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

This article has 4 comments

  1. Hi Paul
    I read your article about the Education dept certificates issued to children from the 1870’s.
    Are there any records of students who received the certificates of sufficient education or exemption?
    I was interested to find out if my grandfather received any education. He was born in 1871 and living in Stawell and then around 1879 moved to Kernot/Loch, Bass Valley.

  2. The certificate in my possession is in terrible condition so it is very helpful to see a complete one and learn which words are missing. Do you know what the number printed on the certificate means? The one shown above has the number 27958 and I have one from 1871 with the number 48338.

    • Hi Leah,
      I can’t find anything discussing the number on the certificate. The number on yours (48338) is greater than the Library’s one (27958)- but eight years earlier, so it doesn’t seem to be
      a running number of certificates issued. Unless they had one running number for all certificates produced?
      So maybe this was the 27, 958 certificate issued? Maybe just a bureaucratic record keeping number?

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