AS your timely series ("The State of Scotland's Colleges", The Herald, this week) makes clear, Scotland’s further education (FE) sector is in crisis. Lecturers, support staff and students have attempted to raise the alarm for so long they might be forgiven for thinking that those with the power to intervene have washed their hands of an essential public service.

As Humza Yousaf announced his resignation as First Minister, Edinburgh College lecturers and our supporters took their campaign for a just pay deal to Bute House. A parting gift of a fair settlement for FE would be welcome. Mr Yousaf might now wish to take advantage of the excellent retraining provided by our sector himself.

As things stand, four Scottish colleges teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. More redundancies and cuts to curriculum are planned for Edinburgh College. Nationwide, lecturers have not seen a pay rise in almost three years. Our employers preside over managed decline, while FE Minister FE Graeme Dey adopts the Pontius Pilot approach to his responsibilities. Our message to the communities we serve is therefore a simple one. Now is the time to contact our political representatives and alert our friends and families. The FE sector as we know it is in peril. With political will the Scottish Government could find the resources to settle a damaging pay dispute and provide the long-term funding our staff and students deserve.

Time is running out. Lecturers will continue to take the fight to Holyrood. We are confident and determined in our case. We will not allow an essential means of working-class education and opportunity to be sacrificed on austerity's altar. With solidarity from the communities we are proud to serve, FE can be saved for generations to come. Silence means the continuing erosion of this once-great sector. Let's raise our voices to save FE.

Mike Cowley, EIS-FELA Branch Convenor, Edinburgh College.

Blind spot over Highland rail

DAVID Spaven's letter (April 25) on the neglect of the Highland Main Line couldn't be more timely. The excellent report, Rail for All, which Mr Spaven co-authored, should have been taken up immediately by the Scottish Government as a template to use to fulfil its declared policy of modal shift to rail. Instead of that: silence.

Nothing is planned for the woefully neglected Highland Main Line and we are struggling, nearly 20 years on, to have one extra passing loop built on the Far North Line to avoid the massive delays which can occur on this single-track railway. All that's required is a short length of track, which even Transport Scotland agrees would help enormously.

The Scottish Government needs to aspire to a fit-for-purpose railway system in the Highlands, but for some reason this seems to be a complete blind spot for it. It might be considered tactless to suggest that a lack of potential votes is involved.

Ian Budd, Convener, The Friends of the Far North Line, Bishopbriggs.

READ MORE: Neglect of the Highland Main Line must be put right

READ MORE: We've better things to spend our money on than dualling the A9

Sustainable education

RICHARD Lucas (Letters, April 26) describes Scottish schools as "Green Party indoctrination camps". Although now retired from teaching (in Scottish schools) I refute that absolutely, based on the many years I spent with intelligent young people evaluating, discussing and in applying the United Nations' 17 goals for sustainable development.

They form a framework for an inclusive and equitable future in which every child has the right to grow up to fulfil their full potential regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, political opinions or place of birth; and equal access to education, play, health and social care, and protection from slavery.

A former UK prime minister had a habit of promoting policies with the tagline "There is no alternative". Well, there is, of course, an alternative to sustainable development, it's called unsustainable development.

You know, the one where we don't worry about the effects of increasing the burning of oil, coal and gas, raising the temperature of the planet, increasing sea levels and extreme weather events like floods and wildfires. The one where deadly atmospheric pollution in megacities doesn't matter, nor does the environmental impact of extracting lithium, rare earths and metals on the water supplies of millions of people. It's an alternative which legitimises and rewards the actions of water companies to pump raw sewage into rivers, lochs and seas and one which allows the rich to thrive and the poor to suffer.

Sustainability is designed to allow all of us, our children and our grandchildren to live in a clean, decent and caring world. Doesn't sound like an indoctrination camp to me.

AJ Clarence, Prestwick.

The cheek of this bank boss

I NOTE that NatWest chairman Rick Haythornthwaite had the effrontery to refer to "a sorry tale of government involvement in the institution" ("Bank chief hammers home case for share offer", The Herald, April 27). What he was referring to was the rescue of the bank from the catastrophe caused by its own incompetence and irresponsible gambling.

It is certain that the banks will have no hesitation in accepting government "involvement" the next time they blunder into disaster.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

The Herald: College lecturers at a rally outside the Scottish ParliamentCollege lecturers at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament (Image: PA)

Poor show for the mascots

I WATCHED BBC Scotland's coverage of the Rangers versus Celtic Women's Scottish Cup semi-final on Saturday (April 27) and was very disappointed in the way the teams coming out of the tunnel and on to the Hampden pitch was filmed. The cameras concentrated on the players' faces and we couldn't see any of the mascots, for whom the occasion might be the only time in their lives when they would take part in such an exciting event.

We didn't even see their faces when the teams lined up. I'm sure many of their parents were as equally disappointed.

Paul Young, Glasgow.

The Greens? Who are they?

MY husband came back from walking the dog the other morning after the news had just broken that the Bute House Agreement had come to an end. While he was a bit distracted with feeding the dog, I said to him that I had heard that the Greens had left. I should have phrased my statement more carefully because he said after a pause that he didn’t think he knew them.

I was able to explain more fully when I realised that my husband had thought that "the Geens" might have been neighbours down the street who had relocated recently and not a political party who had been relegated.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.