Sunday 12 January 2014

Wrecking communities

Thanks to a correspondent for drawing attention to a property developers' website called Wreck of the Week.

By chance this little gem appeared at the same time as Carmarthenshire County Council was debating whether to hand responsibility for school closures (sorry, reorganisations) to Kevin Madge, Pam Palmer, Meryl Gravell and the other educational experts on the Executive Board.

When the BBC was analysing why schools in Finland performed so much better than their Welsh counterparts in the Pisa rankings late last year, one of the factors identified was that Finnish schools are usually much smaller. In Wednesday's debate Kev thundered that small schools were a waste of money and could not meet the requirements of the modern curriculum.

It would be kinder not to dwell on Kev's own educational achievements or qualifications for deciding the fate of our schools.

The result is that across huge swathes of rural Carmarthenshire village schools have been shut. Small children have to commute long distances to go to school, and the heart has been ripped out of communities. Why would young families opt to live in villages miles away from schools, often with no post office, village shop or pub?

Millions of pounds have been spent on building lovely new schools in order to save money, although the reality is that any savings lie many years into the future and may never be realised.

What is left is wrecks of buildings which served their communities well enough for a century or more.

Rhydcymerau - wreck of the week

Rhydcymerau is the title given to one of the best-loved poems in the Welsh language. It was written by Gwenallt (David James Jones) in response to the vandalism of the Forestry Commission which bought up farms for conifer plantations after the Second World War.

Below are the first few lines of the poem. A sensitive translation and film by Huw Davies can be found here.

Ger Rhydcymerau

Plannwyd egin coed y trydydd rhyfel
Ar dir Esgeir-ceir a meysydd Tir-bach
Ger Rhydcymerau. 

'Rwy'n cofio am fy mam-gu yn Esgeir-ceir
Yn eistedd wrth y tân ac yn pletio ei ffedog;
Croen ei hwyneb mor felynsych â llawysgrif Peniarth,
A'r Gymraeg ar ei gwefusau oedrannus yn Gymraeg Pantycelyn.


Jinks said...

Any comment on what's happening over the border in Ceredigion as regards education ? What lead could the Lab-led authority in Carmarthen take from the Plaid- led authority in Ceredigion as regards small rural schools ? . (From a nationalist)

Cneifiwr said...

You are right Jinks. Ceredigion has also been strongly criticised for what it is doing by Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

Dyffryn Teifi badly needs a new school building, but closing down the primary schools in Aberbanc, Pontsian and Coed y Bryn is difficult to justify. I don't know the school at Pontsian, but Aberbanc and Coed y Bryn are both viable schools.

Anonymous said...

Rwyn cyd-fynd gyda'r ffaith bod ysgolion bach a dosbarthiadau bach yn well. Yn ol yn y 70au fe ddysgais I bob testyn o ni yn medru trwy gyfrwng y gymaraeg. Ar y pryd roedd y dosbarthiadau yn fach, pumtheg disgybl, os hynny mewn gwersi. Pynciau fel Ysgrythur, hanes a.y.y.b. Wedi dweud hynny, falle bod y ddau beth yn gweithio gydai gilydd - ddosbarthiadau bach a dysgu trwy gyfrwng y gymraeg!

Anonymous said...

It breaks your heart. Llandovery's Pantycelyn, rated the best school in Carms, has to go. Why? Our children are shipped miles away and are weary from travelling hours a day. Soon parents will have to pay for the priviledge of this idiotic decision. What a shambles! Our villages are no longer the close communities they once were. Our town slowly dies day by day. Its heart is being ripped out. One by one amenities close down. The housing market is stagnant. Ugly turbines are in the pipeline all around us ready to wreck our scenic heritage and put at risk the only reason tourists still loyally come to beleagured west Wales. Our current leaders should all hang their heads in shame as they preside over the destruction of our communities.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks Carmarthen council is there for the residents of Carmarthen, think again.Look at the figures for workers earning below the minimum wage,closure of a good school and children having to travel long distances.As far as education is concerned the only people who know best are teachers and parents.Officers have their own agenda and that is to save money.For what? Libel cases in the high court? Towy church? Senior officer's pay? the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

Here, here anon 09:43.