Any of you who have read Dickens or any history of Victorian London will know that before 1891 when it became law for education to be provided free to children that only the children of wealthy families were properly schooled although there were some “bursaries” provided to a handful of suitable young men from poor backgrounds to attend the fee paying schools.
However after reading that the men only group, Welling Round Table, are holding a busary contest (girls need not apply) it seems that some things have not changed. Even though we think that education is a right and that anyone who wants to go to University should be able to go no matter what their family background or income there is still the concept of the “deserving poor”. The amount being offered will no doubt be gratefully received. However, with some Universities now looking at charging £9,000 a year it will be a tough decision for many young people as to whether they should incur a huge debt or just forget University and try to get a job. But with 1 in 5 young people now out of work its not much of a choice to be making.
I have no doubt that the Round Table’s intentions are well meaning and that the young man chosen will be very pleased but in 2011 to be asking children to compete against each other , parading their poverty to obtain a life chance that should be theirs by right would I believe have Charles Dickens spinning in his grave.