Instilling in youths the value of education

Guyana Chronicle
July 17, 2000

THE CURRENT information age with its emphasis on technological marvels and gismo wizardry must surely present the greatest challenges to parents and teachers of youths who have a marked aversion to academic learning. Many teenagers would prefer to surf the websites that provide the latest in rock and heavy metal than to compose essays to show their understanding and grasp of language. The younger children might be more inclined to participate in combative video games than to read and then answer questions on a literary classic. At another level of society, youths may very well observe how financially comfortable some folks are despite their obvious lack of formal education. And the fact that some semi-literates appear to make far more money than the ordinary public servant or private sector worker would not be lost on the teenager who is resenting the burden of the learning process.

Parents and educators have to find ingenious ways of instilling in this generation of children the importance of learning and its goals which are qualifications such as certificates, diplomas and degrees. They must also be told of the wider benefits of education which include a greater understanding and appreciation of people and social movements, the capacity to make positive and intelligent choices, and the ability to be a useful and contributing member of society.

Young children learn to relate to others outside their family through nursery school, a phase of schooling said to be the most enjoyable for any individual. The tiny tots spend time discovering who they are as much as they are learning about others. They are also taught the concepts of shape, weight, size and texture, a base of knowledge that would help them considerably when they move to primary school. By the time children are ready for secondary school, they would have mastered the basics of composition, reading, arithmetic, social studies and geography. After four or five years of high school, youths are ready for tertiary education, or, if that is not an option, then they would enter the world of work and launch their careers.

It stands to reason that an individual with a basic primary education is better equipped to function in his environment than someone who is barely literate or totally illiterate. A literate person can read and interpret all the symbols of his material culture, and he can also articulate his thoughts and feelings with clarity. He will have no difficulty understanding either the written or spoken word and his social relations will be enhanced by his communication skills. Such a person would make sound decisions about his own life and would seek to give his children the best chances of obtaining even a better education than his own.

On the other hand, the person who lacks reading and writing skills is handicapped socially and is forced to depend on others to write letters, fill out simple forms, or to read and interpret for him the label on a bottle. In extreme cirmcumstances, the illiterate may endanger his own life as well as the lives of others. Technological marvels or not, our youths must be encouraged to embrace all opportunities for gaining skills and knowledge before it is too late.

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