A combination of poverty and industrialization prevented ordinary working people in Britain from attending school. The industrial revolution forced children to find employment at a very young age, often as early as ten years old. The lack of education is evident in the autobiographies written by the workers themselves, who lament the poor quality, brevity, or even complete absence of the teaching they had received in childhood. In the early part of the nineteenth century, new solutions to the problem of gaining an education enhanced the prospects for self-improvement. These include commercial and benevolent night schools, reading clubs, Sunday schools for teenagers and adults, mutual improvement societies, and Mechanics' Institutes—all of which helped improve the literacy of the ordinary workers.
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