Education - a future shouldn't be a short-sighted spite-fuelled cash-grab

Many moons ago, when I was taking distance courses via a university here, I was part of the students' union, and, consequently, part of a group that managed a scholarship fund for needy students.

One year we received an application from an incarcerated male. He'd been using all his prison earnings and commissary money to pay for university courses, one course at a time. He'd been writing all his essays using only what he could find for research in the prison library, writing them by hand in pencil, as he wasn't allowed a computer or pens. We naturally gave him the award that year, which constituted enough money to pay for one course.

As I was lying in bed trying to sleep during one of my many it's-still-the-middle-of-the-night wakeup periods, it occurred to me that it wouldn't be a half-bad idea to provide no-cost education to incarcerated individuals. It provides two things in the immediate: a way to step up their lives on release, or even before, and something to keep them occupied to keep out of the muck of prison life. Also, it's nice. You know, kindness, decency?

Really, we should be providing low- or no-cost post-secondary education (of all types) for everyone. We've long, long since passed the tipping point on that level of education being the minimum required to function past a certain level in this society. It is, in fact, the very reason high school long ago stopped being only something that those with money could have, because it used to be a pay-as-you-go institution as well. Education isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

As I've said before, post-secondary education is a responsibility of a society that expects to have certain jobs available to it, that expects to be bolstered and backed up by certain positions - like doctors, teachers, accountants, bricklayers, machinists, and the like. If you want it, you need to provide it. These aren't only the pipe-dream positions you think they are. If you want an individual to spend their future serving you, then provide them the best possibility of doing so. You will find yourself in a blighted future, if you cut your nose off to spite your face now.

There is absolutely no good reason, other than short-sighted and mean-spirited spite, to continue to make education, and all the attendant costs of attaining it, so expensive and problematic, that students forgo safe housing, or any housing at all, for example, just to get it. This is not a recipe for success. In Canada, there are students sleeping on common area couches even, because they can't afford a place to live, rental prices being as insane as they are. And it's grotesque to punish these kids because their parents were unable or unwilling to provide the funds for their kids' futures.

Stop being so short-sighted, mean-spirited, and downright dumb. Provide no-cost post-secondary, and help build a future, rather than turning future into an elitist cash-grab, like so many other things are becoming, like decent housing and food.

Addendum: 2019 02 18

Not educating/training persons, is a punishment we inflict on ourselves, because we end up churning out more people that are more likely to become a burden on the system, either by further incarceration or by not being able to contribute in a productive way.

2019 02 10 - 04:39

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