According to a recent Observer report, 90% of schools in England are projected to go bankrupt by next year due to increased costs from inflation. The majority of schools will now look to cut essential teaching and support staff, maintenance of infrastructure and equipment which will mean larger class sizes, a reduced curriculum, and lower quality education for students in the UK.
This is happening while the need to support students is at its greatest recent high, where working class parents have become unable to afford the necessities for their children and still don’t qualify for free school meals. As a result, an estimated 800,000 children in the UK starve at school. There are documented cases of English schoolchildren who have been caught hiding or pretending to eat out of an empty lunchbox during lunchtime out of shame, and some even resort to eating rubbers.
The British education system – once the most advanced in the world – which has seen so much decline, and will now plummet into nothing without even basic funding. British capital – once the most powerful in the world – instituted many social-democratic policies (like the National Health Service as well as building up the public education system) after the Second World War in order to prevent revolution at home, while they could afford to, so enriched by their many colonies and prime position within the imperialist hierarchy. Now that the British ruling class’s position within the capitalist-imperialist world system has diminished, and British super-profits coming from abroad are drying up due to intensified market competition, they cannot easily afford to pay the basic costs for producing their own labor class. Given the state of the world market, and with revolutionary sentiment relegated to the fringes of British society, they have no reason to pay.
The decline of the British education system demonstrates the denigration of the human component of the productive forces under capitalism – which dampers the progress of our species in general at the same time as it destroys the national basis of the economy. It is impossible to learn and thrive on an empty stomach, and within a decrepit education system. It is no wonder that one in five children leave primary education unable to read or write properly, and nine million adults in the UK are functionally illiterate. As a result, these students grow up with fewer prospects and are forced to sell their labour for comparatively less, consequently subjecting them to increased exploitation.
This is in contrast to socialist society where, as formulated by Stalin in Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, “the basic law of socialism might be formulated roughly in this way: the securing of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the whole of society through the continuous expansion and perfection of socialist production on the basis of higher techniques”. This was proven by the USSR, which not only was the first country to achieve full literacy, not only produced and read more books than the rest of the world combined, but did so without simply exporting the exploitative work abroad or increasing exploitative conditions in Soviet schools or workplaces. It is only through socialism that the full potential of humanity can be realised.