Friday, November 25, 2005

Education, education, education

We all remember the slogan with which Tony Blair made education a key priority for his term in government: Education, education, education. If one were asked to rate his performance in this respect, he could hardly be given full marks. In fact, his education-related policies have been an utter failure.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council just confirmed that the UK has the highest drop-out rate in the industrialised world for 16-year olds, as far as continuing education is concerned. This means the highest number of youngsters entering the job market at the low-paid end with only basic qualifications.

The government has repeatedly stressed that it wants more people to stay on in education and obtain degrees. Yet, again, actions speak louder than words: this “Labour” government has removed the free right to an education and instead commercialised the higher education sector, allowing universities to charge students for the full cost of their courses. For those who can’t afford the student fees plus associated costs for accommodation, books, travel, etc., the government has come up with the ingenious idea of plunging them into debt at an early age by making support available only on a loan basis.

Lacking home-grown qualified professionals the UK increasingly imports qualified doctors, nurses, engineers, IT specialists etc. from abroad. Thus our government not only squanders the future of its own citizens but also drains the resources of other countries, whilst at the same time talking tough on immigration. Words and deeds really don’t match in the double-speak world of New Labour.

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