Friday, January 05, 2007

2000 South Tyneside students get EMA

Kids paid to stay off the dole?

I never really realised that education was such a good earner until I read Cllr. Jimmy Foreman - he's our man in charge of Education and dinner ladies in South Tyneside - pronouncing effusively on the matter in tonight's evening paper. Cllr. Foreman said:

"It is our goal to make South Tyneside a place where there is a brighter future for all children and young people, and this allowance exists to enable young people to continue with their education.
We don't want money to be a contributing factor in young people dropping out of education and training, and schemes such as this can have a real impact on helping them fulfil their potential."

These 'allowances' can be worth up to 30 pounds a week each for a student from a family with an income of less than GBP 30,810 p.a. therefore it comes as no surprise to learn that almost 2000 students are in receipt of this money (Education Maintenance Allowance) in South Tyneside.

Cllr. Foreman will remember, as well as I, that when we were in our teens thousands dropped out of education and money was not a factor at all then, it simply was not available. Jobs too, were not available, and for some a start to life 'on the dole' was the prospect they yearned for. Those who wished to fulfill their potential had, perhaps, already had shown signs of their willingness, by achieving good exam grades by the age of sixteen and planning their future educational needs in the colleges and universities of metropolitan Britain.

Cllr. Foreman (and others) will remember too, similar 'training' schemes designed to keep the young away from the social security systems of the day, E.T. (Employment Training, more popularly named the 'extra tenner') being one of the most noteworthy.

I can see the admirable intentions of the scheme being to add value to young peoples knowledge, rather than languishing, learning nothing, in the unemployment queues, but unfortunately the experiences of prospective employers suggest that the majority are indeed learning nothing. Young people attending their first interviews for a job show an alarming lack of written and oral skills in the English language, and mathematically they are inept at best and unable to do simple additions at worst! The damage, of course had happened before they even reached the age of sixteen. Rather than reserving this cash to keep an illiterate generation in education for a while longer, it would be better invested in education for a younger age group, thus ensuring that basic skills are in abundance amongst our teenagers by the time they might be looking for work. Surely this would be a greater boost to their's and the nation's confidence and future prospects!

Meanwhile EMA ought to be renamed Employment figure Manipulation Application.


Shields Gazette

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