It's down to education

EDITOR, The Tribune.

I sat down this morning intending to write a letter about the astounding figure of $600m. This is the number put forth by Minister D’Aguilar, who says that Bahamians spend $600m per year in the web shops.

Even now, after a few days of letting this number sink into my head, I still have a hard time processing the wider implications of this overwhelming, potentially game changing amount of cash, simply pissed away every year in this country.

My letter writing was halted when I opened the papers this morning to see the recent reports on our educational achievements here in The Bahamas.

It occurred to me that these two issues are part and parcel of the same problem. In fact, most every problem we have in this country can be directly attributable to our failures in education.

Education is more than technical training. More than becoming an architect, a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer. For instance, our PM Minnis is reputed to be a fine doctor. Yet, he proves so clueless, unguided and uneducated on so many issues for which our country cries out.

I don’t want to make this political, for I see this “education” failure everywhere I look. Even in the article about education in The Tribune, Mr Myers says, “GDP can only be improved by higher productivity and a more productive workforce, increased foreign direct investment (FDI) or mechanisation, automation and technology. A more productive workforce comes from a more educated workforce.”

So, according to Mr Myers, it has been established that increasing GDP is a good thing, and so is growth. Most truly educated people I know have already reached the conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is akin to suicide. As well, way too many negative impacts on society are counted towards increasing GDP. Such as all the money spent on security guards and security systems due to theft. Or, the increased revenues for funeral parlours because of the murder rate. And, on and on, as if GDP says anything about the true nature of how a country is doing. But, focused as we are on metrics rather than real substance, we continue to flounder.

To me it seems, we no longer value a well-educated person. We want a good technical person. A good doctor, a good mechanic, a good accountant, but educated, we don’t really care. Here, as in many places, the winners are the ones who have figured out how to make the most money. Often at the expense of the rest of society.

While perhaps not clinically diagnosed as such, it appears that those at the top of our economic ladder certainly display many of the characteristics of sociopathy. I could be wrong, but it is not an idle supposition.

Education must be valued for the benefits it confers on society. Not in personal income and advantage. Not in material wealth. To me, the real proof of a society that has a good educational system is how everyone is doing in that society. Have we really helped our community, or merely helped ourselves, family and friends? That this country has a literal handful of people who are pocketing the vast majority of the 600 million dollars bled from the addicted, downtrodden and lowest caste of society is clear evidence of an under-educated leadership, as well as, an under-educated populace.

A well educated person realises the social costs in screwing others over, performing poor workmanship, or having a poor work ethic. They would feel guilty and seek to do better. But, not us. We, as a society, cannot even bring ourselves to jail those who have egregiously broken the laws while in positions of public trust.

Many of us hope that truly investing in education would somehow overthrow these blatant injustices. Injustices that, despite the rampant religious fervor in this country, we have so far failed to address.

When we see such wholesale failure, as is occurring in this small nation, is it not right to ask what systemic issues could cause such widespread social decay?

Is the goal in improving education really the panacea, or is there something much deeper that is causing our anti-social and seemingly self destructive behaviour?



September 9, 2018.