OPINION

Politics fails along with tertiary sector

For the past few years it has been clear that the practice of opening tertiary schools in small towns around the country has failed for a number of reasons. Now the introduction of a minimum pass mark of 10 out of 20 to qualify for entry to tertiary education has not only revealed the poverty of the entrance process itself but has also highlighted the political poverty of the main opposition party, which is now mourning – along with owners of apartments, bars and cafes in small towns – the potential loss of custom. In the annals of education systems around the world, it must be unprecedented for candidates who are functionally illiterate to enter tertiary institutions. The lack of any basic evaluation of entrants to technical colleges (TEI) has downgraded the education system in general, since the courses had to be adapted to the lowest common denominator. In other words, the previous entrance system not only failed those students who lacked skilled or drive. It also failed those students who really wanted to learn. This problem is corrected with the new system, but the voices raised in opposition to it reveal a more general problem in the political system. The opposition party is stirring the dissatisfaction of those people who have found a niche in the way the current education system works and would lose out by even a partial improvement of it. The opposition party is demanding that educational proficiency be sacrificed for the financial needs of a few peddlers of educational tourism. The Socialists think it’s better to have useless diplomas instead of closing down a few cafes in the provinces operating because of no-use schools. So it’s not only the education system failing to make the grade right now. It’s the political system, too.