The army introduced formal certificates of education in 1861 and by the end of the nineteenth century promotion and pay were linked to the successful completion of army certificates. Education played an essential role in the army, not only did it help provide more educated and competent troops for the military, but it helped instill pride and a sense of purpose amongst the soldiers of the rank and file. There were three classes of certification and in the 1930s these consisted of:
|Arithmetic Vulgar Fractions|
|Applications of Money|
|More Advanced Maths|
|Questions on a set book|
|Written and practical map reading|
|Paper on the Army and Empire|
This paper was now compulsory for all soldiers and they had to attend school until they passed it. Without the Second Class Certificate no promotion was possible or proficiency pay paid.
Covered everything in the Second Class Certificate but at a higher level, and including Geography. Still essential for higher promotion above the rank of Sergeant.
To help soldiers studying for their certificates the army allowed men three hours a week for training and military publishers produced handbooks and crib sheets to help men learn the information they would need to pass. Tonight we have a small folding card that I suspect dates from the First World War, published by Gale and Polden:The price of just one penny ensured that even the lowliest private would have been able to afford one of these cards. Inside are a variety of tables of weight, measures, distances, etc. Some guidance on the writing of formal letters and a list of military words the candidate was expected to know:The back of the card has some typical symbols used in map reading and topic areas of dictation that a soldier might expect to be given:Ronald Stevens who joined the RASC just before World War Two recalls the Army Certificate:
Educational training — this continued our schooling for we had to sit the Army Certificate of Education Second Class, which I passed in December 1939. Then I started to study for my First Class Certificate of Education and passed Geography towards it….Besides periods of drill and physical training we apprentices were required to attend school lessons in map reading and general subjects. In due course, most of the boys passed the Army second class certificate of Education examination and some even went on for their First Class.