Education is one of the fundamental human rights and it plays a pivotal role in one’s life. It is the mirror in which life is seen in its perfect sense. Most of societal evils stem from lack of or failure to educate people. It is perturbing and boggling how many reports of violent incidents are broadcast every day. Who is to blame for all the criminal activities happening around the world? Should we say, as one makes his bed, so must he lie on it, or should the community and government take responsibility for what society has become? There is a South African saying that a person is a person through other people. I believe that we all have a part to play in other people’s lives and as such, the family, community and government should endeavour to make sure that children acquire the necessary education they need so that they don’t end up packed in prisons. So how does education impact on crime rate? This article will elaborate the validity of the platitude, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison door.”
School doesn’t only refer to formal education. It involves efforts from the parents, the religious and social community. Hosea Ballou once said, “Education commences at the mother’s knee and every word spoken within the hearing of a child tends towards the formation of character.” Parents have the obligation to set an example and be role models that influence children to do good. Research shows that children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to be perpetrators of violence and crime when they grow up. This produces a chain of violent generations and increased crime rates, thereby increasing the number of people in prisons.
Education promotes critical thinking. The cognitive capacity of someone who had gone to school is by far better than that of someone who never attended school. Critical minds not only think outside the box, but can think without the box. When people are educated, they are empowered to take the initiative and work together towards a safe and better community. This is because school shapes people’s minds for the good. When one is not educated, they become selfish and unscrupulous and they won’t care about the consequences of their actions on other people in the community.
Due to unemployment, most people tend to turn to crime in order to put bread on the table. About 28% of the people in South Africa are unemployed. Lately, cash in transit heists have become the “in thing” in the country. Most people steal because they cannot get a job and in order to get a job, one has to have education. In most cases, children who drop out of school just end up being involved in robberies and gangsterism.
School provides a platform for children to learn how to tackle their problems without the use of violence. Anger management is taught in a way that children learn to channel their anger towards things that are beneficial to them.
Moreover, it also provides a platform in which children get to interact with different people with different mentalities and appreciate them. This shapes children’s characters in that they imitate good behaviour displayed by other children. It is funny how children like to compete for almost everything, from being the teacher’s favourite, the top student to the most presentable one. This is what school does – whatever good trait one has, every child wants it, so that they can compete and become the best. Frankly speaking, nobody wants to be that bully or the dirty one who always picks his nose that everyone despises. Whether you like it or not, you strive to be the better person when you associate with different people and that is most likely to happen at school.
Of paramount importance is to note that where there is school, there is hope. School teaches patience and when children, (no matter how poor they are) go to school, they endure the poverty, knowing that when they finish school, their lives will be changed. I grew up in Zimbabwe and by the time I started going to school, the economy was already a mere shadow of its former self and the standard of living was already low. However, no matter how steep life was, most of us remained and will always remain steadfast in the pursuit for education, clinging to the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now if I invested my 13 years of primary and secondary education and another four years of tertiary education, which I am still pursuing, I wouldn’t turn to crime now and watch my efforts and the time I spent go down the drain. Anyone who invests in something would move heaven and earth to see their investments and hopes come to fruition.
Most people discover their talents or have their talents discovered while they are in school. Even when one fails in school, and cannot find employment, they can explore their talent and ability and make money out of it, thereby staying away from crime. There are lots of sports personalities who were never top students but are making a living out of sport. Pursuing talents and making hobbies out of them also help distract children from crime and violence.
While the adage may refer to the importance of education in eradicating crime, it carries a heavy connotation and perhaps the greatest interpretation of it. The prison door may refer to the door of ignorance. A person needs necessary knowledge and wisdom to go through life. Ignorance is the worst curse of them all. He who opens his mind for knowledge can live a satisfying life as compared to the one who knows nothing. You cannot feel free to interact with and share ideas with others if you know nothing, hence you stay in your own prison of the mind.
More so, people who are ignorant usually think that they know it all and you cannot convince them otherwise. They often reject advise on matters that are significant to their lives, hence they remain in their own prison.
Without education, one misses out on a lot in life. They cannot enjoy what fun life has to offer.