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Increasing competition at the top.


I love driving.

I love driving because I can listen to the radio, driving gives me the chance to chew and mull over the chat shows, talks shows and news programmes that we are lucky to have here in Ireland, we give out about our media but as national and local stations go we’re blessed with such varied and considered opinions. (Liveline is a different beast)

While listening to the radio last weekend there was the usual piece on the ‘Bankers’ and how they left us down followed by some piece on education. As I was driving I stirred the two thoughts in my head and ended up with a question, Did the Bankers (and other elites) let us down? Did we have an educated elite and if so have we opened up competition to enter our elite?

In opening accessing to the top of any sector a person works at they need an education. We provided free secondary level education from 1967, attendances since then have reached the point where last week it was reported that over 90% of school going age children get to finish secondary school.

Think about that, most of the people of this country who could have been our best and brightest didn’t have a chance to fufill their promise until after 1967 if they could not afford an education, combine that with ‘free’ to Third Level in 1996 and you see that in reality it is only in the last 15 years that we have given every person in this country the opportunity to get to the top, to become our elite.

When I say did the bankers let us down, what I mean is were these people the best available or the best possible. When you consider the educational opportunities you get the feeling that they were the best available, not the best the country could have produced.

Sean Quinn of Anglo Irish Bank would have been too old to avail of the Free Secondary Education Scheme, but a 13 year old availing of the Free Secondary Initiative and getting a Leaving Certificate would be 58 years old, while someone who completed a four year degree after being part of the first batch of 18 year olds to avail of ‘free’ Third Level Fees would now only be 34 years old.

So when we slate our leaders remember that even though we have had free secondary education since 1967 it is only in recent years that the brightest (if disadvantaged) can get a chance to get to the top. By giving everybody the opportunity to fulfil their potential we have opened competition to who can get to the top, hopefully meaning that our leaders will be more capable, better educated and from a broader spread of society.

As you can see there is a reason why I’m selling my car, it’s causing my head to spin!

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About Brian Stokes

Spent seven years working as a Parliamentary Assistant and Personal Assistant in Dáil Éireann and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Studying History & Economics in University College Cork. Walker of a dog called Vimes.

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