It being the back to school month, my village has emptied of children from the age of 14 upwards. My village is 35 km from Kardjali in southern Bulgaria, and although there are secondary schools in the nearest town of Djebel, the better schools are all located in Kardjali. The idea of commuting 35 km each way to school is a completely foreign idea in Bulgaria, as is commuting for work. This probably has something to do with roads (there not finished yet), and even more to do with the long harsh winters which making driving either very hazardous or just completely impossible. So for every child in my village from the age of 14 to 18 they live away from the family home in student accommodation near the schools in Kardjali, and just come back at weekends.
My neighbours son started doing this last year, the costs involved are not high, but the parents have to contribute towards the text books, and pay a small charge for the accommodation, and obviously food during the week. This at first seemed quite strange to me having grown up in the UK where education is provided for by the tax system. It however, makes a great difference in the attitude of the students towards their learning. Since mum and dad have to pay directly, if their ‘little angels’ aren’t doing the work and getting good marks they are brought home and put to work in the fields – not a nice option. The philosophy here is if it is being paid for you will make the most of it. Waste is considered almost criminal.
Which made me come round to thinking how this could and should be done in the UK. If the parents of children had to pay even a contribution towards the education of their ‘little miracles’ it would probably cause a little less of this.
I don’t believe education should be compulsory, I myself dropped out of school at 16, and it wasn’t until my mid twenties that I had any inclination to return. Then I was there because I wanted to be there, which made it a more enjoyable process than being forced to learn stuff that is really of very little use to the vast majority of people – academics apart. Quantum mechanics anyone?