No effing protests

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Let's face it, these days, if you see anyone protesting it's more likely to be an impoverished lecturer sporting a Che Guevara T-shirt and holding a placard than a student trying to change the world.

It's not just about pay either. As I write, an email falls into my inbox from Natfhe about the situation in Venezuela.

All very impressive but what happened to angry youth?

It will be interesting to see how the decidedly grown-up movers and shakers at the Learning and Skills Development Agency will get on with their competition to find the best young protest singer.

The quango wants to find the next Bob Dylan or Billy Bragg - as long as the performer's lyrics don't upset anyone too much or contain any naughty words.

As somebody who is rapidly running out of reasons to describe himself as a "young person", FErret tends not to pass comment on the outpourings of youth culture. It seems my chums in further education have no such concerns.

I'll be fair though. Andrew Thompson, the LSDA's chief executive, may not be in the first flush of youth, but my National Union of Students sources who have seen him with teenagers say he "speaks their language". Certainly his trademark stand-up unkempt hair probably helps him seem more hip than some of his strategically side-combed lifelong learning colleagues.

And perhaps the LSDA's plan, to search for suitable talent among people studying "citizenship", is not so silly as it sounds.

After all, these students need to know a lot about protest if they are interested in citizenship - a status enjoyed by people only in countries where there is no monarchy. In Britain we are mere subjects of Her Majesty.

Perhaps they should protest about the lack of citizenship?

For inspiration, they need look no further than the lyrics of Catatonia:

"Storm the palace, Turn it into a bar, Let them work in Spar, Storm the palace, Storm the palace, Turn it into flats, Make them all ex-pats".

Mind you, if the City Guilds survey is anything to go by (page 7), teenagers are more interested in settling down than rising up against the establishment.

Apparently, they even want to make their parents proud - for goodness sake - and they actually even care about the value of education. Talk about apathy.

A protest song about the further education funding methodology may be?

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