Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Free Education? Yes, but Pay for Schooling

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a bit of a laugh really, unless you believe that some time Utopia really will happen. Some of the things seem basic, but they make me think. Article 25 (1) declares that Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…’
What I want to know is this, exactly who is it provides you with these rights? And the other thing that I’m puzzled about is where you rank the various rights. Personally I think that free food is much more important than free education. Well I’ll correct that actually, education is free, it’s schooling that isn’t.
Given that 20,000 students marched to Dail Eireann in Dublin protesting the cost of education, I wonder are they educated enough to know what ‘free’ really means? Because free doesn’t mean that it costs nothing. If you don’t pay yourself, somebody else does.
I do think that people who want to enter third level education should have every possible chance to do so, and I’m all for means testing, but given that anything that’s free is not really free, it’s paid by the so called ‘taxpayer’, I just wonder why it seems more important to pay for schooling than it is to pay for food. And bottom line, where do you decide what’s more important?
Of course there’s the argument that we should be a ‘smart economy’. Does smart mean people with college degrees? Do you have to have a piece of paper and some letters to your name in order to get the country back on its feet again? These days people have started believing that college degrees are almighty, the way they used to believe in the Church and the politicians and the banks before they discovered they’d been taken for a ride. Smart? Beats me. So I thought about marching to the Dail to demand the setting up of free soup kitchens as part of one of my basic human rights. But I’ve always been more the practical type than the revolutionary and seeing that ‘Dail’ is an anagram for ‘Aldi’ I may as well go there instead. 

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