Educate through diversity to protect island’s future

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I WRITE in reply to your article in the Examiner on June 7, ‘Education Right?’

In the article the proposal was for restricting funding to certain degree courses. But who decides which degree?

This may be a short-term saving but it will not provide the Manx economy with the diverse skilled workforce it needs.

There is much mention of diversification in the economy, but this can only start through allowing our students to flourish – not by limiting the courses they can choose and not by limiting their ability to gain experience abroad, by insisting they return to the Isle of Man to complete a minimum period of work.

I spoke to one prospective student last year in the UK, who, despite being predicted straight As, was considering not applying for university because of the fear of debt.

We must not repeat this mistake in the Isle of Man.

I had the opportunity of sponsorship for the job of colliery manager in Wales, provided I studied a particular degree.

I am glad I didn’t take that path, as by the time I left education the coal industry had all but gone.

Similarly, we cannot restrict education to only particular industries highlighted at this point in time.

Edmund Burke, in the 18th century, stated that: ‘Education is the cheap defense of nations’. In other words, it’s cheaper to educate than not to.

Our first defence in the current economic uncertainty has to be Education.

This starts from an early age when the government needs to support pre-school by assisting with paid nursery places for all.

This support should continue throughout school life; short-term budget cuts affecting teaching staff and teaching assistants need to be resisted.

Our schools are amongst the finest in the British Isles but that standard cannot be maintained by cutting funding.

Finally, education is a life-long experience.

We need to continue to develop our institutions such as the International Business School and the Isle of Man College and see them providing even more skilled courses and a wide variety of degree courses for those who wish to study on the island.

It is also in the interest of employers to provide more support to education.

Unless our education sector flourishes in the island, the employment sector will suffer.

Our strongest asset as a nation is our people. If we wish our economy to be strong and to diversify we need to invest in our education.

RAY HARMER,

Address supplied.

Editor’s note: Mr Harmer will be standing for Peel in September’s general election.

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