Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Watch Out, Falling Pie!

Posted by JJ in Bad Press, Vague Check, Golden Tacks (Wednesday September 13, 2006 at 5:49 pm)

It’s been a rough ride for Canadian education in the last little while.

A survey of Canadian researchers by the Council of Canadian Academies just found that 2 in 5 believe that Canada is falling behind the rest of the world in research. And anecdotal evidence supported by a minority opinion is about as close as you come to the truth these days. But the proof’s in the pudding — if Canadian science wasn’t fallling behind, more of those surveyed might be smart enough to see what was going on. In fact, the more vigorously Canadian scientists protest the suggestion, the more likely it is to be true, so watch for denials over the next few days.

And just how did Canada get into this mess? Probably because the country is falling behind in education. Despite the fact that 53% of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 34 have either a post-secondary degree or diploma (well above the OECD average of 31%), that percentage has grown by only 1% since 1995! Clearly, the country is in dire straits.

Which might explain why Canada is so keen on attracting university-educated immigrants. There’s clearly a dearth of qualified individuals in the upcoming generation. And of course, these facts point to only one conclusion: the Brain Drain is back!

It’s not an overreaction. Consider: Canada’s “laser physicists” are so useless for laser physics research that they’re being sent into space to do mechanical work. Which, it curiously turns out, they’re not very good at either:

Mission Control later reported that another bolt, similar to the one that went missing during Tuesday’s spacewalk, was lost Wednesday.

MacLean told Mission Control that he was removing a cover on the rotary joint when one of the four bolts he needed disappeared.

“I did not see it go,” MacLean said. “I’m looking to see if anything is floating.”

MacLean ran into another small problem a short time later when an extension on his pistol-grip power tool broke while he was trying to remove a restraint on the rotary joint.

“Son of a gun,” he muttered, then gathered the pieces in a trash bag so they wouldn’t float away and went to a toolbox to retrieve another.

But perhaps the fact that a nation of highly educated workers lags monkeys in elementary tool use is the only unsurprising point to be found in this recent news.

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