Thursday, March 11, 2010

Low standards of education

Low standards of education
By The Post
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 04:00 CAT

OUR children’s enjoyment of their right to education would be enhanced if there is an acknowledgement of the problems that beset our education system and if there’s a willingness to solve such problems. The problems should not be swept under the carpet.

The observations made by Dr Choolwe Beyani about our people lacking the skills to develop the nation because the education progression rate is too low and that the standards of education were low deserve serious reflection and meditation.

However, we wish to record how greatly we esteem and applaud every effort that has been made by the government to provide education at all levels.

The work of some churches in this field has also contributed greatly to the advancement of our people. Nevertheless, we feel it is necessary to draw attention to some of the problems which beset our educational institutions at present.

Poor or lack of education is one of the principal causes of poverty and lack of development. It cannot be said that we have succeeded in promoting the creative potential of our citizens while there remains a large-scale problem of poor or lack of education in our society.

It must be recognised that this is a problem which cannot be solved by those in government alone. All stakeholders have to participate in finding solutions to this problem. And we urge all our people to take a keen interest in this problem.

It is more and more widely recognised that the standards of education in our country are not only not rising, but are actually falling. Clearly, there can be little hope of creating an environment favourable to the emotional, intellectual development of pupils when schools are grossly overcrowded and suffer from a serious lack of teachers.

The final solutions to these problems will demand generous increases in the resources made available to education. This will have very practical implications for the way in which our national priorities are established and the budget distributed.

As we seek solutions to these problems, we shouldn’t also forget that a school is part of the larger society and therefore what happens in the society is reflected in the school.

Our children need teachers who are not only good instructors but above all virtuous persons, for no human person can give to others what one does not possess.

The influence of a good teacher is very great. A good teacher is always respected; a good teacher is, like a good doctor, the friend and guide of all. It should be the legitimate ambition of every teacher to earn this respect and confidence.

Education on an increased basis is necessary if our people are to increase their knowledge, to become enlightened citizens, and, in the modern world especially, to be equipped with those skills by means of which they may acquire a reasonable degree of material wealth and at the same time contribute to the good of the community.

The obligation and, consequently, the right to quality education of our children is inviolable. The right to quality education entails equal opportunities to education without discrimination.

Today we cannot say our rural children have the same opportunities as those in the urban areas. Today it is very difficult for a child from Shangombo, Sinazeze, Kaputa, Chadiza, Chavuma to make it to university.

Education is accepted as a prerequisite for modern social life. Thus there should be equal opportunity for all in this country to attain reasonable standards of education regardless of where they are located. Opportunity for higher education should not be on grounds of economic position.

Deep frustration begins with half-education. To make education opportunities readily available to those who live in certain areas of our country, while others are impeded from them in all sorts of ways, leads to serious inequalities in the nation.

The right to education entails the right to integral education, an education that develops all the dimensions of a human person – spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, social, cultural, political and economical.

A nation which values its future affords the highest priority to providing quality education for all its young people. As it is commonly put: “Young people are the future of the nation.” A sound education will aim at creating an environment favourable to the physical, emotional, intellectual, relational and spiritual development of pupils; developing in each student a respect for others and recognition of civic responsibilities; promoting the creative potential of students.

The unique and diverse talents of every individual are recognised and encouraged; providing the students with appropriate training and skills which will equip them to make a living in the actual circumstances of our country; seeking excellence, while aiming to provide education for everyone.

Education means developing the faculties of a person’s mind, heart and body in such a way that the person will gradually be prepared to take one’s place in human society as a useful citizen.

All stakeholders, that is the parents, the state and even to some extent the church, should all cooperate in concord to develop the spiritual and physical faculties of a human person, for education embraces the whole person. And all have indispensable parts to play in education, the nature of which depends upon their respective responsibilities and rights.

In any country, there is always a need for an ongoing upliftment of education. New and young generations need it, new situations require it, and new challenges force us to adopt new attitudes and approaches.

Education is an ongoing process in all fields, and no human being can rightly claim that he or she does not need more education.

Education is a major factor for social change. And it is important to recognise and accept the roles of our schools, colleges, universities as active agents of national integration and social justice in our country. We will not have development for all until we have integral education for all.

There should be awakening an awareness that the whole nation benefits from the services of our education centres, and that the whole nation should therefore join in providing the resources they need to carry out their task. These centres should permit capable aspirants to participate at every educational level, without regard to social class or wealth.

The present situation in Zambia calls for some radical changes. First and foremost, we must instil an attitude of service in our students and a genuine concern for marginal groups, for the poor. Our students must participate in the transformation of present-day society and in the work of bettering the human condition.

And we must not forget that the lack of equal educational opportunities lies at the base of the unjust social structures in our country.

True education has to draw out the potential good in each child, to shift from error to truth, from ignorance to knowledge. It must guide children towards the foundation of humanity. We must train our children in the right ways (Prov 22:6).

And in whatever we do to try and improve our education system, we should not forget that teachers have an indispensable role to play in our educational system.

Education is a right that must not be denied to our young people or we throw away their lives. But it must be an empowering education of the whole person. In our country today, too many of our youth don’t have the chance for a good education and this is a great injustice.

There is no future development without well-educated citizens. We must undertake the training of youths from all social backgrounds if we are to produce the kind of men and women so desperately needed by our age.

The education of our youth is a critical challenge facing our nation today and a lot of attention needs to be paid to it.

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