Thursday, 31 January 2008

Illiterates still sadly surging forth. Ambulances positioned firmly at cliff base.

First, a quote from earlier in the week: “Education in the government's factory schools is pumping out an ever-increasing number of functionally illiterate and unemployable youths - good for nothing beyond stuffing a ballot box." - Peter Osborne

And a cartoon (from The Free Radical):


And now, some good news.  The Government appears to have accepted the bad news that "the literacy level of about 800,000 workers is such that they might struggle to transfer printed information to an order form - a deficiency cited as a factor stifling the country's economic growth" -- and, not incidentally, blighting the lives and futures of  at least 800,00 New Zealanders.  Story here. Puff piece here.

The bad news is, first, that according to Pete Hodgson, it is businesses who will be expected to teach their own workers reading, writing and maths "under a complex new plan to raise the skills of the workforce." 

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly - who, with Government and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, is part of the new Skill New Zealand Forum developing the plan - [said he] didn't want a "bureaucratic nightmare" for business [but] "We've got a problem in terms of functional illiteracy and innumeracy in our workplaces. We are poor by world standards," said Mr O'Reilly.

At least it means the schools responsible for this disaster won't be getting their hands back on the evidence of their resounding failure.   But the further bad news however, completely un-addressed by this "complex new plan," is that the factory schools that churned out this horde of functional illiterates continue to sail on regardless.  One in five of the New Zealanders who attended those schools for ten years or more failed to attain the most basic of life skills, yet nothing about that revelation will cause any sort of re-examination by those responsible. 

That is outrageous.  It would happen in no other line of endeavour except one monopolised by the state.

Those who continue to insist that the state simply must take charge of primary and secondary education might pause to consider what this figure shows about the efficacy and content of what those factory schools have been and are continuing to delivering -- in recent years it's been mostly bullshit, mush and toxic swill.   If you thought they were primarily teaching literacy and numeracy, you were obviously very much mistaken -- it's mostly about the seven-lesson inculcation of servitude.

If you ever thought that appalling figures such as these would get the planners behind the factory schools asking themselves serious questions about their plans and their success rate (or lack thereof), then you've been  hoodwinked.  And if you ever wondered whether a private organisation with failure of this magnitude would be able to get away with it, then I have a bridge I can sell you.

The tragedy of wholesale illiteracy and innumeracy must be laid firmly at the door of the mandarins responsible for the method of teaching and the content of what is taught at the state's indoctrination centres.  It is not enough to pick up the lives of those blighted by those mandarins years later.  It is essential that those responsible are urgently removed from the responsibility of filling up further young minds, and be placed where they are never in such a position again.

As every year a new horde of young New Zealanders surges forth into the world, one in five of whom  after ten years of factory schooling are unable to function in the modern world, the situation becomes ever more urgent.  Don't just wring your hands in impotent despair at the tragedy.  Don't just bewail the youngsters' sorry futures.  Don't just join me in hammering the factory schools.   Join me in going in there and taking them all back



  1. Has the Libertarian approach actually been tried anywhere? If not, what makes you think it will work, if so please point me at the evidence of raging success.

  2. It’s not an education issue but a welfare issue. As a generalization students attending decile 4 or higher schools are fine. Students attending decile 3 or below tend to belong to families on welfare and the kiddies move around a lot. As a result they are unsettled, moving from school to school and don’t get the basic education required at ages 5 to 7.

  3. This is why I worked 2 - 3 jobs and got into investing. So I can put my kids through a decent private education. I have two kids at Anglican Diocean Schools even though I am an atheist. They get Damned good educations. There will be a meritocracy in this country in the not to distant future. A small number of people with knowledge and skills, and a huge mass of proles, good for nothing pretty much at all.

    Brian Smaller

  4. Simon said...
    It’s not an education issue but a welfare issue.

    I think that I agree with Simon here. Speaking from experience, the secondary school in Tonga that I went to, is no where near the quality of educations that we have here in NZ. The resources are awful as it is still today. The majority of teachers don't have degrees. There is a local teacher's training college over there, where the majority of local teachers got their training from there. The qualifications gained from there are not degrees but certificates. But I have to say, that literacy & numeracy are reasonable over there as according to UN standards (people with degrees/per population-wise).

    Since it is a 3rd world country and no welfare at all, children are hungry for success at school out of sheer desperation to do well, since if you're no good, then the most options for males is to do farm work in their land. Farm work is not a nice thing to do in the eyes of children, because it is so bloody hard and physical. Most horticultural farmers, have no machineries at all to ease their work. Just pure manual, hoeing and digging with spades is the norm, when you grow taro, cassava or yams, etc... You get blisters everyday in your palms for these sort of manual work. For girls that don't do well, they join their mums and other women community groups (villagers) to do weaving and making handicrafts for sales (mostly in the tourism industry). Again, this is bloody hard work, since everything is manual (although, women don't get continual blistering on their hands like the farm men do).

    The desire to succeed at school thus to avoid manual labouring in the farm as the way to earn a living drive kids to try harder at school. If you don't drive hard at school , the alternative is blistering palms everyday.

    I suspect that if Tonga has a welfare system, then most kids wouldn't care if they succeed at school or not, since the third alternative is to go on the dole and not get blistering palms. So, I believe that the welfare rather than education is the problem, because the worst school in NZ (bad decile) could be regarded as a top school in Tonga (in comparison). See, Hilary College in Otara could be viewed as a Kings College in Tonga compared to the best school there (Tonga).

    Some kids here in NZ just lost the drive to do well at school, since they know that the state would simply support them.

  5. These statistics are just shocking and further evidence the socialist education system is a failure.

    All the working class people should be ashamed of themselves, and this rather proves the point as to why for centuries education and success was reserved for rich people and the 'elite'.

    As soon as egalitarianism took over it has proved the working class people are too stupid to benefit to any degree, no matter how many schools there are, no matter how much money is spent.

    (I wonder what the illiteracy rate is at elitist private schools?)


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