Saturday, 1 October 2016

A Harvest Song

A Harvest Song

Come, autumn winds, come fell the fruits of harvest home
Apples gathering in, last fruits before the storms begin
Crush the applies, take cider home, apples ferment and foam
Come and taste harvest and begin, drinking at the merry inn

Fallow lies the empty field, harvest a plenty it did yield
Once the seed potato sown, picked when ripe, full grown
Now the grassland is over field, soil is resting, to be healed
And the migrating birds take flight, seeking warmer light

For the time of Mabon shall come, to take a final harvest home
From the field in that day, ripening before the Fall’s decay
And Modron will sleep at last, her falling leaves are cast
Apples gathered in to store, blessings of the harvest lore

With the spells of ancient tome, bless a final harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, before the winter’s cold begin
Now earth her secrets hide, deep in soil her seeds abide
Come into warmth, by fireside, and tell tales of old, inside.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Our Lady of Czestochowa Queen of Poland

From the Catholic Herald 1973, comes this piece. The picture is now in St Matthew's Catholic Church, in St Lawrence, as the old St Mary and St Peter's Church was demolished.

Art historian Robert Maniura looked at this picture and showed it to be not an icon in the Orthodox Christian tradition (and certainly not, as tradition has it, painted by St. Luke in the Holy Land) but rather a thirteenth-century western product, perhaps Italian, possibly based on an eastern model, and deriving  from motifs which may have spread ultimately from Mount Athos.

Sue Monk Kidd notes that:

“There are hundreds of these images of dark-skinned Black Madonnas in Europe, and they are some of the most ancient images we have of Mary. The most well known is probably aOur Lady of Czestochow in Poland. Many of them are in great Gothic cathedrals, like Chartres, France, often in the crypts.”

I found a rather nice poem by Jamie Naylor, which although it takes the myths about the picture literally, conveys the way in which the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochow in Poland became a centre of pilgrimage and devotion.

They journey with hope
of a blessing, a healing, a miracle of sorts
for they have heard the stories told of old.

No longer following the magi's silver star,
they trod a narrow but worn path
to the gates of Our Lady at Jasna Gora,
where the Madonna, luminous in her ebony blush,
holy babe in arms, hangs like Venus in the summer sky
above the horizon of the altar.

For centuries she watched like a gentle cloud
over the sorrowful people of the Polish lands
whose faith lifted in the little cathedral like gauzy curls of smoke
rising from tapers in prayerful hands,
burnishing mother and child in a rich sable patina,
the color of autumn's last leaves-
their halos still glistening gold.

As we enter, the sanctuary sparkles
with candles, like a sea of stars on a moonless night,
held by the faithful spilling from the filled pews, singing praises
in many languages with
one voice, one sight.

Just a tourist, I suddenly feel like a dilettante as I see the devotion
and expectation, like children on Christmas morning, in their eyes.
The emerging intensity startles my daughter Emilee, still young-
she has never seen such need,
such pleading, such pain,
such adoration.

It is said that Mary and Jesus were painted by Saint Luke himself,
only a season after the child become man hung on the cross,
as he sat at the bench of cedar wood
carved by the carpenter's hand.

And while he painted the woman in life, they say
she spoke a wonderful tale, of a birth in a stable,
of hosts of angels, of wise men, of shepherds, of Gabriel.

"Alleluia, alleluia, to the Mother and her Lamb,"
"Czerna Madonna," "Schwarze Madonna," "Beautiful Black Madonna."

The song ascends with fervor beyond the rafters
in the graceful wooden chapel
and we also are carried up with the wonder of Mother and Child.

Only then do we notice the mountain of crutches discarded in the corner.

Our Lady of Czestochowa Queen of Poland
from The Catholic Herald

The memorial picture hanging in St. Mary and St. Peter's Church.

At a time when Czestochowa was still a medieval town, there stood on a nearby hill a wooden church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was to this place in 1384 that Prince Wladyslaw Opolski brought a painting of the Mother of God which had already been recognized as miraculous, and presented it to the Pauline Fathers whom he had brought two years previously to found a monastery at this spot.

The fame of the Virgin of Jasna Gora (the Shining Mountain) spread far and wide. After the victory of Czestochowa, John Casimir, at Lwow (1656) placed himself and his entire kingdom under Our Lady's protection. Polish kings came to pay her homage, calling her Queen of the Universe and Queen of Poland.

The painting, encased in a triple embellished ebony frame is covered with an ornate dress studded with precious stones and two cold crowns given by Pope Pius X. According to a legend this picture was painted by St. Luke on Cypress wood in Nazareth and taken by the Empress Helena from Jerusalem to Byzantium, whence it was taken to Poland.

There is a tradition which tells us what happened when soldiers broke into the church. One of them struck the picture with a whip, and immediately weals appeared on the Virgin's face.

A copy of this picture hangs in St. Mary and St. Peter's Church, and the brass inscription tells its own story:

With thought turned towards their beloved country
During their stay in this hospitable Island
Here in this church sought the consolation,
Committed themselves to the care
of-Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of the Polish Crown.-

Polish Soldiers. Jersey A.D.1947

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Jersey Sport: The Figures

Jersey Sport: The Figures

I see that Jersey Sport Shadow Board (JSSB are suggesting a new Quango be set up to hive off Sports from the States. Their recommendation says:

“It is proposed that a fully independent, non-remunerated Board be created to develop the strategy and oversee the implementation of Jersey Sport’s activities:”

It might be remembered that the same happened with the States of Jersey Innovation Board, proposed and accepted by the States by Senator Alan Maclean as Minister for EDD. Once accepted, however, the hours – small as were – required some kind of remuneration.

“In order to retain and attract the appropriate calibre of Advisory Board member with the skills and expertise for these critical roles, some level of remuneration acknowledging the commitment is required”

Isn’t it amazing that people of very high calibre work in an honorary capacity for charities or on Parish committees but don’t ask to be paid, but somehow Quango members, for far less hours, need payment? I find it rather depressing, to be frank that there are not enough qualified islanders who have a decent sense of civic duty and would do this without payment. But we seem to live in an age where civic duty is in short supply.

In the end the board received £50,000 per annum. I think we need some cast iron guarantees that the Minister will not come back to the States once the establishment of the Quango has been agreed, and suddenly say that more funding – an “honorarium” is needed.

The recommendations of the Shadow Sports body also mention “CEO recruitment”:

“It is recommended that a competitive recruitment exercise be undertaken simultaneously both on and off island, in order to find a shortlist of high quality candidates likely to be interested in taking on such a challenge.”

“Arrangements are put in hand by EDTSC for the immediate recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer Designate who would become the CEO of Jersey Sport as soon as possible after the setting up of the entity. The JSSB will be closely involved in the recruitment process which will be overseen by Jersey Appointments Commission.”

Try as I may, I have not come across any figure given for this. Will it be more than a Chief Officer might expect? If the States of Jersey Development Company is anything to go by, removal from the States bodies responsible for setting pay and giving that into the hands of an independent committee is a recipe for paying more. And this, also, is not for a Chief Officer with other responsibilities apart from Sport, but for a CEO whose sole responsibility is sport!

As this means staff reductions, existing staff may be taken on board, but it is very unclear on what terms and arrangements, or whether they will have to reapply for their jobs – as happened with Visit Jersey:

“Within the current staff of the EDTSC Sport Development Team, there are appropriately qualified and experienced individuals capable of filling most senior roles proposed within the recommended organisational structure for Jersey Sport. It is important that the new structure, plus the opportunities that it provides individuals, are effectively communicated to existing staff, via open forums and individual meetings, in such a way that they will consider transferring to Jersey Sport, in order that their experience and skills are not lost.”

“The JSSB therefore recommends that the transfer take place by adopting the ‘Transition Model’ arrangements. Under such a scenario, Jersey Sport would make a financial contribution to transferring staff, allowing them to make their own future pensions arrangements and this has been factored into work undertaken to scope future employment Terms and Conditions.”

“The JSSB proposals put forward are - based upon discussions with States HR - the ability for the new organisation to create its own T&C’s adopting a private sector approach, somewhat different to those currently enjoyed by the existing staff as employees of the States of Jersey. This would mean staff effectively giving up States T&C’s under the ‘Transition Model’, where a transfer payment would be made to those employees who wished to transfer and were successful at interview.”

Note the weasel words “successful at interview” which are slipped in at the end. At a stroke, this gets rid of staff considered to be “dead wood”, changes the pension arrangements so that the States no longer has to fund that, or holiday pay or sickness. Instead staff will be able “to make their own pension arrangements”.

Now it is true that States departments do carry “dead wood” in staff who are not competent, and have security of tenure by virtue of being in the public sector, but this seems a very sly way of dealing with the matter; it is underhand and lacks moral integrity.

“Jersey Sport’s aim will be to pay market rates and provide good terms and conditions of employment. Similarly, it will be the philosophy of the organisation to reward individuals or teams on the achievement of their personal and collective targets and objectives. The aim is to ensure that Jersey Sport is constructed as a high performing organisation. The values set out earlier in the Report will be those expected of all future employees and along with those of openness and transparency, need to be instilled from top to bottom in the people who work for Jersey Sport.”

“It is therefore important that the JSSB continue to work with both the Department and States HR to ensure that the future of existing staff becomes ‘the number one priority’ in any proposed transfer and then implement a process and programme designed to enable a smooth transition for those individuals wishing to join the new organisation, under an internal ‘priority recruitment’ process, that allows them a period of initial exclusivity.”

This looks very like the Visit Jersey transition rather than Andium Homes where the staff were pretty well all taken over. What exactly are “market rates” for a Sports body like this? The Shadow Board’s document is very shadowy about any exact figures. It looks good on paper, but without some detailed figures, it is marketing fluff.

Going back to the CEO, we read this:

“The JSSB is aware that it needs to attract the right calibre of person to ensure success and it therefore needs to have a fair and competitive remuneration package that will encourage people from both the private and public sectors to join it.””

Which is? No figures are given, but expect the “right calibre” of person to be paid more than a State’s Chief Officer. In the meantime, an “Interim Director” is required:

“The level of detailed work required finalising the Jersey Sport proposal and the management of the whole change process requires a highly skilled and dedicated individual who has experience in the transfer of roles and responsibilities from a government department to an independently functioning entity.””

This is very much the Visit Jersey model.

Staff and CEO costs come to a figure of £710,000. But there is no split giving any indication of where the CEO sits with this:

“The budgeted figure for the CEO is a total employment cost and includes salary, a possible housing allowance if the successful candidate needs to be relocated, as well as the scope for a bonus based on performance and a pension allowance rather than the provision of an occupational pension scheme. The remaining staff costs are based on an estimate of future requirements and have included an evaluation of the current EDTSC Sport Development provision.

And they will need their own premises, properly kitted out:

“The existing EDTSC Sport Development team are currently occupying offices at Fort Regent. In terms of minimising initial costs and allowing the new CEO an opportunity to appraise longer term accommodation needs, it is proposed that the new organisation continue to be accommodated by the States of Jersey, but at a different location in order to avoid external impressions of ‘nothing has changed but the name’.”

“The pressure on Jersey Sport’s operating budget at its outset means that it will require the provision of premises rent free from States of Jersey until the end of 2018.”

And more costs, more costs:

“In addition to providing payment to the Transition Director there is a requirement for other funds to be potentially available to assist the overall objective. Specialist consultancy would be utilised for advice as to how Jersey Sport should market itself or could generate future income. “

“Legal and Professional costs alongside Recruitment fees are directly related to the practical reality of setting up the company and recruiting the CEO Designate and potentially other key roles.”

This is the timetable:

  • Create a detailed project plan to enable the implementation of Jersey Sport by 3rd April 2017;
  • Work closely with the current Community Sport Development team, the Jersey Sport Shadow Board, and stakeholders;
  • Practically implement the changes identified in ‘Sport Report’ – the plan for transition;
  • Provide financial clarity to proposals;
  • Support the CEO Designate when he/she is appointed;
  • Take lead responsibility for legacy issues allowing the CEO Designate to concentrate on forward strategic plans;
  • Research and recommend additional concepts or fundraising opportunities for Jersey Sport

If I was setting up a new business, providing financial clarity would be at the heart of the proposals, and the first thing the bank would want to see. With the States bankrolling the Quango, this is well down the list.

My recommendation: tell the Shadow Board to provide some financial clarity up front with their detailed project plan. How can it be detailed if it doesn’t have a detailed budget? It is like deciding what you want in a new house, and then after you have the plans passed, looking to see how much it will actually cost

All we have by way of costs at the moment are:

CEO and staffing £710,000

Capital Costs: Refurbishment of new premises for Jersey Sport £50,000

Purchase of IT equipment £30,000

And why on earth can’t they use the premises at Fort Regent, and make it the heart of Island Sport. 

In these times of economic austerity, the Shadow board seem to have deliberately gone for a flashy expensive newly branded Quango in new premises. Can we afford its proposals? Perhaps we can but that all important “financial clarity” should be there before proposals are approved, even in principle.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Labour Moses and his promised land

The Labour Moses and his promised land

Jeremy Corbyn’s endorsement in the recent elections as leader of the Labour party has been claimed as a victory for democracy. It is certainly a victory for a particular movement within the Labour party, the party within the party that is called “Momentum”.

Both parallels and differences have been drawn between Momentum and the infiltration in the 1980s of the party by the “Militant Tendency”. The main difference is one of ideology: Militant was a covert group with a Trotskiest ideology, which bound its members together. Moment is not an external ideology but a grouping of the far left activists within the Labour party.

But it is still a forceful and cohesive group within the party. While to date the group has been run by four interim staff, Momentum now wants to hire eight permanent employees including a national coordinator, press officer and social media manger. Salaries are forecast to total £243,000 a year.

Labour has, of course, always been a coalition movement; all major political parties are. The difference in the current situation is that the membership no longer represents a broad range of views as much as it did ten years ago; it has shifted markedly to the left, who have been organised under the Momentum umbrella in a way that the right of the party has not.

This is why we see the right in such disarray. Their base is being cut away from under them, as the appeal of the party to the left grows, and membership is, after all, cheap. Instead of constituencies which have grown organically over the decades, this is a new phenomenon, and one they are ill-equipped to deal with.

The last time the left had such great dominance over the labour party was in the 1980s, and it is instructive to see that while the democratic card is played to effect, so is the resurgence of the threat in that decade of deselection for MPs who do not tow the activists line.

The case of Reg Prentice is instructive in that regard, in that in 1976, he was deselected by his Constituency Labour Party. Despite support of the labour old guard members against new activists, Reg Prentice made the decision, on deselection, to join the Conservatives, betraying the very members who had supported him and even fought in the Courts.

“The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour” by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys explains how the change came about in his constituency:

“The Newham North East constituency party epitomised the type of moribund party that had been brought to life in the early 1970s by new activists with higher education who were part of the growing non-manual population in the area”

These education middle class activists made inroads against the old labour membership and took control of the General Management Committee of the local party. The old guard were used to keeping matters ticking over, and most of the membership in the locality was not active, providing ripe pickings for the activists. 

There were over 1,000 members of the Labour party in that constituency, but (as is common with most societies) only a small number took an active role in the committee meetings. As Paul McCormick showed in "Enemies of Democracy", that situation meant that the activist has an advantage in steering the party their way.

“None of the twenty-nine delegates to the GMC (General Management Committee) that voted to deselect Prentice even belonged to CLPD at the time, and only four (none of them in a leading position) were Young Socialists who were supporters of Militant. Of the nineteen GMC delegates who supported Prentice, on the other hand, all but four were retired manual trade unionists, who were increasingly atypical within the community.”

As Geoff Horn noted: “Meetings were presided over by long-standing ward officers and were a relatively gentle affair, conducted in a rather apolitical atmosphere. The main focus was in maintaining party cohesion and comradery through an extensive diary of social and fund-raising events. “

All this was to change, and instead of maintaining links with the wider community, the activists moved the focus of the party to the left, and looked to pull the strings of MPs to make them effectively puppets of their views; described in religious terms, they might be described as moving the party from a broad church to an intellectually rigid fundamentalism.

The landscape of the 1980s saw a reaction against the Wilson and Callaghan governments by the activists, who were wanted a far more left wing agenda, and saw the previous Prime Ministers as having sold out for political power.

The result was the election of Michael Foot as Party Leader, very popular within the party and with the unions, just as Jeremy Corbyn had been, but not as popular within Labour MPs. Nationalisation, unilateral nuclear disarmament and a raft of other issues not unlike those espoused by Jeremy Corbyn were popular with the activists within the party, but not with the electorate as a whole.

Instead of the reassuring genial tones of Harold Wilson, or the avuncular Jim Callaghan, a majority of the electorate saw a party increasing moving away from the issues that concerned them, and away from the political centre, and a much less reassuring image emerged.

What Wilson realised so clearly was that the Labour party needed to appeal to that political centre, that the party faithful would vote for you anyway, but there had to be sufficient appeal to non-party members. Under Foot, the activists pressed on with pressure on the more recalcitrant MPs, and some stayed within the Party, some left to form the Social Democrats.

Neil Kinnock took steps to tame the wilder excesses of the activists, and produced a filmic party political broadcast in an attempt to shift the party back more towards a centre appeal. He failed, but he laid the groundwork for Tony Blair’s rebranding of Labour as “New Labour” and a move towards the centre, at a time when the Conservatives were facing divisions between left and right within their own party over Europe. By 1997, the Conservatives had run out of steam under the tired managerial style of John Major, and the result was a landslide for the more centrist vision of New Labour.

But the left remained within the party, most notably with John Prescott, as Blair also realised the left needed to be part of the new government. Blair retained centre stage through two successive election victories after that.

But reaction was setting in. On the one hand, David Cameron reclaimed more of the centre than Gordon Brown, while Labour began to shift leftwards under Ed Milliband. Under Jeremy Corbyn the move has been even more marked, and while there can be little doubt that Corbyn is popular among the party faithful, and particular the Momentum group which coheres about his particular political ideology, it remains to be seen how electable that position is.

Like the Labour Party under Michael Foot, they are ashamed of the previous Prime Ministers and regard them as compromising their ideals for the sake of political power. And yet it was Blair who won power after the party had decades in the political wilderness. It was not Michael Foot, whose agenda most resembles that of Corbyn.

Labour needs 104 seats in England and Wales and 40% of the vote in order to win. Because of the first past the post system, most seats are fairly fixed in allegiances so it is the marginals which make the difference. In the marginals, four out every five of the extra votes must come from those who voted Conservative last time.

Will they support Corbyn and his particular brand of Labour? Will they support re-nationalization of the railways and energy companies, confiscatory taxation, price and rent controls, maximum wage, unilateral disarmament, and a massive shift of power away from individuals and the private sector and back to central state control?

The past of history of the Labour party in the 1980s makes such a sea change seem unlikely. As Daniel Allington wrote:

“Today, as Labour leader, Corbyn is himself the biggest obstacle to a Labour government: a man who actually doesn’t care what proportion of the public votes for the Labour Party as long as his faction is in control of it.”

The modern activists are youngsters who never lived through the wilderness of the Foot and Kinnock years, who never saw the disasters that that fervent left wing agenda caused to the Labour parties chances of electoral success. I lived through that turmoil and damage to the electability of Labour, and I was disappointed that there really was little choice for the British public, no opposition strong enough to take upon Margaret Thatcher and win.

But Theresa May is no Thatcher, and the Conservative Party is still in internal turmoil from the results of the referendum. It would be a tragedy if Jeremy Corbyn, in search of the promised land flowing with milk and honey, and only seeking to appeal to his own activists, led the Labour party off to spend forty years in the electoral wilderness.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The States Live Televised

For the first time today, the sitting of the States Chamber has been televised both as live streaming and as a view again for 6 months from the live date. This means that not just tone of voice can be seen, but also all the mannerisms and body language and how the States conducts its business.

It is a major educational tool, but one thing which is missing is a floor plan of where the Constables, Senators and Deputies sit - do they have chosen places which they retain for the duration of the States until the election? I know the different classes of members have their own "benches" but within that, how do they choose where to sit? Do existing members keep priority over new members? 

A floor plan would also answer questions on absence. Who is missing from the place beside Senator Gorst or Senator Green? Or is it that the reduction of Senators from 12 to 8 has left gaps in the benches and these are in fact spaces resulting from that change in the composition of the Assembly? That's my guess.

I noticed that Deputy Tadier slipped out for a brief comfort break, but it was very brief, as he was very soon back again.

The other interesting thing to watch is the dynamics of States members when they are not speaking. Some just sit and look ahead, or look down, but others are chatting, or reacting by expression and gestures to the speakers.

In the instance above while Rod Bryans is speaking, Deputy Lewis and Labey exchange notes. 

And for the fashion conscious trivia brigade, of course, what ties are the men wearing - red for Reform, blue and striped for Rod Bryans, and what outfits do the ladies sport? Sarah Ferguson, by the way, is no longer wearing "election pink". All the couteur can now be seen, as well as the honorable member in the background who appears to be taking a brief nap.

All told, this is good for democracy, as it demystifies the workings of the States Assembly, but also can be a useful tool for educating the public into how members deport themselves. 

There is a lot of courtesy evident in this first broadcast, and it will be interesting to see how matters change as we approach elections in 18 months time.

One final comment - the low placement of the microphones mean that most members seem to have to stoop a bit when they speak in order for their voices to be picked up. It would have been interesting to see Roy Le Herrisier speaking; one imagines that the former Deputy, well known for his booming delivery, had no problems on that score. 

The States of Jersey is committed to providing Islanders with an open and accessible decision-making process and, with this objective in mind, meetings of the States Assembly will be webcast. A webcast is a transmission of audio and video over the internet. Video cameras in the States Chamber will capture the live information and through the use of your Internet connection you can view the meetings from the comfort of your own home. You will be able to see how decisions which affect you and your Island are reached, without having to attend the States Chamber in person.

Recent and upcoming webcasts are displayed to the right of this page. To view, click on the title and the webcast will begin automatically.

All webcast meetings will also be held in an online archive and can be accessed at any time by clicking on the webcast library tab above. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Brown Study

There is an old saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” The ever helpful Quote Investigator website tracks the import of the saying, even if not the same words, down to the 12th-century Islamic philosopher Maimonides, when he was writing about eight degrees in the duty of charity. In 1826 an explication of the eighth degree was published in a journal called “The Religious Intelligencer”

“Lastly, the eighth and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to assist the reduced brother, either by a considerable gift or loan of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity. . .”

But it was the popular novelist Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, daughter of writer William Makepeace Thackeray who said the modern form:

‘He certainly doesn’t practise his precepts, but I suppose the Patron meant that if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn. “

A variant came in 1945 in a Wisconsin newspaper. The writer was a public health nurse, and she labelled the expression “an old Indian proverb”: 7

“In every public health program the aim is not only to perform a given service but to teach the individual positive attitudes toward health which will benefit him throughout life. The purpose is well stated in an old Indian proverb.”

The truth of these maxims is very much evident in today’s “Brown Study”, my ocassional look at Gordon Brown’s work and speeches as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and the issues he raises. He writes that “education is the greatest anti-poverty investment we can make and with infant mortality among educated mothers half the rate of the uneducated, one of the most impactful health interventions.”

And this is surely true, and detailed in his speech on how overseas aid can help this objective if it is not just the “begging bowl” for urgent relief for humanitarian disasters, necessary though that is, but a more permanent footing in which we help people to help themselves.

Britain’s spending on aid isn’t too generous. It’s a drop in the ocean
by Gordon Brown

We live in a world where critics talk of “bloated” international aid budgets, and yet our generosity barely reaches a growing inequality problem, one that is rapidly coming home to haunt us.

Half of all children born this year will leave school without even the most basic of qualifications. Even by 2030, the UN deadline for delivering universal primary and secondary education, more than 800 million of the world’s 1.6 billion school-age children will not attain the literary, numeracy and computational skills they will need to get jobs.

Among them are refugee children who will never enter a classroom, child labourers denied the chance to go to school, young girls forced into early marriage and yet more girls denied an education simply because of their gender. To their number is added the millions more in classrooms today who are failing to learn because education standards are so pitifully low and teachers are undervalued.

A global education timebomb is ticking. The civil rights struggle of our times is not defined by marches on Washington, by anti-apartheid boycotts or by a looming wall to tear down. Today’s struggle is defined by the betrayal of the opportunities of half an entire generation – and their growing anger and discontent at their fate.

While western countries spend at least $100,000 (£75,000) over a child’s education life cycle from three to 16, the typical low-income country spends a hundred times less – just $1,000. In Somalia and the Central African Republic, this figure is a meagre $320 per student.

And when all the world’s aid spent on education is brought together, – from individual country donors like DFID, USAID and the EU and from the World Bank and international institutions – its cumulative worth is just $18 per pupil in low-income countries and even less – just $14 per pupil – in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the poorest countries committed to modernising their schools are still receiving woefully low levels of aid. Togo, a much improved performer, receives just $7 per pupil. Even the harshest critic of aid must acknowledge the impossibility of building a meaningful transformation in education on a fiscal foundation barely able to cover the cost of one textbook per child.

We talk of creating a world defined by equality of opportunity with no cap on ambition, no ceiling on talent and no barrier to potential. But while around 80% of today’s Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Singaporean primary school children will go on to attend university, less than 5% of their counterparts in African countries such as Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo will do so at any time in the foreseeable future. The dividing line could not be more clear. More than your ability or effort, where you were born – and who you were born to – determines the inequalities you suffer.

Our failure to act will mean more Arab springs, more Occupy movements, more “We are the 99%” protests as, through social media, young people in Asia Africa and the Middle East become increasingly aware of the yawning gap between the opportunities the world promised and what has been delivered. And our inaction will encourage extremists who stand ready to exploit children’s discontent and use our failure as a pulpit from which they can allege coexistence is impossible.

No country that invests and is prepared to modernise and reform should be allowed to fail to deliver universal rights to education for a lack of funds. So on 18 September, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity – which has brought together presidents, prime ministers, chief executives and education leaders with the support of the Norwegian PM – will set out the first global education budget, detailing the benefits and the costs of delivering the largest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history and outlining the reforms in international architecture needed to achieve this vision.

Around the turn of the century education was 13% of all international development aid. Today it is just 10%, while global health has seen its share rise from 15% to 18%. And so we need to mobilise the same visionary zeal that inspired a concerted global effort to eradicate polio, tuberculosis and malaria to make ours the first generation where every child goes to school.

Delivering on this is of urgent concern to those children in greatest need – the global cohort of 30 million displaced children (among them an ever-growing segment, 2m, made refugees by the Syrian civil war). For the out-of-school children among their ranks, the great barrier to an education is not so much a lack of teachers or schools but, as to its credit the UK government has recognised, a lack of funding.

So as two refugee summits convene at the UN general assembly, we propose that by the end of 2017, every Syrian child refugee should have a place in school as a first step to ensuring schooling for every displaced child. To fund this, a begging bowl circulated years into the crisis must now be replaced by guaranteed provision available at the outset.

The dividends will be profound. Education is the greatest anti-poverty investment we can make and with infant mortality among educated mothers half the rate of the uneducated, one of the most impactful health interventions. Our estimate is that, if our recommendations are accepted, GDP per capita in low-income countries will be 70% higher in 2050, and poverty 20% lower.

Seventy years ago, international cooperation and statesmanship brought forth the Marshall plan to rebuild broken-down countries, the World Bank and the IMF to finance their reconstruction and the United Nations to secure the rights of their citizens. This was a time of enlightened self-interest, a time when the world saw a positive-sum pathway to improving the human condition. In 2016, when what is at stake is not just the security of millions but also the sacred belief in equality of opportunity, we are challenged to do even more. In the past we developed only some of the talents of all the world’s children. It is now urgent that we develop all of the talents of all of them.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

In Lighter Vein: Answers To Correspondents

From the 1971 Pilot comes this short humorous piece! As a suitable picture, I thought the Archdeacon, Bishop and Chaplain from the Cathedral of St Oggs would fit the bill!

In Lighter Vein: Answers To Correspondents
by the Revd. P. H. Francis. M.A.

Enquirer: No. An epistle is not the wile of an apostle. It is a letter written by an apostle.

Churchgoer: Yes. The clerical collar originally was a halo. It gradually slipped down, and is now worn around the neck instead of' above the head.

Sportsman: Your theory that the disciplies played cricket in their spare time is based on an incorrect translation of the text. "Peter stood up before the eleven and was bold". Some people think it was "and was bowled". The text "Rachel came out with a full pitcher" may prove that the wives of the Patriarchs played cricket. We have not been able to find this text.

Students: You cannot find reference to early trigonometry in the words. "This wicked generation looketh for a sign". You have been misled by the similar pronunciation of' sign and sine. There are no references to sines, cosines, or tangent: in the bible.

Henpecked: We are interested in your notion that because horses are stopped by saying Wo' to them, the word Woman is really composed of the two words Wo and Man. and came into use because women always stop their husbands going to football matches and doing things the way they want to do. We have suffered in this way.

Young clergyman: It was unlawful by Canon 74 for Anglican clergymen to wear light coloured socks or fancy night caps. But this law has been omitted from the new Canons published in 1964 and 1969. You are therefore now free to wear hideously coloured socks. They can be bought at most hosiery shops. Night caps might have to be specially ordered.

Hopeful: The singing of hymns during church services is illegal, but a common practice. It is however doubtful if you would get a divorce on the grounds that two hymns were sung during the marriage service. But it might be worth trying.