary education, which had always received scant attention, was the subject of some legislation under Charles III, both to expand and to better it. To make certain of the capacity of the teachers examinations were required of them in reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1768 orders were given for the establishment of primary schools for girls in the principal towns of Spain, and some of the confiscated Jesuit funds were applied to this object. An important law of 1780 went into the whole matter of primary education in the city of Madrid. In the early years of the reign of Charles IV the _corregidores_ and _alcaldes_ of all towns were ordered to inspect schools, and were requested to inquire what towns, including those of the lords, the church, and the military orders, lacked them or were failing to provide sufficiently for those which they had. In 1795 the _Cortes_ of Navarre voted in favor of compulsory education. Furthermore, private individuals followed the example of the public authorities, and founded schools. Nevertheless, the census of 1787 showed only about a fourth of the children between the ages of seven and sixteen attending school. Conditions were still very bad for the teachers, whose salaries were so small that they could not live on them, while vexatious regulations were also a handicap to the free development of the schools. The teachers were imbued with the pedagogical

ideas of Rousseau, while Godoy attempted to bring about the introduction of the methods of Pestalozzi. Both Godoy and Jovellanos had extensive plans for the spread of primary education, but political exigencies interrupted the projects of the former, while the latter's brief period of rule gave hardly time enough for the execution of his ideas. The interest of the government, of individuals, and of the _Amigos del Pa?s_ societies in popular technical education has already been discussed. The institutions for the study of the humanities, roughly corresponding with the modern secondary schools (at least in that they were a grade below the universities), were also reformed by the government, following the expulsion of the Jesuits. In the same year (1767) it was provided that the places of the former Jesuit teachers in the Jesuit-taught schools of nobles and in the nineteen Jesuit colleges should be filled by competitive examinations. In 1768 similar institutions were ordered to be founded in such _villas_ and cities as had no university. Meanwhile, the municipal, conventual, and private schools continued to exist, as in earlier times; Ferdinand VI and Charles III enacted legislation with a view to limiting their numbers and alleviating the bad condition of some of them.

[Sidenote: Royal attempts at reform in university education.]

The twenty-four Spanish universities of this period were leading a life of languor and scant utility down to the reign of Charles III, struggling against the handicaps of a diminution in rents and students and the competition of the Jesuits, More serious still was the decline of university instruction. Studies were reduced to little more than the memorizing of books, without any attempt at scientific investigation; such little effort was made to keep abreast of the times that the great University of Alcal? had in a library of seventeen thousand volumes


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