Convict schooling aboard transport vessels

John Shepherd (an MA student at the University of Tasmania) has produced the data below which illustrates the success of convict schooling in the hulks and aboard transport vessels. He notes that adolescent convicts show a greater improvement in literacy scores than adult convicts.

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Convict Schooling

This chart shows the improvement in reported literacy scores for 9,000 matched pairs of hulk and arrival records for male convicts transported in the years 1834-1842. It is possible that the difference in scores is a product of changes in the way questions about literacy were framed in the hulks and on arrival in Australia. It is also possible that convicts lied about their ability to read and write, although why they should provide different answers at different points in the transportation process is by no means apparent.