The present education system has undergone several significant changes from its inception. It includes a vast number of subjects related to various syllabi. But it seems that it is lacking in a major area, which I perceive to be social service.
“Man’s prime duty is to serve mankind” is a famous quote by Jawaharlal Nehru. Education is basically an interpretation of this quote. It lays the foundation for an individual to serve the community. But it seems that the present trend is diverging away from this definition towards personal wealth, honour and glory.
Let us look briefly at the present education curriculum in a nutshell. From the moment you enter school, you are pressured endlessly to study, study and study. Basically there is a ‘Triple gem’ of education: Grade 5 scholarship exam, O/L, A/L and from then on, it’s university, degree and diplomas. All of us dream about buying a Ford Mustang, living in a mansion and being a part of society’s highest echelon. This is the trend which I believe should change.
Let me tell you about the greatest philanthropists of all time. Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and J.Rockefeller: all of whom billionaires yet they devote an extremely generous part of their wealth towards community services. I think the reason is that they have enough money to realize that money is not life. This is the mental state and environment which we should inculcate in young minds. Basically, the whole summery of this essay is bringing back the true definition of the word ‘education’.
It is not sufficient to basically memorize pages and pages of facts and notes, or kick a ball around a field. The main purpose of sending us to school is to produce good citizens for the future society.
The current system produces infinite doctors, engineers, lawyers but the fact is that it does not produce human beings, that is why I believe that unpaid community service absolutely must be involved in our current school curriculum, because we must teach the youth of our country about humanity, like John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.
I believe this step would teach students to become more humble towards fellow citizens, and I believe that students should experience the mental satisfaction and happiness that one gets while helping others. I believe that this could relieve students of a small amount of mental stress, seeing the smile of those who are in need. A major fact about the present system is competition. All it ever says is that you have to beat the person next to you to succeed in order to get a good District rank, Island rank or Z score. Participating in competitions and winning medals and trophies has become a trend and ‘a far fetched dream’ of every child and parent.
We should remind them that every penny that students enjoy is from the common man paying taxes for them to get free education. Therefore, it is the duty of students to reciprocate and pay back that debt by serving the community. We do not want doctors who fly off to other counties for better pay or demand popular schools for their children because of a transfer, as highlighted in the recent news. We do not want highly educated lawyers who defend corrupt politicians and businessmen.
Education is a weapon, dear reader, but it depends on whether you use it for good or bad. It has an incredibly high potential for good, and this is the foundation of my argument: that reform and revision of the system should start at the very beginning. But there is one small fear of mine. It is whether students will take the whole mindset of community service with the correct intention. I fear that the competition to score high marks will ruin this proposal. Students might go help people just for the sake of it being in the syllabus and to get high marks, instead of embracing the concept of serving humanity. But I guess this idea will persuade some people to become motivated to engage in “true” community service and not merely as a premise for business advertising or to get more votes as our politicians do.
May be some will successful enough to make a substantial difference in our society comparable with the likes of Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale, Princess Diana and like Trinity College’s own famous N.P.Campbell, “a man with a golden heart”.
Trinity College being an institute which inculcates respect, compassion, self-discipline, fairness, honesty and integrity among its students is a classic example of where, one can truly become a gentleman who would value the depth of Community Service.
So back to our main topic: I have a vision that young kids, too young to be swept away in this madness for “A” passes, will learn to do social service which will be introduced as a compulsory subject from primary school.
Perhaps this will plant a seed in their mind at a small age which will later blossom into a gigantic tree of humanity and goodness. Our mission is to inculcate community service to pay back the debt we own to the taxpayers , to bring back the true definition of the word ‘education ‘ and to reverse the trend of being machines engrossed in endless work. So I believe the proposal to including unpaid community service as a part of the school curriculum is a highly debatable risky topic, yet worth implementing because of the potential benefits it may bring for the greater good of humanity, as Bob Dylan sang so many years ago.
“How many times can a man walk by,
And pretends he doesn’t hear people cry?
The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind”.
Article written by Sachith Keragala.