Monthly Archives: July 2010

Horses & Water?

A headline in the local weekly rag caught my eye yesterday morning…

Prize for quick learner: A POLISH boy who could not speak any English three years ago has won a school prize. (D&S Times)

Przemek Niedzialkowski (11yrs) won Pickhill Primary School’s ‘Endeavour Award’ for his efforts. My immediate thoughts were; “hardly surprising, most of our home grown kids can’t even speak English these days” but that’s flippant! 🙂

Not wishing to detract from Przemek’s well deserved achievement in any way, but this story made me also think about some of our Country’s big social issues; our education system and European migration are two that immediately sprung to mind.

Many would suggest our education system is or has been failing for some time and, we’ve all heard the cries of “bloody exams are getting easier”… Education is probably one of the most important aspects of any one’s maturing process or ‘growing up’ but sadly, one that many of us don’t actually grasp the importance of until later in life.

I wish I had a fiver for every time I heard my elders comment “school days are the most important days of your life”, a popular comment from the parents of my generation. Today I am sure it is different. “Keep your fcuking head down and don’t get in any fcuking bother. It’ll soon be over then I’ll show you how to fill the claim forms in” is probably more appropriate today! 🙂

Let’s face it, many of today’s parents are no more than children themselves and, there is a direct correlation with education…

One in seven girls pregnant by age of 18, government study finds: Teenage pregnancy even higher in poorest and worst-educated families (The Guardian)

The ‘Family Trends – British families since the 1950s’  report by the Family & Parenting Institute makes for some interesting reading when trying to understand why things have changed and how (or if) we should try to change things. I could go on however, getting back to my rant point; we appear to have reached a stage in our society where, the large majority look for what they are ‘owed’ and not what they can actually ‘give’ to our society. Which returns me to the topic of migration…

During the recent riots in France (involving many foreign nationals), their President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted as saying: “…nationality should be earned. One must know how to be worthy of it” (BBC News).  There are many nations in the world who adopt a similar stance however; the UK amongst other liberal European states can’t be included in that group.

I don’t have a particular problem with migration per se. After all, most people who choose to emigrate and leave their country of birth do it out of a desire to better themselves and provide for their families. How can that be wrong? If you can take that reasoning on board, it’s hardly surprising so many people actually leave this country for a better life. That said, the grass may be greener on the other side of the wall but it’s not always better!

Migration does need to be controlled and, Nations such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all appear to have more robust immigration conditions in place than most of Europe. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be asked; why you want to move to another country, how you intend to support yourself and what can you bring to the nation. I for one am happy for people such as the Niedzialkowski family to grace our shores.

The fact that they have nurtured, encouraged and supported their son in his endeavours at school should be commended. Hardly surprising I suppose, given the long history of Polish support for the UK. The Polish people also usually have a work ethic that is not dissimilar to how ours once was and, if it wasn’t for our WWII partnership, perhaps there would have been some different European outcomes? It’s a pity we can’t attribute the same ethos to many other ‘new’ Eastern Europeans or African and Asian ‘asylum’ seekers?

Many of the problems in both the education and immigration systems are at the end of the day down to personal choice i.e. the ones we make and to a certain extent, the ones that are actually available to us.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink!