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Halmforth , Owen 

Educational funds, their necessity and impor- 


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Educational Funds : 


THEIR 


Necessity and Importance. 





By Mr. OWEN BALMFORTH 




Issued by 

The Educational Committee of the Co-operative Union, 

I,oNG Milloate, 'Manchester. 





Educational Funds: 

Their Necessity and Importance. 


Pl^jHIS short paper is written specially for those 
/' co-operative societies which have no Educational 
Fund. There are, unfortunately, a large 
number of societies having no such fund, and we believe 
that if the members can only be convinced of the 
importance and necessity of some organised system of 
educational work within their societies, they will not 
long remain without that useful and valuable adjunct. 

Kkal Object of Co operation. 

Firstly, let us enquire what is the real and funda- 
mental object of co-operation? Is it not to make better 
men and women j to elevate human character , to improve 
the social, intellectual, and moral condition of its 
adherents ? If space permitted it would be easy to 
multiply extracts from eminent authorities to prove the 
truth of this answer. Let the following suffice: To 

the unthinking, the highest dividend represents the best 
form of administrative ability and management, while in 
reality the best and highest form of co-operation is to be 
found where the making of character is considered as 
well as money.” — Inaugural address to Congress, 1897, 
by Mr. Wm. Maxwell, J.P. 

Again, as Dr. Westcott, the Bishop of Durham, well 


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says: “Co-operation, as I understand it, and as its 
]oundeis understood it, deals with the final principles of 
life. It lays down that the co-operator’s rule of conduct 
IS not each for each, but ‘each for all, and all for each 
lhat his aim is not in itself personal pleasure or profit, 

hut effective service ; that his reward is not wealth, but 
( haracter.’’ 

So far as the improvement of the social and economic 
] osition of its members is concerned, every co-operative 
society succeeds in accomplishing this by the distribu- 
tion of profits in the shape of dividends, and its other 
i iducements to thrift. It must be admitted, however, 
t iat in directly promoting the intellectual and moral 

i npiovements of its adherents, the majority of societies 
ate not doing all that they have it within their power to 
do. Those societies, therefore, who possess no educa- 
tional fund, are not faithfully discharging their duty; 

a e not, in fact, carrying out the principles they profess 

ii their entirety. 

What is being AccoMPLibHKD. 

Let us now glance at the movement, and see what is 
a( tually being done at the present time by the aid of 
e( ucational funds and educational committees. Take 
ary large typical co-operative society which has an 
ecucational fund, such as Leeds, Dewsbury, Hudders- 
fidd, Bolton, Bury, or Oldham. We submit that these, 
ard otlier societies who have educational funds, are 
ddng three serviceable things — (I) educating their 
m jmbers in the principles of co-operation ; (2) increasing 
tli3 knowledge and intelligence of the jnernbers upon 


L. 




5 





general or non-co-operative questions ; (3) making life 
more happy and enjoyable for their members. 

If detailed proof is desired, we refer the reader to the 
syllabus of work which many societies issue at the 
commencement of each winter season, or to repoits of 
the work actually accomplished, which they issue at the 
season’s termination. A large number of meetings, 
lectures, and classes are held, dealing with co-operative 
and miscellaneous subjects; libraries and reading-rooms 
are maintained ; concerts and entertainments are organised 
for the social enjoyment of the members and their 
families. The following figures give some particulars 
for the year 1900 of educational work by co-operative 
societies in the North- W'estern Section only . 


Niunber of Science and otlicr classes .... IdG 

Number of lectures 

Number of concerts 

News and Reading-rooms open ^ 

Weekly issue of books from libraries 17,G01 


Educational funds enable all this work to be carried 
on, and such work must tend to elevate and instruct the 
minds of the members. It ministers to their intellectucil 


and social requirements, and therefore such work ought 
to be extended and encouraged. 


The followung statistics giving 


particulars of each 


Section for the year 1900 may prove interesting : 

No. of No. Making Amount 
Societies Educational _ of 

in Section. Grants. Grants. 


Llidlaiid i253 .... 105 .... 5,352 

Northern 155 .... 70 .... 5, bn 

North-Western 498 .... 209 .... 35,050 

Scottish 319 .... 135 .... 9,018 

Southern 244 .... 130 .... 5,550 

South-Western 55 .... 27 .... 

Western 90 .... 28 .... l,2i-w 


Total 1,014 .... 704 .... 04,100 



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Thu total nutnbur of adult classes held throughout the 
ccimtry in the winter session of 1900-1901 for the study 
of “Co-operation,” “Industrial History,” “Citizenship,” 
aid “Book-keeping,” was 51, wdth 932 male students 
ar d 317 female students. In addition to the above, 1,475 
cHldren between the age of 10 and 1(5 years sat for 
ej<amination upon the subject of “ Co operation.” (Full 
pgrticulars as to the organisation of these classes may 
bt obtained from the Educational Committee of the 
Co-operative Union, Long Millgate, Manchester ) 

The Giieat Need of Education. 

There are two classes of people who stand in need of 
et ucation in co-operative principles. (1) Many of those 
al'eady inside the movement; (2) all those outside the 
m Dvement. 

Every zealous co-operator is painfully cognizant of the 
gi3at indifference displayed by the bulk of our members 
to the best interests of co-operation. Take any large 
so3iety with, say, 10,000 or 15,000 members. What a 
small proportion take any active interest in the work of 
tli3 society ! At the quarterly business meetings perhaps 
303 or 400 members wdll attend. The sales of the Co- 
op '.rativQ News — though offered at half price — may reach 
th ) absurdly low figure of 300 copies weekly ! Then 
look at the want of “ loyalty to the store,” exhibited by 
th ) members generally. How large a projiortion of their 
W( ekly expenditure is spent outside the movement ! It 
is r well-known fact that large numbers of our members 
have joined the movement merely for the sake of 
peiuniary gain. This large class it is our duty to 



educate in order to give them a fuller knowledge of our 
principles. Such work can only be done by the aid of 
educational funds. 

Then look at the great mass of people who are still 
outside our movement. Here is an extensive field for 
propaganda work. Assuming that each member of a 
co-operative society represents a family of five (which is 
a liberal estimate), there is a population of 7,675,000 in 
Great Britain and Ireland belonging to our movement. 
As the total population in this country is about 38,000,000, 
there are no less than 30,000,000 unconnected with co- 
operation. Even in the counties regarded as strongholds 
of co-operation, like Durham, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, 
only from 40 to 50 per cent of the population belong to 
our societies ; but in many counties, such as Glamorgan, 
Stafford, Shropshire, Surrey, Hereford, and Aberdeen, 
only from 1 to 8 per cent of the population are co- 
operators. Therefore there is great need of propaganda, 
work to bring in the “ unconverted,” and this can be 
done most effectually by those societies possessing an 
educational fund and an educational committee. 



Ob.jections Answeued. 

Nobody now-a-days will dispute the value of education. 
But the objection is sometimes raised that this educational 
wmrk is already being done by town councils and school 
boards, and therefore there is no need for co-operative 
societies to undertake it. There are three answers to 
this objection. In the first place there are hundreds of 
towns and villages where the local public authority is 
doing absolutely nothing to provide even reading-rooms 



w 


iiiid libraries. And it is interesting to know that in 
iiany towns where such institutions are now provided 
mt of the rates, it was the local co-operative society 
vhich was earliest in the held, and hrst set the example 
;o the general public by establishing reading-rooms and 
ibraries for the use of its members The provision of 
’eading-rooms and libraries, however, is only a part of 
jhe work which may be accomplished by the aid of an 
educational fund. And this brings us to our second 
and most important answer. There are a whole series 
of questions upon which members of co-operative societies 
need educating, questions which exclusively affect co-op- 
erators, and which, therefore, no outside body whether 
town council or school board — will undertake. \\e 
refer, for example, to the holding of meetings and 
lectures, the organisation of classes, and the distribution 
of literature, for spreading a knowledge of the benefits of 
co-operation, teaching its principles and its histoiy , 
instructing members of societies upon such pioblems as 
surplus capital, overlapping, production, high or low 
dividends, how to reach the poor, the “housing question, 
and other matters pertaining to the inner working of our 
movement. This is the special work which educational 
funds will provide the means for carrying on, and this 
class of work it is absurd to expect will be done by an> 
public body out of the rates. A third answer to the 
above-named objection is this : — If we grant that a part 
of the educational work undertaken by co-operative 
societies — such as the provision of reading-rooms, 
libraries, concerts, and lectures on general topics— is 
also undertaken by outside bodies and other voluntary 


9 


associations, even then the money expended will be 
productive of good. For the temptations, especially to 
young people, to lead a frivolous and wasteful life are so 
numerous, that the nation cannot afford to lose a sing e 
agency which is working for the intellectual and rnora 

improvement of the people. 

As to the objection that any society can make periodical 
grants, as occasion requires, for educational purposes, 
we wish to say that it is far better to have it set forth in 
the rules that a certain percentage of profits shall each 
quarter be set apart for educational purposes, and that 
such fund shall be managed by an educational committee , 
because then the income is certain and regular, instead 
of being fitful and hapha/.ard, and then men are specially 
chosen, whose sole duty it is to attend to the educational 
department, instead of it being left to a general com- 
mittee, to be dealt with along with other business as time 

and opportunity permits. 

One word about the objection that small co-opeiati\e 
societies are unable to utilise an educational fund. No 
society is too small to undertake educational work. It 
is true that the smaller the society and less funds there 
will be to devote to educational purposes ; but, however 
small a society may be, it can arrange an occasional 
meeting or lecture ; it can have a small reading-ioom, 
or a few well-selected books to lend out ; and, above all, 
it can form a mutual improvement class for the systematic 
study of co-operation and kindred subjects. 


Remember the old adage, that 


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“ Knowledge is Poweb.” 

As the knowledge of co-operators increases, so will 
ti e power of co-operation increase. Every party in the 
S ,ate admits the advantages to be derived from education. 
Pirliament admitted it years ago when it made elemen- 
ti .ry education compulsory and free. It is again admitting 
it to-day by considering a Bill to extend the teaching of 
technical and secondary education out of the public 
V ites. Both political parties admit it by the holding of 
propagandist meetings and the distribution of literature. 
All religious denominations admit it by the support they 
cive to° their Sunday schools The temperance move- 
laent admits it by the band of hope meetings aud 
lestivals. Are co-operators alone to neglect a policy 
which is so universally approved? If education is found 
• o be so beneficial in other departments of social life, it 
vill prove equally beneficial inside the co-operative 

novement. 

Let us remember that material progress is not the 
Highest and truest form of progress, either for a nation 
or°an individual. Man is endow^ed with a higher nature, 
and when this is educated and trained, so that his 
character is in complete harmony with his highest 
aspirations, then, and then only, may we expect a real 
and lasting form of progress. This is the work which 
educational committees have to endeavour to accomplish. 

0. Balmfokth. 


C..-(.i>Kr]vTivi: Printing Socikty, US, Corporation Street, Manchester.