Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tough on Education, Tough on the Causes of Education.

I came across this excellent and chilling article today.

The first time I saw Tuggy Tug, he was standing on a street corner in Brixton with half-a-dozen other 15-year- old boys. They were scowling at anyone who walked past.

He is already set on the path of social deprivation: prison, an early death or, at best, a lifetime on benefits. His life is already wasted.

Today, Britain is facing a crisis with its youth. In every town and city, boys like Tuggy Tug are failing to make the transition to manhood and a successful adult life. This has terrifying implications for us all.

Tuggy Tug's chances of having a decent childhood, it became clear, had been weighted against him from the start. As a black boy from a low-income Caribbean background, he belongs to one of the two categories most likely to fail at school and least likely to break out of poverty.

White boys from low-income families perform worst: 63 per cent are unable to read and write properly at 14 (compared with 43 per cent of white girls from a similar background).

Black working- class boys do not do much better: at age 14, 54 per cent cannot read or write properly.

The scale of the crisis in our education system is going unrecognised - but we ignore it at our peril.

Unlike previous generations, the boys who spill out onto our streets don't quickly grow out of delinquent behaviour.

What happens in school smashes their lives, leaving them antisocial-semi- criminal and dependant on welfare.

Which means we, the taxpayers, have to pay astronomical sums to keep fit young men idle. Youth unemployment, which has just hit 726,000 - its highest level in 16 years - is now costing us well over £90million a week.

And that's not all, of course. Illiterate young men with no other way of proving themselves or of making a living are likely to turn to crime. In 2004, the annual cost of youth crime in Britain was calculated at more than £1 billion - and it will be far higher now.

Certainly, adults are now less ready to intervene and monitor young people than in the past - and they are right to be afraid.

...the institutions that previously socialised and directed young men - the family, the church and school - have either lost or given up their authority.

And these changes have hit boys from poor backgrounds the hardest.

So, too, has the lack of adult males in their lives who can serve as role models.
The number of children living in loneparent households - almost all headed by a single mother - has more than doubled in 25 years.

And what happens when these boys go to school? Despite the billions thrown at education by the Government since 1997, nearly every one of the teenagers I interviewed, as well as quite a few of the men I met in their 20s and 30s, was unable to read or write properly - or had only learned in prison.

Everywhere I went, I met men whose lives had been blighted by their failure at school. According to the Statistics Commission, of the 1.7 million new jobs created since 1997, a whopping 81 per cent have gone to foreign workers.

The Department For Work And Pensions is jawdroppingly candid about the reasons for this.

UK citizens are on the dole because of 'issues around basic employability skills, incentives and motivation' it says.

What a pity it has not passed this insight on to the Department Of Education And Skills.

All over Britain, men like Dave are disengaging from society for a reason: they see nothing in it for them. And they are quite right.

A new report - by an all-party panel chaired by former minister Alan Milburn - spelled out: 'The problem is not a shortage of parental aspiration. It is a shortage of good schools.'

Whether these proposals will ever be taken further is doubtful. Labour has a track record of talking about reforms - and then doing nothing.

The problem lies in our schools, over which Labour has had complete control for the past 12 years.

In any case, most boys from disadvantaged backgrounds don't aspire to move to a different class; they rarely aspire to go beyond a few streets.

One young man I met in South London, for example, had never crossed the Thames because he couldn't read the bus timetables.

Truly shocking. I feel sorry for these young men, but my response, like that of most adults, is generally to avoid them for fear of violent mugging. How did it ever come to this?

1 comment:

tiredofitall said...

Truly shocking. I feel sorry for these young men, but my response, like that of most adults, is generally to avoid them for fear of violent mugging. How did it ever come to this?

With the guiding hand of feminism behind it, how could it not?