In the Library’s Manuscript Collection, we hold some examples of a ‘Certificate of a child being sufficiently educated’. From the 1870s, these certificate were given to students who met minimum schooling requirements. 

Certificate of a child being sufficiently educated.
‘Certificate of a child being sufficiently educated’, Melbourne, June 2nd 1879 issued to William Martin. Certificates, 1879-1902; MS 8339

From six years of age a child would have to attend four hours of schooling across 60 days each half year.

Taken from the Education Act,1872

The student would have to meet the requirements of the ‘first schedule’; reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar and geography – as well as some physical education classes. The ‘Standard of Education’ shall mean and include competency in reading, writing and arithmetic to the satisfaction of an Inspector of Schools. (Education Act 1872; p204).

Taken from the Education Act,1872. The Second Schedule contains the Sufficiently Educated example.

In 1882 the education inspectors considered what should be appropriate attendance rates of children. One of the reasons was the country children, in particular, who were often required to accompany their parents to the local township for supplies and marketing of produce for market days, leaving schools half empty on Fridays. 1.

In 1886 the Sufficiently Educated certificate title was altered to ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Attendance.’ But the requirements were such a low standard that some students who received the certificate, and could leave school at a young age, were found, a few years later, to ‘barely be able to read or write’ 2.

In 1901 the requirements to receive the certificate were tightened – with no Exemption Certificates given to children under the age of 12, and children over six having to attend 75% of days which the school is open (Education Act 1901).

‘Certificate of exemption from compulsory attendance’, Mount Eliza, Victoria, October 7th 1902 issued to William Martin. Certificates, 1879-1902; MS 8339

You can read more about the history of education in Victoria as we celebrate 150 years of public education in Victoria.

  1. Blake, L.J., Vision and realisation : a centenary history of state education in Victoria 1923: Education Dept. of Victoria, Melbourne. p 213
  2. Sweetman E. et al., A history of state education in Victoria, 1922, C. Parker for the Education Depart. of Victoria, Melbourne. p 111

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