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What is the matter with education today?

February 5, 2010

I would like to discuss the lucrative Australian educational sector which has come to the attention of the media for a number of reasons, not all of them good. The PM Kevin Rudd has described this sector as our second largest industry yet there is evidence these claims are exaggerated by a factor of two or more, according to the Australian (Education supplement Feb. 16). 

There have been instances of double counting and other (sometimes inadvertant) questionable auditing practices that can explain this anomaly. No doubt the education sector is a big earner, yet on the ground level the margins are very thin for those operating commercial Language (ELICOS)  schools, so the influx of any and all clients is crucial for the survival of the business.

I once explored the possibility of starting up just such a school only to find that a constant flow of high fee paying clients would be required to stay in business. The temptation to cut corners, even to the point of extra-legality could well prove irresistable for struggling operators. The instinct for survival is powerful in individuals, small businesses, as well as large  corporations, yet this doesn’t excuse  such unethical behaviour. Human rights should always take priority over monetary considerations.  

Although a close watch is normally made on the entry status of actual and potential overseas clients, there have been those who have slipped through the cracks (and sometimes with unintended consequences) through false promises of future employment and residency. A hefty price tag is usually attached to services provided by agents and education and training providers alike. I do feel sorry for those students who are now out-of-pocket and facing a bleak future through the closure of a number of Language Schools around Australia. I witnessed just such a debacle while working in Japan, and the results were tragic for many people caught in the vortex of this kind of moral and monetary meltdown. I think a call should be made for more transparency and greater oversight so these outrages can be stemmed, if not entirely eliminated.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 1:40 am

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. February 5, 2010 2:05 am

    Hello allow me to introduce myself. My names is David James Byerlee and I am a writer and teacher living on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia. My novel “London’s Falling” shall be published this year in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publications. The novel deals with the overlap of Political corruption , organsed crime and Islamic terrorism in contemoprary London. As a teacher with recent experience in the commercial English Language (ELICOS) industry, I feel that many of the issues facing the authorities, (including the Australian Police as well as State and Federal government at the highest level) such as questionable educational practices and exploitation of overseas students seeking visas or those who are illegal aliens, have had an ongoing and increasingly negative impact on society in general. These issues are covered in the narrative through the words and actions of characters from both sides of the cultural divide.
    As an ESL teacher here, in Japan (where I worked for the now defunct and discredited Nova Intercultural Institute) and the UK, I have seen how students and teachers can be exploited by some (not all) dodgy commercial entities masquerading as reputable schools for learning and accreditation. When Education and Training becomes simply an economic commodity geared for profit to the exclusion of any semblance of fairness or justice, then you just know somebody is going to get hurt. Such a scenario is an integral part of “London’s Falling”, along with other intersecting plot lines. I would like to hear from anyone who has anything to add to this ongoing national (here in Australia and in the UK) debate.

  3. February 7, 2010 11:12 pm

    I would like to discuss the issue of the Burqa, the full faced Islamic veil which has just been outlawed in France. While the Buqa is seldom seen in my home country of Austrlia, it is prevalent in the UK where I lived and worked for some years. I have written a novel called “London’s Falling” which involves Islamic terrorism and political corruption (among other issues) in contemporary London. Additionally I lived in an inner city suburb of London near Ilford where the Burqa was widespread.
    As a teacher I was astounded to hear of two primary school teachers insisting on wearing the Burqa in class. When the Principal objected, these two London born teachers threatened to cancel Christmas festivities and decorations for their young students. In the event, the Principal held firm and the full face veils came off, at least in school time. I don’t think there is any question that many of these supposedly proud Islamic women were coerced by their fathers and brothers to completely cover themselves up. I think the veil is a form of repression that belongs to another long past era. Your comments are most welcome.

  4. February 18, 2010 5:24 am

    How would you like it if you went down to the beach and all the women were covered head to toe with the burqa. It is primitive and I know they have their own reasons for it, it is to keep the eye pure by not being able to see anything of great interest when you look at the women. I believe a woman should dress modestly but the burqa is just taking it too far! Not everyone has the problem of not being able to just look and don’t touch! Maybe these people need some sort of self control, and women may be able to wear more casual clothes unlike the burqa.

  5. March 30, 2010 1:40 am

    Rescue the Future
    I saw a BBC program last night called “Jihad Generation” and it took me back to when ai was living and working in the UK. Much of my experience and impressions have been chrystalized in a novel called “London’s Burning” which i have mentioned previously. The question of why highly educated individuals from good families wold want to destroy people, places and things in a nation they have lived in since birth is covered in both the BBC program and my novel. There are many factors for this including disaffection and alienation; problems common to young adults and adolescents but rarely with more negative consequences than when expereinced by soje young Muslim men and sometimes women. Internet grooming of potential terrorists is also a problem that won’t just go away any time soon. People can be and are attacked on the net and not just by misguided Muslim youth looking for a reason to rebel.
    The absurd call for Sharia Law in a western democracy like the UK and Canada is sheer lunacy yet such a proposal has been on the table in those countries and elsewhere for years. Perhaps it comes down to Human Rights and Freedom of Speech even if that too has been abused for sinister ends in recent years.
    I do feel sorry for those women imprisoned in the Burqa and facing the kind of domestic repression not seen in the West since the Middle Ages. Who was it that came up with the oxymoron “Honour Killing” ? I have seen the results of that kind of fanaticism even in my local area here in Australia. All this has been a shock for people who thought diversity would equal tolerance. Have a say, give us your opinion. Where do you stand on this and other related issues?

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