Ask youth what they need - their general answer is “a job to help the family”. Can the schools offer jobs to them?
Yes, if we consider learning and earning as a way forward to ensure quality education that will cater for everyone’s needs. We’re not too poor to embark on it, but schools will become simultaneous employers of the youth through creative education and skills development.
To provide learners an income will place the needs of the family and students as the focal points of the service schools provide. Such schools won’t suffer the discontent other conventional schools suffer.
The thousands paid in wages for children will be far less than the millions lost through crime and corruption. Absenteeism will disappear.
This school will only have one curriculum - “Creative Progress”, which has at its core discovering the interest and talent of each child and harnessing it to ensure that each family connected to the school is provided with food, clothing, shelter and recreation for advancement.
It sounds exciting, but where will the money come from? From the millions spent on crime, courts, bloated salaries of ministers and monitors who want to force standardisation at the expense of creativity and safety.
By opening our schools to welcome the interests and skills of the children, and simultaneously providing the immediate needs of the school community, the school would be achieving the core point of education - self-reliance of the institution and its people.
Children who learn and earn will give their all to provide their best to the people who value them. Presently we don’t value our children, but expect them to value us as adults. What are we doing for them to make them feel valued?
The school garden would be the main feature of the school, instead of barbed wire. Our schools have become unsafe “prisons”. We should make them educational homes. All we need is the removal of standardised curricula and the useless institution of theoretical assessments and exams.
Present education is individualistic and that breeds protectionism within political parties and crime gangs, because of a lack of self-esteem in adults who weren’t taught to see beyond the basal needs of the self.
Viktor Frankl, an inmate of a concentration camp, witnessed that people have something more than the physical self when he saw dying inmates helping others more in need, at the expense of themselves.
When that need to care for others is blunted in our educational arena, we cease being human and our “conventionally educated councillors” will then find fining the homeless justified through existing inhuman policies.
That calls for an attempt to create an open school that offers children the chance to learn and earn while providing the needs of the community.
More cash will flow, crime will reduce, the economy will grow and human suffering will be alleviated.
Youth unemployment will be become non-existent.
* Dr Mogamat Faadiel Arnold is the Director of the ICRA Comprehensive School home-based tutorship service and a local & international education consultant.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.