Degrees of difference: Roland asks is if a2 + b2 = something else outside of Australia. Photo: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 17 November

November 17, 2019 BY

We are a nation of smug smarty-pants! Misguidedly, we imagine that a tertiary qualification from another country could not possibly match that of the equivalent Australian achievement?

Incredulously, I read a story about an Iraqi doctor who, with twenty-years’ experience, and having satisfied the stringent Australian medical examination standards, is unable to obtain hospital work, or any other employment. Believe it or not, it is because she has no local experience! Well of course she hasn’t, you fools. Any half-wit vaguely cognisant of her circumstances would understand that. She fled Mosul when it fell to the Islamic State. In that instant she lost her home, her job, and everything related to her previous life. Incredulously, when regional Australia is crying-out for medicos, narrow-minded bureaucrats are obstructing the employment of someone who could help.  It makes one want to bang heads together in frustration. Sadly, this is not an isolated occurrence.

On one occasion, while travelling in a taxi from South Yarra to Channel 9, I engaged the driver in inquisitive conversation. It was obvious from his accent he was Persian (which was how he chose to identify himself). It transpired he was a senior maths teacher before he and his family managed to flee Iran, following the religious revolution and the fall of the Shah. Since Australia refused to recognise his university qualification he was unable to obtain teaching work. He laughed when I wondered, hypothetically, if the Australian square on the hypotenuse differed from the Persian square on the same side of a right-angled triangle? Seemingly, in Persia, one plus one is not two! It is too ridiculous that a graduate of a discipline based on accepted international mathematical formulae is not allowed to practice in Australia. I would have thought, given the nation’s appalling numeracy and literacy rates, we would be happy to accept all available help. God knows, we need it.

In the days when one used a laundromat, it took me some time to break the ice with the manager, a severe, Russian-born immigrant, in the Toorak Road establishment.  When she learned of my time spent in Moscow she began to thaw. I was flabbergasted to learn that the unhappy women folding other people’s washing, was, before she came to live in this promised land of milk and honey, a Moscow University aeronautical engineer graduate. Her husband, she informed, grimly, was an aeronautical engineer, also. Now he was reduced to unskilled labour in a factory. Having tried in vain, they had now set aside any hope of preferred employment.

Unjustifiably, we deem Australian qualifications superior to any of those earned from a university in a non-English speaking country. Wrong! Many a time I have been forced to check educational qualifications of Australian politicians when I have been irritated by their egregious grammatical solecisms. Most commit the cardinal sin of using ‘was’ when it should be ‘were’ (the subjunctive); and ‘have’ when it should be ‘has’ (singular subject takes a singular verb). In the case of the latter, the rule is simple: ‘one has, two have’.

We have become obsessed with graduate qualifications, at the same time casually diminishing the academic status of, and devaluing degrees from, traditional universities. Recently, a woman told me her son was attending university. When I enquired what he was reading, she replied, “He’s never been much-of-a-one for reading.” Alarm bells rang and I rephrased the question, querying what he was studying. Astonishingly, he is training to be a motor mechanic. In my brother’s day it involved an apprenticeship in the local garage with a couple of nights each week at a technical school. This charade is pretentiousness to the ridiculous, and makes an utter nonsense of those who have hard-earned degrees with a double major in English and Latin.

Wake-up Australia!

Roland can be heard every Monday morning – 10.30 – on radio 3BA and contacted via rolandroc@bigpond.com.