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Bob Morgan

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A Second Chance Put Out of Reach

Posted: 07/07/2012 09:29

The Government plans to make those over 24 pay for the full price for adult education from next August which means students would have to take out loans of up to £3700 to take an A Level. This will make it much more difficult for those people on low incomes who did not thrive whilst at school to help themselves and turn their lives around later in life. Civil servants have warned that up to 45% of those on courses would be put off by the loans.
After a messy parental divorce I left School with a few useless CSEs and spent the next several years redeeming my-self through evening classes and distance learning courses - I will always be grateful for that opportunity. To me to chance to go and learn again and get O and A Levels - and later an OU Degree - was a chance to regain self-respect and confidence. If the cost of doing that meant paying £10,000 to £20,000 (even before the cost of a Degree) I am not certain I would have done it or could have done it.
For better or worse we often measure people's abilities, and worth, by what educational qualifications they achieve. The Government should feel ashamed if they plan to take away this opportunity for people to give themselves a second chance. Does this symbolize a Government - led by people born into privilege and wealth and truly indifferent to helping other people improve themselves?
If adults can go back and study and gain skills and confidence then surely are more likely to contribute to society - improving things for everyone. This is not just a matter of improving people's self-respect - it is likely to make them perform better - to achieve more for everyone.
This, of course, is going to affect poorer people most. The wealthy and their children will be able to look after themselves. It is not going to affect the lives of those leading the Government and their friends who were born into privilege.
I am not saying that adult students should not pay anything - just not this much!
My experience of state education was a poor one - the schools did not inspire and things like careers advice was nothing more than a rubber stamping exercise - a difficult and pointless conversation with someone with no ideas. Unless things have changed dramatically I suspect many children at school now will not perform to their full potential and will only realize the value of education later in their lives. If the Government has its way many will find it is too late.
Surely we want people to make the most of their lives and to get the best education and to contribute to society? It's not as if it's money for doing nothing - these adult students have to work hard to succeed - studying alongside work and family life. Isn't this what we want from people?
This Government seems intent on taking away opportunities from those not as lucky as themselves. Perhaps that's why they have re-instated the British Empire Medal - since they are making social mobility less likely they had better give less privileged people a medal of their own - not the same as the one they get of course!
I would be very happy if some of my taxes went to support adult education. If we can give billions to the bankers and the financial sector to compensate them for their collective greed and to ensure most of them get large bonuses in spite of failing then we can surely find money to help people who want to educate themselves and have a second chance?

 
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