THE UK SECTION: Education Standards Are A Total Disgrace

This is part of an article by the Daily Express columnist, Mr McKinstry. The whole article appeared under the title "LABOUR IS GUILTY OF AN UTTER BETRAYAL OF BRITAIN'S YOUNG"

"Education standards are a total disgrace"

Standards of achievement in the education system are a national disgrace. Continual grade inflation cannot hide the reality that 20 per cent of primary school-leavers are functionally illiterate and innumerate1, while 40 per cent of them lack basic skills. this is not due to any shortage of resources, the defence so often wheeled out by Left-wingers to explain the failures of the system they created. In fact more taxpayers' money has been poured into the schools than ever before, reaching a total of £95billion this year. But the extra funding is worthless because of the educational dogma that continues to prevail, a preference for Marxist social engineering and multiculturalism over gaining knowledge.

The dumbing down of exams means that qualifications such as GSCEs and a-levels are increasingly despised by employers. The same is true of university degrees. One of the Labour Government's most high-profile targets is for 50 per cent of young people to go to university. But this policy amounts to another form of betrayal2. Loaded with debt, graduates find that the jobs they were promised are not available while they find that their degrees have left them hopelessly ill-equipped for the world of work.

Softness runs through the whole education system. Exams are too easy, discipline too weak. Schools act like cheerleaders for youngsters, dishing out lavish praise for even the most minor tasks. Teachers are discouraged from correcting mistakes or punishing bad behaviour for fear of damaging pupils' "self- esteem". Although this is dressed up as compassion it is another form of treachery3, for school-leavers and students are left unprepared for the tough realities of the competitive world of work. Cosseted4 by an enfeebled, degraded system, they have an absurdly inflated view of their own worth which is not always shared by potential employers.

Youth employment has been badly hit by Labour in other ways. Labour's fixation5 with mass immigration has grotesquely distorted the jobs market in two ways. First, rather than provide proper skills training through apprenticeships and courses that our country really needs, the Government has encouraged employers to import staff from overseas by dishing out work permits like confetti. Second, at the lower end of earning scale, young working - class people have been excluded from jobs by the vast influx of immigrants. It is an absolute scandal that over the past five years 90 per cent of the new jobs in the economy have gone to migrants, while even in a time of rising unemployment foreigners are still arriving here at a rate of 500,000 a year.
431 words

Source: Daily Express, Aug. 14, 2009

1. illiterate and innumerate - des Lesens, Schreibens und Rechnens unkundig
2. betrayal - Verrat, Vertrauensbruch
3. treachery - Verrat
4. cosseted - verwöhnt, verhätschelt
5. fixation - Fixierung

1. What, according to the columnist, are the two main reasons for British young people being betrayed by the current government.
2. What does the author mainly criticize about the educational system in Britain?
3. Determine examples of figurative language employed and say what function they have in this article.
4. From what you can conclude from this article, what paper does the 'Daily Express' appear to be (right, left, quality or popular or 'middle of the road') ?
5. Do you see any parallels between Britain and Germany concerning the shortcomings of school education?

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