Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/208

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1888.—Sir Raymond West.

gentleman coming up from the Free General Assembly's Institution and winning at the Matriculation Examination the first prize in Latin. We also see him the very first out of, I think, about 780 candidates who have passed the examination. Who shall say that there is not much here to encourage the perseverance and devotion to duty of the Mussulman youth of our community? Not only so but in the Previous Examination this year we find that the Hughlings' prize for proficiency in the English language has also been won by a Mahomedan gentleman from Saint Xavier's College, so that here again we see the effect of the stirring of the Mussulman mind, on which we must congratulate that great community.

Our examinations for Matriculation have been attended this year by, I may say, an unprecedented number of candidates. Upwards of three thousand presented themselves before the astonished, and perhaps, half-bewildered examiners, who could not have anticipated from anything in the past so extraordinary an influx of candidates for Matriculation. It was inevitable that out of so large a number—a great many of them not quite prepared for the work they had to do, and some of them, I believe, coming up experimentally to see what an examination looked like—there should be a good many failures. But I have observed that those who passed have exceeded those who passed last year by more than fifty per cent. This must in itself be very satisfactory. For an increase of fifty per cent, in the number of the students, who are fitted for the Matriculation, represents far more than what the normal increase of population or the powers of teaching as measured by numbers can be. And it seems to, point to this that the schools are beginning to acquire greater efficiency in preparing for the examination. The schools will, by-and-by, under the auspices of the University and under its guidance and control, have a new and very important duty cast upon them, that of preparing students for what has been termed the Middle Class Examination. I think we have reason to hope from the results of our Matriculation Examination this year, that for the other examination also, the High Schools of this Presidency will be able to gird themselves up, and they will send forth a great number of young men, who, not caring or not having the means to pursue the avocation of a scholar even in its initial stage, will still have received an excellent elementary education, and be well fitted for the ordinary callings of life. This year, as in other years, we have had some complaints made about the severity of the examinations, the impossibility of answering questions within the time prescribed, and so forth.