Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 13:48 | SYDNEY
Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 13:48 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: The AusAID non-scandal

9 May 2011 12:12

Markus Pfister responds to Fergus' defence of AusAID, which regularly grants scholarships to the children of foreign politicians:

When some years ago I first discovered that this was going on, I was scandalised. And to some extent I still am.

But it also occurred to me that this is simply the updated version of the ancient practice of holding as hostages the children of the elite of the country of concern (Rome did this as a regular practice). Their education and general polishing was part of the deal, and they ended up, I would say at a guess, generally sympathetic towards their host state — I would equally hazard the guess that we are breeding a generation of Australophiles among future elites throughout our region.

It would however be nice if we could identify some less fortunate talent as well to foster - but this is easier said than done. Most kids from poor, rural families would not even get to the starting gate. I suspect a lottery would be the only solution. Then you'd have to send them back a few grades to re-learn all that maths; they'd have to learn English from scratch...too hard. In those cases we'd be far better off building and running schools in (randomly or otherwise) selected backwaters. Would the taxpayers stand for it?

Perhaps it's easier to just let the kleptocratic nationalists running those countries award the scholarships to themselves.