More on education… October 3, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics.
I got my hands on a copy of Business Plus magazine last weekend, and what a copy, as was noted in comments previously the cover has a photograph of the statue of Larkin beside the headline ‘Crushing Larkin: The Tycoon who saved Dublin from Anarchy’. More on that again perhaps – it’s not often one reads that ‘there was a heavy-handed police response to striker protests and meetings’… well, yeah, that’s sort of putting it mildly. And whether the Lockout can be recast as an ideological struggle between Syndicalism (and ‘Marxism’ at one remove, or not depending on how one interprets the piece) and democracy is interesting, not least given that the fundamental issue of union membership is sort of accepted as legitimate in retrospect, sort of. Except that right is not actually upheld in this state in full. In the meantime, and following on from Emer O’Kelly’s thoughts on education in the Sunday Independent at the weekend, the editorial is well worth a read, though not perhaps for the reasons those who wrote it might think.
It starts off as follows:
Free Secondary school education only became a universal entitlement in 1967. Without this perk, thousands of middle-class families could not afford their seaside aches on the sat and west coasts. For all taxpayers, including people with no children, free secondary schooling without any means test is a very expensive burden. The annual cost of the state subsidy currently runs to €3bn. That’s an average of €8,250 per student per annum, or just on €50,000 per child through the secondary cycle.
The downside for this model for the consumers – the pupils and their parents – is that they have no leverage with the education providers. The system is run to suit the state and the teachers and their unions. Thus educators enjoy three months holiday during the summer months, quality time when they’re not expected to engage in continuous professional development. The state dictates that all pupils are force-fed the Irish language. So this year six times as many Leaving Cert students did an Irish exam as took tests in German, a language that could enable them to secure a job.
And what about return on investment for the taxpayer funding the state’s generosity? Taxpayers would no doubt be hoping that paying for the education of teenagers will help them find employment, so they’re not a drain on state resources in later life. They might be disappointed to learn that one in four of this years Leaving Cert students [had] under 210 points from a maximum of 600. Sorry to say, but the taxpayers €680m investment since 2006 in these 13,700 individuals, – or more to the point , their schools and teachers – has not proved to be worthwhile.
Of the 52,770 students who sat this years’ Leaving, half of them accumulated fewer than 345 points. This total won’t get you within an ass’s roar of the universities in Dublin, Cork and Galway. in fact, every year only one-third of Leaving Cert students make it into Level 8 Bachelor Degree courses. The candidates who don’t get good grades are excluded from the prime university courses that feed into the professions and commerce, and the prospect of six-figure salaries in later life.
Why do so many students not make the grade? Is it because the kids are dossiers or is it because they receive crap schooling? Taxpayers, parent and students should have the right to know, but they never will until Ruairi Quinn and his education department publish exam outcomes of individual schools.
So many thoughts. Not least that many of us will be unaware that the only valid goal of an education system is to filter people into professions and commerce in order to make six-figure salaries in later life (I’m guessing on that scale most of us here are failures).
That stuff about ‘universal entitlement’ is is a most interesting line of argument, and one we’ve heard about third level. But I have to be honest, it’s the first time I’ve heard anyone paint second level in these terms in this state or in the UK.