We can try something different after Covid-19. We could become a nation which no longer subscribes to the hard capitalism of winners and losers. We could put people before profit.
No better place to start than with the Leaving Cert this year.
Every Leaving Cert student could be given an amnesty: all awarded 600 points.
When the places are awarded, in August, the universities, colleges and apprenticeships could take a random selection of the people who applied for that course if it was over-subscribed (as it would be in courses like medicine).
If a student was not accepted this year in the random selection he or she would be in the first group to be selected for the following year.
Or defer again to the subsequent year if the course was still oversubscribed.
The important thing is there is a guarantee that you will eventually get a place in medicine by moving to the top of the queue year on year if that is what you want to study. If a course is not oversubscribed then a college could accept everyone who applied.
If a student had a change of mind and wanted to swap and reapply elsewhere that would also be allowed (as in the current system).
There is a high chance that the people who apply for a course will do well in it as we tend to know our own strengths and recognise our weaknesses.
In addition to a radical reform of the points system, like other nations, Ireland could adopt a requirement for every Irish national to do their civic duty in the form of army training for UN peacekeeping or doing community service for two years between the age of 18 and 25.
Moving on, imagine, post-coronavirus, using citizens’ assemblies to advise us how to become a green nation; how to provide a universal income for our citizens; how to introduce random selection (like jury service) for being a political representative: a TD, county councillor or senator.
We could be the first nation to fully harness tidal energy, wind energy and solar energy; we could embrace re-cycling, re-using, up-cycling, and swapping our suplus goods by expanding local markets, replacing carparks with people, putting the community at the centre of the urban environment.
This pandemic has made us pause. What do we need? Really need?
Food, shelter (a home), electricity, health, public transport, clean air, clean environment, information, love, family, touch; and for our souls we need books, art, music, gathering together in community; a feeling of belonging; a feeling of contributing to the social good. Some might call it communism. I’d call it fair.
- - This readers’ opinion was published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner on March 26, 2020.