The Irish education system is beginning to experience the real implications of the ‘Austerity Programme’ agreed with the ECB/IMF.
We are like terrified passengers on a runaway train, heading into the path of an oncoming train. The train is going far too fast to get off, but by staying on we are doomed to certain death and destruction.
There is a systematic flaw at the centre of the economic system by which the entire world economy operates. The creation of excess credit is like a cancer which eventually destroys the very system of which it is a part. Each cell and player in our political/ economic system simply operates according to the rules governing their conduct. In both cases, the end result is total destruction. But, in both cases, neither cell nor person can deviate from the destructive path they now find themselves on.
Ruairi Quinn is a decent human being and is in political life for very noble reasons. I remember, as a teenager in 1969, listening to him at the corner of Hume Street speaking out of a window of a Georgian building that he was attempting to save from demolition, and being impressed with his idealism. But, because of the underlying contradictory forces in our economic system, he is now presiding over the destruction of the very lifeblood of Ireland’s long term health, wealth and prosperity – our Education system.
James Reilly finds himself in the same place regarding our Health system, as does Joan Burton regarding Social Protection.
As a former President of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, you would expect me to condemn the effective abolition of the Guidance and Counselling service at second level education – which I do without reservation.
Breda O Brien, in her Irish Times column on Saturday, January 7, refers to Minister Quinn as setting out to smash the Guidance and Counselling service. This is effectively what he has done. But when he sat down to make the cuts agreed in our ECB/IMF programme he felt compelled to act like the cancer cell in the human body. To survive and receive our next fix of ECB/IMF funding, to keep the ATMs working, he had to take the hatchet to some part of our education system and start destroying services built up over decades.
Along with wiping out the Guidance and Counselling service to schools (which will leave children floundering both in education and in their personal lives, and will lead to a number of deaths each year as vulnerable children, who are currently being picked up through the one-to-one work of Guidance Counsellors, sadly take their own lives), Minister Quinn has dismantled the support services to disadvantaged schools which have been developed over many years.
Having taken a break over the Christmas and metaphorically tried to wash the blood of his recent destructive orgy off his hands, he now has to take out his hatchet again, along with all his fellow Ministers, and select other vulnerable parts of our education system to destroy, so as to meet the agreed targets for the 2013 budget.
He and they will have to repeat this process each year for possibly another ten years, according to a statement by a departing ESRI economist.
The sad fact about this scenario is that according to the rules of how Capitalism works, neither he nor they – like the cancer cell in our bodies – can avoid acting in a manner which will ultimately destroy the entire education system, and the society in which it operates.
The only possible saving grace for Ireland and its education, health and social protection services is that Greece is the unfortunate guinea pig in the playing out of the endgame of the absurd farce which is our current economic rule book.
There is a faint hope that Greece’s imminent collapse may lead to the emergence of a new world economic order which will dispense with destructive austerity, and begin to rebuild a better world order based on respect for the dignity of the human person, and not the destructive logic of our current economic model.