Dumb as it gets – The global education atrocity
The fact that so many "developed" countries have turned their education systems into expensive obstacle courses easily ranks high among the dumbest things the human race has ever done. That's not easy, and the fact that this is happening at a time when education is now more technologically available than ever, and societies are in greater need than ever of advanced skills makes the situation even more repulsive.
As politicians, industrialists and financiers seem to be determined to prove on an hourly basis, commerce, society and government cannot be run by ignoramuses, idiots and incompetents. The world needs to educate efficiently and provide an appropriate access to productive employment for the people able to innovate and advance humanity.
The exact opposite is happening. Ridiculous types and levels of obstruction seem to be actively designed to prevent any possibility of qualification for sufficient numbers of people with sufficiently high levels of training to even get started in meaningful careers. The result is that their productivity cannot be anywhere near its potentials.
If you consider how much capital is generated by qualified people, the logical development of that assessment is that people should actually be paid to be educated, not charged ridiculous amounts of money to get basic qualifications. In the course of their working lives, people working in their chosen fields, where their talents can be properly applied can be astonishingly productive. They need training, they need exposure to experienced people who know how to assist them in developing their skills, and they need the benefit of strong educational values.
A further situation arises in the fact that the cost of theoretical training is now approximately the cost of the electricity required. Access to educational facilities is now instant, and baseline costs are extremely cheap. The only other real and necessary cost is the cost of paying educators.
The results of the idiotic idea that "Things which aren't businesses should operate like businesses" have been appalling inefficiencies, utterly inappropriate cost-value relationships for services, and the inevitable end result of reducing the number of people available in critically important positions throughout society. High charges for education have simply sabotaged the skills base.
A further, very cynical, factor has created many more problems. The fact that there's only so many places available in tertiary institutions has effectively lead to an "auction" effect. Nobody would deny the value of education at the world’s leading institutions. These institutions are standard setters, and in all fairness they do raise the expectations of quality of education. In fact, they operate as quality controls to some extent, and other institutions have to compete with them.
The problem is that these institutions, partly because of their pre-computer/pre-internet structures, are also at a disadvantage. In order to provide accessible education, they will ultimately need to restructure drastically. The days of a "select few" grazing in the fields of academe should have been long gone by the 1990s. The world cannot afford to simply educate a handful of people and expect that societies will be able to operate efficiently.
Simply stuffing people into buildings and teaching them is no longer an option. Demand for higher education is at saturation point. The existing institutions are simply unable to handle this demand. External and remote learning are now booming, and there's a real possibility that the highly advanced top level educational institutions may simply become irrelevant.
That's a no-win situation for everybody, because the very high quality education is also a major driver of academic and industrial research as well as providing top level skills. At present, industries, sciences, commerce, medicine and the rest of the spectrum of basic socio-economic functions are screaming for more skilled people. The current education system has absolutely no hope of providing anywhere near the numbers of qualified people required.
Add to this the fact that extremely high education fees are burdening graduates with the equivalent of mortgages before they even start their careers, and "mess" would be a very polite description of the situation. This is another counter-productive result, in which private capital earned by graduates is effectively kept out of the society, even if it is nominally supposed to go back into providing further education. Providing more of an inefficient, overpriced service hardly qualifies as a reason for anything.
The money "owed" by students would be far more economically effective if used to develop business assets, personal assets, and invested in productive and objective ways. There are currently billions of dollars which are effectively mortgaged in this way, and judging from the ever-increasing prices of education, tertiary institutions aren't becoming more cost-efficient over time. If you consider the real value of the income of an entire generation of graduates, this outcome could only flatteringly be described as mediocre.
There’s a basic equation that societies need to learn – Old methods can't solve new problems. The existing methodology and cost structures will be absolutely obliterated in the near future as new providers come online and divert business away from the old colleges. To remain viable, the old colleges will necessarily have to adopt new methods. It's effectively inevitable that the global education system will change.
This change will be for the better, but it's taking an ungodly length of time to happen, and whole generations of students and their societies are effectively being penalized for retaining an obsolete, utterly inefficient and inadequate educational system.
The important people in education are the students and the educators. Educational facilities should be geared to providing maximum efficiency on a best cost basis, not based on a nitpicking "user pays" methodology and other mindless forms of hack accountancy which anyone who can read a spreadsheet could see through if they tried.
Education isn't just "about the future", it is the future. The education system is a map to the actual future capabilities of any society. If humanity wants to quite literally mortgage its future, and sabotage its own functionality for the sake of puerile "profits" which are absorbed in seconds by the rising costs this system enforces, it may well be the biggest mistake humanity has ever made.
The potential for human advancement through modern education methods is enormous. The results, to date, are farcical. This situation would be funny, if humanity wasn't staring a collection of demographic and resource crunch/tipping points in the face. The choice is now quite literally "Educate or die."
Take your pick, folks, because there aren't going to be any second chances.
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