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You are here: Home History New Zealand Time Line of events 1850 - 1900 1877 Education made compulsory and free

1877 Education made compulsory and free

Until 1877, education had been the responsibility of each respective province, with many schools being run by the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian or Methodist denominations. But with the abolition of the provincial system of governance, the central government took over the running of schools nationwide. Under the Education Act 1877, schooling was to be free, secular, and compulsory for all children aged between seven and 13, with Māori children given the option of attending state or native schools (established in 1867).

Within three years there were 1500 primary schools operating across the country, 1200 of them were public but it was another ten years before secondary school was made freely available to those who passed the entrance exams.

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