Image via the FUTA blog.
Sri Lanka is the only country I know of where higher education leads to higher unemployment rates. The system is undeniably broke, but it not clear who has the fix. Now the issue has reached a head as University teachers have been striking since July. Now the universities are completely shut down and I’ve been hearing that they’re even kicking the kids out of hostel.
You can see the Federation Of University Teachers’ demands in a PDF here. They’re broadly concerned that state spending on education has dropped from 2.9% of GDP to 1.9%. They want 6% of GDP to be spent on education. Besides the finance, they also want to preserve the education system as public and free. While the first bit I can wrap my head around, I think there has to be private education as well. You can follow more on their Facebook group.
While some of the FUTA’s demands may be debatable, the government response thus far seems to be mostly hyperbole. They’re saying the unions want to destabilize/overthrow the entire government and that they’re making the students suffer without hope.
While I don’t entirely agree with the FUTA’s demands, education does need to be more of a priority, or else there will be problems. Right now the social contract doesn’t work. If you study hard and go to uni you’ll be less employable than A) someone who goes abroad B) someone who goes to a private uni C) someone who just stays home and reads books or speaks English at home. The higher education system is simply broken as a tool of social mobility, and that’s very dangerous.
On the other hand, the FUTA’s demands that education remain fully state controlled seems a bit paradoxical. You don’t trust the government to run the current system, but you don’t want any alternatives. Many parents and students go outside of the current public system because it doesn’t work and hundreds of private institutions have sprung up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t agree with FUTA’s demand that public education be preserved as it is (or was, more accurately), because it obviously isn’t working. Public education needs to be improved, but private education should be an option as well.
IMHO. Anyways, there’s a protest at Hyde Park today at four. Watch the traffic.