During the existence of the Cold War the push was for excellence, both in the East and the West.
The Space Race was inspired by the rivalry; America had to keep up, and then surpass the Soviet Union. This was the impetus for exploration, innovation.
To insure the best and the brightest both sides had high pressure schools where children were pushed as far as they could go. Scholarships had to be granted, for a financial situation could not be allowed to deny society a valuable intellect.
When the Cold War ended, when the need for the best and brightest waned, schools were dumbed down, even ‘News’ stations cease to be truly informative.
The BBC World Service which had once been a virtual tutorial on world events declined to extent that News was shoved to 6 minutes every hour, 2 minutes every half hour. The remaining 24 minutes was filled with silly and meaningless stories about nothing and no one in particular, for average people didn’t need to know.