Irish lawmakers have gotten their knickers in a twist over local officials attending a $11,450 course at Harvard University this summer, according to the Irish Independent.
The three-week course, entitled “Senior Executives in State and Local Government,” offers participants lessons in public policy and administration at the Ivy League school’s Kennedy School of Government, the newspaper reported.
Richard Boyd Barrett, a member of Ireland’s lower house of Parliament, was rather cheesed off (that’s an Irish way of saying ‘peeved’) by the whole thing.
“I find it difficult to understand why local authority officials need to go to Harvard to learn how to run local government in Ireland. They would be better served listening to the people here,” he told the Irish Independent.
Irish Environment Minister Phil Hogan admitted the country has sent 28 local officials to take the course since 2008, costing taxpayers more than $313,000. This year, they’re sending seven people, racking up over $80,000 in tuition fees.
An Irish nun votes in the 2011 general election. Now that Harvard has taught them how to govern, will local officials be able to keep their seats? (Reuters)
Boyd Barrett’s ire likely stems from Ireland’s perilous economic situation. Once known as the Emerald Tiger because of its booming economy, the country is now in the fourth year of an economic crisis – the latest unemployment figure is hovering at 14.9%, the highest it’s been in almost two decades.
A Harvard spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the status of students in the program.
But a promotional video released by the Harvard Kennedy School stresses that the key value of the course is not merely its instruction. “You learn leadership training, but it’s that dramatic network that you’re plugged into that’s invaluable.”
Here’s the Harvard video: