“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” – Victor Hugo
Education. It is the backbone of civilization. It is what has helped humanity to successfully transition from the stone age to the present industrial and technological age. It is what can take a young boy from simply playing the board game ‘Operation’ with his friends to the reality of performing an actual medical operation as a surgeon or transform a little girl from merely being a member of a debate society to becoming a respected political figure as an adult.
However, this transformation does not happen automatically but occurs as a result of years of learning and studying that takes place in school. For a school is a designated environment that is created specifically for the training and development of skills and knowledge necessary for everyday life. It is a generally accepted fact that knowledge is power. Ergo, going to school empowers a person with the tools required to not only advance within the society but also promote the advancement of the society as well.
It should be noted that it is not only a formal setting with a curriculum that is referred to as a school. A school can also be in the form of a less conventional institution where individuals learn a trade such as carpentry, hairstyling, dressmaking etcetera; these skills also provide significant advantages to the general public. Taking all of this into account, the intention of this article is to expound on the idea proposed by Victor Hugo that “He who opens a school door, closes a prison” .
Before moving forward with my thoughts in agreement with Hugo’s statement, I would briefly like to address a relevant argument in opposition to Victor Hugo’s view. This argument stems from the undisputed fact that even well-educated people who have started and completed their education right from nursery school all the way to university are still convicted of crimes which land them in prison rendering his idea inaccurate. However, Hugo’s quote does not give the guarantee that people who go to school will not end up in prison. Rather, his thought process seems to point to the prevalent fact that the illiterate members of the society are more susceptible to being drawn into criminal activities by virtue of their lack of education which severely limits their opportunities as opposed to those who have had the privilege of a good education. Why this is so is the question that I hope to answer with the following reasons.
First comes the issue of lack of exposure to options. For you see, when a person attends school, he is exposed to a realm of possibilities as to what he or she can become or do with their lives other than turning to crime. Take for example the young man that reads textbooks from school about famous men who have achieved success in their various fields from Albert Einstein in science to Steven Spielberg in the movie industry or the young lady who is inspired when she is taught about the outstanding success of females such as the author Agatha Christie or Oprah Winfrey in media. The awareness that they too have options as to the vast array of career choices available to them in the future if they go to school and learn what is needed can be a strong deterrent from engaging in illegal behaviour that could hinder their path to becoming law-abiding and productive members of the community.
Attending school also provides a way of directing a person’s attention and focus to positive outlets for their mind and energy. It has often been said that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and this familiar saying proves truer than most for the poorly educated in the community. This is because, when their vast amount of free time is not occupied by useful tasks, they may end up being swayed to participating in nefarious acts as they have nothing better to do and in some instances, they require a way to meet their daily needs. Going to school however, offers a constructive setting where they can spend their time feeding their minds with valuable information and skills which they can in turn use to get gainful employment thereby rendering them a legal way of getting an income to fend for themselves and their families.
Furthermore, being literate which is a major result of having gone to school, can prevent a person from unwittingly breaking the law which could cause them to end up in prison. A literate person is of course one who knows how to read and write and this knowledge which most people take for granted enables a person’s understanding of written information or laws that may be displayed as signs in different places around the community for example ‘NO TRESPASSING’ or other common street signs. This ability also allows a person to read and comprehend the contents of a contract or written document before signing their name to it in order to avoid being duped into illegal activities or conversely breaking the terms of a written agreement
In conclusion, I strongly believe that being well-educated could be a possible panacea for the bane of criminal actions that may be rampant within a nation ultimately leading to prison sentences. People in prison do not have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to their community in stark contrast to their contemporaries who are not incarcerated and if going to school quells the chances of imprisonment then surely Hugo’s notion should be one that is upheld and strongly promoted by every community for the betterment of humanity.