The Missing Element in Youth Education

By Thabelo Leoli (Guest Post)


Our world getting more connected and each day we are challenged to adapt to the universal cultures and social trends. Technological advancements are bringing a tumble-down to walls that once protected our cultures, educational values and significant ways each society would bring up its youth.

Youth today are exposed to universal social-cultural trends that are distancing them from societal norms, cultural values and believes that once ruled our traditional communities. The reason for this magnanimous shift being exposure to education: youth today have access to social-media platforms, books, the internet and social clubs, the mass media is running the race as well.

They are smart, vibrant and optimistic segment of society that we view as future leaders of our world, but, the question is that of education they are exposed to, on daily basis. Is it nurturing them to become people who will make our world a better place?

Young people in our today world are “just-getting-by”. We are secluded from the platforms of leadership that will soon demand us: political activity, religious societies, corporate and societies.

All we can do is hang out there and look for ways to satisfy our need for belonging. That’s where we find free-entry gates into street gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, and detrimental social media platforms that lead us to the world of pornography, fornication and the I Don’t Give a F**k lifestyle.

Truth is, we have more educated youth today than ever before. Higher learning institutions have eased entry requirements; there is more investment in education funded by governments, NGOs and philanthropists around the globe.

More youth are achieving educational qualifications, industrial skills (information technologies, social sciences, engineering sciences etc) and
vocational skills (arts, athletics, craftsmanship and entrepreneurship).

These trends only show that our world is getting better in the Information Age. The missing element is man’s inner self that is well groomed, which can invest in these instruments to achieve the highest ideals of life, that element is morality.

It has turned into a common culture to see outstanding leaders of our societies appear with weak morality traits, to an extent that it has become something to laugh at.

We see government officials pilfering public funds, unfair employment in companies, smuggling of drugs and illegal substances by country citizens as well as presidents facing criminal charges over mismanagement of national resources. Both white and blue collar crimes are conducted by highly educated people, people of high intelligence with leadership abilities.

The 34th POTUS averred that:

“To educate a man in the mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” —Theodore Roosevelt

The corporate world is facing the challenge of hiring and firing people every day due to weak display of character. We have highly skilled people who are unemployable as a result of theft, addiction and violation of national and organizational laws.

The reason youth are in wait-hood out there in the streets is that we cannot be trusted to built a positive image in organizations. Our character instincts are known to the leaders and they cannot just allow them to reflect in their organizations.

The much needed education is that which may be able to shape the young person’s inner being, thoughts, perception and the heart.

Realisation of self, personal identity and discovery of purpose for which he was born; most of us have only learned at funerals or so, that a man is born for a purpose, and that life ends when the purpose has been fulfilled; a good depiction indeed, but an absurd one to someone who knows not a thing about, “the purpose of life”.

A person who has discovered a purpose for which they live, that is, who knows “oneself”, has the greater ability to develop. Discovering the purpose arouses the will-to-do inside of an individual. Youth with will power can now develop a vision, together with determination to pursue that vision.

A visionary individual adopts the culture of self-control, good behavioural conduct, and a desire to learn. They also seek associations with the like-minded. Those who continually develop their character.

The six pillars of character by Josephson Institute of Ethics:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship

If youth education can only focus on corporate skills, from which the ultimate goal is accomplishment of titles, material gain and reputation: sure enough the success to acquiring these accomplishments by ethical means and keeping them for a lifetime lies on the strength of character.

Otherwise we are building a menace society that will follow suit in the line of men who taught us that one should give not a damn about whom they are hurting, men who live to take and not to give. 

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. The new focus is needed in a generation that will flush out this broken society. That focus is investing in character education and not skills education among youth. A person developed in character has a foundation where anything, and everything, can be built.

Every life goal is to be successful. But very few really know what they want to be successful at. This has led to all frustration that we see in the world today. Just imagine being in a congested street where people are walking up and down but they aren’t really going anywhere, they are walking, running, jogging, not to anyplace: that’s how our world looks like. But person with a purpose draws the map, spots the destination and hits the road, straight!

Take an example of a young person wanting to serve his/her country as a medical doctor. That person will not waste time enrolling in tertiary institutions “just to have been there”, which is how the youth abuse education fund nowadays, they spent years in college studying what does not interest them at all, because, perhaps, a friend had gotten in that course.

The result of this is unemployable graduates who got skimmed through the college and passed with some academic malpractice, or workers who are present in flesh at work, but the heart far from that. They end up taking the companies’ inventory for personal use. Why? Because they are very unsatisfied with their career, they don’t care much about losing it.

Character is fundamental to youth education if we are to make this world a better place.