Op-Ed: Education, education, education

 
 

A vote to maintain free third-level education is imperative as it functions as the cornerstone of a civilised developed nation, writes Annette Mooney

Most of you embarking on or nearing completion of your third-level course will be all too aware of the student levies. You will also know that such charges always increase. Worse than this again, you face the prospect of no prospects, at least in Ireland, and the challenge of finding employment abroad. At this stage you might be angry, worried, despondent or so focused and busy that you haven’t the energy to spare or the confidence that any politician is truly interested. Some years abroad might be just what you want. The point is that increasing levies make it difficult for all and impossible for some to access third level. A third-level student who is desirous of achieving an honours degree spends 3-5 years working hard and living on meagre earnings. At the end of your Degree, Masters or PHD who will no doubt be sick of being poor and chomping at the bit to earn some money. If you are fortunate enough to have parents who can support you further with that break year away, you will still need to find work when you get back. There was a time when a degree was the pathway to a decent career; we should have that time again. As a student who does not have financial worries, you need to ask yourself what you can do so those less fortunate than yourself can get the same opportunity.

So there are two main issues facing students, the first is the levee, which basically equates to third-level fees, and the second is job prospects.

The solution, to what is known euphemistically as the economic crisis, the depressing and difficult times we have found ourselves dumped in by an incompetent government who were paid more than their worth to destroy in the most disastrous and frankly criminally negligent ways a vibrant functioning country, is job creation. No amount of cut backs, stealth taxes, increase in university fees, and withdrawal of basic services or other so-called austerity measures will make this country work. The outgoing failed politicians claim that they can get this country working again through a reinjection of your money, and the money you will hope to earn for many more years, into a reckless banking system. They want you to trust them, even though they have continually got their figures wrong, even though their measures haven’t worked and cannot.

As a recent graduate from UCD and currently engaged on a PGDE, I would hope to have gained some insight into both the importance of education and the difficulties one faces if one is to stay the course. At a time when the country has been forced into a recession by a criminally incompetent government, a government that have made sovereign what should not be and sold what is not theirs to sell, we are in desperate need of intelligent, committed and imaginative people. We are in dire need of leadership in the immediate term. We need a strong investment programme that puts job creation first. We need to rely on the huge amount of expertise and imagination of our people. We need the money to carry out such a programme; we already have the will.

The United Left Alliance rejects the bank bailouts. We, like all reasoned people, know that at its most basic level a society can only function if a country approaches full employment. It is with employment that we pay for services. You have a right to work and a responsibility to. We believe in putting people before profit. We want to create an equitable society and we believe that this can only be achieved if everyone works and is paid a sensible wage to do so. We want to create a society in which everyone has the right and the ability to access third-level education. We want to create a society in which public heath care is available to all; we see the provision of private health care as both entirely unnecessary and morally reprehensible. Everyone can now see private health care becoming so expensive as to be only available to the rich, and people are beginning to see that making profits on the misery of others is just wrong. When you train as a medic you enter a profession whose purpose it is to bring relief to the suffering and help others, and while you should be paid well, everyone who works hard should be, you should not be so perverted by greed as to stand by and see an honourable and highly regarded profession become all about the money.

The United Left Alliance have made a pledge to take the minimum industrial wage, to totally overhaul the political system and to end the situation in which someone votes for the person who meets their selfish wants, rather than someone who genuinely acts in the interests of the country as a whole.

If you want to live in a two-tier country of those who have, because they can afford it and will do anything necessary to maintain the status quo, and those who work to serve them, then vote for Fianna Fail.

If you want to live in a country that sees everyone as equal and valuable, a country in which we each contribute in line with our ability to do so, in which we all have rights and responsibilities, then vote for the United Left Alliance. We do not promise to make you rich, to fulfil all your wants. We do not promise to fix your broken gutter. We do not promise to deliver change over night. What we will say is that we are committed to working with you in making this a secure, contented and equitable society for all. Be a part of this exciting and challenging opportunity. Do not listen to the voice that says it cannot work the voice that tells you all politicians are the same, or to anyone who says that democracy is a joke and your vote does not count. Come along to our launch and let us work together towards common goals and turn our differences of opinion into workable solutions.

Annette Mooney is a recent UCD graduate and United Left Alliance candidate in the forthcoming general election.

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