I get pissed off about a lot of things (as many of you know) but yesterday that went beyond the customary grumble and moan. Yesterday I found out that the BBC is axing BBC Jam; its online education service, pending a review. The closure of the £150 million learning project is due to complaints from commercial rivals that the BBC breached the launch conditions under which it was given consent by the government and the European Commission (i.e. that content would complement commercial material rather than replace it).
In other words, free resources are being ripped away from (at least) 170,000 users in order to make fat cats fatter.
I know there are a lot of things wrong with the world. I know that competition should be encouraged to ensure quality in products and I know that sometimes difficult decisions need to be made to strengthen economy but this really rattled my bones. I have a strong belief that access to education and learning materials should be free. Yes, this may cripple the education software industry but surely there is something morally wrong about taking resources away from children so that a bunch of bureaucrats can drive around in a Porsche instead of a Lexus?
Ok, ok, ok, I know it’s not as black and white as that. I know that BBC Jam may be a threat to those who earn a living in the education software industry but I still can’t get over it. Why should only those children whose parents can afford to pay for overpriced software benefit from digital learning? It is one thing to charge extortionate amounts for software but it is another thing entirely to try and quash the free alternatives.
It makes me really angry and I know there’s nothing I can do other than file it away in my “Life isn’t fair” box but… it’s just not fair.