Though this post is not about war and torture, it is not unrelated to the depredations of the US and can be seen even to have some influence on the military in this country.
I read today about US student debt–which is astronomical. I want to remind readers that education in the developed world and even in many “third world” countries, though in the latter it may not be widely available, is virtually free for those who qualify for it.
In my university years in France, I paid about the equivalent at the time of twenty-five US dollars for a registration fee. That was the only cost for any student. One presented the appropriate academic credentials and was admitted upon the payment of that small fee.
As one of many scholarship students, in addition I was actually paid to go to university. That scholarship had required a more complex application beforehand, but with it I received a monthly stipend that allowed me to have very decent housing, incredibly low cost meals at the university restaurants, and to meet all my basic expenses. I could even afford a season of symphony concerts, which certainly enriched my life and brought me great joy, in addition to occasional theater tickets. I could afford a trip to Rome during a vacation break and another trip to Germany.
By contrast, my 1960’s US college tuition alone was some $10,000.00 per year–which has mushroomed to several times that now. And that was just tuition and did not include other necessities. Furthermore, because my family had means, I did not qualify for tuition payment for the “scholarship” that I was awarded; I only got to list the prestigious title of it among my credentials. Merit got me the scholarship, but “need” would have had to be proven for financial payment of it. I was, therefore, very dependent on my family and somewhat infantilized as a result.
In most developed countries, there is education for everyone. The entire society invests in the education of its citizens and all are given the first levels of school. Not everyone qualifies for higher education, but those who do receive it at virtually no cost. Education at all levels is of high quality, not dependent on the capacity of local communities to pay for it, but funded by the national government.
There is some of the best education in the world for some people in the US, but the quality of education generally is low. Not surprisingly, many people here are stunningly ignorant, to the astonishment of Europeans who have occasion to be here and see “average” Americans.
Another aspect of the woeful educational situation here, and of the exorbitant cost of it, is related to the US military. Since enlistment can mean higher education for some people, there are numerous young people who join one of the service branches in order to get a university education which they would not otherwise be able to afford. I think that price, too, is far too high for our young people to pay, especially when I know that their peers in other countries do not have to resort to such measures.
Florida State University
Will the US ever join the developed world in providing education, instead of just talking as though it does?