DONALD CAMERON, Schoolmaster, Creich (41)—examined.
35329. Sheriff Nicolson.
—How long have you been teacher here ?
—I know the parish nineteen years, but I am not in my present place so long as that.
35330. Are you well acquainted with the people all through the parish?
—I know them pretty well in the Creich district and the south side; I am not so well acquainted with Ardtun.
35331. Are you acquainted with the places of the people who have given evidence hereto-day?
—Not with the places of all of them; I know the places of some.
35332. So far as you are able to judge, and are acquainted with the circumstances, do you think they have exaggerated their grievances or not ?
—They have just stated them as I have always known them state them.
35333. Have you a croft yourself?
—No, I have no land.
35334. Have you observed any change in the circumstances of the people since you came to reside in Creich or in the island ?
—No, I see scarcely any difference; not any noticeable difference.
35335. You don't think they are getting poorer?
—I hear a greater cry about it ; I hear the cry about being poor more for the last year or two than before.
35336. Do the children attend school pretty regularly ?
—Yes, when the weather admits of it.
35337. Are they much prevented by the weather ?
—A good deal.
35338. Are there any of them at a distance ?
—Yes, and some have to cross an arm of the sea.
35339. They must be pretty often prevented ?
—Yes, in the winter time especially.
35340. Does the compulsory officer do his duty?
—He pays a visit occasionally to the school, and enforces the clause in so far as it can be enforced.
35341. Has it ever been enforced?
—Well, parties were summoned to Tobermory, and defaulters were often brought before the board.
35342. And was there any punishment inflicted ?
—I never heard that there was any actual punishment.
35343. Did it cause any improvement in the attendance ?
—Yes, it had the effect of making the attendance better. But it would require to be repeated before it would have any permanent effect
35344. Who are the members of the School Board ?
—The chamberlain is one, Mr Pitcairn, Teroran, Mr Campbell, Mr M'Intyre, and Mr Campbell, the minister of the parish.
35345. How often have they meetings ?
—I could not say, but whenever there is any special business bringing them together a meeting is held.
35346. Where do they meet?
—In the board room, Bunessan.
35347. Do they pay due attention to the state of the schools, and yours in particular ?
—Whenever I complain they pay due attention. I never knew them fail to attend to a complaint.
35348. Have you any scholars learning the higher branches?
—There are some in the special subjects; there are some good scholars.
35349. How many have you learning Latin and mathematics?
—Four or five have been attempting that, but they have not been regular. They only took up that subject when they were about past school
35350. Are there fewer than there used to be learning those branches?
—No, I have more in the specific subjects every year than formerly, although the average attendance is getting a little less.
35351. Do you find any difficulty in giving instruction in those branches, in respect of the time and accommodation ?
—There is a little difficulty; the teacher is so much hampered by the standard work of the school that he cannot give as much attention to the extra subjects as he would like to do.
35352. Has there been any case of any one desirous of being instructed in those branches to whom you could not give the necessary time ?
—No, I just have the class, and any one whom I think qualified to take up the subject I allow to join the class; that is, after he is out of the standard work; or if he can manage his standard with ease along with Latin, I allow him to join the class.
35353. Are there any gentry in the neighbourhood who take an interest in the school ?
—Not outside the School Board ; none in the neighbourhood of the school.
35354. Do any of the members visit the school except at the time of inspection ?
—Yes, they visit and inspect the school sometimes, independent of Her Majesty's inspector.
35355. The Chairman.
—Is there any private examination of the school by the members of the School Board, and offering of prizes?
—That has been done several times.
35356. Do you think it has a good effect upon the school ?
—It acts as a stimulus.
35357. I understand the proprietor has been in the habit of sending prizes to the schools on this estate ?
—I don't know anything about that. I have a sort of recollection that I got a little in that way; but it came indirectly to me, and I was told it was given by his Grace.
35358. Who gave the prizes ?
—The prizes that have been given have been given by the School Board. No other prizes have been given that I recollect of in my time.
35359. Do you think the value is taken from the assessment, or is it the members of the School Board who give it ?
—I cannot say; I never inquired.
35360. But there are prizes given?
—There have been ; not every year, but it has been done sometimes. I remember two or three times.
35361. Professor Mackinnon.
—To what part of the country do you belong ?
35302. You were brought up among a crofting community there?
35363. Had you a school before you came to this parish ?
—No; I got my first school in this parish.
35364. And from this parish you went to South Uist, and then came back here again ?
35365. So that you know in a general way Ardnamurchan and South Uist Comparing the crofters in South Uist and those here, which of them do you think are easier in their circumstances?
—I think they are better fed and better clad, and better housed here than in Uist.
35366. Their crofts are larger?
—I cannot speak as to that, but the land I think is better.
35367. There is a very large number in your district without any land at all ?
—A good many.
35368. Do you draw quite a perceptible difference between the condition of the children of those and the children of the larger crofters ?
—The attendance of the cottar class is not so regular, and their intelligence is not quite up to the average of the crofter children, nor their clothing.
35369. Do you attribute that to their poorer circumstances?
—That is Cameron, my impression.
35370. There was exceptional distress last year?
—Yes, through the potato crop having failed and the grain crop not being so good.
35371. Was that felt more severely amongst this cottar class?
—Yes, no doubt.
35372. The lower you went, the more severely the pressure was felt?
—Yes, and the absence of employment.
35373. The attendance at the schools has improved very much since 1873 ?
35374. And the comforts of school life altogether have increased ?
35375. There are better schools in the parish now than the one you had in Uist some years ago ?
35376. More comfortable altogether?
35377. And the salaries of the teachers have increased too?