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Cognitive Dissonance?

September 25th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

For years politicians have been harping on about the importance of education to future economic and social development. New technology and changing means of production, require, they say, higher levels of qualifications and lifelong learning. We are told we are entering a knowledge society where production is dependent on the competence of the workforce. Enterprise’s can only remain competitive if they are innovative and innovation in turn is reliant on individual and organisational learning.

So, with the present economic crisis, we would expect increased attention and investment in education and training. But quite the reverse. Just as in previous recessions, one of the first things to be cut is training. Worse, as governments slavishly follow the neo liberal policies which led to casino capitalism and the collapse of the world banking system, expenditure on education is being cut. Social equity and access to education no longer a priority as the UK government invokes a stealth policy to privatise education. Education is cast as no longer a societal goal but a private investment for private return on investment.

In the short term the obsession with neo liberalism risks a double dip recession, the collapse of the Euro and a prolonged depression. In the longer term the cuts in education not only exclude thousands from opportunities to learning, but endanger future innovation and economic and social development.

Did the politicians believe their own rhetoric about the importance of education? Possibly. But it seems only to have been 0nly rhetoric, to be cast aside when the greater priority of protecting the interests of the wealthy intervenes.

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