Off tune

15th August 2003 at 01:00
"THE kids come to school, eat their bananas, drink some water and move on to their compulsory music." It may be a caricature but it reflects the irritation with what are seen as wheezes by the Executive to head off whatever embarrassment may be causing ministers grief at any given moment.

The February announcement of more than pound;17 million for free instrumental music tuition is a case in point, the scepticism reinforced by its pre-election timing.

What guarantees do authorities have that this will be funded beyond three years? If it is not, what lasting impact will there be from a three-year scheme? How conned will pupils feel if they cannot develop their talents beyond the one year that will be freely available?

These would constitute substantial misgivings in their own right but, more tellingly, there is a lack of music instructors whose ranks are hardly likely to swell on the basis of a temporary scheme. The real problem is the inability of education authorities to provide pupils with free or affordable tuition and that is the funding issue which needs to be addressed.

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