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The Forum > Article Comments > Education policy: stuck on a dirt track to nowhere > Comments

Education policy: stuck on a dirt track to nowhere : Comments

By John Töns, published 12/4/2010

Education is an investment; we all benefit from a well funded system that caters for all students and ensures a workforce for the future.

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Not a bad article, John.

How education is 'conceived' in this country is increasingly as a private good or 'investment', exactly equivalent to private health and subsidised in the same way by taxpayers who cannot afford, and will never be able to afford, to exercise 'choice'. Things of private benefit are often subsidised by the public if the recipients are seen as 'aspirational' types or marginal voters. Certain sections of the population are permitted by this largesse to exercise their dreams of climbing the socio-economic ladder; to them it's a kind of birth-right.

All talk of 'choice' in education is humbug, and as you say a smokescreen for cutting back expenditure.

Yes, a dual system, with private schools truly private, would be better than this 'middle class welfare' system with its shocking and brazen inequalities. However, a system like the Finnish one might be even better - private schools to receive the same grants as state schools but not allowed to charge fees and to accept all-comers. The system as we know it would disappear, as in Finland where the private system is now a 'rump' servicing only about 5% of the nation's students in schools that are run by religious groups or Steiner groups or such-like. Finnish schools have great equality and are well equipped; they are truly free, too. No national testing or league tables, yet Finnish students are world-beaters in global testing.

We seem to be light years away from such a system.
Posted by Rapscallion, Monday, 12 April 2010 6:59:48 PM
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Very good article.
Sadly we have allowed "private" schools to distort both the curriculum and the resources available to the majority of students. Not only are religious schools allowed to teach rubbish like "intelligent design"... which actually has no predictive or theoretical content to teach. Mostly what they teach is rhetorical tools to use against the century old conclusions of open minded science. This is cultural sabotage and child abuse to boot.
The "Ivy League" school of thought from the US is alive and well here too. This theory of society is that it does not matter if you deprive the majority, so long as the elites get more then it's all cool. If we follow this path then we'll see the same result: more disparity and a further falling behind in relation to the rest of the world.
Frankly I can't see either party fixing this: Both are wedded to corporate and middle class welfare, and both are beholden to the shadowy church groups that seem to set policy these days. Will we let the churches drag us into another Dark age?
Posted by Ozandy, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 10:02:17 AM
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John Töns wrote 12 April 2010:

>... education policy ... starts with a budget ...

Education costs money.

>... we need a workforce that is literate and numerate ...

There are also social good reasons for education.

>... private schools that charge a tuition fee would either have to remove their fees in order to receive full government funding ...

Government could fund each student to be educated to the required level at a state or private school. Extra education would then cost extra.

Government could fund online resources for the basic curriculum for free online, for use by any public or private school or student at home.

> ... provision of free tertiary education.

Education costs money. But the government could fund free online resources, for low cost for "Open University" courses.

>In addition we need to transform the way we conceive of education. ...

Education is being transformed in ways similar to Montessori schools. E-learning will be mainstream within a year.

>Around the country sits an enormous investment in purpose built educational facilities. ...

Much of the existing education infrastructure is unsuitable for modern education and must be demolished or refurbished.

>... Why should schools not be staffed for 12 hours a day? ...

The major cost is staff and the existing buildings are unsuitable for community education.

>... remove the problem of latch key kids.

Government subsidised child minding facilities should be funded separately to education. With improved teaching techniques most students need to only two or three days a week at "school".

>.. programs ... that simply do not fit into ... school day.

Schools are not the only places to learn and are probably not the best places.

>... appropriately qualified teachers ...

A revolution is now taking place in how teachers are trained. That will then flow on to how they teach.

>... get of the dirt track and hit the bitumen.

Get education off the dirt track and on the information superhighway. ;-)

See also:

* Mentored and collaborative techniques in e-teaching:
* Workshops on technology-enhanced learning:
Posted by tomw, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 4:06:03 PM
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