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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ragged Schools

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is the popular name for a voluntary agency providing education for destitute children, and so preventing them from falling into vagrancy and crime. Vagrant children, and those guilty of slight offences, are provided for in the English Certified Industrial School; but the two institutions are in Great Britain frequently combined. (See INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS).

The movement which established ragged schools was almost simultaneous with that which instituted reformatories. John Borgia, an unlettered laboring mason, established a "ragged school" towards the close of the last century, composed of thievish and vagrant children gathered from the streets and by-ways of Rome. A few years later, John Pounds, an uneducated cobbler, for twenty years, till his death in 1839, gathered into his shop the most destitute and degraded children of Portsmouth, and thus instituted the first ragged school in England. Both wrought miracles among the juvenile gamzins of the street. The mental, industrial, moral, and religious training which they imparted to the juvenile generation of their time was a work most appropriately honored as "the beginning of the greatest of all social problems." It saved thousands of children from beggary and vice, and raised multitudes from the verge of infamy to the rank of a useful and honored life. The first school in which education was accompanied by offer of food was opened by Sheriff Watson in Aberdeen in 1841, and from thence ragged feeding-schools spread over all the country. London had a ragged Sunday-school in 1838, ivhich eventually became a free day-school. Field Lane followed in 1843. The Ragged School Union of London in 1864 numbered 201 day-schools, with 17,983 scholars (of these, 2849 were industrial); 180 Sunday-schools, with 23,360 scholars; and 205 night- schools, with 8325 scholars. The number of schools throughout the country cannot be ascertained, as they are not officially known. A Privy- council minute of 1856 allowed a capitation grant of 2 10s. to every child fed in the schools. This was withdrawn in 1859, as was also the grant of one third the cost of material used in industrial training. Many of the existing schools certified lunder the Act of 1857, as in Scotland under Mr. Dunlllop's Act of 1854; but these acts operated very slightly in changing the character of the schools, though introducing the principle of compulsory detention, more fully worked out under recent acts. In the present code of government education, ragged schools are left out. They canl obtain grants on the same conditions as other schools-conditions to them often difficult and unnecessary. For industrial teaching, they receive nothing. The ragged school joined to the certified industrial is precluded from aid from any quarter. There are still, it is estimated, 25,000 ragged children in the streets of London. Schools for the instruction of poor colored children were established by the Friends of Philadelphia as early as 1770, and their benevolent care has not relaxed in this respect for an entire centurv. (See ALSO SUNDAY-SCHOOLS)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ragged Schools'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/r/ragged-schools.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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