One of the most critical cultural problems facing the European Union is the challenge of maintaining national identities while creating a new, unified, European identity. As the announcement last week of the EU’s Border-Breakers Award winners shows, promotion of multi-nationalism is a core focus of the EU educational strategy. But with teachers’ salaries frozen and the quality of education declining throughout the Eurozone, more and more parents are turning to private tutors, with mixed results for that policy.
Part of the problem is strictly economic. From the Greek debt crisis to the financial disaster that has spread throughout Europe, there is not enough money to find public programs that have traditionally enjoyed ample resources. As austerity measures go into effect throughout the zone to get government spending under control, public education is taking an especially hard hit.
But parents throughout the West tend to value education as a primary gift to their children. In the United States, Canada, and most European nations the majority of parents will gladly forego luxuries for themselves – and even new bicycles and clothing for their kids – in favor of providing their children the quality education they need as a foundation for a successful life.
With economic storm clouds hovering over most of the developed world, good parents also recognize that their kids are going to start their careers in a leaner, more competitive landscape. If they are going to be successful, they need every advantage they can get. Without those advantages and hard skills, as this excellent piece in The Atlantic expresses, they will have a hard road into the workforce.
That has led to a dramatic rise in private tutoring throughout the European Union, with parents determined to augment their children’s education any way they can. Unfortunately, the goal of multi-nationalism often gets lost in this mix: parents who are ideologically opposed to multi-nationalism prefer tutors who share their views; and outside of the context of school tutors can pursue their own agendas whether the parents of their charges approve of it or not.
But there are bright spots in this shift. As public schools have faced stiffer cultural and economic challenges to providing a good education, the private education franchise has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. Unlike traditional private schools that are operated by churches or other non-profit organizations, this new breed of private schools operate on a for-profit model and are run by businesspeople.
While old-school educators remain skeptical of any new model for delivering education, many parents embrace the idea of an educational environment that is driven by the bottom line. And because schools built on newer educational models lack a connection to traditional national institutions, they are usually better at promoting multi-nationalism.
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