Monday, 31 August 2009
It is a very good "Comment" article and well worth a look. I do like this section:
"Every August, we go through the annual ritual of hailing the "record results" that have been achieved in the GCSEs and A-levels: everyone involved - including in my experience, the teenagers themselves - knows that the questions are getting easier, which is why candidates are forced to take absurd numbers of exams in order to distinguish themselves from their peers.... any critique of the exam system is somehow a malicious and brutal attacked upon our teenagers at precisely the moment that we should be celebrating their achievements. Of course, it is no such thing"
Michael Gove has gone on YouTube so that might be worth a search. But exciting times could be ahead, if the Conservatives start telling the truth and stop trying to pull the wool over every one's eyes.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
"Clutching her School Voucher Certificate, seven year-old Taiyeba Rahman, a resident of Chauhar Bangar, east Delhi, was all smiles on Wednesday. She did not understand what the certificate meant, but sensing her father Atiq Rahman’s happiness, she knew it was something great.
“My father has told me I will go to a big school with swings now,” said Taiyeba.
Taiyeba is one of the 400 recipients of the NGO, Center for Civil Society’s School Voucher for Girls Programme (SVGP) in seven colonies of North Delhi, comprising of Welcome Colony, Chauhar Bangar, Zaffrabad, New Usmanpur, Maujpur, Janta Colony and Babarpur.
Under this initiative, families of 400 female students studying in 2nd grade in MCD schools will receive a School Voucher Certificate worth Rs 4, 000 per annum for four years, which they can use to admit their wards to one of the 40 empanelled private schools located in north-east Delhi schools working with CCS.
The voucher would also cover the school fees, cost of books and uniforms.
“It is no secret that MCD schools impart low-quality education,” said Baladevan Rangaraju, programme director.
“We want to start a campaign in which students be given a voucher by the government that can be given to whichever school—government or private a student wants to go to,” said Rangaraju.
“So, to showcase that a student of a government school who is shifted to a private school achieves higher academic standards, we started the pilot project, SVGP.”
The 40 private schools for which these students have been given a voucher have agreed to admit the MCD students on compassionate grounds, though they also benefit.
“Under such a tie-up, we are also assured the yearly tuition on time,” said Dinesh Jain, principal of Alka Public School.
To start with, the programme has selected mostly female students of Muslim or socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We chose the groups that have the lowest school enrollment,” said Ranjaraju.
“Moreover, all children we chose were students in the second grade of MCD schools because we wanted to make sure those who benefited could not afford private schools.”
Monday, 27 July 2009
Writing in 1949, Henry Hazlitt suggested that ‘[t]he indignation shown by many people today at the mention of the very word profits indicates how little understanding there is of the vital function that profits play in our economy’. Thankfully, over half a century later there is now much more understanding about the importance of the profit motive in our daily lives – except of course in education. In fact, even attempting to relate education to money is still viewed by some with deep suspicion. As such, Hazlitt’s brief description of the function of profits is perhaps worth revisiting.
Firstly, according to Hazlitt the prospect of profits helps to decide what will be produced and in what quantities, and if there is no profit in producing a product or service, it is a sign that the labour and capital devoted to its production are misdirected: the value of the resources that must be used up in providing a product or service is greater than the value of the product or service. Secondly, the profit motive also helps to put constant and unremitting pressure on business managers to improve and innovate. For-profit organisations don’t have to be told to improve or innovate. Instead they have an inbuilt incentive to do so automatically. Hazlitt also challenges a common misconception which claims that profits can be increased simply by raising prices. Instead, it is by introducing economies and efficiencies that cut costs of production that helps to generate profits. Therefore, it will be those who have achieved the lowest costs of production that generate the highest profits. In short, ‘profits not only tell us which goods it is most economical to make, but which are the most economical ways to make them’.
Ludwig von Mises has also helped to explain why businessmen and big business are not irresponsible tyrants, as many still claim them to be, because it is ‘the necessity of making profits and avoiding losses that gives to the consumers a firm hold over the entrepreneurs and forces them to comply with the wishes of the people’. As a result there is no problem when a businessman attempts to enrich himself by increasing his profits, because large profits are simply proof of supplying customers with what they want, while losses are the proof of blunders committed. As Mises concludes, ‘[t]he riches of successful entrepreneurs is not the cause of anybody’s poverty; it is the consequence of the fact that the consumers are better supplied than they would have been in the absence of the entrepreneur’s effort’.
From the above comments, it is clear that the profit motive plays an important role both within individual organisations and in the economy as a whole. They also suggest that while there has been much debate about the ethics of the profit motive itself, less attention has perhaps been given to the actual process of calculating profit and loss and how this influences how organisations operate and perform. For example, it is clear that if an organisation is driven by profits, then there appears to be an inbuilt incentive to record and monitor all costs. This is because if costs and revenues cannot be compared, then the calculation of profit becomes impossible. The ongoing calculation of profit and loss also provides an organisation with a continual flow of information about the quality of its products and services and if they are succeeding in meeting customer needs and expectations. The calculation of profit and loss therefore provides an essential link between what the customers want and what the organisation produces. Eureka! Could the profit motive prove to be the missing link in education? In their 2003 publication Education and Capitalism, Walberg and Bast suggest that unless popular myths about capitalism are challenged, school reform in the USA will stall well short of success. I agree.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Now Ed Balls has asked for a review to take place to see just how many ‘unscrupulous’ parents there are, who are trying to ‘cheat’ the system. I was appalled by the word ‘unscrupulous’. I looked it up – devious, ruthless – were just a couple of the words I came up with. Well, the problem is not with parents, who want a choice and the best school for their child, but the system. Because there isn’t the choice. Mrs Patel has grasped what has to be done. She chose to send her child to a private school. However, why hasn’t the money that she is saving the state school system now being transferred to the private sector to follow her son? This is very upsetting to me. If I wanted my child to attend the best school in the area then maybe I would be ruthless and fight tooth and nail for his or her place.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
I think there can be no doubt that at some point in the near future, chains of branded for-profit schools will slowly start to dominate education sectors around th world, with both national and international brand names emerging. Governments are therefore faced with a number of choices. First, they can completely ignore and refuse to accept that such developments are taking place. Second, they can acknowledge these developments and do nothing. Third, they can acknowledge these developments but do everything in their power to stop them. Fourth, they can acknowledge these developments and look for ways of positively encouraging them, with tax breaks and other incentives. What governments can do to positively encourage private investment in education is still a relatively untouched area of research and will need much more attention in the future.
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Monday, 18 May 2009
- the introduction of a broad curriculum up until the age of 14 which allows for the development of life skills
- SATs replaced by an individual profile of attainment, skills and aptitudes
- at 14 all students can choose a pathway matched their interests and abilities
- practical and vocational courses taught in specialist facilities by experienced staff
- at 16 studenst can choose to specialise within their pathway or change pathway or enter employment with training
- beyond 18 students would have the opportunity to study at degree level at a centre of vocational excellence endorsed by employers.
Unfortunately, while these proposals may sound interesting to some, the reality is that they fail to address the key source of the problem in education, which is that it remains a nationalised sector which is monopolised by government controlled schools. Until this stranglehold on the supply of education is removed then the status quo will remain and choice, competition and entrepreneurship will be prevented from playing a key role in the sector. It sounds like what Edge really want is innovation in the delivery of education which can only be guaranteed if there are a variety of different and competing providers from across the UK and around the world. Therefore one very simple reform is required. Redirect all public funds from schools to parents and guarantee parents their right and freedom to choose.
Friday, 15 May 2009
While some may question the use and role of the profit motive in higher education and whether private investors would be interested in investing in the sector, the recent growth of for-profit universities in the US and around the world confirms that all law and business related education and training programs do not need to be delivered by publicly funded non-profit charities. With the benefit of hindsight it should come as no surprise to find out that it is possible to generate a profit from teaching others the art of profit making (all business and related degrees). The fact that the American education investor Apollo Global has also recently shown interest in taking over BPP Professional Education (as a result BPP’s shares increased by 50%) confirms that this has the potential to develop into a highly profitable and therefore a highly competitive sector of the economy.
The simple fact that BPP can now deliver degree programmes in business and law in two years instead of three, without receiving government handouts, at a lower cost and still generate a profit, confirms that there is no market failure in the provision of these services. Instead it’s simply the case that the market has not been allowed to develop. The solution is to privatise every law and business school across the country, allowing each university to keep the proceeds from each sale.