26 March 2007

Bildung macht frei

1938:

We are young; we must protect, preserve and promote this capital, the only capital we have: our industriousness, our skills ... We simply cannot do enough to increase the German's skills. ... There should no longer be any unskilled workers in Germany. Don't tell us that our social measures are a luxury. On the contrary, they make the greatest economic sense. ...

Maximum performance can only be achieved within the community. People's happiness can only come from the community. We see our highest aim as a community of people, as an organic, meritocratic whole. We don't just want a mass of people. We wish everyone to have their place. But if we want this ordered community, then we must also grant that the individual has rights in this community. If we impose duties on him we must also give him rights. The first and foremost right: to make way for efficiency. The young man from the last village on earth should be able to make his way upwards if he is capable.

We have cleared the way for individual people. The opportunity for development must be independent of wealth and social origin. The poor person should have the same chances as the rich.
(Robert Ley, head of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, source of the phrase 'Kraft durch Freude' — 'strength through joy' *)

2007:

Historically as a nation, we have long believed that young people should be in some form of education and training at least up to the age of 18. … The benefits of young people remaining in education or training up to 18 have continued to be widely recognised. These benefits are even more obvious now given the sharp decline in unskilled jobs.

That is why we have been working hard to provide young people with exciting and valuable opportunities to develop skills that will set them up for life. … Young people have access to a broad and engaging programme of education and training — a programme which will be extended over the next few years to increase choice further still. By 2013 every young person will be able to take a course which is inspiring, motivating, and challenging, and which will give them the skills to be more successful in life. …

It is unacceptable that a young person’s background is still a key factor in whether they progress into post-16 education. This inequality is compounded by the fact that participation and attainment post-16 directly impacts upon life chances for young people. The undeniable truth is that if a young person continues their education post-16 they are more likely to achieve valuable qualifications, earn more, and lead happier, healthier lives. It is my goal that every young person is able to make the most of their education and training.

The world economy is developing at an ever more rapid pace. If we do not act now, we could be left behind. ... In the very near future, those without skills will find it increasingly difficult to find employment. If we cannot supply businesses with the skilled workers that they require, they will struggle to remain competitive and our position as a world leader will be under threat.
(Education Secretary Alan Johnson **)

(*) Extract from Soldaten der Arbeit, taken from Norbert Frei, National Socialist Rule in Germany, pp.180-181.

(**) Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16, HMSO 2007, p.3.