Colección: La Educación
Número: (114) I
14. Would you say, then, that education defines people in the same way that families did, or does it define people in terms of their merits?
It defines people on their merits because we are moving away from that time when your lineage and your home town determined who you were. And this is where I think that we should recognize the importance of the school. But there is a battle over the school, just as there is tension in the society because there are people who hold power and position based on the old forms of social organization. They may wish to use the school to confer status independent of merit, based on traditional structures of social organization. If they succeed, the school loses its function as an avenue of hope and opportunity, as a legitimizing agent of civil society.
The school, therefore, is an arena where all interests compete for status and opportunity, in addition to knowledge, for its own sake. And in times of economic boom, hopes and expectation for advancement through access to education increase. Society appears to open up the possibility of well-being for everyone. But in the Caribbean in recent years, these possibilities have not been realized, as recession followed the boom of the 1970s. Education has come uncoupled from legitimate material progress. Our most successful students, now, cannot earn a decent living. This promotes illegitimate ways of making a living. It corrodes the basis of civil society.
And so this is the great challenge for education in the Caribbean: to become a real mechanism for integrating people into their own cultures and economies, and to be an effective means of achieving legitimate material advancement.