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A Different View

Fix the foundations – stop papering over the cracks

Dave O'Connell

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Louise Comer and Sean Conneely, who were married recently in St Patrick's Church, Glenamaddy. The reception was held in Abbey Hotel, Roscommon. Photo: Maurice Sirr Photography.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There is much to be proud of when it comes to our education system – but let’s not allow our successes to plaster over the flaws.

The recent statistics on drop-out levels from our higher education system were shocking – and clearly something has to be done.

But this also has to be seen in context – and then you can either console yourself that we’re not so bad, or more probably conclude that this is a European crisis, if not a global one.

Eurostat figures from 2013 show that Ireland has the highest proportion of young people who have successfully completed third-level education in the EU.

The figures showed that across the 27 EU member states in 2012, 35.8 per cent of 30 to 34 year olds had completed third-level education.

In Ireland, more than half of 30 to 34 year olds (51.1 per cent) have completed third level.

Another survey, this one from the OECD, ranked Ireland as tenth highest in the world for the proportion of its adults with third level degrees, with 37 per cent as compared to Canada on top of the list with 51 per cent.

It will surprise no one who has lived through the era that 1965 to 2003 saw a growth of 592% in Ireland’s third level student population.

So in a nutshell, we’re doing just fine in steering our young people into and through college, and if we have a high drop-out rate it’s partly because we’ve so many more going in there in the first place.

Even on student attrition, we’re not alone – figures from 2012 show the drop-out rate in Germany is 28 per cent, in France it’s 42 per cent and Italy even higher at 45 per cent. The UK in contrast is less than nine per cent.

By comparison, the average drop-out rate between first year and second year across Ireland’s seven universities, IT’s and other colleges was 15 per cent – although it is as high as 80 per cent on particular courses.

And all have around the same percentage of young people in third-level education – UK and Italy at 43%, Germany at 42%, and France at 39 per cent.

By comparison – and to be completely parochial about it – Galway sees an impressive 60 per cent of its school-leavers head straight for third level.

All of that suggests there is much to be proud of – third-level education provides a highly qualified potential workforce.

This is recognised by the multi-nationals who come here to establish major bases, because tax breaks on their own are not enough.

But still too many students fall through the net – and there are many reasons for this.

The Union of Students in Ireland would argue that it’s down to the cost of education and there is clearly merit in that.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Giving it all away can bring you the greatest wealth of all

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It must be the nicest thing that anyone could say about a friend on their passing, and the novelist Jilly Cooper wrote it about the former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans on his death last year.

“Harry died on Thursday at 5am (UK time), his heart perhaps only failing because he gave so much of it away.”

Because when all is said and done, your list of achievements – academic, sporting or stellar career – should pale into insignificance beside the way you treated your family, friends and colleagues.

We too often judge a person’s success or failure by the jobs they’ve held, the money they’ve made, the titles they hold – when the truth is none of that should determine your achievements as a person.

Even billionaires can grow to realise that eventually; just look at Bill and Melinda Gates – although recent events might make this a different picture in the future.

The former Apple golden couple have given close to $50 billion to charitable causes, including the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, since 1994.

In 2019 alone, the couple donated $589 million to charity, making them the seventh most philanthropic people that year. Whether they now give separately or collectively might be the question – but it seems most unlikely that they won’t give at all.

They’re alone in this world of billionaire philanthropists either; Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and one of the richest people in the world, has pledged $100m in prize money for technology that would best capture planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who tops the global rich list, has vowed to give out $10bn to worthy climate initiatives.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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