Monday, October 15, 2012

Education after the Collapse

I'm just finishing your book and was wondering what happened with the
education system in your country after the crash.
I would like to know about public elementary schools and universities.
Did the teachers and professors still show up?
Were schools closed for some time? How long did it take to get things
back to normal, if they ever did?

Hi Bob,
No doubt education was seriously impacted because of the crisis. Before 2002, teachers had been underpaid for years. Their wages somewhat improved later after the crisis but interesting enough the quality for education went steadily down. While I believe that a teacher should be paid a fair salary, simply raising salaries doesn’t mean you’ll end up with better education.
Even though salaries for teachers where being raised the infrastructure was visibly in worse condition than in pre 2002 times, and even now keeps getting worse year by year. 

Officially speaking there’s been thousands of new schools inaugurated, billions of dollars spent, but the results just aren’t there. When dealing with a corrupt country you have to understand that lying is just as normal for these people as breathing. If they say they inaugurated 1000 educational institutions, maybe they actually opened the doors to 20 half finished real school buildings. The rest are upgrades and improvements that may be an extra class room being built or even something as simple as a paint job. There’s hundreds if not thousands of public buildings including schools that were inaugurated by the president before completion, in some cases just with the walls and floor, only to be abandoned once the ribbon was cut and the cameras stopped filming. The idea is to pretend, not to actually do.

During the period of civil unrest of December, it varied depending on location but in general few days of class were lost. Much more days of class were lost during the various protests by teachers that became common after 2002, some valid claims, others not so much. As everything else education became a political matter so within the union they would sometimes fight among themselves for power or went on strike for political reasons (against a governor that didn’t support the president, for example) and the children where the ones to suffer the consequences. In some districts there were schools that lost one third of their days of school per calendar year. In some provinces it was as much as half the days they were supposed to have. This climate of corruption and political involvement has dominated the education system in Argentina in the last decade. The results are what you would expect. The quality of education has gone steadily down, going from one of the best latin American education systems before 2001 to one of the worst in the region as of today. As of today, only 31% of the children that started 1st grade ended up graduating from high school. Only 31% graduate!
It goes without saying, the great majority of Argentines ages 16 to 21 don’t understand what they read. That is, if they know how to read at all. 

Politically speaking this was a huge success. Combining the destruction of the public education with the mandatory “citizen formation” class, the result is an ignorant generation that repeats “social”, “popular” and “welfare” like brainwashed zombies. It is no coincidence that Cristina Kirchner is pushing hard so as to change the voting age to 16. 

Fighting for your Children´s Future

These are just a few of the things I learned along the way that may help you too. Many of the social engineering tools used in Argentina are techniques that have been used elsewhere and are still in use today. Combined with the economic crisis, there will be even more similarities. Already there’s problems with teachers in some places across America.

1)The public education system may not be what you want for your children. Not only is it lacking in education quality, the infrastructure suffers during a crisis. If you ever walked into the buildings of the Universidad of Buenos Aires in Ciudad Universitaria you know what I mean. Its like walking into and abandoned building after some nuclear disaster, and the survivors just use the concrete skeleton as classrooms.  Its dirty, unfinished and crumbling to pieces. There’s no AC in there and the ancient elevators haven’t worked properly in decades.
In Argentina private schools are the only way to go and I believe that little by little this could be also true in other places as well where public education was once good. This will of course vary from depending on individual cases but in general expect public education to go down in quality.

2)Homeschooling. Some people like it, I believe that a good school complimented with good parenting is even better. Just keep in mind that during times when both parents are forced to go out to work, the stay at home mom may be a privilege not many can afford. 

3)The new curriculum. In the school I went to we used to have “Target Shooting”… in school! The bus took the pupils to the Federal shooting Club and they shot with 22LR and Mauser 7,65 Argentine (yes, that´s actually a caliber) We even had an air rifle range next to the class rooms. In just a few decades times have certainly changed. Today classes like Citizen Education/Formation (or shall we say indoctrination) are the norm. Whatever school you send your kids to, remember that no school replaces parenting and the education that involves. I’m not talking about skills alone but teaching those things that in some cases are purposefully left out from schools. The importance of freedom, the importance of the individual, a moral compass and an understanding of how the truth is often deformed so as to fit whatever current agenda is being pushed. 

4)Bullying. The increased violence in the streets will reflect in the classroom as well. Teach your kids how to stand for themselves and if needed, defend themselves. Its always the weakest kid others end up picking on, so teach your children to be strong of character. Be careful thought, its one thing to teach a child to defend himself and its another to have him being the Bully and picking on others.  


Maldek said...

FerFal does answer your question very well.

When reading your email, i started to wonder why you are worried about education in the first place.

Then it did dawn on me, that what you are really worried about is your childrens future.

The old rule, that a good education = a degree = a nice office job = middle class lifestyle is no longer true.
It is not true today and it will not be for a long time to come.

For todays youth it is MUCH harder to find a decent job than it was for you and me. Even less a job that pays enough for a decent life.

The good news is, that the old system sucked donkey balls anyways.
When a sheet of paper, called a degree counts more than actual SKILL - you know there is something wrong.

In todays world and much more in the near future this will reverse. Your skills matter. What you know and what you CAN is and will be king.

We have enough "masters of theory and skill at nothing" people. When goverment will be forced to downsize, even more bureaucrats will be on the market and is market is going to be dead for decades.

Those who have real skill and can make real things (as opposed to plastic crap from china) will be the "investment bankers" of the future. We can already see it happen - just look at greece or spain and you can see into our future.

Anonymous said...

Senor Fiesta here.

Fernando, I myself am not a teacher but I went to a college where their biggest program is MA in education. Almost all of my friends are teachers, at every level. They have two common complaints. 1.) they have little power over the curriculum. It is all designed towards successful testing (schools are awarded based on their test scores of core subjects). Fortunately, however it includes little indoctrination towards one line of thought. 2.) lack of parental involvement.

No. 2 being the biggest problem they face. The parents are just as integral in a successful student as a great teacher. In America the majority of the failure of the system lies with the parents. When a kid comes home with a bad grade parents now take the "it's not the student's fault but the teacher's fault" type of mentality.

People need to take responsibility for the actions of their children. If your child isn't studying or doing homework it's not the teacher's fault, it's the parents. If your child is disruptive in class it's not the school's responsibility to force them to behave. It's the parent's responsibility to ensure that their kids respect the teachers and the process.

I understand about working long hours and having both parents work, but if you have a child, there is no such thing as down time. Parenting (properly) is hard work and is not always happy times. If your kid doesn't hate you at least once a month, you aren't doing your job as a parent.

Indoctrination through public education is a scary thing. Sorry it has happened in Argentina. In some schools in the south/midwest, students can reject certain parts of the curriculum because it's against their religion (such as teaching evolution). That's a slippery slope but I do believe that people have a right to their religious beliefs (i have none of my own).

I couldn't agree with you more regarding the statement where you talk about the parent's responsibility.

Greek Caste System said...

In Greece public universities (private universities are not permitted because of the pressures of one of the worst lobbies in Greece, that is the teachers-professors one) were offering very bad education long before crisis begun, despite the very good salaries professors still have.
Here, it is difficult to be a university professor unless a party backs you. Leftist student's parties protested for "corporations and profits out of universities" and as a result education offered is very theoretical and having no relation with the "real world". Seats were created just to find a job to an unemployed professor with party connections.
The worst of all, because of a law (abolished in 2011) stating that police cannot enter university campus, illegal immigrants, drug addicts and anarchists have found a refuge in universities!
Crisis in fact *IMPROVED* (!!!) education in Greece because a few people there started to be a little serious...
Source: My experience, 11 years in university, now a doctorate student in engineering.

Anonymous said...

In the USA you have to be careful with private schools. A lot of them do not have competent teachers are they exist on the students who couldn't cut it academically in the local public school. I imagine that will become more common in a collapse.

Our local school recently cut 16 high school teachers (I was one, yay). Luckily, I landed at a very nice private school. Out of the six private schools in my town, only one of them is superior to the public school in terms of academic achievement and superior instruction. It is definitely something one has to spend time researching because you can get taken in by a private school easily if you don't know what you are about.

DougFromOz said...

With regards to the use of school infrastructure for political ends, we had an example of that here in Australia after the GFC hit. The Federal Govt announced that a huge amount of infrastructure funding was to be funneled to the schools as a stimulus program. Only thing was, the schools themselves were only allowed to use it to build school halls or libraries, even if their current hall and library was quite adequate. So instead of say, airconditioning or heating the classrooms in parts of the country that needed badly needed it, they had to build unneeded buildings, and only from particular set plans (at over-inflated quotes) or providers (who were all union connected). It caused quite a stink, and wasted billions which now has to be paid off, of course.