UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: May 24th, 301 AP.
Education becoming Democrat strategy
The opposition Democratic Party, sensing an election in the wind, have gone on the ofensive against the government for failing to prepare for a "massive influx" of school students in the coming years.
Seizing on the educational section of the census, Democrat elder-statesman Michael West MP, spokesman for the opposition on education, called on the government to reveal its education "ten year plan", which left the government struggling to explain that it did not have one.
Education Minister Dr Elizabeth Kompos said that the government had "only just received the census document" and that an educational plan was not finalised.
The Democrats proceeded to detail that with population growth so high over the past few years, a strategy was a "must". They quoted the census which states there is 880,285 pre-schoolers, and the primary school (ages 5 to 10) population will grow by 100,000 next year, a 2% growth. Furthermore, the high-school population will grow by an estimated 100,000 or 2.5%.
"Has the government begun preparing by training thousands more teachers in response to this student influx? Has the government set aside monies for the building of new schools?"
The opposition also attacked the government for failing to provide a strategy to encourage greater participation in the official education system. While 9.2 million students attend government or private schools, over one million children do not attend accredited schools. Instead, they attend unofficial Utani community schools, a system that has existed since the days of the Savaj Empire, and teaches farm skills and Utani culture rather than "western" topics, or are "home-schooled".
"One million children are outside the official schooling system, Mr Speaker, one million children who will never learn the skills necessary to survive in this modern world", declared Mr West. "And for these students, the government has no plans, no strategy, and absolutely no hope!"
The census states that there is 5.3 million primary school students, 3.9 million High school students and about 500,000 people in tertiary education. While schooling is compulsory for children aged 5 to 14, school retention rates beyond the age of 15 are barely 50%, and fall to less than 10% at tertiary-level.
The Democratic Party have been traditionally the "independence" party, widely supported by Utani until the advent of the Utani and Peoples parties. They are the major opposition party in Utani B'yan state, and enjoy significant support amongst Utani, and currently hold 11 of 140 seats in the Parliament.
Apparently they are seeking to expand that support base.
©UPA, 301 AP.
©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)