During the course of the nineteenth century the topography of female education in Ireland was transformed from a panoply of mainly urban free‐market academies and philanthropic initiatives into a broad‐based, gender neutral, state‐funded national system for primary education that spread unevenly across the island. The result was transformative for girls. At a stroke primary education was widely available and democratised. Secondary schooling for girls also expanded during the period, with female colleges and academies expanding and diversifying across the century. By the end of the century most children received some form, however limited, of basic schooling. The radical effect of this expansion of education and literacy has been widely debated, and among historians of women this widened access to education has been discussed with both approval and suspicion in equal measure. Progressive narratives depict the second half of the nineteenth century as a period of significant change for women, when state support for female schools and colleges saw a corresponding rise in females’ access to university, pursuit of the professions, political engagement and a nascent suffrage movement. At the same time, female education during the nineteenth century was admittedly and purposefully differentiated from the purpose and prestige of male
Gender & History – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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