The poor education system denied most of the masses right standard of education that would grant equal chances to compete in the world job market. According to Garvin, the emigrants to UK in 1950’s were seen to be of low education standard, thus they could not procure well paying and skilled employment (Garvin, 255). Lack of emphasis in research and innovation in the education system discouraged scientific discovery which was the key in industrializing the economy and thus bringing real change.
The education system produced a “society more redolent of me fein than of Sinn Fein” as it directly influenced mindset and attitude of the people to change. The system produced people who are unwilling to engage with new world trend as they were “thinking in static and rural ways and in ethical rather than scientific terms (Redmond, 102). ” Increment of poor population due to lack of development, resulted to a ‘cultural pessimism, passivity even hopelessness. ’ Resentment grew mostly in lower income groups and this caused consistent political transitions as voters express their discontent with voting out leaders.
Example, De Valera’s electoral defeats in the 1940s and 1950s, where people were voting to express need for change in the way things were being done (Honohan, 346). Delay in development led to great economic crisis. In 1956, Ireland experienced macroeconomic shock that “shook up entire system of the government. ” The country was at verge of complete corpse and policy makers were forced to bring new ideas on board. The crisis demanded immediate attention and shift from old system and polices to new systems, policies and approaches (Brown, 145).
Protectionism that prevented change and development had to be dropped. Aggressive and progressive strategies were devised by developmentalists to save the country. According to Garvin, the crisis that was as a result of preventing development led to two significant ‘departures’ that occurred at the same time. First is the departure of foreign investment policies, where Ireland through the established Industrial Development Authority, started to attract foreign investments mainly from U. S. A, Britain and other European countries (Grada, 147).
The second departure was expansion of secondary and technical education through the Vocational Education Committee with support from Department of Education. This was after Ireland coming to its senses and identifying the stumbling blocks in its efforts to becoming developed society. Change of education system and policies wee the only steps that held back progress, but were also steps that conservatists were distrusting and thus blocked ‘developmentalists’ from bringing development.
The economic crisis was important in disbanding the efforts of the ‘blocking coalition’ and other interest groups in political, economic and social circles that were fighting to guaranteeing that the status quo remained. Prevention of development by the conservatist groups that were hostile to modernization needed an equal strong force like this crisis to foster change and development in Ireland. Although development was not achieved immediately, shift of the policy makers’ attitude and mid set towards change brought about development.
When the country embraced export-oriented economic policies in the late 1950s, under the guidance of Sean Lemass and the Secretary of the Department of Finance, TK Whitaker, Irish experienced high economic growth rates though it took sometime (Redmond, 96). The change in policies and leadership by economic-minded political and social elites finally brought the desired economic and social development remarkably during the last decade. By accepting changes the country grew to become a strong economy that was labeled the ‘Celtic Tiger’.
This was after Ireland pursued an independent and aggressive exchange rate policy and let the currency effectively float and look after itself. The country also liberalized its markets to become competitive in the modern world. In the conclusion, lack of development in Ireland for more than three decades was a pointer that something was amiss. Though there were external forces that depressed the economic condition in Ireland after independence, internal forces that were acting against change and development are to blame for the ‘dry spell’ of economic growth.
There is evidence that the ‘blocking coalition’ who were consisting of the government, policy makers, the church and small scale farmers held back efforts by ‘developmentalists’. The religious, political and social agents were mainly opposed to development as it threatened the status quo which they dearly held on. Protectionism policies were adopted by policy makers deliberately to guarantee the status quo. Education has been shown to be very important in transforming positively a society and spurring development and social changes.
It has been noted that crisis can change a country and force its different elements to converge in a path to reform and development. In Ireland after lack of development brought about crisis that necessitated change in doing things. The conservatists groups were forced to change their attitude towards modernization and development. It was after the country embraced change that development was realized.
Brown, Terence. Ireland: a Social and Cultural History 1922-2002. London: Perennial. 2004. Pp 112-145 Garvin, Tom. Preventing the Future. Why was Ireland so poor for so long? Gill & Macmillan. 2004 Pp 110-256.