More evidence this week, if it was needed, that Ireland has a dysfunctional education system which is not going to serve up a generation ready to take the country out of its current economic and political mess. Prof. Tom Begley bows out of UCD saying in the Sunday Times today that the new Hunt report on higher ed is 'a great disappointment' achieving 'nothing', that the 'Irish govnt does not have a clue how to manage third and fourth level education' and the leaving cert is a disaster, fostering a 'mentality' of 'regurgitation' rather than 'critical thinking' that takes a year in university to unlearn.
In the same week we have learned of reduced investment in rural school transport, and no attempt to address the already woeful levels of illiteracy in Irish schools.
To cap it, the real investment and priority of state funding, such as it is, is showcased in a two-page ad by the University of Limerick in Friday's Irish Times top 1,000 companies supplement, which boasts how state funds are being used to 'partner industry' to 'shape tomorrow'. Fine words and ambitions, but look at the projects which tax-funds are paying for, providing already profitable but dubiously motivated industries with free research and development and staff training to further the industries own ends.
Postgrads and academics at UL are working on resolving the 'significant and costly problems' for pharmaceutical companies coping with a 'highly regulated' sector, and the inconvenience of what is euphemistically called the 'failure of unit operation' to meet those regulations. They are also working on a 'virtual trading floor' to practice 'trading simulations' to be the ponsi scheme experts of tomorrow. They are 'leveraging their expertise in credit risk modelling' to be 'at the forefront of the hedge fund industry', and developing 'quantitative finance models' for polluting industries to maximise carbon trading opportunties in the energy swaps markets - the 'biggest and most important financial markets' of today's 'global financial systems'.
So under-investment in real education, a dysfunctional leaving cert, a govnt unable to lead in higher education and tax-payers money used to tart Ireland's HE with some of the world's most polluting and discredited industries. What have we learned?