In an unexpected move, the G20 summit today proposed the introduction of a new currency based on academic qualifications.
The new currency, currently dubbed the "Merit Credit", would make school and academic qualifications into a high-interest regulated currency, commonly exchangeable for goods and services and tradable on the global currency exchanges. The move comes in response to the global currency crisis, and particularly the recent revelations from the IMF and the World Bank that the banks have now lost more money than exists on the planet.
"In a time of financial instability, we must move towards those commodities that people still trust and value," said a G20 spokeperson. "There's no getting away from it: we've broken our money. The only thing we can rely on in times like these is the knowledge in our own heads, and so our economic approach should reflect that."
The new proposals will establish academic qualifications as a high-interest currency which gives those who have them high-interest "Merit Credit" dividends which could be used alongside existing currencies such as Dollars, Whuffie, food-bartering, begging and pleading. Exact details of their equivalance are still unclear, but it's estimated that a university degree would equate to around £15000 per annum, with an average set of A-Levels and GCSEs netting the possessors a further £15-20K per annum on average.
With concerns about fiscal stability riding high, the currency will be regulated nationally, with an independent Educational Policy Committee to be established in the UK. Schools and academic institutions will effectively become banks, empowered to issue credits to their students on the basis of academic attainment. National qualifications would then be traded on the financial exchanges to establish fair market equivalence between grades.
Educationalists in the UK have already welcomed the move. A spokesman for the Department of Education, Child Safety, Creovation and Scary Unwelcome Change said: "This is the perfect incentive our money-obsessed, directionless children need to perform better in school. If they believe getting higher grades in their exams will enable them to buy more trainers and ringtones, I'm confident UK schools will quickly be back to their academic best."
A spokeswoman for the Commission for Meritocracy said: "We already live in a knowledge economy which rewards the educated and qualified at the expense of people further down the academic "stream". Now it's time to cut out the middle man." She later added: "I'm rich, I'm rich!"
However, the response has not been entirely positive. The controversial decision to permit schools and colleges to issue qualifications at a rate of 400% more than the value of their students has led to widespread fears of 'grade inflation'. And the Tabloid Press "It's Not Like It Was In My Day" Association have already issued a statement saying: "An A-Level today simply isn't equvalent to what it was 20, even five years' ago. It's only a matter of time before our 'gold standard' of academic excellence becomes completely devalued and we end up living in caves and forgetting how to make fire."
Meanwhile, activists protesting the G20 summit called for the most qualified people in the country to give back their doctorates and degrees as a gesture to the plight of the working man. However, rumours that Stephen Hawking has refused to give back his academic pension and gone into hiding in a "merit haven" in the South Pacific have not yet been confirmed.