Sunday, July 01, 2012

Britain's lost generation of NEETs

More than 8,000 teenagers have joined the ranks of NEETs as the proportion staying on in school after 16 has fallen for the first time in a decade.  The number of 16 to 18-year-olds that are considered not in education, employment or training - rose 5.7 per cent in a year.

One in 12 of this age group (8.1 per cent) has now become a drop-out - 154,710 - by the end of 2011 compared to 7.5 per cent or 146,430 in 2010.  This means that an extra 8,280 young people were NEET in 2011 compared to 2010.

Among 16-year-olds, 86.2 per cent were in full-time education in 2011, compared to 88.0 per cent in 2010, a fall of 1.8 percentage points or over 21,000 students.

It is the first time the numbers have dropped since 2001, and comes amid a move to raise the school leaving age.  From next year, pupils will leave education and training at age 17, and in 2015, this will be raised to 18.

Overall, there were fewer young people aged 16 to 18 in 2011 (1,910,000) than there were in 2010 (1,952,400) according to the Department for Education figures.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the figures were a ‘clear sign’ that the education system needs to do more to give young people the skills that businesses and universities want.

He said: ‘The number of young people not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long - this is not a new problem. But we are determined to tackle it.’

The Government is spending £7.5 billion on education and training and £126 million over three years on extra support for the 16 and 17-year-olds most in need of help, Mr Loughton said.

Shadow minister for young people Karen Buck said: ‘This generation of young people is paying a huge price for the recession made in Downing Street - long term youth unemployment has more than doubled in the last year.

‘Whether it is cutting support for young people to stay in school, trebling tuition fees or ending face to face careers advice, this Government is hopelessly out of touch with the needs of the next generation.’

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: ‘Education is a key social and economic driver and can help young people develop the necessary skills to find jobs and realise their potential.

‘Instead of erecting barriers to study, such as hiking up university fees, the government should follow the example of other countries and invest in education, not cut the very services young people need.’

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, added: ‘These figures are a reflection of the Coalition Government’s short-sighted, destructive and illogical reforms of the education and training system for young people.’


Now Britons  can check on their doctor's track record -- as Government plans to release 'tidal wave' of information about public services

Good if it happens

Patients will soon be able to scrutinise the  success rate of treatment by local GPs, including their track record on beating cancer.

Under the Government’s 'open data’ plans, a ‘tidal wave’ of information will be released about public services covering health, education and crime.

As well as potentially life-changing information about local healthcare, it will also give parents the chance to judge schools beyond the usual Ofsted report and see additional data, such as which have the best records for getting pupils into universities.

The move – unveiled by the Cabinet Office today in a White Paper – is designed to make those working in public services more accountable. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said there would be a ‘presumption to publish’ information from departments and officials ‘from the Prime Minister down’.

Coalition ministers started revealing more about government spending two years ago when they began publishing all departmental spending over £25,000 and local authorities had to reveal all spending over £500.

Senior civil servants earning salaries higher than the Prime Minister’s have already been named on the website, and residents have been able to see how dangerous their neighbourhoods are with the publication of crime maps and sentencing rates.

Mr Maude said: ‘Data is the 21st century’s new raw material. With more than 9,000 datasets covering crime, health and education up on, people can now scrutinise local crime statistics, sentencing rates, school results, hospital infection rates and GP outcomes.

‘But we want to take this to the next level.  ‘We will be publishing even more data that has the power to change people’s everyday lives.’

From the end of July, cancer survival rates will be published to give patients more choice over which GP they want to manage their care. Such information will put pressure on GPs to ensure they detect cancers earlier.

Patients will be able to enter their postcode and see detailed comparisons between local  clinics.

And there will also be a smartphone app giving GP ratings based on 11million responses from the Department of Health’s national survey, which asked  patients questions such as whether they trusted their GP and how easy it was to get an appointment.

The White Paper on Open Data stated: ‘We will be unrelenting in our efforts to get more data out.’


The Anti-Islamist Texts the Free World Needs to Use

The free world is in dire need of texts that can mount a challenge to the Islamist ideology. At long last, they've arrived. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser's A Battle for the Soul of Islam and The Illusion of the Islamic State by several Indonesian authors, including former President Abdurrahman Wahid (1999-2001), are unused weapons in the ideological battle. Western governments, interfaith groups and activists should use these books to guide their choices of Muslim partners.

The two books have different but complimentary styles. Dr. Jasser's book tells his story, helping readers grasp the Islamist ideology and why he turned out differently. He addresses the Islamist interpretation of numerous Islamic passages. This is a book that touches you on the personal level. The Indonesian book is more academic. It illustrates how Islamists infiltrated the country in a process that is eerily similar to what we see taking place in Europe and the U.S. and, as the subtitle states, "How an Alliance of Moderates Launched a Successful Jihad Against Radicalization and Terrorism in the World's Largest Muslim-Majority Country."

The Illusion of an Islamic State is more of a policy paper than a book. It is the end product of a study where 27 academics traveled across Indonesia and interviewed nearly 600 extremists in order to define the motivations, strategies and weaknesses of Islamists. The authors' stated goal is to confront the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism and Hizb ut-Tahrir and turn Indonesia into an ideological launching pad against them.

The authors are a formidable foe for the Islamists. Former President Wahid had been called "the single most influential leader in the Muslim world" by some. One of the contributors leads Nahdlatul Ulama, a 40-million-strong organization founded in 1926 in response to the Wahhabist conquest of Mecca and Medina. Another author led Muhammadiyah, another anti-Islamist group with 30 million members.

The book is young, only published in Indonesia in May 2009, but has had a tremendous impact. The project was funded by a single American donor and a Swedish government grant. The Gulf governments, on the other hand, spend billions promoting Islamism. The success of The Illusion of an Islamic State is frustrating in a way. If a relatively small expense could do so much good, then what would happen if real money and support was put behind it? The authors lament that they lack the resources to turn their momentum into an organized civil society movement and are disappointed that the U.S. and other Western countries are dropping the ball.

The common theme of the two books is that Sharia is meant to be a spiritual path based on an individual's relationship with God, not a system of governance that actually stands between man and God. Both believe that nationalism does not contradict Islam, whereas the Islamists view the ummah, or the entirety of Muslims, as a single nation-state and single political party. Both believe in critical thinking and questioning the teachings of imams. Islamists believe only the imams are qualified to tell you what God wants for you. From a young age, Jasser was taught to examine the texts independently as his father spoke classical Arabic and made his own translations. He was taught that imams aren't political authorities and to be aware when their spiritual instruction crossed that line.

One major problem is the treatment of Muslims as a single entity, an obstacle Dr. Jasser partially attributes to the influence of Arab tribal culture. Muslims who speak out against those within the ummah often become outcasts, much like would happen in a tribe. Dr. Jasser and other anti-Islamist Muslims know this all too well. This has negative effects when it comes to security. The Fort Dix terror plot was foiled with the help of a Muslim informant working for the FBI. Instead of being celebrated, he was out-casted because, as he describes it, "For Muslims, we are all brothers, and I betrayed a brother."

This leads to double-standards where Muslims rage against real or imagined transgressions against their own but rarely speak a negative word about the co-religionists like Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a hugely influential cleric whose extremism is plain for all to see. Another example would be how Imam Zaid Shakir, a prominent American preacher, answered when he was recently asked about Hizb ut-Tahrir, an anti-American group openly hostile to democracy that advocates resurrecting the Caliphate. His criticism was limited to their belief that a Caliphate would cure the ills of the Muslim world, followed by instructions to Muslims to not publicly criticize or "vilify" the group. This stands in sharp contrast to his fiery rhetoric about the U.S.

The most powerful moment for me in Dr. Jasser's book was his story of how his family wanted to construct a mosque in Wisconsin but public opposition stalled it. After they went to the media, the attitude changed and it was built. Rather than showcase the incident as proof that Muslims are oppressed in American society, as CAIR would, Jasser's family marveled at how American liberties allowed them to win. "My parents always told us that the struggle and uncertainty about Muslims were human but their victory for religious freedom was American," he writes.

One of the barriers to Islamic reform is opposition to ijtihad, the independent interpretation of Islamic doctrine. The general consensus is that the "gates of ijtihad" were closed by 1258 A.D. It was declared that the qualified Islamic scholars had answered all the necessary questions. New questions are to be answered through analogical reasoning.

The result is that, in the words of Professor Ziauddin Sadar in, "serious rethinking within Islam is overdue" because the doctrine is "frozen in time." He writes that this has led to "three metaphysical catastrophes:  the elevation of the Shari`ah to the level of the Divine, with the consequent removal of agency from the believers, and the equation of Islam with the State." Tunisian professor Dr. Muhamed Al-Haddad likewise writes, "Daily life has evolved radically since the last millennium, but there has been no accompanying development in mainstream Muslim legal theory."

Middle East expert Harold Rhode argues "For the foreseeable future, the answer seems to be a resounding no" to the question of whether the gates can be reopened. However, there are Muslims arguing for the revival of ijtihad and there are Muslims who argue that they were never really closed to begin with.

Malcolm Jardine, for example, wrote a paper arguing that the belief that ijtihad has ceased "needs to be contested vigorously." Irshad Manji has started Project Ijtihad to promote critical thinking and cites the Nawawi Foundation's Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah's paper that argues that Islam "never had a doorkeeper to close it in the first place." Former Islamist Tawfik Hamid reported in January 2011 that a group of 25 scholars, including some from Al-Azhar University, had called for the formal continuation of ijtihad. They listed 10 points in need of re-examination including jihad, separation of mosque and state, women's rights and relations with non-Muslims.

It is Muslims like Dr. Jasser and the now-deceased Abdurrahman Wahid who need to be upheld and promoted. Interfaith groups would be wise to seek out those like them, rather than working with the more easily-accessible Islamists that spout their ideology and promote feelings of victimization, separatism and identity politics that undermine bridge-building. On this topic, there is one part of The Illusion of an Islamic State that truly impacted me as a Christian.

C. Holland Taylor writes how she brought her Pentecostal friend to meet Wahid when he came to the U.S. in May 2008. He was here to accept the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Medal of Valor for calling Iranian President Ahmadinejad a liar after he denied the Holocaust. Her friend said, "Holland, I keep asking myself: how do these Muslim leaders you introduce me to, know what I know?"

Taylor asked what she meant. "It's obvious that President Wahid is filled with the Holy Spirit," the friend answered. She continued, "Well, I wouldn't be comfortable saying this to anyone at church...but the only explanation that makes sense to me, is that Jesus is far, far greater than I ever realized."

She didn't have to believe in Wahid's faith to believe that God was using him for good. God isn't limited to only using Christians or believers in whichever faith you belong to.

You may or may not agree with that analysis, but the bottom line is this: The Islamists are promoting texts and leaders preaching their beliefs. Why aren't we promoting the texts and leaders preaching against their beliefs?


What Has Happened To Love Of Country

Just last week a school principal in Coney Island, New York, banned a song to be played during graduation because she objected to the phrase "G-d bless the USA." Although the song was banned, students gathered outside in protest and sang the song in front of the school while parents yelled "Burn in Hell" at the students.

To the students' credit, they began to drown out the protesting parents with shouts of "USA, USA!" For those of us who grew up in the 50's where love of country was taught and encouraged by parents, schools, and the greater community, today's acts of trashing the values we held dear are as alien as being transported to another planet.

What has happened to the America we love? The America that held to the belief of American exceptionalism through hard work and a free market. An America where anything was possible as long as you had a good idea, persevered, and made something of yourself because America was the land of the free. We were expected to become self-sufficient and to stand on our own two feet.

Welfare was something to be ashamed of and most able-bodied men and women preferred a low wage to a handout. Shame was a motivator as well as an instrument to keep young people in line. Yes, conformity was encouraged. There were boundaries and standards that we were expected to live by and live up to as a means of becoming productive, decent citizens. We would not have dared to disrespect an elder, and our manners were a sign of civility.

Civics was taught in junior and senior high schools, and in those classes we learned not only about the Constitution and our rights, but we also learned that with those rights came responsibilities. Civics is no longer taught and hasn't been taught for years.

While in school, the curriculum, as well as art and music, transmitted pride in country. As we respected ourselves, the rest of the world respected us. As a teenager, I remember a road trip to Canada with my family and the admiration we encountered from others when they learned we were Americans. That is no longer the case. It appears that the best generation - the generation that lived through the Depression, and fought World War II, the generation that sacrificed to put their baby boomers through Ivy League schools produced the worst generation.

For the last few decades these same baby boomers who were coddled by the greatest generation while wallowing in their arrogance began to tear down all of our institutions, and in the process we are now left with a country adrift. Unfortunately the greatest generation failed to transmit the values, principles, rights and responsibilities of the greatest Republic ever to grace this earth to their darling offspring.

The 60's cultural revolution led by the baby boomers began to tear down all that was once held dear. The breakdown of the family, sexual promiscuity, recreational drug use, illegitimacy, anti-Americanism on college campuses and the lowering of standards had a direct correlation to our failure to transmit the values set before us. Today we find ourselves under attack from within and without.

The Left seeks to replace our economic and governing system with, at best, socialism and, at worst Marxism. Islamists seek through their civil code, Sharia, to transform our Constitutional Republic to an Islamic Caliphate. Most Americans do not have a clue as to what is at stake because they have no frame of reference to decipher between our form of government and the alternatives creeping at our shore. Our universities are bastions of liberal indoctrination where Conservative professors are few and far between. Anti-Americanism is learned at these institutions. Millions of dollars in Saudi oil money has bought departments in Middle East Studies at our finest universities and the result has been an increase in anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism for American Jewish students as well as an increase in Jewish hate crimes throughout the land.  American middle school textbooks contain a whitewash of Islam and Mohammad, while portraying Jews and Christians as conquerers.

The influence of Islamic oil money here on our shores cannot be underrated or underestimated. The Muslim Brotherhood, through their various front groups, has infiltrated all of our institutions and, if we are to survive as the Republic we once were, we must not only identify the enemy, we must transmit to our young the values that we cherish and why they are worth preserving.

Our Constitution was inspired by a Judeo-Christian doctrine and the liberties we enjoy - such as freedom of speech, equal opportunity, freedom of religion, equality before a court of law, etc. - are not a given to people in many parts of the Islamic world. It is a misconception driven by the Left that all men seek freedom. All men do not seek freedom. Islam demands of Muslims not freedom, but submission. The very definition of Islam is submission and while honesty is encouraged and valued within our Judeo-Christian framework, within Islam there is a practice referred to as Taquiyya (deception), which grants permission for Muslims to deceive non-Muslims in the advancement of Islam. It is a concept that is so foreign to us that most Americans cannot grasp it.

Unless we can regain our identity as Americans and maintain the values that defined us, we will be in danger of being overcome by a stealth civilizational jihad that is taking place here on our shores. A country without an identity is easy prey for those who have one.

The Islamists and the Leftists have an agenda that seeks to subvert our way of life and it is incumbent upon all of us to see that they are defeated. Already we are witnessing honor killings and Sharia courts here on our soil. While shopping in Los Angeles, it is now customary to see many women in hijabs and, at times, women covered from head to toe with only their eyes visible. Is this our future landscape and is this what we want our America to look like?

In today's America, American women are not second class citizens and if they want to maintain that status it would behoove them to protest such degradation. While it may be customary for Muslim women to be covered from head to toe, the practice is not an American custom and while here they must be required to conform to our standards. We should not be required to tolerate customs that are in conflict with American values under the guise of tolerance. All cultures are not equal and tolerance in the face of evil is a crime. Values that define our culture will unite us while those that are alien to Judeo-Christian doctrine will divide us.

There are many fronts in this battle, but we can begin with education. Civics must be restored within all school curriculums and it will not be restored until parents demand it. Dennis Prager refers to the three pillars of American exceptionalism as the American Trinity....."In God We Trust (our rights are derived from G-d), Liberty, and E Pluribus Unum (from many one). Those three pillars inspired us to greatness and it is our duty to transmit those values to future generations so America can once again regain its identity and be what President Ronald Reagan described as "that shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom loving people everywhere."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


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