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Mfon's reflection on access to education

Utitofon's picture

“However,  I strongly believe that the access that counts is access to formal education – education that makes waves. This occurs in the classroom and attaches a respectable title to your name and function, in addition to a higher pay check. It can make the difference between your wearing a blue or white collar. It takes you places, making you relevant beyond your immediate community. With it you don’t plead, you negotiate. It empowers you to play the game of life more successfully. Yes, to survive in today’s society an individual needs the platform of formal education to discover, harness and achieve his or her full potential. There is only so much that common sense or experience gained from daily life can do for you. To be a beauty queen, you must answer the questions you are asked intelligently, without stumbling over words or groping for them. If you cannot read, analyze data, and express yourself clearly and persuasively, you will be used, abused and recycled.  Common sense is never enough.”

I enjoyed writing this paper. I found myself asserting that experiential learning was not enough to succeed. I know that my educational choices were seriously influenced by the awareness that my material success would be severely restricted, if I were to depend on common sense alone. Nevertheless, I think it is highly unfortunate that our society is stratified to put little social value on indispensable jobs such as cleaning or farming, that require no specialized training, while glorifying the age old favorites; law and medicine. So even if you can do something, if you don’t have a piece of paper that backs you up, you will be at a disadvantage in the job market. Advertisements, parents, teachers consistently drum it into our ears that corporate is best. It is rare to hear a youth say I want to be a farmer! The one that baffles me most is the attitude to the ‘mother of all professions’ – teaching, at least that requires some form of certification.  I do not know the prevailing attitude here, but where I come from, it is considered evidence of gross lack of proper ambition for a youth to say, ‘I want to be a teacher.’ Sometimes I wonder, is formal education really a prerequisite to higher levels of success or do we pursue it just to meet up with societal expectations?