Education, Education, Education

Across Europe austerity measures are taking effect and education, perversely, seems to be baring the brunt. That was the focus of a round table discussion held yesterday in the European Parliament, organised by SOLIDAR; a network of NGOs working to advance social justice across Europe. The discussion was interesting, if a little bleak.

We had presentations from Ms Natalya Gryazeva of the Education and Science Workers’ Trade Unions, Latvia; Ms Fionnuala Richardson from The People’s College, Ireland; and finally, Mr David Lopez from La Ligue de L’Enseignement (The Teaching League), France. The general picture was that across Europe educational institutions were having to cope with severely reduced budget and increased demand.

The mind boggles at the short-sightedness of cutting education budgets. In the EU 2020 strategy (which David Cameron has signed, as have all member state governments) education and lifelong learning are given a very high priority. This makes perfect sense since, in a time of financial crisis when lots of people are losing their jobs, what we really need is for people to have the opportunity to reskill so they can return to work.

Also, as I pointed out at the meeting, Europe can no longer compete with emerging economies in terms of manufacturing so we have to invest in giving people the skills they need to work in the new ‘knowledge economy’. Failure to properly invest in education could have the effect of compounding and prolonging the financial crisis.

We have no power in the EU to tell member states how to spend their budgets, but I hope that we can put the message across that spending on education should not be cut. It should be one of the areas that investment should increase, because you will see far greater returns in the long run.

Read the press release about the event here.

1 Comment

Filed under Labour Party

One response to “Education, Education, Education

  1. Daniel Oxley

    I wish I had a pound for every time I hear someone in the Labour Party speaking against something being cut.

    It is a great opportunity for them to associate themselves with a tender care for the future of libraries, the need for better education, allowances for sixth formers, foreign aid, etc. but they never ever tell us what budgets they would cut.

    All they will say is that the cuts should be made more slowly. The timing of the cuts is an important issue but it does not answer the simple question, what would you cut?

    An opposition party it is supposed to hold the government to account, not to formulate policy but if Labour figures continue to criticise the choice of cuts without revealing what they would cut. they are in danger of resembling the anoraked character created by Harry Enfield who spends his life telling people ‘You don’t wanna do it like that’!

    A particularly bad example of this can be found in the Newham Recorder, in the column by Lyn Brown, the MP for West Ham. It was completely partisan throughout with loads of criticism and no alternative strategy.

    It should be said that the Newham Recorder usually has a much higher standard of comment and at least one can decide whether or not to buy it. This so unlike the Newham Mag which is full of similar nonsense from Mayor Robin Wales and his colleagues, which we have to pay for whether we want it or not.

    In order to escape comparison with Harry Enfield’s anorak wearer or the Labour Party let me give a clear answer to the question myself. What should be cut? We should cut our payments to the EU. It makes sense, our economy would grow, unemployment would fall and taxes cold be cut. It would not actually be all that bad for the EU; even the EU itself admits that 92% of the money we sent last year was subject to fraud and irregularities.

    The end of UK funding would be bad news for fraudsters and irregularities merchants in the EU but after their losses only 8% of the remaining money would be unavailable for important fact finding missions to exotic seaside locations, limousine rides for President Rompuy’s family, roads in Spain which don’t actually connect any destinations or grants to non-existent farms in Belgium.