Friday, June 06, 2008

Blood, Sweat and T-shirts -- an addendum

Didn't get round to saying it before.

The workers that the six British young people got to see in India in this TV series can be said to be caught (up)/trapped in a 'culture of poverty'.

While education in most countries allow people to experience 'social mobility', those trapped in poverty do not have the wherewithal to better themselves. Once they stopped working, they stop eating. Education or any form of training really becomes a luxury. (Something that Richard in the series learned, eventually.)

That is why everywhere where education becomes available and children are able to make use of it, they do better than their parents: social mobility. (And also family size comes down, easing over-population.)

In Britain, however, we are negating the effect of universal free education. At least some parts of the population are.

Instead of using education to achieve social mobility, it is easier for some to choose a 'culture of dependency': the government will provide.

Why work 35 hours on minimum wage when you can sit around all day, watching TV and getting fat when you can get the same amount of money for doing nothing?

In my studies on migration I've learned that first generation immigrants see the opportunity for a free education as a passport to a better life. Where previously parents had to slave to earn school fees, free education means a chance to better oneself minus the sacrifice needed.

Parents press their children to capitalize on these opportunities.

In some families you can clearly see how free education has lifted the younger generations from a labouring to a professional class.

The problem is when things are 'free', it quickly loses its value. Brand name goods will not be worth anything if they are sold cheaply. Likewise, after a generation or two people do not see free education as something of value.

We hear stories of parents taking their children out of school to go on holidays because it is cheaper. Would they do the same if they had to pay school fees?

When children in a class take turns to go on holiday the progress of the whole class is slowed. Teachers have to give time to children who need to catch up? Who suffers? Those who cannot afford to go on holiday.

When services are provided for free, taken for granted, we promote what I call a 'culture of dependency'. This is the 'something for nothing' culture. There is no sense of responsibility and no sense of obligation; the benefits system is there to be milked.

What is troubling this nation? Though the present government talks a lot about 'lifting children out of poverty', it is not material poverty that is the real problem. I believe it is a 'poverty of the spirit' that is levelling every aspect of this once great civilization down.

It is not for me to just criticize, surely. My community work puts me in contact with a lot of functional and dysfunctional families. It is great to see that there are some who accept help and try very hard to make a better life for themselves and their children. There are struggling parents who take advice on how to discipline their children, etc.

But I also see some who are -- for want of a better description -- milking the benefits system for as much as they could get out of it. There are young single mothers, for example, who have child care paid for by the tax-payers so that they could get an education. My friends who provide such care have stories about how they are abused.

How do we stop this cycle of dependency?

Back to Organic-Ally.

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