Sunday, June 28, 2009

Not enough dollars is not the problem

A Sunday doco on TV1 this evening explained the effectiveness of a community based series of education and training initiatives in Otorahunga which have proven surprisingly and overwhelmingly effective for employers, those who would have been unemployed and the community. Suffice to say it has been devastatingly successful.

Govt funding for the scheme is about to be removed – at least in part. Times are tough, recession, competing demands etc…all plausible and apparently tragic.

Unfortunately the next point in the analysis was missed – the current formal educational system – a vast consumer of scarce resource notably money - is not delivering what is required to achieve the desired objectives and there is a viable alternative.

For one employee the best thing that happened to him was getting tossed out of school and ending up in the programme… he is now a successful apprentice, a local firm has a valuable employee and the community is better off.

The point is less that funding should not be cut but that it should be taken away from the formal education sector and re directed to initiatives such as this. Put even more simply by keeping people in schools for many we are paying for their education twice over.

Not a problem of too little money but money allocated to the wrong institutions. Sitting in school to year 13 having not shown aptitude for or interest in the academic career offered by education to pre university level is simple misallocation.

Too many school students, too many teachers, and not enough allocation to training initiatives which match workplace opportunity to would be employees.

There will be numerous detailed differences in different communities, schools, work places and the like. The evidence is strong however that it is not lack of money per se which is the problem but misallocation.

The courage required to correct this problem at root however, is massive. Much easier to say lack of resource is the problem than to face the need to correct compounded years of assuming that the standard formal, largely academic driven schooling system works. For many it doesn’t – time to start starving the dogs and feeding the stars.

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