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Letter of the Day: Education levels the playing field for kids

Published:Tuesday | May 3, 2016 | 12:07 AM


I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in a little rural village of 300 persons doing a study on the development of the child for one year, in 1953, after I had graduated from Harvard. Children were part of nearly every household.

The first concern for infant children is love. This, and nutrition, are the centrepiece of infancy. Young children are lavished with love in the first two years. After that, they are judged on their actions by adults because, as it is said, "Them must learn because them getting sense now." Learning to be clean and careful take prominence in the early learning process. This gives caregivers space for their own interests.

The second phase of development, introducing violence to children, is reinforced in the interplay of children of four to eight as they begin to learn to cope with protecting themselves in competition for food, attention, space on the bed and in the yard. Violence is the art of getting your way. The personality begins to shape around violence for security.

The next major confrontation for growing children comes at age 10-11 years, when the child is now determined to 'have sense'. Those that are so determined get special support from parents to bolster them for schooling. This is how poor rural and working-class folk determine which children can be helpful to them in their old age, a constant worry to the poor. It plays a significant role in the mother deciding on the number of children she wants. Thankfully, the number of children for child-bearing females has been significantly reducing.

Life Changer

Without a doubt, education is the great life-changer. Statistics tell us that the ratio of educated to uneducated is 30%:70%. This is virtually consistent each year since the sweeping reforms of the secondary education system 50 years ago. This creates a society with 70 per cent dependent on 30 per cent of the population as the burden bearers. The burden is overwhelming. Hence, the poverty of the society is largely repeated from year to year.

Safety and security are derivatives of education. Hence, well-being is the outcome of the main factor which shapes the society - the lack education. After 50 years of repetition, is it not time to change to a systematic rebuilding of education from early childhood education upwards to the top of the ladder?

Change the 70:30 ratio of uneducated to educated and the development of the children most able to take of themselves and, in maturity, will become responsible instead of reckless, healthy instead weak, with sufficient well-being to readily contribute to their future.


Former Prime Minister