In my country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the entire month of May is designated as “Child’s month”. Throughout this month marches are held in the streets, radio and television programs are created to inform the public about activities, the general public is sensitized on issues facing children in general nationally, regionally and internationally, and…well….its exam season….quite fitting. The month is usually seen as a month geared towards celebrating, protecting and preserving the child ages zero (0) to twelve (12) or so (this is not an official governmental statement, it’s just my observation). However, I would go further in either utilizing this same month or creating a separate month that would also look at issues pertaining to young people; young people who are not necessarily defined as children but who have some years (or even a year) to go before adulthood. These group of humans, as well as the younger humans, are the ones we need to celebrate and protect and love and look after. Without them, the demographics would decrease. There won’t be any more medical practitioners (doctors, nurses, etc), no legal practitioners, no musicians, no craftsmen and women, no pastors, no ministers, no drivers, no tradesmen, no teachers….and of course…no more students. These individuals are “the Future of the Nation”.
I am currently writing this blog on Thursday, 19th May, 2016. Tomorrow (Friday, 20th May, 2016) will play host to the 2016 Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (C.P.E.A.) exams, officiated by the Caribbean Examination Council (C.X.C.) and the different Ministries of Education throughout the Caribbean Islands who recognize and utilize the services of C.X.C. The children, who hope to transition smoothly from primary school to secondary school (including the secondary school of their choice) will be tested in the areas of Mathematics, Language, Civics and Science. Currently, C.X.C. is also hosting its Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (C.S.E.C.) exams and its Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) at different secondary and tertiary learning institutions throughout the region. Therefore, you know what this means…..this is a time that children might seem a bit more serious and focused than they usually are. The child who once played outside a lot suddenly disappears into the realms of their room or their parents’/guardians’ living room, with books opened, soaking all the knowledge that they can receive so that the summer can be pleasant and they can travel to wherever they’re going in peace without mom or dad reminding them of how much time they wasted, how they could have done better, etc. Nevertheless, it is a time when they need support. Some students are also either finishing exams/studies in Universities throughout the globe, attaining the BA’s, BSc’s, MSc’s, MA’s, PhD’s, etc. To all of them, I wish all of God’s blessings in their assessments and endeavors.
Based on everything that was mentioned above, it seems that one societal measure in bringing out a sense of accomplishment and meaning in the lives of young people would be the pursuit of education. However, one must consider this and every other aspect when meeting the needs of young people and preparing them to be “The Future of the Nation”. Now, to be honest with you, every time I type “the Future of the Nation”, in my mind it sounds like I am saying it in a theatrical, movie-like way to bring about a certain emotional appeal. Also, I placed it in “quotation marks” because quite frankly it is overused, transforming itself into just another cliche. When this occurs, the true meaning of the saying is lost and its effectual purpose can be thwarted. The true meaning is lost simply when people fail to do their part, both the young people and those who should be helping the young people.
I am a huge advocate for education and educational development. Education in this context doesn’t mean the prescribed subjects taught in the curriculum; those are inclusive of course. Education here is general; lessons learnt throughout one’s life, the observations, the decisions, the new knowledge gained, the insight received. Before the school system, it comes in the form of good parenting. We learn values that would make living desirable, both for ourselves and others. We learn love, happiness, sorry, anger – the basic states of being and emotions. Later on, it continues in the form of social interactions beyond the home where we learn how to interact with others. We learn about our differences, how people may view things differently and how to react to such a difference. We learn how triumph, tragedy, hurt, and healing feel. Education is not just words on a book, education refers to the words absorbed from life itself.
“Education is not just words on a book, education refers to the words absorbed from life itself.”
As I was leaving work today I met a friend of mine. She was browsing through some pictures on the walls of her Alma Mater (the school at which I teach). She was very excited to see herself in the pictures displayed on the walls of the institution’s entrance, despite their faded nature. She then turned to me and said “you know, I won’t want to be young in this day and age; young people face too much”. I automatically knew exactly what she meant. This “too much” refers to the constant influences from social media and the mass media in general, the constant (and ever-present) beckoning from peers in the classroom (this could be either good or bad) and the constant inadequacy of young people to handle the various emotions and internal conflicts that they face daily….or rather, hourly. The question is “why is an influence so important to consider?”. We keep saying young people are “influenced”….why is that important? An influence and the occurrence of “being influenced” refers to an action that would affect the core of a person’s being, which automatically affects the character and actions of that individual. When a certain character and action is exhibited, the individual and their role in society is defined and shaped. From a collective point-of-view, this role in society would help solidify the existence of a particular group, the society itself, and/or even the entire nation. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Fidel Castro administration focused on building a society of skilled laborers. Emphasis was given in medicine, agriculture and defense. After many years the influence of skilled work in these areas then permeated from the borders of Cuba to the Caribbean region and then to the world. In the area of the military and defense, in 1975 Cuba was able to assist and intervene in Angola’s journey to independence, sending over 25,000 troupes to assist in their fight against US and South African-backed military interventions. In agriculture, Cuba become one of the world’s leading suppliers of tobacco and coffee. Perhaps most well known is its influence in medicine, with Cuba boasting one of the world’s most advanced medical sectors. Such a movement would have started years prior and it would have started by young people being influenced in a certain direction, which then led them to be influences.
As we do our exams, or as we look at our children, siblings, friends, relatives, etc, preparing for their exams, remember what the journey of education really entails. To parents and guardians, do your best to be influences of good in the lives of the young people, starting with your children. To the young people, be influences of good and be influenced by good. Know that you have a purpose and you are not just by chance. God designed you in such a way that when you live and act, your environment around you is affected. Let that effect be a good one, so that whenever anyone may gaze upon you, and ask you “who are you?” or “who do you think you are?”, you’ll be able to tell them, with evidence, “I am the Future of the Nation”.
Blessed love every time!