Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Education. Education. Edu...what the fuck ?

Remember Blair's smug sound-bite? FE colleges up and down the country are shut today because of a strike by the the lecturers' union - the UCU - in protest at a massive cuts programme aimed at that sector.  My local college is one of them - CONEL (The College of North East London) is making £2.5m of cuts that will dramatically cut teaching jobs and courses.

What's happening there is a microcosm of what Labour have done to the their inner city heartlands - like Tottenham - and a taste of worse to come, whatever the result of tomorrow's election. The college is at the heart of the community here  - and not just because it is one of the biggest employers in the constituency. The cuts are going to tear at that heart. We have one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the UK so both  vocational courses and second-chance-after-school courses give young people some hope. We are also officially the most ethnically diverse part of the UK so courses teaching English and basic literacy are essential to people who come here to make a new life and try to integrate themselves in the local community.

Ironically our local MP, David Lammy is a man who owes pretty much everything to the power of education. Yet as a minister for education he has done precisley fuck all to assist the campaign to stop the cuts at his local college. He actually grew up about a block away from where I now live - but a scholarship to a boarding school led to a law degree from Harvard. And good luck to him for that -  I've also benefited in my own life (not quite as much as Lammy though)  from access to an elite education. But he is happy now to kick the ladder away from the next generation behind him who want to make the same journey.

It's no accident that our local TUSC candidate is a UCU  activist  from the college - and one of those now likely to lose her job.

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