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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Reflecting on the value of a degree

People need the right environment in order to thrive

Emmy’s entry caught my attention because she talked about something I’ve faced myself – a lack of teachers combined with too many pupils in a class. It usually results in the following: Those who understand and are eager to learn do so, while those who have no intention to learn either sit quietly throughout the term or become obstacles to the teacher. Generally, these types of pupils just aim at getting a “satisfactory” mark. As one of my teachers used to say, it’s a mark that shows nothing – neither your skills in a particular sphere, nor your interests. But still, it’s over the level needed to pass an exam, so you are considered an educated person! There’s a danger when students graduate with most marks just at the satisfactory level. They are de jure qualified enough to work in the area they studied. But, de facto, they are almost incompetent. In reality, they seldom pursue a career in what they studied.
I remember talking to one of my teenage pupils who was surprised to find out that I was going to get a second college degree. He brought up an acquaintance who had two degrees but was working as a shop assistant. Cases like that are exceptions. But there is a real issue concerning the value of education and what it’s good for. I’d like to go into more detail on that.

There are university departments that impart the skills demanded in modern society – the IT sphere is a typical example. But the question of migration, which I touched on in my last entry, comes up here. High salaries are easier to get when working on big projects in big companies – in big cities, so many talented people leave their native cities as bigger places have many more opportunities.

There are also departments that offer majors that are well-known in Europe or America but still underestimated in my country. Medicine is one example. A good specialist in our region earns about $550 a month, but the skills they possess deserve more. That explains why some people I know who were offered a 2-3-year-contract abroad eventually agreed to do it. Many professionals have to find a part-time job to be a proper breadwinner.

There are professions that are vital for a country’s sustainable development but that seem to have been made into a fetish. For example, when I finished school, pursuing a major in economics or law was quite popular because it brought a person closer to finding a well-paid job. However, when I look around now, I have to wonder: Where are all of these qualified lawyers and economists? Have they all become shop assistants?

What I’m driving at is that human nature is a complicated system. Being “successful” is not equal to “having a lot of money.” The right preconditions also often need to be in place for success, like being in an environment that’s friendly and promotes happiness. A friendly atmosphere in schools involves building a community where discrimination against developing certain skills will not be tolerated.


June 19, 2012 | 5:47 pm