As the world shrinks with globalisation, and borders to free trade and movement of skills proliferate exponentially, in order to maintain an edge, or even be viably relevant within the workforce equation, we are forced to pursue the route of perpetual knowledge acquisition. Not to be misconstrued, knowledge acquisition is integral towards our economic and social advancement as a people, and it is the only vehicle through which the abyss of poverty can be surmounted.
However, we have reached a point in our secular learning where emphasis is placed solely on knowledge acquisition to gain a competitive edge at the expense of everything else. This one-sided affair is one of the reasons why there is so much turmoil in the world presently. In the final analysis, we emerge as educated, qualified people who are severely lacking in the moral quotient necessary for us to be wholesome individuals.
With little or no moral, social or spiritual upbringing, in some cases centred on the promulgation of human values, some of our children have become ruthless and shrewd adults whose only motivation is the advancement of self. They also go through life disadvantaged because they do not have the necessary support group mechanisms to guide and lift them when they fall. That is why we are seeing so many reported cases of suicide, so many reported cases of alcohol use in school, so many reported cases of drug abuse, bullying and intolerance towards others.
Researchers from the University of Michigan analysed data from an annual survey of high school seniors from 135 schools in 48 states in a study called Monitoring the Future (Wallace and Forman, 1998).
Their research findings show that “religious involvement has a large impact on the lifestyles of these students, especially in late adolescence: Students who say that religion is important in their lives, and attend religious services frequently, have lower rates of cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and marijuana use; higher rates of seat belt use, eating fruits, vegetables, and breakfast; and lower rates of carrying weapons, getting into fights, and driving while drinking. This is one of the few studies that have examined religiousness, spirituality, and health-related practices in adolescence.”
The contention is not that we must drag our children to the church, the mandir or the mosque, or any other religious centre for them to be instilled with virtuous knowledge. The point is that our education system has to start implementing in its curriculum religious teachings (from all faiths) that promote not just secular education but “educare”. Teachings that instil in the mouldable minds of our young ones human values such as love, truth, non-violence, peace, and right conduct.
There is an adage that says that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks”, and it rings true in that we cannot wait until children become adults to impart in them human values or ethics, probability of failure is imminent in such cases. However, if we start instilling human values in them at a tender age, children would grow up to be educated and balanced individuals exuding character.
This translates to more righteous people in the workforce, who are not just looking out for themselves but for the betterment of others also. In so doing, a lot of the societal ills, such as corporate scheming, embezzlement, and intolerance, would be minimised, if not mitigated.
For this to be realised though, more work has to be done not only on the part of the educators and policymakers, but also on the part of the parents. The parents have to play an integral role in consciously moulding their children by also imparting in them the necessary teachings in human values, thereby supplementing and reinforcing the values that the child would learn in the school system equipped with “educare”.