chapter  3
The Literacy Campaign in Scotland, 1560-1803
ByRab Houston
Pages 16

This chapter assesses the aims, methods and achievements of the Scottish literacy campaign between the Reformation and the time of the French Revolution. Action by the Scottish state and the Protestant James Kirk to implement a national education program based on the parochial schools was seen as the key to Scotland's successes in literacy. The aspirations of the secular and religious Reformers who created the campaign were embodied in the Calvinist manifesto, The Book of Discipline, in legislation, and in the records of both central and local bodies of the Protestant church. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 was essentially a political event with religious overtones. The literacy campaign was designed to create a unified national religious, moral, and political community. In the period 1638—1644, seventy-five to eighty percent of adult males who lived in the rural Lowlands and who subscribed to the oaths of politico-religious loyalty circulating at that time were illiterate.