Columns

Education of 'slaves'

Michael Burke

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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Schools are set to reopen on Monday. Already the orientation in some schools has been taking place this week. Is it basically the beginning of another academic year of training future workers for the workforce of mainly private entities?

Is this what education is really about? Are the university degrees and passes in high school examinations to form disciplined personalities or simply to train slaves for the workplace?

Who determines what the jobs are in the national marketplace? Isn't it a relatively few business people? Why do they not want the rest of the society to be rounded individuals capable of controlling their own destinies?

Some employers treat empowering people through co-operatives and worker share ownership with disdain. They prefer to provide their workers with access to certain comforts that the workers spend the rest of their lives paying for.

And those comforts will be paid for out of their salaries, rather than out of their own businesses. In this way the employers have eternal control over their workers, who spend the rest of their lives making profits for the employers.

What are slaves trained for? They are trained in whatever skill their owners deem fit so that the owner can make a profit. Isn't this just a refined form of slavery, as granulated sugar is refined sugar? Are we nothing but 'granulated' slaves?

And part of the scam seems to be to let people think that they have achieved a good education, when in fact they have received it in a substandard way. Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid announced last week that, in terms of mathematics examinations, Jamaica is doing better than it did before. Is the marking standard the same as before, or is it easier these days?

If not, is the change really for political reasons to fool the general public that students are getting a real education? Aren't the graduation ceremonies part of the racket, especially when illiterates are being 'graduated'?

Why are calculators allowed in the examination rooms? Is it so that calculators can be sold? Is it to expand the number of mathematics passes for political reasons? Haven't both political parties done this? Where is this putting us? I understand that one can actually pass elementary mathematics as a subject in an external examination. If this is so, who are we fooling?

Unless someone is an engineer or a mathematician, why does the rest of the population need more than elementary mathematics, especially if we offer logic as a course? There are too many people today with university degrees who cannot argue logically, yet they passed mathematics. But we should 'call a spade a spade' and not fool young people that they are proficient in a subject when they really are not.

The question that has remained unanswered is why the examination results always go to the Ministry of Education first before they go to the candidates. A letter writer to the media asked this question this week, and so far it has been ignored. Are examination boards being pressured to increase the number of passes for political reasons?

It is not just in classroom and book education that the matter of training slaves should be addressed. It also happens in the workplace itself and in the field of sport. Are we also undertraining people, especially youngsters, by distracting them with the latest in technology? Is this being done by the First World to control the Third World?

In his column 'Who is laughing all the way to the bank now that the World Championships are over?', published on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, Dr Henley Morgan wrote, “It is as if we are competing under the weight of a national inferiority complex, which is lifted only when our standing is near the top of the medal table. Not so for the big, rich and powerful nations. They too want to win medals, but win or lose they are the ones laughing all the way to the bank. The reason is simple. They are active participants in the multi-billion US-dollar global sports industry. We are not.”

Last year when Usain Bolt announced to the world that he would be doing one more set of championships, in many conversations I had with people I asked if someone could tell him not to do it. It would have been better to retire with his record of being unbeaten intact, as Justin Gatlin was inching closer to Bolt in every race. I did not write this as I knew it would not be heeded anyway. It turned out even worse than I thought with his unfortunate injury in the end.

But who now laughs “all the way to the bank”, win or lose, as Henley Morgan wrote, which was precisely my point in those discussions. The leaders in the sports industry simply used Bolt to make more millions and, yes, they paid him handsomely, which he deserves, but with themselves making far more money.

Have we mesmerised our athletes by cheering them on to the point that they do not know when they are being used? Have we 'mis-adjusted' them by not pointing out the evils of this world to the point that they can be taken in by them? Before Henley Morgan wrote last week I wondered if I was the only Jamaican who understood what was happening.

When are we going to wake up from our national stupor? When are we going to learn to work and live together so that together we can control our own destinies in cooperatives or in share ownership of companies? When are we really going to be emancipated? Isn't education in a politically independent country supposed to be about mental emancipation so that we can become mentally independent?

We who were born after the 1930s have the blueprint to do this, as Norman Manley and his friends sat down and basically mapped a course for Jamaica which has been followed only in part over the years. The time has come to return to this blueprint.

Again, I ask, what is education really about? Is it supposed to form characters complete with information, or is it only to equip people for the workforce controlled by the few?

ekrubm765@yahoo.com

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