The Assault on Education.
by Tony Barrett
Conservative: OED definition;
1. Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.
2. Favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.
Placing good and Higher Education out of the reach of those that are not part of the ruling elite, or the economically powerful, is a step backward. During the Victorian era good and Higher Education was not for the masses, eventually through reform and investment a high standard of ‘free’ education was made available to us ‘the masses’ (Today this free education is still available, however if the Conservatives have their way it soon, will become a right of the past, and we will witness the education system reverting back to where it was 100 years ago.)
During the 1960s many a new University and campus sprung up to accommodate the mass influx of new students eager to exploit this newfound right of ‘free Education for all’, this decade also saw rapid and radical change, we were now better educated therefore felt able to challenge our masters, through education and attaining knowledge, we the masses had grown in confidence and become powerful.
‘It is this power that the ruling elite fear
In 2012 we will see Universities in England begin to charge up to £9000:00 for fees, Politicians have expressed their amazement that all universities are going to charge the full amount, whilst still believing that social mobility is still high on the agenda.
‘It beggars belief that those in charge of our country can not equate that withdrawal of central funding to Universities will result in said institutions having to raise their fees substantially in order to provide and deliver the best service’
This can only lead to Good and Higher Education only being available for the wealthy. The Tories have wanted to “change and rationalise” the education system since as far back as 1984, if not before.
In 1984 a senior Department of Education Officer warned in a report that
“Legislative powers might be necessary to change and rationalise the schools curricula. We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths, the Brixtons, the Handsworth, and the Miners. But if we have A Highly Educated and Idle Population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict.”
‘People must be educated to once more know their place’
At this time the Department of Education was under the leadership of Sir Keith Joseph, I find it difficult to think that Sir Keith knew of the contents of that report considering that;
‘In 1984 Sir Keith’s public spending negotiations with his Treasury colleagues resulted in a proposed plan for extra research funding for universities financed through the curtailment of financial support to students who were dependent children of more affluent parents. This plan provoked heated opposition from fellow members of the Cabinet.’ (Cecil Parkinson was his most vocal opposition)
The suggestion that they could cope with the Toxteths etc…. goes to show that Tories have little if no respect for the working classes i.e. the Miners Or the non-white community as the Social Unrest that took place in Toxteth, Handsworth and Brixton were ‘Race Riots’ They however did fear what they named the ‘Highly Educated Idle’. The Tories were extremely aware of the correlation between ‘Knowledge and Power’; they fear the masses becoming highly educated. They saw the working-class and Non-white population as having a low standard of education therefore lacking in knowledge and unable to pose a challenge to their authority, If they did start to challenge then their protests were met with state sponsored violence.
To have knowledge is to have an advantage over those without. It enables those with knowledge to dupe those without, creating leaders (those with power) and those that follow (sheep). They need the masses to follow without question. A highly educated population “If” organised can pose a considerable political threat and challenge. If this highly educated population is idle the political threat becomes greater, as they sit about and plot challenges to the ruling elite.
For over forty years we have seen the slow demise of the Ideology of free education, Even at Primary school education is only free if one is content to let their child get the basic bare minimum out of the education system. It smacks of hypocrisy, those who are pushing forward these reforms and those before them during the 1980s that voted in the changes to funding in Higher Education, were all beneficiaries of a Free Grant system, the ability to claim housing benefit (During Term Time as well as during the Vacations) and the availability of dole during the times that the Universities were on holiday.
‘Universities are fountains of knowledge, from which all those wanting to drink, should be allowed’
The destruction of a fair education system began with the change from a three-tier education system to that of just one option (State Comprehensive Schools). The old system categorised pupils according to ability. The Grammar Schools were the gateways into Universities for pupils from less affluent backgrounds. These Grammar Schools threatened the elite ness of the Higher Education system, meaning that not only would,
‘Public School Boys have to rub shoulders with those they had always seen as beneath them, also knowledge was being opened up to the masses leading to the ruling elite believing their power base was under threat:’
Hence the statement;
‘People must be educated to once more know their place’
What must have really annoyed them was once those from less affluent backgrounds gained entry into Higher Education it was for ‘free’. The ruling class must have been aghast at the thought of giving the masses the tools with which their power and authority could be challenged, “Nam liber”
With the destruction of the Technical Schools and discontinuation of Apprenticeships, saw another attack upon the education system one can only surmise that the reasons for this was to curtail the numbers gaining top qualifications within industry therefore enabling them a better wage, resulting in large sectors of society being able to climb the economic ladder, gaining economic power. Economic power and knowledge make a formidable mix as we climb up the social ladder our norms and values can and do go through change. If I did not go to University and was in the position economically to support my children I would encourage them to enter Higher Education. With the destruction of our education system this form of social mobility is being curtailed.
As long as the ruling elite can deliver a poor education system to the masses it will never fear the masses challenging them. Whilst it changes the funding system for higher education to suit the needs of the wealthy it will not fear its power base being eroded or diluted by a highly educated society. It is all about social control and the need to retain that authority and power amongst their own class.