Sheea Hewan-Brown, Contributor
We would have the perfect country if everybody did what he or she was born to do. We would have enough professionals of all sorts, tradesmen, artists, salesmen, secretaries, designers, technicians, performers, janitors, caretakers, the entire gamut of workers.
What is more, they would be excellent in their fields because they would enjoy what they were doing, because that is what they were born to do. They would bring to their assignment all the passion, insight, initiative and creativity that can only come from doing what you love. There would be a place for everyone in the job market, and employers would never have to worry about shirkers or jerkers.
Regrettably, this will never be the case. At best we can have a labour force that is equipped to do a good job, whatever it is, whether they like it or not. At worst, we can have a labour force that requires more money to keep it productive and happy whether it meets the standard or not. I believe every company has workers at either end of this spectrum. Regrettable also, is the fact that as a society we have come to accept this scenario as normal as it does not appear to affect the bottom line; but it does. It must. Talent rightly deployed has to make a difference; so also employees who bring ability and character to a job.
This is where educating for national development comes in. In theory we speak about educating the 'whole man,' in reality we have a high percentage of our students leaving high school who cannot write a simple report in English, cannot express themselves intelligibly, lack critical thinking skills, are satisfied with mediocrity, and who dare to apply for a job because they need money to survive. The problem and solution rests with our schools, and it started the day we thought overcrowding our classrooms was an option.
The responsible factors
There are many good books available to teach our children, many good programmes implemented. Why have they not delivered us from this present plight? I believe that there are three main factors responsible for this crisis in education.
Focus on early childhood education has not sought to ensure that all children attending school can read at an early age. It is the teacher's responsibility to see that his/her class is ready for the next level of its academic development and if this continues throughout the system, students will not leave school dysfunctional. If a student does not learn the way we teach, we should teach the way they learn.
While the GSAT curriculum, which really begins at Grade one, covers a wide range of social experiences that are relevant, the missing ingredient at the elementary level is the calculated teaching of character values that is both life changing and lasting. At this impressionable age they need to embrace diligence, orderliness, dependability, and the long list of character values that exist.
Invariably, standards that are upheld in elementary schools are allowed to drop in high school and it ultimately affects the quality of their work.
Education is a cycle where everything impacts it either negatively or positively. We would be much farther ahead as a nation if our people were empowered to get us there. Wouldn't it be refreshing to have the average vendor on the street hold an informed conversation with you and walk away realising that they are there because they like the outdoors and like serving people? Or, wouldn't it be great to employ staff that didn't need so much training to measure up to a high standard? It's time to have a real plan for national development.
Sheea Hewan- Brown is principal of Grace Christian Academy.