Questioning The Education System

Author: Revels

The education system. Going to school, followed by college is thought to be the necessary path to educating a child; without said institutions a person is thought to be uneducated regardless of any other qualities they might have. They might have read books from around the world but the mark of an institution bears heavily on their documents. A friend of mine knew someone who never went to college yet the books he would read made him far more scholarly than his peers who were studying. Yet family and friends would still think it wasn’t prestigious enough as he had not gone to a ‘proper’ college.

Why do we take this rigid education system so seriously? Because it has become a part of us.

It is something that is ingrained in our minds, we need to go to school, we need to have a degree, or at least a diploma. The question though is, do we really? For all of us out there, do we really require what we study?

We study subjects like chemistry, biology, math as compulsory to our courses, whereas the subjects we should be studying, like social sciences, psychology, maybe morality, are not considered compulsory in our courses. Is that not ironic, that growing up in a society where kids mourn going to school and studying is a burden, that kids are still forced, year by year, to study something they cannot comprehend? Something they have not the slightest interest in? Yes, for the basic years, by all means make the child study core subjects but then let the child seek what they feel capable of doing best.

Tests, exams, quizzes, marks, grades, all of these bear heavily on a student’s fresh mind. He is less excited to be able to learn something new, as he is always worried about his scores. Is that really educating a child? Should his marks determine where he should go to study and what? Why do a set of subjects together determine the score of the child and what subject he specialises in when the subject he likes best is the only one he can score in, the rest of the subjects bringing him down and hence not allowing him to pursue that one subject? Is that really fair?

Then our whole lives revolve around our academic system, we can’t make it to a wedding if we have an exam, we can’t go out because there’s too much to study, etc. etc.

Having gone through the process myself, I can say with certainty that with a lot of students this becomes a life and death dilemma. I have known some students who have committed suicide because of the pressure, they could not cope with the expectations from family, society, teachers and their peers. It was too much; education ruined them and scarred their loved ones.

Some ionic reactions or integrated equations didn’t save them. And nor will they grant security for a great future.

Schooling should be an enlightening experience, where fresh, receptive minds go to learn something new and grow. Unfortunately, the concept slowly changed. Now, we go to school to go to a good university, then go to that good university so we can have a good job. And a good job is pursued for a good life. But no! That is not the aim of our lives, we do not need good jobs to have a good life. Maybe someone starts something on their own, it might not be the successful at first but if the person invests his soul into something he loves I can guarantee the success rate will rocket to the skies. But not if he has a nine to five job doing something he dislikes, only for the money. Then he will only feel frustrated and annoyed, his brain and health deteriorating in a rapid spiral.

Education should nourish minds, make them feel healthier. Our systems should not be based on such a ridiculous grading system in which everyone is considered the same. That is not fair and I don’t see students going to this school system in the future if this is how it remains.

Another problem is how the education system is more about business than welfare. Schools and universities charge fees beyond affordability and students and their families are forced to seek loans, only for a ‘respectable’ and ‘accepted’ education.

Well guess what. The definitions of respectable and accepted aren’t constant either. What basis do you use? We’ve never had the same conditions for normalcy or acceptance, so why here? Why not speak out and say, I’m sorry, I disagree with how you choose to define my acceptance. If it isn’t wrong, then why is it not accepted? Why must we have such regressive social pressure coercing us into doing things we would never have otherwise done?

Revels is a Pakistani student, blogger and contributing writer at The Conversation Room 

You can visit her excellent blog here:

https://identity17.wordpress.com/

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Attitudes in Africa Toward Mental Illness

Author: Lorna Likiza

As a visitor to the African continent, you may quickly realise that mentally ill persons roam the streets in the midst of normal functioning individuals and nobody seems to bat an eyelid. It may appal you this high level of insensitivity. However, in your quest to understand why Africans seem so casual about mental illness, your efforts will quickly prove futile.

I live in Nairobi, a capital city in the East African nation of Kenya and every single day, while I’m out and about running my errands or working, I must encounter at least 3 mentally ill persons reduced to a life of hopelessness on the street. The confusion and extent of their condition evident on their faces and hygiene levels.

While other working class Kenyans walk by elegantly dressed in their office or casual wear, leaving behind whiffs of designer perfumes, one or two mentally ill persons will occasionally pass by, mumbling incoherently in dirty tattered clothes and wild hair. It makes you wonder if they came into existence in this world alone seeing that Africans highly value the family unit. Don’t they have brothers and sisters to enrol them into a mental facility and make sure they are catered for?

In the years I have resided in Nairobi, I only know of one exclusively mental institution, Mathare hospital. But Kenyans will often make fun of the medical facility. A clear evidence of just how much Africans do not take mental health as serious as their Western counterparts do. It is not entirely uncommon to hear stories of how some of these mentally ill persons who live on the streets are in fact highly educated individuals.

But we give reasons as to why they are in that situation. Mostly Africans will associate mental illness with witchcraft. If not witchcraft, then drugs and alcohol. But nobody seems to want to be in a position where they can help these mentally ill persons, regardless of what situation drove them into this current state.

I recently saw a young man dirty and barefoot ramble on and on incoherently. Surprisingly, he was in the company of a smartly dressed male. I was curious to find out what was happening so I did some enquiry. The story was the same. Apparently, his companion was in fact a childhood friend. They had schooled together. Then I heard about how his family was well off and how learned he was with an Engineering Course. But there was a catch, alcohol had made him the way he was.

So I tried to question why he was not in rehab and this guy, who was giving me the information quickly scoffed at my inquiry and stated firmly that the young man in question was not an alcoholic. Africans many times do not believe in alcoholism even though the evidence of overindulging is there for everyone to see. We do not believe that alcoholism is a disease just like any other that can be treated. We do not believe that alcoholism can drive a person to become mental incapacitated.

But I was still curious. I proceeded to ask what his family – that were supposedly wealthy – were doing about it and I again received an appalling answer. His family were tired of him. And the solution according to this guy I was speaking to was to pay the young man’s fare back home to the village or the policeman’s bullet to end his life. And the way he said it was callous and too casual. However, I do not blame him.

Africa has a long way to go in changing its attitude toward mental illness. We need to stop associating mental illness with witchcraft. Our respective governments need to invest more in the mental facilities. We need more doctors studying psychiatry. Indeed many African medical students steer clear from specialising in psychiatry instead focusing on other specialisations under medicine.

The sad situation therefore continues being evident every single day with the large number of homeless mentally ill persons. Some, mothers with young children that they have no ability whatsoever to take care of in their states. These young mentally ill women are especially vulnerable to normal functioning individuals with a warped sense, who decide to take advantage sexually of them. You may be surprised to learn, at the orders of a witch-doctor with promises of getting cured of certain illnesses if they bed a mentally ill woman.

The young woman will then fall pregnant on the streets and eventually give birth to a normal child who is under the care of a mentally unstable individual. This should be a wake up call to social workers as well as Africans in a position to lend help. Often times, these little children are taken away by well-wishers and placed into orphanages. But what about the mother?

Wouldn’t it have been better if she equally got placed in a mental institution, assigned a personal therapist and got the necessary medication? Perhaps she may end up well enough to eventually be reunited with her child/children.

In my argument, I’m not implying that Africa has not done anything toward mental illness. There are facilities for it and specialists who know what they are doing. However, the idea that just about anyone can offer counseling to someone regardless of whether they are trained on it or not needs to go. We need to do away with volunteer counselors who have no clue whatsoever on what psychiatry entails. We need to place more emphasis on mental health. We need to change our deeply entrenched attitudes toward mental illness. Only then, will change be effected.

Lorna Likiza is a Kenyan blogger & business owner who writes about Societal issues, in particular those relating to Women. 

You Can Visit Lorna’s Blog Here:

https://definitelylorna.wordpress.com/

Where is This Post Brexit Apocalypse Anyway?

This may sound painstakingly obvious but here goes:

Britain has not left the EU yet.

Why then are we inundated with reports in various media outlets saying “pound has stabalised post Brexit” or “consumer confidence back to pre-referendum levels” nothing has happened yet! These brash articles might as well be in the Horoscope section.

We should hold off on crystal ball analysis and wait until negotiations begin. No one on earth knows how the hell Britain will mould the conversation to get their cake & eat it – access to the single market while maintaining controls on migration.

And Bookmakers are even predicting there is a 40% chance Britain will still be in the Union by 2020. Elections loom in both France & Holland next year so there’s a possibility the Union could even collapse under the weight of anti-EU sentiment before Britain get their chance to offically walk out the door.

I understand newspapers have to be written everyday but If  I were you, I wouldn’t believe any Brexit predictions until Spring 2017 when a riper image of both Britain and Europe’s future come into fruition.

For a further interesting perspective on disentangling the BREXIT Fact from the Fiction, read here:

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21706442-supporters-greater-independence-hong-kong-gain-foothold-citys-legislature-new

Cynical Advertising & Obesity: How The Industry Hijacked Food

I wrote an article back in 2014 documenting the pernicious role advertising & marketing were playing in the obesity epidemic. From Coca Cola’s have your ‘name on a bottle’ campaign or highly refined Cereal companies offering toys in their boxes, or huge Sports Stars advertising McDonald’s & Subway like its staple of their diet, the food industry pays huge money to manipulate how we perceive food.

It’s worth a read if you’re interested in assessing your psychological relationship with food vs. product.

It’s hard to overstate the massive impact this manipulation has on the psychology of children. Once a habit/relationship is welded to the neurocircuitry in youth, it is very hard to break the cycle in adulthood, as proven by the statistics on obese children going on to be obese adults.

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The industry know this, they know if they get children they’ll have a customer for life and they’re doing everything to stop effective reforms/changes to tackle obesity by aggressive lobbying & threatening government with exporting jobs. In Ireland,  a sugar tax has not been introduced on heavily sweetened drinks despite 88% of the population in favour after shocking reports that almost one third of Irish children are overweight/obese and 4 in every 5 adults over 50 are overweight.

Yet the worrying power of the globalised food industry can be seen in all jurisdictions. From Michelle Obama’s stark change in emphasis in her childhood obesity campaign from food to ‘exercise’ after huge industry pressure to Theresa May’s pledge to end health inequality of Britain’s poorest, diluted to mere voluntary programs for industry.

This despicable relationship between government & industry means we’ve accepted giving children a life of chronic disease and depression in exchange for corporate profit.

 

Power to The Consumer: How Social Media Changed Music Forever

As I discussed in another media outlet in 2014 It’s hard to believe that only five years ago consumers were forking out $15 for an artists album of 11 tracks. With today’s streaming industry, services such as Spotify have given us access to unlimited libraries of music for as little as $8 p/m. This shift in power from industry to consumer is seismic. And now artists are changing their approach too..

Jacob Whitesides is emblematic of a new generation. A musician who funds his entire career – records, tours & travel – through social media.

 

Has the Milennial Age signalled the end for the classic Record Label? Or will the industry short circuit this developing phenomenon?