Before the passing of the Education Act in 1877, children who were fortunate enough to have the opportunity of having an education were either taught at home, through the local church or had to have the social standing to go to a private school. Many others were kept home as the demands of running a household or farm were considered much more important.
Sir Charles Bowen – Canterbury business man and politician – had arrived in Lyttelton as young man of 20 aboard the Canterbury Association’s first ship, the ‘Charlotte Jane’. What followed was a career that would make anyone’s head whirl! It is safe to say that there isn’t a stitch in the foundations of Canterbury without Bowen’s influence on it.
In 1877, he was the main force behind getting all New Zealand’s children the possibility of a free education. With the passing of the Education Act, it became compulsory for all 5 to 15 year olds to attend school.
For a more in depth look at Sir Charles Bowen, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/sir-charles-bowen-1830-1917/