7 December 2011

Jobs and Education – Regaining the trust of Young People

Placard From Student Protest - photocredit Neil Dorgan, Flickr

The publication of this campaigning pamphlet is very timely, with the guardian and LSE publising the interim results of their ‘reading the riots’ investigation, this pamphlet sets out the position of the FE and Adult Education Sector policy, and intertwines our policy with a coherent and well thought through analysis of the riots, the economic crisi, and the ways in which education can prove a transformative force in overcoming these crises, and building the society that we want to see.

You can find a pdf of the pamphlet here, and hard copies can be ordered through your branch committee.

Why not use it as the basis of a branch meeting, or set up a special college wide meeting with students and a local MP? A number of branches have already organised this, if you want any further ideas then get in touch and we can put you in touch with someone who has organised such a meeting already.

To quote from the introduction:

For those who work in further and adult education the civil unrest that erupted onto our streets in August 2011 was predictable. The abolition of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) and the raising of university fees confirmed the sense felt by many young people that the government had written off their futures. For many of our young adults there is a deep sense of anger, frustration and fear about their futures. This, in turn, has led some to feel alienated and distrustful of a society that fails to provide space for their concerns to be listened to and does not make them feel secure. Furthermore, the cuts in teaching and course provision

will accelerate the drive towards elitism in education, which will cascade throughout 14–19 education resulting in the narrowing and stratification of the curriculum offer.

The government’s response was as predictable as the reaction of those young people to their feelings of insecurity. All the old dogmas of ‘criminal classes’, ‘parental discipline’, ‘greed’, ‘feral underclass’ and ‘lack of values’ were used alongside mass arrests and imprisonment to regain order. These kinds of explanations and resorting to tactics which create fear will only deepen the sense of alienation that many young people feel.

We in UCU believe that the riots should be wake-up call to all those who work and run education services in Britain. As educationalists, we believe that further and adult education can play an essential part in helping win back the trust and respect of young people. However, for this to happen there must be an urgent reassessment of the role of further and adult education and how it is funded.

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