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(en) reland, WCR #9, Education, Education, Education

Date Sat, 16 Jul 2005 10:10:51 +0300


How did the mantra go again? ‘Education, Education,
Education’? With another British election looming,
Tony Blair will no doubt be looking to the
spin-doctors and speech writers for more catchy
rhetoric with which to impress, for more shifty
shibboleths with which to capture the popular imagination.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Labour has overseen the
continuing privatisation of education: yes to
performance-related pay, no to back-dating of
wage differentials: yes to Big Mac jotters and crayons.

As usual, those of us in the ‘wee north’ of Ireland
are the first to have our children led down the garden
path (and out the school doors) by what amounts to the
decimation of education as we know it. All five
education and library boards in the province have been
forced to pay for the gross mismanagement of education
funding. Cuts of £30 million will hit vital areas such
as special needs, road safety, transport, school
meals, child psychology services and maintenance.

From Education minister Barry Gardiner:
"I accept that it is not popular to ask people to live
within their budget."

So, when EVERY member of the South Eastern Education
and Library Board (SEELB), under and over the age of
50, has been offered a voluntary redundancy package in
order to recuperate £6 million in their area, it is
fairly likely that standing in a dole queue for the
rest of your life is not going to be ‘popular’ either.
According to the ‘Sunday Life’ newspaper the other
library boards will follow suit in the next few
months.

Mr Gardiner has also denied that he had ever
threatened to send in a special ‘commissioner’ to make
cuts if the board failed to agree a budget despite
each board meeting being told this. The minister said
he could review the situation if the boards agreed to
work together in some areas.

"I am willing to help if they do things differently,"
he said. Newspeak for ‘Gardiner’s way’.

Brian Booth, branch secretary for the Northern Ireland
Public Services Association (NIPSA) in the SEELB also
slammed the plans, saying:

"This is a disgraceful situation that Education
Minister, Barry Gardiner, has created - education is
now being dismantled before our eyes. What sort of
success does the Minister think he is having, when
every staff member receives a letter offering
voluntary redundancy? I call on Mr Gardiner to resign
now, and for money made available to these vital
services to our community, because once a service to
children is lost, it will never return."

We at ‘Working Class Resistance’ hope that Mr. Booth
will sanction more than words in the coming months and
that the NIPSA one-day strike planned for May 5th
(British election day) will transpire to be more than
a token gesture of support. Meanwhile across the
province, local councillors (MPs in waiting) have
walked out of chambers in protest against the cuts
SDLP councillor John Kerr, who resigned, said:
"I think the message has gone out to Education
Minister Barry Gardiner - because half the Board have
resigned - that we will not take this lying down, and
we will not be pushed around by a Direct Rule
Minister.’

Not that the SDLP or any of the other local parties
would do things any differently if Stormont was up and
running.
Quite simply, these cuts cannot be allowed to happen,
and a one-day protest alone will serve nothing. What
is needed is a grassroots campaign involving education
workers and parents which will involve others across
the community to save what is left of education
services across Ireland and to be in place to prevent
the slippery slope towards privatisation and
two-tiered education.

Al

From the pages of Working Class Resistance, magazine
of Organise!*, now available in text and pdf formats
at our website:

http://www.organiseireland.org

For your copy, contact us at:

organiseireland@yahoo.ie


PDF at:
http://flag.blackened.net/infohub/organise/download.php?list.2

From: Organise Ireland <organiseireland@yahoo.ie>
======================================
* [Ed. Note: Organise! is an anarchist group]

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