The role of education

By Bernard Kariuki. Bernard, 47, is a manager at Sharon Hills Academy, Nairobi, Kenya. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

The role of education should be to broaden students’ minds rather than just preparing a student for working life. It is worth noting that we have a great number of working people who have no relevant knowledge since they were employed on merit of their school certificates. I have seen many people who are working but face challenges, especially when putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom. In short, education is the acquisition of desirable skills and knowledge and it should bring permanent change in behaviour. It should be a lifelong process.

As I have mentioned earlier, education involves acquisition of life skills. The skills essential for livelihood are, for example, farming and fishing. The skills can also be used for self-protection and others to control the environment. Other skills are used for development e.g. the use of tools taught skills that strengthen communal life and social conduct. It is my prayer that teachers and caregivers should change their attitude and encourage their children to work hard for knowledge, not only for a smart certificate.

I feel privileged for this golden chance I have been given to express my views on this issue which has been my concern for many years. Many people have taken education with a wrong concept, where education has become merely for work life rather than broadening students’ minds. I am therefore advocating for all the stakeholders involved in the education sector to come up with a curriculum which is able to:

  • Encourage the learners to discover. i.e. be able to think critically
  • The learner should be actively involved in their learning
  • Promote retention of knowledge
  • Education should cater for individual differences
  • Encourage creativity to make learning be interesting

In today’s schools, many are working for marks, but not for knowledge and this had led to cheating in exams. Before the introduction of formal education, we had informal education where children learned from parents and friends through interaction. There were no certificates but this type of education broadened the minds of the children hence they were able to cope with life challenges.

This informal education also helped children to acquire life skills which promote unity, harmony and collective responsibility in the society. There are many people who have no formal qualifications but have done wonders through their creativity. I would like to state that I agree with the statement that education should expand student’s lives, not only for preparing students for working life. That is my wish and I would always advocate for the same.

The population is increasing and the chances of getting white-collar jobs is becoming slim, with graduates are moving from one office to another. Suppose these young people were taught the type of education that broadens their lives: they would be content with the type of jobs which are available. This would reduce the number of frustrated young people who get involved with drugs and other harmful substances, and others into criminal activities.

Apart from normal classroom teaching, teachers, career givers and all stakeholders should be willing to nurture the talents of young people, since each child has his or her talents which if well nurtured can be a source of livelihood. Finally, I would like to thank NUHA Foundation for bringing up an idea which is very much needed at this particular time. I know if all of us can join hands, we shall make the world a better place, where young people will come up with new ideas and inventions which will advance technology.

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