Question 3: “For a cohesive society education must prepare our citizens to feel a sense of commitment to the land where they were born and to represent the needs of all the citizens whenever they hold any position of authority. School activities that encourage ethnic groups to maintain ties with Mother India and Mother Africa and encourage ethnocentrism will prove counterproductive”. Discuss this statement and argue your position.
“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth”- Unknown Schools have been used as an avenue to encourage social control from many centuries ago whether it was for the betterment of our forefathers or to merely control them. They reinforce and transform young minds with the tools necessary to survive in this changing world and thus, prepare them for global independence. As a result, education has become critical since our system has been built upon the concept of the enlightened citizen, that is, an individual in touch with its cultural heritage who possess a working knowledge of the factors that make up the human ecosystem; an individual who understand the law, rights and responsibilities, possess the attitudes of fair play and co-operation and quality in the character and work of self and others. (Hartoonian, 1985) The instrument in building an enlightened citizen and thus prepare future leaders, is the curriculum. Hence, the curriculum ought to be tailored to produce citizens who recognize themselves as “Trinbagonians” and not individuals who see themselves as distant citizens of Africa, India or England. In this regard, leaders in politics, classroom, education, as well as businesses, should see themselves as leaders of “Trinbagonians” and not as “tribal” representatives. If we encourage constant talks of ethnic imbalance, then we will make race a defining issue of being a “Trinbagonian” Did our forefathers make race a defining issue when they fought for freedom and liberation from colonialism? Dr. Eric Williams and Dr. Rudranath Capildeo both petitioned for full internal self-government for all the peoples regardless of race, religion and ethnicity. Unfortunately, politicians today are prepared to clearly pass the blame of ethnicity and cultural imbalances from one party to another, rather than come up with solutions on how to deal with the issue at hand. Isn’t it part of their civic duty to govern the country without encouraging citizens to be subjected to any form of discrimination or inequality? Rather than pass the blame, all citizens, including our leaders should work towards obtaining a cohesive society; one which has developed satisfactory ways of coping with ethnic and cultural diversity and other strains in an open and democratic manner. This means taking action to reduce inequalities and restore equity so that these various divisions remain manageable and do not grow so as to threaten the stability of society (The European Committee for Social Cohesion). As a result, schools can foster the development of students’ cultural identity via citizenship education. Citizenship education evolves cohesion richness because the curriculum encourages, listens to and acts on student voice; focuses on authentic issues that are actionable and a curriculum that is learner led; supports the importance of playing an active part in democracy and develops skills of enquiry and communication. Therefore, school activities should encourage multiculturalism rather than ethnocentrism because ethnocentrism is viewed as lacking acceptance of cultural diversity and intolerance for outgroups (Berry & Kalin, 1995). By exploring one’s history and sharing cultural traditions, beliefs and values, students can become more tolerant of diversity. As schools provide a safe and positive environment for all students regardless of their diversity, they also promote a sense of cohesiveness in the community. Trinidad and Tobago is referred sometimes as a pluralistic society because of its diversity...
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