So what's stopping us? High-calibre candidates are becoming an increasingly rare commodity for employers.DUNCAN MILLERKETTERING, NORTHAMPTONSHIRESir: I was horrified by the prejudiced tirade from the usually excellent Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (13 June). Sure, the children of those on a low income are routinely denied access to technology, books and perhaps even a healthy diet as a consequence of material wealth. But I was appalled by the rant against low-income parents: "a volatile bundle of ignorance, desperation and ineptitude", whose children are "victims of random cruelty".Whilst I agree that the new "Kelly hours" might well offer children from low-income families access to technology and books, to suggest that this extra school time is the only space in which they can spend time with "adults who can guide them through life and inspire them" is offensive. But rather than simply extend school hours, shouldn't the working world be making some compromises to accommodate the school day?Business attitudes, working practices and the supporting technology are evolving to introduce more flexible working. The demand for the education of the masses had been made for decades before 1870, but it was only when technological developments in factories made the presence of children disruptive to production (they were compared to "young ostriches running amok in manufactories") that universal schooling was seen as a solution to what to do with the kids when the parents were at work.It is ironic that this government, so keen to attack the forces of conservatism in education, should adopt the same approach as their Victorian predecessors.COLIN BURKEMANCHESTERSir: The proposed introduction of longer school hours, or "Kelly hours", has arisen out of the imbalance between the school and working day. Surely this could be worked around the school day where needs be?Flexible working offers a win-win for businesses.
07/11 Bag Rick Ross Tickets playing in Comcast Theatre, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. Rick Ross is playing in Hartford, Darien Center and Virginia Beach. Rick Ross tickets
06/11 Pick up Kid Rock Tickets staging in Borgata Events Center, 1. Kid Rock is staging in Atlantic City, Tampa and Baltimore. Kid Rock tickets
06/11 - 07/11 Get Zac Brown Band Tickets staging in Cheyenne Frontier Days, Three Sisters Park. Zac Brown Band is staging in Cheyenne, Chillicothe and Charlotte. Zac Brown Band tickets
Retailers advertised their HP terms along with the cash price of the goods.When I bought my first house in 1966 I had four or five HP agreements running, for domestic appliances and furniture, as well as my mortgage. A woman from social services who came round to check on my fitness to adopt a child was quite worried by the extent of my debts. I was able to convince her that they were all under control.If Mr Hari's grandparents spent years saving to buy their first television it was probably because they were canny enough to realise that this would be cheaper than buying on HP.JOHN SWANKEDINGTON SUFFOLK Schools as childcare for the workers Sir: You are right to be concerned that Ruth Kelly's "longer days" initiative should not be "another excuse for parents to spend less time with their children" (leader 13 June) but I fear it is worse than that.The introduction of mass education in 1870 had more to do with the "peremptory demands of the labour market" than the cause of education for all. In this he is being ably assisted by the Chinese.Even if the West can afford to ignore the massive human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, can they afford to ignore the Chinese involvement?PAULINE HENSONWORCESTER Hire purchase, the Sixties credit card Sir: Johann Hari could not be more wrong in saying that before the advent of credit cards "a whole class of people was cut off from buying consumer goods because of a lack of initial capital" (Opinion, 10 June).Throughout the Fifties and Sixties people were buying washing machines, televisions, furniture, central heating, to say nothing of cars, as if there were no tomorrow, and these things were mainly paid for by a hire purchase. The presence of Chinese fighter planes roaring in the skies above the destruction and burning of indigenous people's homes and livelihoods should surely be a cause for concern to the West And that is not the only consideration. Mugabe is being assisted by Chinese technology to further repress the media in Zimbabwe, jamming the only independent shortwave radio station broadcasting to Zimbabwe and blocking internet use.
Mugabe's "Look East" policy has resulted in thousands of cheap Chinese goods being dumped in the country. Chinese shops now dominate the streets of Harare and the other cities and towns. The result is the almost total destruction of the local manufacturing industry. Indeed many people believe that the present destruction of the once-thriving street markets is at the behest of Mugabe's Chinese friends.More sinister is the provision of Chinese aircraft and weapons used by the police and army against the people.