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(en) Ireland, WSM, No Masters #1 - Education and control

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 30 Sep 2004 11:13:10 +0200 (CEST)

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Education is not accessible to all in society. A blatant fact. I
challenge anybody who thinks on the contrary to this. The reasons
for this inequality are abundant. The main reasons are
predominantly due to broader social and economic inequalities
created and maintained by the present government.
Education in today's society is a privilege when it should be a
Right that is constitutionally enshrined. At a time when education
is increasingly becoming a commodity to be bought and sold on
the market place the government is implementing cutback after
cutback in public expenditure on education. At present the Irish
government spends a pathetic 2% of its GDP on education, in
Sweden 15% is allocated to the education budget.

In 2001 in UCD, Ireland's largest university had just 937 students
whose parents were in semi and unskilled jobs. 8,354 students
however came from employer and professional backgrounds.
Equally the cost of education, between books, food and rent is
extraordinarily high. Students on grant aided schemes are more
likely to fail to complete the courses chosen. These students are
more likely than others to be working more than sixteen hours per
week to supplement their inadequate funding. Students with
parents from professional back grounds are more likely to be able
to bear the indirect costs of going to college.

Geographically there are schools and districts around Ireland that
have generations and generations of people dropping out of
secondary school at a very young age. The apparent Celtic Tiger
which benefited the sector of society which I earlier mentioned
was built on a huge service sector in society. The Government
regularly talks of how they have reduced unemployment and how
great the economy is, however do you really think Bertie Ahern
would be happy if his daughter was part of this great service sector
and worked 50 hours a week in Miss Moneypenny, or if Charlie
McCreevys son worked 40 hours a week for the minimum wage in
a software factory in Cookstown Industrial estate. I think not.

The current education system is one of the chief obstacles to
intelligence and free thought. It discourages critical thinking and
promotes subservience to the ideas and policies that allow
inequality to exist in the first place. Despite what television tells
you and glossy reports that promote the university as a centre of
excellence and learning , university today consists of nothing
more than the depositing of uncritical information into the mind of
a student. A good student is therefore classified as to how good
and how easily they receive this deposit.

The chief role of the university is to train you how to be obedient
in an unequal , racist, heterosexist, neo liberal, oppressive and
alienating society. It is not within the interest of the state, or our
new God the free market or its religion consumerism , or the
University to have students fighting for real equality. These
institutions are bound up in the web of Capitalistic bureaucracy
and benefit from the inequality that exists today. They are part of
the very structure that allows oppression to take place.

Ask yourself why a politics graduate with a degree in their hand
cannot tell you anything about alternative political systems and
have never studied outside the realms of parliamentary
democracy. Ask yourself why 99% of commerce graduates believe
that success depends solely on increased competition in the free
market and the growth of the economy regardless of its social and
environmental destructiveness is the most important thing in life.
Ask yourself why students involved in media are generally more
concerned about their portfolio for their career and have little
interest in tackling their colleges and our government as it may
upset their possibility of rising up the ranks of the state and
corporate media empire.

Ask yourself why in a world where there are thousands of
academics and students we still live in war and turmoil . With all
these educated people why is it that millions still have no access to
basic education, healthcare , basic foods and sanitation. Why is
this educated community which is alive today not building social
change and constructing a planet free from oppression . Why is it
that only a tiny minority of these educated people are aware that
only 3% of the worlds population go to third level education. The
answer is that these people have been trained by the state and free
market economics in their universities and are now agents of the
state. Every tyrant needs an army of obedient foot soldiers to
maintain their position in society. This is a bit harsh , maybe
that's the way man is you may say , this is the result of mass
uncritical consumption of social Darwinism I say. Man is bad you
say, man is also compassionate and rational I say. Things will
never change you say, I agree unless education becomes as Paulo
Freire says 'the practice of freedom.'

Education must end its period of hibernation in theory and come
out into the light of action and agitation . This is what is often
regarded as `praxis`. The organic intermingling of theory and
action. An idea is nothing unless it becomes grounded in material
existence. We must act on our ideas . Nothing is inevitable but
everything is possible. While we fight against educational
disadvantage in society lets also fight for an end to obedient
education and promote an education system that puts back into
the community what it takes out. If we are in the epicentre of
learning lets resist obedience to theory that allows and has created
a system of oppression.

I believe in education, real libertarian education that is promoted
by many including Paulo Freire should be accessible to all but for
this to occur we must abolish how our current education system is
run and what is taught. Tackling educational disadvantage is
undoubtedly a core principle of social justice. Our government will
not tackle educational disadvantage and grant access and
opportunity to all because who will work for pennies on our
factory floors to keep the wealth of their bosses intact. Despite
good efforts the University will not open its borders to the masses
of working class men and women eager to learn because it is more
economically productive to invest research money into one PhD
student to devise new methods of destroying the environment by
Genetically Modifying new crops.

This investment is regularly hailed as the knowledge based
economy. That is why we as students have a social responsibility
to effect change both inside and outside our university. We must
link our struggles for broader social change if we are to really be a
centre of learning. A true education system is on which
encourages peoples full participation in the world. A social
awareness and eagerness to act. Do not sit back as a passive
student, learn but as you learn act. Active reflection. Reflective
action. Agitate and educate so that you can be free. Let this article
be nothing more than this, a template for further action.

This article is from No Masters issue 1

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