| Education is said to be the opener of many doors, and the key to a brighter, more hopeful future. It's the one institution that probably has the most influence in our lives because education isn't simply what you get in the schools, but its also the kind that you get at home from your parents, and later in life, the experiences you go through which will educate you on things of a different matter-those of the heart and spirit. Without it, it is very safe to assume that we would be in a constant state of non-progression: stagnant, so to speak. But what happens when this thing that we so rely on to shape our nations, communities and children becomes bad for them?
Now, I'm by no means condemning education. Instead I'm condemning the lowering of its standards. In this day and age, it seems that governments are willing to sacrifice a good, mind challenging education in order to make sure that the school's pupils are getting 'better marks'. This is especially prominent in underprivileged schools that find themselves amidst great poverty, crime and general suffering. With children growing up in environments like this and going to under-funded schools, the failing rate seems to rise sharply and as a result more 'difficult' subject matter in the syllabus will be cut out.
South Africa is a prime example where, since the apartheid era, schools in poor areas have seen a dramatic lowering of the education standards in hope that the grades will be better and cater to the general image of South African education. A good example is Wits University. It was once an internationally recognized and prestigious university. However, when apartheid ended and everybody was allowed equal access to education facilities, the University was asked to lower its standards in order to accommodate those who went to schools of a lower standard.
As a result, a lot of the departments have become corrupted and are now no longer internationally recognized (except for the engineering and medical facilities which to this day remain to be some of the best in the world because they refused to lower their standards). In reality, it’s tough when you want to hit the international markets and you find that companies won't accept you because of the lack of credibility caused by the type of education you received. It's a competitive world we live on, and by doing that 'favour', people would suffer in the long run for it when trying to compete with others.
Another thing that often occurs to me: What message is being sent out to children living in economically deprived areas if the standards are lowered? Sure the grades might get better, but they're going to suffer when they find that the real world isn't as easy. It's a negative message, one that's basically telling kids that they're not smart enough or somehow unworthy of a good education.
I know it's more appealing to see on paper how everybody has passed with A's, but instead of trying to focus on image, wouldn't it be better to instead fight to fund these schools. Here in South Africa, there is a huge gap between high schools in rural areas and schools in the city. Most schools in rural areas are lucky if they even have desks, teachers and books to accommodate the huge surplus of students (who eventually drop out because of drug abuse, lack of money and crime).
So in other words, people have equal access to education, but some are more equal than others, especially when it comes to the quality of education. It would make much more sense for the real roots of these problems to be attacked and acted upon. This includes things like taking steps to provide easier access to educational facilities, proper funding and a better teaching environment for these children-and also an equal level of education and teachers who are able to motivate their students despite the hardships that are happening all around them.
If we pressure governments on these kinds of issues, especially governments in developing countries, then the future will indeed seem much brighter. Furthermore, those who graduate high school and ascend the educational ladder find, would very much to their relief, that they WERE indeed enough prepared by a mentally challenging education-one that they would have been able to access along with their peers on equal terms, allowing all to compete on the same ground and eventually break the vicious cycle of poverty and crime.
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