I know, I know, you think it, and sometimes I think it. ‘Those annoying students are at it again.’ Most of the time, for my part anyway, it’s envy.
I heard a few people giving out about the students protesting during the week. ‘Any excuse to get out of lectures’, and ‘sure their parents will pay for them anyway’, and not forgetting the popular ‘they just spend their money on drink anyway’. These are all things I’ve heard in reaction to Wednesday’s demonstration.
Some 15,000 students descended upon the capital during the week to protest against the reintroduction of third-level fees. The students, who travelled from all across the country, including AIT, marched from Parnell Square to Merrion Square. President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Shane Kelly, told the crowds that the country should be investing more, not less, in education in the current economic climate.
The USI wants to see more people entering into third level education.
The protest was organised to send a message to Minister for Education, Batt O’Keeffe, that students will not accept any reintroduction of fees.
It’s not just students who should be protesting, but teachers, parents, and future third level students too.
On the one hand you have the Government, well FAS anyway, encouraging people to re-skill, yet Batty keeps hinting at the reintroduction of fees.
What is he thinking? Or is it simply that he’s not thinking? Does he not realise that for some people education is the only way forward, the only form of sanity? For those out there unlucky enough to have been laid off and finding that the days are dragging, the option of returning to education is invaluable. It’s no secret that unemployment can lead to depression, especially if you’ve nothing else to fill the nine to five slot.
Re-educating yourself can build confidence, help with social interaction, and above all keep your mind happy. It also equips you with new skills that can allow you to branch out into careers and jobs that would otherwise have been out of your reach.
As for school leavers, what are they going to do if they can’t afford to pay for third level education? As it is there are hundreds of potential students who simply cannot afford to embark on further education. Reintroducing fees would surely result in a higher percentage of second level students going straight into the workforce.
Oh but wait, at the moment there isn’t any workforce. Unemployment levels are ridiculous enough as it is.
If we want to get out of this recession in one piece we need to start looking at attracting foreign investment, not scaring it away. If we don’t have a highly skilled workforce who’s going to want to set up base here?
And let’s not forget all the parents out there who struggle as it is to provide a solid education for their children. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your children, but if fees are reintroduced so many families will find it impossible to support a child in college.
So when you hear of students protesting, don’t dismiss them. Think. They aren’t just fighting for themselves, they are fighting for future students, their parents, and you.