I thought I’d give it 24-hours or so after the announcement by the British government that it was raising university tuition fees to £9,000 in order that my response should be mature and considered. This is it:
Okay, all joking aside there are a number of problems I have with this change of policy. First and fundamentally, I have always believed that the only way to make a society truly fair is to ensure that talented and intelligent individuals – no matter what their background - have access to equally good education. Only in this way can a kid with ability from the wrong side of the tracks have faith in his country, have faith that by hard work, diligence and innate talent he or she can rise above his or her situation in life. That is the whole basis of a meritocracy and, as I was taught from an early age, Britain is a meritocracy.
Or rather was...
The foundation of a meritocracy is the quality of its schools. Now I don’t wanna get into a long diatribe about the quality of state school education but my experience is that it’s pretty poor. Which means that the gulf between those educated in state schools and those educated privately instead of shrinking is actually widening. There MUST be radical reform of the state school sector and – politically incorrect or not – a realisation that whilst all kids are born equal they ain’t all born the same. Some have talents and abilities denied their peers and it’s society’s responsibility to identify those special talents and abilities from an early age and nurture them. If this isn’t done talented kids become frustrated and frustration leads to rebellion...
History teaches us that if the intelligent are deprived of opportunities to become all they can be they become malcontents: I’d cite the Russian anti-Semitic policies at the end of the 19th Century as an example. These policies denied Jewish kids an education and it was these same disaffected Jewish kids (Lenin, Trotski et al) who twenty years later sponsored the Revolution. The biter bit.
Which brings me back to university tuition fees. The proposition that kids should be made to pay for their tertiary education because their earnings post-university are enhanced is specious. These kids’ earning are higher because they contribute more to society: without them Britain doesn’t have much of a future. Vince Cable’s moaning that now 40% of 18 year-olds are going to uni we can’t afford this level of student population is similarly fallacious: wouldn’t it be better to back say just 20% of kids - the most talented – and know that our brightest and best – regardless of background - have been given the opportunity for their abilities to flourish.
I have tried to ignore politicians - they all seem a pretty poor lot to me – but the lack of STRATEGIC vision evinced by them over the last twenty years or so is simply staggering. When any government can place the financial demands of a fatuous nuclear deterrent above that of educating its youngsters then I simply give up.
Britain a meritocracy...you’re having a laugh.