Mishra’s Mishmash: Access to higher education system still the best option for young students

We are entering a new year with ever-increasing demands being made of children should they want to enjoy the same kind of education their parents received. 

The Danish government’s plans to cut a substantial number of master’s programs from two years to one, mostly in the humanities, have already been well publicised. But it is just the start of the meddling.  

Now the education minister, Mattias Tesfaye, is suggesting that access to the upper-secondary gymnasiums should be limited to those with higher grades than required today – and this is bad news for late bloomers. Boys, basically.  

Boys left behind in life
All studies suggest that boys are less emotionally mature than girls in their teens and that they get disproportionately lower grades in their final school exams. 

As a result, girls are over-represented at colleges – especially in medicine and some of the humanities – and now, with the demand for higher grades, it will become even harder for many boys.

But boys should be encouraged to cut loose a little during their teenage years, if anything to discover who they really are. It’s an essential learning curve to enable them to become better citizens. 

Instead, at a very early stage in life, they are being forced to pick subjects for vocational training. But what’s the rush?

We should be inspiring them
Tesfaye, who took vocational training as a bricklayer, has a vision to embolden and strengthen studies that yield practical skills.

But he fails to understand there are also jobs that require a better knowledge of languages, humanities, mathematics and sciences, which lead to exciting careers and higher salaries.

Young people who find themselves unable to compete tend to concede defeat in the face of their limitations, choosing to learn a trade instead, working with their hands not their brain. But is it really recommended to pressurise young people into choosing a vocational training program like it’s their only option? Surely it’s preferable to encourage them to dream of getting jobs that demand leadership qualities?

The strength of the Danish education system has always been that it offered a wide range of options to as many pupils as possible. Every child, irrespective of their background, was able to aspire to become an academic.

Afraid of critical thought
The paradox is that most politicians in Denmark have themselves graduated from the humanities faculty and are now in the process of dehumanising humanities subjects such as history, sociology, anthropology and languages.

Our politicians want people who don’t ask tough and critical questions, but instead repair their toilets and heaters.

But what is wrong in studying humanities and what is wrong if young people take an extra three years to debate and study subjects that eventually make them better citizens of Denmark and Europe?

We live in a complex world in which Danish laws are intertwined with European laws. Understanding history and a knowledge of European languages will strengthen the possibility of future generations participating and engaging in the new world more confidently. 

I hope the new government  drops this latest proposal and sees that saving money in the education sector has always been a bad idea.