So, the Social Democrats have launched their “not a manifesto“, making them second to Renua in the early stages of the 2016 General Election. As I reviewed the Renua offering on education, so as not to be accused of partisanship, I will, time permitting, do them all. So what do the SD’s promise on education
The first thing to say is that, curiously, somewhat honestly, and perhaps rather naively, the whole policy document is uncosted. For sure, costing promises is a dark art, but its one to which we have become accustomed. I for one would have liked even some tentative stabs at costings. But, we are where we are..
So to the proposals. For the most part they are bland and technocratic. Thats not a criticism, more a critique. I dont know if Irish voters are that analytical. There is one big idea, on pluralism, and a host of smaller, ‘worthy’ proposals.
That is costed, and its nice to see here, as we do later, a recognition of the public good nature of education. A missing element is uniform costs, and the cost of tablets and e-readers. This can all add up to be very costly, and one wonders if the SD’s didnt follow through fully with the analysis?
On higher education we see
Its not clear that HE is a public good. The outcome of HE is a public good. The provision of HE per se is perhaps not – you can exclude people from it and to some extent it is rivalrous, in that the more that try to access it the less utility each person gets (After some level). So while we can make a good case for funding HE as a public good its to get to the true public good which is a better educated population. Also, the public good argument applies the strongest at the undergraduate level. What is the SD policy on postgraduate courses?
We also see
However, absent radical reform of postprimary and the academic only approach of the Leaving Cert, these will be doomed to failure. We see no evidence of the reduction in student undergraduate fees having made significant differences to enrolment.
A welcome idea is
There is a whole management literature on the design and structure of organizational management processes. The approach now being implemented is wholly inappropriate, from a technical perspective, to the management of organizations such as higher education institutions.
SD’s would see themselves as
Right now we are at, according to the OECD, 24. So we will need 1/6 more teachers. That is going to cost a LOT.
There is an interesting item here
One wonders why we need to teach innovation and entrepreneurship in (presumably) postprimary? To what end? How much will it cost
There are a lot of other great ideas but uncosted in the education element – restoring capitation grants, more SNA’s etc. But not only are they uncosted, they are uncritiqued and there is a universality underpinning the education approach which while coherent may not be to the best for all.
Finally, the SD’s have a whole section on pluralism in schools. They are for it.