By Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor
Education has a great social importance especially in the modern, complex industrialized societies. Philosophers of all periods, beginning with ancient stages, devoted to it a great deal of attention. Education trains in skills that are required by the economy; it is a crucial investment in the economy and major economic resources.
University Graduates in Liberia
Let me now examine some of the significant functions of education, for the benefit of my readers (The Role of Education in Society Sociology Essay Published: 23rd March 2015). I will only outline five significant attributes.
- To complete the socialization process.
The main social objective of education is to complete the socialization process. The family gets the child, but the modern family tends to leave much undone in the socialization process. The school and other institutions have come into being in place of family to complete the socialization process.
(2) To transmit the central heritage:
All societies maintain themselves, by exploitation of a culture. Culture here refers to a set of beliefs and skills, art, literature, philosophy, religion, music, etc. that are not carried through the mechanism of heredity. They must be learned. This social heritage (African culture) must be transmitted through social organizations. Education has this function of cultural transmission in all societies.
(3) For the formation of social personality
Education, everywhere has the function of the formation of social personalities. Education helps in transmitting culture through proper molding of social personalities. In this way, it contributes to the integration, to survive and to reproduce them.
(4) Reformation of Attitudes:
Education aims at the reformation of attitudes wrongly developed by children. It is the function of education to see that unfounded beliefs, illogical prejudices and unreasoned loyalties are removed from the child’s mind.
(5) Education for occupational placement:
An instrument of livelihood. Education is practical and should help the adolescent for earning his livelihood. It should enable the student to take out his livelihood. Education must prepare the student for future occupational positions; the youth should be enabled to play a productive role in society. Accordingly, great emphasis has been placed on vocational training. This is where the vocational, technological and agricultural skills are instilled, helping the Liberian child to earn his livelihood.
According to UNICEF and other international organizations, West and Central Africa (WCA) is the region of the world with the largest percentage of young people (32%, UNFPA, 2016) and the highest gender disparity in education. Interestingly, Upper secondary school completion rates are 35% for boys and 25% for girls (UNICEF, 2016). Several factors are responsible for the persistent gender disparities in education. Among them are early and unintended pregnancy, which is often linked to child marriage, poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) including HIV infection, and school-related gender-based violence (GBV) have a marked impact on the education and prospects of young people (UNESCO, 2016).
UNICEF estimated that three out of five unemployed in sub-Saharan Africa are young people, mostly surviving in the informal economy. In Mali, technical and vocational education and training is being offered to youth in conflict-affected regions of Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal. UNESCO Dakar has also been instrumental in developing a common format for TVET curricula and learning materials for West African countries.
I will briefly review the Technical and Vocational Education /Training within one of Africa’s successful countries in this endeavor. Rwanda, at the end of her civil war years, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) was an important component within the Rwandese policy to end poverty; effective school management is high on the agenda of the Rwandan government.
The objectives of any vocational-technical education program usually, according to Dr. El Mohamed Sheriff, contain reflections linked to one or more of the following attributes:
- To provide opportunities for persons who are technologically unemployed to prepare for vacant positions in other occupations.
- To reduce the rate of unemployment or underemployment caused by insufficient education and training.
- To provide sufficient opportunity for the practice and the establishment of ethical habits and values of alert diligence in all citizens (those who desire it).
- To provide sufficient opportunities for all persons who have an interest and would profit from such instruction.
- To provide basic elements for additional specialized vocational or professional education.
- To provide personal group relationships and to make persons more responsive to appeals by civic authorities for personal responsibility, etc.
In Rwanda, ‘vocational training is a system which aims at providing recipients with the necessary knowledge and skills to exercise a profession to be integrated in the labor market. Vocational training includes initial Vocational Training and continuing Vocational Training.’ And Technical Education, is a ‘structured system aimed at providing recipients with the necessary knowledge and skills to continue their studies at tertiary education level or to exercise a profession to be integrated into the labor market Technical Education, on the other hand puts more emphasis on theoretical education’ (http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/planipolis/files/ressources/rwanda_technical_vocational_education_policy.pdf).
Liberia ’s education system needs to be rebuilt around vocational skills, agriculture economy of business, food production and exporting goods. The system should be redesigned to properly educate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
To achieve these objectives, a National Service –Peace-Corps program needs to be put in place. This program should provide teachers to all parts of Liberia. All students coming out of high schools would be sent into the interior to teach in elementary schools for one academic year as graduation requirement. Students graduating from Cuttington University, the University of Liberia and other universities or colleges, must do two years of national service as teachers in all high schools located in the various counties and upon completion, they will receive their diplomas.
Students from agricultural schools such as the University of Liberia ’s Agriculture College and the Agriculture facility at Cuttington would help with seasonal planting and harvesting of food. Like national service plans elsewhere, student participants would be paid a stipend to cover necessities such as room, board and transportation. During the junior year of both high school and university, students would receive instructions in teaching strategies and methods. In this endeavor, all students coming from overseas studies must perform one year of national service to be qualified for gainful employment in government or the private sector of the Liberian economy.
Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said in a letter to one of his friends in 1816: “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like the evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
The Ministry of Education must endeavor to provide equal education opportunities to all Liberia’s children. The success and durability of the Liberian democracy depends on the availability of an educated middle class. The greatest peril to stability in Liberia is illiteracy of Liberian youth. The 14 years of war have taught us the lesson of illiteracy. When seventy-five percent of a country’s population is uneducated and unskilled, it is not a laughing matter; it is a time bomb waiting to explode.
Mr. Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an Educator. He is a graduate of Cuttington University, Liberia; Howard University, Washington, D.C, and Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. He is a former Deputy Managing Director of the National Port Authority of Liberia, NPA.; Former Chairman of the Department of Mathematics, Bong Town High School, Bong Mines , Liberia; Instructor of Mathematics, Providence School Department, Rhode Island, USA. He can be contacted at: [email protected]