10 years of education revolution

As we campaign for education funding justice, Venezuela’s Mission Sucre celebrates 10 years of genuine education revolution and providing free higher education to all.

The government launched Mission Sucre in November 2003 to provide free university education to those who previously didn’t have access to it. Many students are low-income and middle-aged mothers who were unable to continue their studies because of childcare commitments.

The mission is named after Antonio Jose de Sucre, a Venezuelan independence fighter.

The mission has 1390 campuses across Venezuela, in rural and urban areas and provides courses oriented towards professions Venezuela most needs. There is post-graduate study, including masters in human rights, and doctorates in strategic sciences. Students can choose between day and night courses to suit family and work commitments

More than 150,000 people have received scholarships of small monthly payments and 5583 indigenous Venezuelans currently study with the mission.

Higher education minister Ricardo Menendez explained a total of 2.6 million people are studying for a university education, a significant increase from the 617,000 students in 1999 when late president Hugo Chavez was initially elected.

Menendez explained the government was considering restructuring the Mission Sucre campuses to become “universities of the communes where students propose projects that support their communities”. Instead of large corporations determining the direction of education, it would be driven by the needs of local communities.

In August 2009 the Venezuelan parliament passed the Organic Education Law which makes education secular; expands community participation in schools and universities; establishes participatory democracy across universities; bases the curriculum on humanistic and ecological ethics; connects university graduates with the humanistic development plan of the nation; guarantees free education from primary school to university graduate level; and aims to significantly increase the enrolment of poor people in the elite universities.

John Gauci
Taverners Hill Infants

Unwarranted spying

It may seem strange to try to make a link between children’s cyber safety and the internet spy leaking of NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden but I believe a link exists.

I believe it’s impossible for any law enforcement, be it national or international, to fully police the internet. Kids today are far more tech savvy than their parents and will probably learn ways to avoid detection.

The internet or what most of us see of it is only the bare minimum because there’s a whole layer or layers of the web that nobody really sees that is known as Darknet. This is the realm that criminals, law enforcement and intelligence agencies use. A simple Google search can allow those who aren’t aware of it to gain some awareness. It’s also what internet users in countries that are tighter on internet controls use to get around their government’s restrictions. One would have to make the assumption that some teenagers who are rebellious and tech savvy could be going into this realm anonymously, even at school because they have mobile phones.

The mass collection of metadata by the NSA that Snowden leaked about had nothing to do with national security. Those who wish to do harm to any country’s national interest on a cyber-level or not will use Darknet because it’s anonymous and far harder to track. The meta-data collection of social media was, in my view, nothing more than illegal and unwarranted spying and I can find no plausible national security justification for it.

Robert Wrona
Punchbowl PS

Compulsory voting is counter-productive

With the re-election of the West Australian Senators soon to take place, the question again arises over the belief that voting in Australia is compulsory. This belief is a true myth.

Each time any election in Australia — federal, state or local government — takes place people are continually reminded: “voting is compulsory”.

What is true is that voting is not compulsory; having their names marked off the electoral roll is, however, compulsory. What happens after receiving the ballot paper is at the discretion of the “voter”. The paper can be correctly marked or made informal or torn up, with the pieces disposed of other than in the ballot box.

The second part of the myth is the liability of being fined for “not voting” when in fact the fine may be imposed if a satisfactory explanation is not provided as to why names are not marked off the electoral roll.

There is an irony surrounding the electoral roll. There is no compulsion for people over the age of 18 to have their names on the electoral roll which serves at all elections at the three levels of government.The various debacles seen, particularly at the 2013 Senate election, shows how the belief that voting is compulsory is so democratically counter-productive.The syndrome of the “donkey vote” in which people vote purely because they have to, dilutes the effect of those who take voting seriously and after much thought.

Bill Barwood

Carbon copy

An irreplaceable part

Glen Innes Examiner

If NSW government cuts to TAFE proceed, Glen Innes students will only get ‘one-shot’ at a TAFE course, and will then have to pay as much as $10,000 for any extra course they wish to do. The NSW Government also wants to see private operators move in and run TAFE-style classes. However since a small town like ours would scarcely be profitable for a private company, they would simply overlook us and leave our learners without options for gaining new employment skills.

Did you know that every dollar we invest in educating TAFE students generates $6.40 in future economic activity through increased skills, productivity and employment? And that TAFE saves us even more by lowering the risk of young learners becoming unemployed, welfare-dependent, or involved in criminal activity?

TAFE represents an excellent return-on-investment for our tax dollars, and any suggestion from the NSW government that we can “save” money by cuts to TAFE funding is a false economy.

Although the NSW government’s plan to cut TAFE goes by the alluring name of ‘Smart and Skilled’, there is nothing smart about shrinking our economy by $6.40 for every dollar “saved” — and who could afford to become ‘skilled’ when they have to pay thousands of dollars in fees under the privatised regime the NSW government is proposing?

Last Saturday 22 February Glen Innes was visited by a NSW Member of the Legislative Assembly, Dr John Kaye, who is trying to help our town by stopping the cuts to courses and services at our local TAFE. Dr Kaye’s is an excellent initiative and I urge Glen Innes residents to show their support for our TAFE, which is an irreplaceable part of our local economy and jobs market.

Residents can contact our NSW representative Adam Marshall (02) 6772 5552 or northerntablelands@parliament.nsw.gov.au and let him know that Glen Innes needs its TAFE fully intact and preserved from cuts that would damage our town’s economic profile and restrict our young people from access to skills, opportunities and the dignity of a good job.

Mercurius Goldstein
Glen Innes TA

Good sense

Sydney Morning Herald

Life is full of small surprises, here I am vigorously endorsing, to the fullest extent possible, the initiatives of a conservative education minister, a relatively new experience for me. The good sense and educational insight reflected in Minister Piccoli’s call for the scrapping of My School is to be applauded and encouraged. The wisdom of what he says and the outcomes which concern him are evident for all to see and will receive the endorsement of any forward thinking educationalist. He will have a battle; when you combine the market driven acolytes with their winners and losers philosophy, the ‘celebrity’ obsessed section of the media, vulnerable and over anxious parents, and a cloak of faux-assessment masquerading as a legitimate pedagogical tool there are some significant hurdles to overcome. However more power to his arm.

Gus Plater
Life Member