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Friday, 29 July 2011

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Educate children for life

As we all know education is an investment for the future. Commercial investments bring interest and rewards for better living. That is the main reason why people invest their hard earned money in the banks and other financial institutions as lucrative business. In this money-spinning trade people sometimes become rich overnight. There are occasions when people lose their entire wealth and end up on to the road for having made foolish shortsighted decisions. In the recent past we learnt how people invested their hard earned money trusting certain scamps and how they lost their wealth in a jiffy.

Education and knowledge

Lost wealth or money can be earned again if they work hard. They should know money is not everything. If they are educated, qualified and prudent enough they can recover as economy footing in a short time. It is completely different from the investment in education. If the investment in formal education is a failure, the entire life of the person can be miserable.


Education system should not be exam-oriented only. File photo

One could argue that knowledge is power and treasure and that opens the doors for future prospects. If the knowledge one possesses does not help one to find a better job pertaining to the subjects one has mastered, what is the use of that education and knowledge? Finding a smart job and leading a happy life should be a person’s goal. For example, I studied certain subjects for Advanced Level and if I have pursued my higher studies in that stream, I would not have been as successful as I am today. Luckily, I possessed the knowledge of English and widened my horizons in English but by now the other subjects I learnt are not useful at all.

Some of my friends who followed certain degree courses and higher study courses in the subjects I dropped unhappy at work today because they are compelled to do a job in line with their qualifications. Their investment in education is a failure. As a result they are frustrated. When people are disheartened at work, we cannot expect efficiency. Since I learnt English for life and selected a suitable profession and this has been my salvation. My investment in education has brought me interest and rewards.

Huge Defect

Is our system of education designed to educate the learner for life? Subjects are taught at school and the teaching and learning process is mainly exam-oriented. Students are trained to pass the examinations. If they meet with failure at the O/L examination or A/L examination the subjects they learnt will not help them find a job. They will have to follow a professional course to be qualified for the job market. Even if they are qualified at the A/L examination and not qualified for the university, they should follow some professional courses for jobs. What is the use of the education they receive at school, if they are frustrated at work? Isn’t it a huge defect in our system of education? If this is the reality, we ought to admit that our system of education needs proper education and guidance.

When we think of our system of education, the learner the most important person is unjustly neglected. From the designing of the syllabus to the rest of the entire system of education, there are certain practical problems. For example computer education is introduced to schools but there are no computers in certain rural schools. Even if the computers are provided, there is no electricity in the village. On top of all, the scarcity of qualified teachers is a hitch. Similarly, English is introduced under different names but there is not sufficient number of qualified English teachers in schools especially in the rural areas. Sometimes the textbooks do not reach the schools neither at the end of previous year nor at the beginning of the new school year but may be at the end of the first term! When such practical problems exist in the system, how can education be successful and prepare youngsters for life?

Spoon feeding

From the inception parents and teachers do not let the children think. Parents and teachers think for the children instead. Our culture of spoon feeding and unnecessary pampering our children is a crime. Children are the losers whose personality development is hindered due to these unwanted interferences and they suffer in the future. Children need to be entrusted with responsibilities and be allowed to face challenges in life even at a tender age. Book knowledge alone is not sufficient to make a child a balanced person. He needs education for life. In this broad aspect he needs knowledge, vocational training, moral and spiritual guidance and personality development through extra and co-curricular activities.

What is education in Sri Lanka is a debatable topic today. On the part of the parents it could be sending their children to school and tuition classes and providing them with the necessary facilities. On the part of the teachers it could be teaching and making them to learn and pass the exams. Is that education?

To educate a person is to bring out the best in a person. Even the weakest child is capable of the greatest good even academically or otherwise. We do not know who our children will become in the future. Therefore, parents and teachers should work together with the children in this regard. Since education is a life long process, education cannot be limited to school education and subject knowledge alone. Exposure to life and new situations and experience help the children to be prepared to different eventualities. Parents at home can play a vital role in their children’s education. They can provide the children with opportunities to accept challenges and responsibilities in life. These objectives of education should be achieved.

Pocket money

Parents may take for granted that providing their children with the facilities would be enough in life. Some parents give their children pocket money lavishly in order to show their love for their children. Too much of a thing is good for nothing. Do children need money if their meals are made at home and they travel by school service or they have a bus or train season-tickets? If the children are given money excessively will they understand the value of money? Money is a good servant but a bad master. Children are not matured enough to understand this philosophy but the parents know it full well. Then why do the parents let their children keep bad company with that bad master and destroy their life?

If they handle money freely in their adolescence, will they learn the difficulties of earning their living? Children should be made aware that money does not grow on trees. Hardness of life and hardness of ‘honest sweat’ should be topics for family discussions. When the parents talk of their difficulties in earning and providing the family with the basic facilities, the children will undoubtedly feel sympathy towards their parents.

What is more important: to provide pocket money or give them values for life? If the children are morally and spiritually strengthened at home and at school, they will neither waste nor be corrupt. Children should be taught when young that waste is a crime. Moral education and moral values should be embedded in our system of education. Unless a person is morally strong, his book knowledge will not make him humane. They are the children who commit suicide even for a trivial matter like exam results. If they take their own lives after 13 years of school education, what good has our system of education done to them? Children should be trained to understand life and to understand the pulse of his neighbour through moral and spiritual education.

Value culture

We Sri Lankans have a beautiful rich culture. Our cultural values make us Sri Lankans. Culture makes us who we are. Education should help understand the richness of our unique multi-ethnic and multi-religious culture. Deviating from cultural values and embracing any other nonsensical trend as culture is utter foolishness. Those empty headed upstarts make every possible effort cut their figure with hairstyle and ugly costume fashions. What the majority do not entertain is considered to be fashions for such headless youngsters whom we see on the roadsides and especially on TV commercials.

Those who are intelligent, who think more of their head than of their hair style know even if they lose their hair, their educational and professional qualifications will help them be strong in life. They have nothing to worry. If those soap opera dolls lose their hair because of their age or the chemicals they have used to show off, what will be their future?

It is high time to teach our children our unique cultural values at home and at school. It is useless criticizing the media especially the electronic media that should be held responsible for this cultural decadence but we can light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. Otherwise, we will have to repent for being too late. We should take immediate steps to inculcate cultural values in our children as part of education. We should condemn the above said ‘clown culture’ that is embraced and imitated by our innocent children.

When foreigners greet us ‘Ayubowan’ our children and youngsters would respond ‘Hai’, thinking that this is trendy. Unless we are watchful and educate children by means of eradicating the menace of ‘Hi-Bye’ culture, they will become aliens in their own land.

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