Pros And Cons Of Online Education For The World Citizen

More and more young people are choosing non-traditional education to start and advance in their careers while completing and furthering their formal education. “Typical distance learners are those who don’t have access to programs, employees who work during scheduled class hours, homebound individuals, self-motivated individuals who want to take courses for self-knowledge or advancement, or those who are unable or unwilling to attend class” (Charp, 2000, p. 10). Three key elements surround the online learner: technology, curriculum, and instructor (Bedore, Bedore, & Bedore, 1997). These elements must be keenly integrated into one smoothly and operationally functional delivery tool.While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners. Online asynchronous education gives students control over their learning experience, and allows for flexibility of study schedules for non traditional students; however, this places a greater responsibility on the student. In order to successfully participate in an online program, student must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills in order to keep up with the pace of the course. For these reasons, online education or e-learning is not appropriate for younger students (i.e. elementary or secondary school age), and other students who are dependent learners and have difficulty
assuming responsibilities required by the online paradigm.Millions of students use e-learning solutions in over 140 countries: corporations such as Kodak and Toyota and education providers like ExecuTrain, New Horizons, the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS), Phoenix University amongst the hundreds of schools and colleges.Studies have shown student retention to be up to 250% better with online learning than with classroom courses. Several recent ones have helped frame the debate. The Sloan Consortium published a widely distributed report titled “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005″ that examined the growing prevalence of online education across U.S. institutions.In addition, a study conducted by the Boston-based consulting firm Eduventures found that, while about half of institutions and more than 60 percent of employers generally accept the high quality of online learning, students’ perceptions differ. Only about 33 percent of prospective online students said that they perceive the quality of online education to be “as good as or better than” face-to-face education. Ironically, 36 percent of prospective students surveyed cited concern about employers’ acceptance of online education as a reason for their reluctance to enroll in online courses.But what actually drives quality? A March 2006 report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education identifies six quality indicators: mission, curriculum and instruction, faculty support, student and academic services, planning for sustainability and growth, and evaluation and assessment.The debate rages on while the Pros and Cons of Online Adult Education for today’s international students are constantly analyzed to determine if this type of education platform can deliver predictable and measurable results.The Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) is one institution which uses this type of delivery system. ENOCIS enhances their learning experience by offering many other “value added”, cost reducing benefits to students. Online pupils can apply for scholarships available to students of excellence and other financial aid programs like the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), with attractive interest rates. They also provide convenient payment facilities, on line banking, Western Union Quick Collect, bank cards and a student who is granted a loan can start repaying it after two months if they have a corporate guarantor.Pros of Online Education:The key advantages of the online education experience are briefly explained below:1. Cheaper: Online courses may be more affordable than those offered at colleges or trade schools. You may also save on transportation costs like gas, bus passes, and parking permits because you don’t need to commute to school and there are no housing or meals plans to worry about since you do not need to live on or near a college campus. Housing expenses and other costs associated with living expenses are usually the most expensive aspects of a college education, so by taking an online course you could save quite a bit of money.The best part of online education is the absence of travel and immigration problems. Some students may prefer not to pursue traditional on campus education, as it involves traveling to attend lectures. With online education, an applicant does not need to travel. Courses simply require accessing the internet in order to begin the learning process.2. More Convenient: By taking courses online, you’re able to decide when you study and for how long. You are also able to schedule your studying around your work or social schedule.Since you’re not bound to a classroom, you may do your work wherever you have access to a computer and the internet. You’ll be able to set your own pace and decide exactly how fast you want to go over the material.Take online courses when you need them, not based on some college’s annual or semester schedule. You can learn when you need it (Just-In-Time) A course is as close as a computer with an Internet connection.3. Flexibility: with no set class times, you decide when to complete your assignments and readings. You set the pace. In some programs, you can even design your own degree plan. The online students can carry out their private or official work, along with the online education. As it provides the convenience of time flexibility, a student can login and logout as per his desire whereas, the traditional education do not provide such flexibility in learning.Flexibility of online education allows the student control over their studies. They can allot more time in the topics, which they feel comparatively hard and vice versa. The speed of learning depends solely upon the students.4. Technology: With the help of the scientific technology, students can do their online education at any place. The only mandatory pre-requisite is the availability of computer along with an internet amenity. Side benefits include the learning new technologies and technical skills5. Availability: distance-learning opportunities have exploded over the past few years, with many accredited and reputable programs.6. Accessibility: with an online course, you can work on the course just about anywhere you have computer access. Your learning options are not constrained by your geographic location. The new virtual classrooms have created a myriad of learning opportunities for global learning and education center. On line education is a new era experience adapting to the needs of the world citizen.7. Self-Directed: you set your own pace and schedule, so you control the learning environment.8. Time Spent in Classroom: now you can take a course on just about any subject without ever having to be in, or travel to, a classroom so you have very little wasted time. Note, however, that some distance-education programs still do have an in-class component and normally to receive a fully accredited US university degree an international student must spend one or two semesters on campus.9. High Quality Dialog: Within an online asynchronous discussion structure, the learner is able to carefully reflect on each comment from others before responding or moving on to the next item. This structure allows students time to articulate responses with much more depth and forethought than in a traditional face-to-face discussion situation where the participant must analyze the comment of another on the spot and formulate a response or otherwise loose the chance to contribute to the discussion.10. Student Centered: Within an online discussion, the individual student responds to the course material (lectures and course books, for example) and to comments from other students. Students usually respond to those topics within the broader conversation that most clearly speak to their individual concerns and situations resulting in several smaller conversations taking place simultaneously within the group. While students are expected to read all of their classmates’ contributions, they will become actively engaged only in those parts of the dialog most relevant to their needs. In this way, students take control of their own learning experience and tailor the class discussions to meet their own specific needs. Ideally, students make their own individual contributions to the course while at the same time take away a unique mix of information directly relevant to their needs.11. Level Playing Field: In the online environment learners retain a considerable level of anonymity. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent. Instead, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and the individual’s ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand.On line adult education can be more effective and better for certain types of learners (shy, introverted, reflective, language challenged, those that need more time). Distance education courses are often better for people who learn through visual cues and experiential exercises.12. Synergy: The online format allows for a high level of dynamic interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves. Resources and ideas are shared, and continuous synergy will be generated through the learning process as each individual contributes to the course discussions and comments on the work of others. The synergy that exists in the student-centred virtual classroom is one of the unique and vital traits that the online learning format posses..13. Access to Resources: It is easy to include distinguished guest experts or students from other institutions in an online class as well as allow students to access resources and information anywhere in the world. An instructor can compile a resource section online with links to scholarly articles, institutions, and other materials relevant to the course topic for students to access for research, extension, or in depth analysis of course content material in the global classroom.14. Creative Teaching: The literature of adult education supports the use of interactive learning environments as contributing to self-direction and critical thinking. Some educators have made great strides in applying these concepts to their on ground teaching. However, many classes still exist which are based on boring lectures and rote memorization of material. The nature of the semi-autonomous and self-directed world of the virtual classroom makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience. The occasion of a shift in technology creates the hope that those who move into the new technology will also leave behind bad habits as they adopt this new paradigm of teaching. As educators redesign their course materials to fit the online format, they must reflect on their course objectives and teaching style and find that many of the qualities that make a successful online facilitator are also tremendously effective in the traditional classroom as well.Cons of Online Education: Briefly explained are some factors that could negatively affect your success with distance learning courses:1. The Technology:a. Equity and Accessibility to Technology: Before any online program can hope to succeed, it must have students who are able to access the online learning environment. Lack of access, whether it be for economical or logistics reasons, will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. This is a significant issue in rural and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and educating the underserved peoples of the world. Furthermore, speaking from an administrative point of view, if students cannot afford the technology the institution employs, they are lost as customers. As far as Internet accessibility is concerned, it is not universal, and in some areas of the United States and other countries, Internet access poses a significant cost to the user. Some users pay a fixed monthly rate for their Internet connection, while others are charged for the time they spend online. If the participants’ time online is limited by the amount of Internet access they can afford, then instruction and participation in the online program will not be equitable for all students in the course. This is a limitation of online programs that rely on Internet access. Equity of access to learners of all backgrounds and parts of societyb. Requires New Skills/Technologies: if you’re not computer-savvy or are afraid of change or new technologies, then online education will probably not work for you. The online students are required to learn new skills, such as researching and reviewing the internet. For the online students, they need to learn the techniques of navigation on an online library for necessary information. Technical training and support of learners and instructorsc. Computer Literacy: Both students and facilitators must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to function successfully in an online environment. For example, they must be able to use a variety of search engines and be comfortable navigating on the World Wide Web, as well as be familiar with Newsgroups, FTP procedures and email. If they do not possess these technology tools, they will not succeed in an online program; a student or faculty member who cannot function on the system will drag the entire program down.d. Limitations of Technology: User friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the most sophisticated technology is not 100% reliable. Unfortunately, it is not a question of if the equipment used in an online program will fail, but when. When everything is running smoothly, technology is intended to be low profile and is used as a tool in the learning process. However, breakdowns can occur at any point along the system, for example, the server which hosts the program could crash and cut all participants off from the class; a participant may access the class through a networked computer which could go down; individual PCs can have numerous problems which could limit students’ access; finally, the Internet connection could fail, or the institution hosting the connection could become bogged down with users and either slow down, or fail all together. In situations like these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable and it can detract from the learning experience.2. The Institution: Many online education facilities are relatively new with many courses and hence, lack in modern instructors for instructing the new curriculum. Estimates show that there is still a need for an increase of more 50% of qualified instructors for online education.b. The Administration and Faculty: Some environments are disruptive to the successful implementation of an online program. Administrators and/or faculty members who are uncomfortable with change and working with technology or feel that online programs cannot offer quality education often inhibit the process of implementation. These people represent a considerable weakness in an online program because they can hinder its success.3. The Facilitator :Lack of Essential Online Qualities: Successful on-ground instruction does not always translate to successful online instruction. If facilitators are not properly trained in online delivery and methodologies, the success of the online program will be compromised. An instructor must be able to communicate well in writing and in the language in which the course is offered. An online program will be weakened if its facilitators are not adequately prepared to function in the virtual classroom.4. Perceptions/Reputation: while slowly changing as more and more mainstream colleges and universities embrace distance learning, there still is a stigma attached to distance education to the student’s interaction in the online education. Some of the students believe that, there are few opportunities with regards to face-to-face interactions and feedbacks.5. No Instructor Face Time: If your learning style is one where you like personalized attention from your teachers, then online education will probably not work for you.6. Little Support: students are expected to find their own resources for completing assignments and exams, which is empowering for some, but daunting for others.There is little support and limited guidelines provided in online education system. Online students are required to search as per their own imaginations for completing exams and assignments.7. Lacking Social Interaction: while you often interact with classmates via email, chat rooms, or discussion groups, there are no parties or off line get-togethers.
If you enjoy meeting new people and learn better while you’re interacting with other people, you may want to reconsider online education.8. No Campus Atmosphere: part of the traditional college experience, of course, is the beauty of the campus, the college spirit, but you have none of that with distance-education courses.Since you’re not on campus or in classes, you may lack opportunities to meet other students. You will not have many opportunities to interact face-to-face with your professors, so they may not have a real sense of who you are as a person.9. Making Time: if you are a procrastinator or one of those people who always needs an extra push to complete work, you may have a hard time making time for your online classes. On line learning requires new skills and responsibilities from learners10. Academic honesty of online students: requires a new mindset to online assessment. Most education experts agree that rote memory testing is not the best measure of learning in any environment and new measurement and evaluation tools are evolving.11. Types and effectiveness of assessments: The importance of outcomes in online learning cannot be over emphasized. Does the program have measurable results? Are students learning what you say they should be learning? Then there are institutional outputs: course completion rates, job placement rates (if that’s the goal of the institution), graduation rates, student success on third-party tests, and student satisfaction scores.These factors, both the pros and cons, contribute greatly to making an informed decision about the direction of your career path and how you are going to accomplish your goals: on line, in the classroom or a combination of both.Institutions and companies that use continuing education to meet their needs also face similar decisions. Institutions that deliver online education are confronted with a series of challenges, including the search for good faculty, use of technology, and provision of adequate student services.The Sloan Consortium report “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005″ found that 64 percent of chief academic officers and faculty believe that it takes more discipline for a student to succeed in an online course than it does in a face-to-face course.More and more major business and industry is turning to on line continuing education as a viable and cost effective resource for training its personnel. Hilton Hotel has 380 hotels worldwide and is represented in 66 countries.When you weigh the benefits and advantages of on line adult continuing education the cost of study and flexibility of scheduling tip the scales of programs like the Enoch Olinga College, Capella and Phoenix University’s distance learning program on line adult continuing education is becoming a world wide respected form of education.However, as with any situation, there are both pros and cons with the concept of online education and the benefits of the virtual or global classroom. You may want to evaluate both before you decide on an online education program. By examining the advantages and disadvantages, you will be able to make a more informed decision. But, at the end of the day, online learning is independent learning. A lot of structure has been put into online programs, but it still comes down to a learner sitting in front of a computer by him or herself. The knowledge you receive or the benefits it will generate either in development of self esteem or increasing earning capacity will depend sole upon you the student.

Traditional Educational Institutions in Child Education in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTIONSierra Leone is bounded on the north-west, north and north-east by the Republic Guinea, on the south-east by the Republic of Liberia and on south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 27,925 square miles. The colony of Sierra Leone originated in the sale and cession in 1787 by native chiefs to English settlers of a piece of land intended as a home for African settlers who were waifs in London and later it was used as a settlement for freed African slaves. The hinterland was declared a British Protectorate on 21st August, 1896. Sierra Leone attained independence on 27th April, 1961 and became a Republic in 1971. Education is provided by both private and state-sponsored schools. The current system of education is 6-3-4-4 (that is six years Primary school, three years Junior Secondary School, four years Senior Secondary School and four years tertiary/higher education. This system is complemented by non- formal education.CONCEPT OF EDUCATIONEducation is frequently used in the sense of instruction in the classroom, laboratory, workshop or domestic science room and consists principally in the imparting by the teacher, and the acquisition by pupils, of information and mental as well as manual skills. A wider meaning than instruction is that of schooling. That is to say all that goes on within the school as part of the pupil’s life there. It includes, among other things, relationship between pupils and teachers, pupils and pupils both in and outside the school. J. S. Mill (1931) opined that whatever helps to shape the human being; to make the individual what he is or hinder him from being what he is not is part of his education. Implicitly education is lifelong and ubiquitous; it is the sum total of all influences which go to make a person what he is, from birth to death. It includes the home, our neighbors, and the street among others.Education is to some extent a deliberate planned process devised and conducted by the educator with the purpose of imbuing the learner with certain information, skills, of mind and body as well as modes of behavior considered desirable. In part it is the learner’s own response to the environment in which he lives. Education has three focal points: the individual/person upon whom the educator’s influences are brought to bear; the society or community to which he belongs; and the whole context of reality within which the individual and society play their part. Man is a social creature; he grows as a person through the impact of personality on personality; and even for his basic physical needs he depends on the help and cooperation of his fellow men and women. Without society and the mutual support and enrichment of experiences which it provides civilization is impossible and the life of man, in Hobbes’ words, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”One of the fundamental facts of human existence is the tension between the pull of the past and the forward urge into the future, between stability and change, tradition and innovation. For effective living,man needs a circle of security, an area of established habits and relationship which forms dependable relationships. This is also true of society. For its effective functioning there must be an underlying continuity of traditions and outlook which preserves its identity as a society and safeguards it against the disruptive effects of change. Change must be for life and not static but this change in turn must be controlled by the basic traditions of society. It is tradition which gives a nation its character and distinctiveness as a society. The conservation of tradition therefore is obviously crucial.It has been recognized from time immemorial that the conservation of traditional education has a vital part to play in the development of the child. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow; they must be trained therefore, to inherit and perpetuate the beliefs and modes of life peculiar to the particular society to which they belong. For every society has the desire to preserve itself not only physically but as community consciously sharing certain aims, ideals and patterns of behavior. This type of education is not necessarily formal in schools by means of classroom instruction but that effected indirectly through the family and through the impact on the individual of social influences and customs which the child cannot evade. In Sierra Leone this social education included elaborate ceremonies of initiation involving feats of endurance in which young men and women must prove themselves worthy of the community. The ultimate goal was to produce an individual who was honest, respectful, skilled, cooperative, and who could conform to the social order of the day. As Aristotle once stated “the constitution of a state will suffer if education is neglected. The citizens of a state should always be educated to suit the constitution of the state. The type of character appropriate to a constitution is the power which continues to sustain it as it is also the state force which originally created it” (p. I).TRADITIONAL EDUCATION IN SOCIETYTraditional education has both a creative and conservation function in society; it is a powerful means of preserving a society’s customs, if not culture. In the past the nature and needs of society played a vital part in determining the nature of education. Professor M.V.C. Jeffreys (1950) once wrote in his book, Glaucon, that “in a tranquil society the educational system will tend to reflect the social pattern, while social uneasiness and instability create opportunity for using education as an instrument of social change”(p.7). A similar view was shared by John Dewey (1897) who opined that through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources and thus save itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move. Education looks both to the past and the future; inevitably it reflects the traditions and character of society. Traditional education can be used to prepare for changes in society and anticipate and prevent changes or the effects of changes in society.Traditional education conserves and hands on the customs and ways of life which constitute the character of a society and maintains its unity. It also helps society to interpret its functions in new ways to meet the challenges of change, seeking ways or lines of development which are consistent with the traditions and customs and will at the same time raise society to a more complete fulfillment of itself.
TRADITIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN SIERRA LEONEHistory reveals that there were no formal schools where children were educated in Pre-colonial Sierra Leone. The Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies were looked upon as institutions to train children. They were bush schools. And the education these bush schools provided was informal. Children who went through these secret societies were considered capable of carrying out their civic responsibilities. They became adults and can marry and start life. They considered themselves as one family. In other words both Secret Societies created a sense of comradeship and unity among members irrespective of family, clan or ethnic affiliation. It was therefore considered that children who had not gone through these secret societies were not fully matured.The Poro Secret Society is for boys. The spiritual head of the Poro Society is Pa Gbonu, seen only by the older graduates or members. The physical heads are the Pa Sama Yorgbors and Pa Somanos. They direct the activities of the institution. The senior instructors are the Pa Kashis, who generally teach and give instructions to other initiators. The Pa Manchiyas serve as teachers to the initiates while the Kachemas are the scaring spirits. They scare the women and children alike together with the new initiates. The Rakas are the errand boys carrying messages around. The Yambas are the head boys. The Bomos are the senior prefects while the Sayboms are the prefects; and the monitors are the Gbanaboms. Informal classes are held in the Secret Poro Bush. The subjects taught include Creative Practical Arts, Performing Arts, Practical Agriculture, Medicine i.e. use of local herbs for the treatment of different ailments), warfare and other skills. In Creative Practical Arts initiates are taught how to make fishing nets, baskets, mats, and carving wood and soap stones into different objects such as animals and humans; in Performing Arts initiates are taught singing, dancing and the use of Poro musical instruments. In Practical Agriculture initiates practice farming. Boys are taught to bear hardship without complaint and grow accustomed to it. Thus they are taken to the farms of their teachers and elders to work on pro bono basis. However during the harvest season initiates could pass through these farms taking whatever they need and eat without being questioned by farm owners. Initiates are taught to respect elders and use of guns to kill animals. In a similar vein initiates are taught how to use guns in fighting in defense of their communities. Other skills initiates are taught include making fish traps, fishing and hunting net, and basketry. In the use of herbs initiates pay money (some freely given) for healing various sicknesses as well as for protection against enemies, evil spirits and snake bites. Initiates who want to cause harm to others using herbs could ‘redeem’ the herb/medicine concerned. Over all initiates are taught a new Language spoken only by members called Ke Sornor. For example fonka trika meaning I am talking to you; fonka bonomi meaning Talk to me. The use of this new Language makes graduates very proud and feel different from non-initiates. Graduates come out with new names such as Lamp, Langba and Kolerr. A graduation ceremony climaxes the event.Parents make massive preparations including sewing dresses for the graduates. To mark the graduation ceremony there is feasting, drinking, dancing and singing praise songs for the graduates and their parents. Those qualified for initiation must have been circumcised and grown to age of puberty. They have to live on their own during the period of training which ranges from one to seven years. Graduates are fully admitted to the general Poro society through another ceremony called Enkorie, which lasts for four days.The Bondo/Sande Society is the institution where girls are trained for womanhood. Its spiritual head is Na Bondigba. The Na Gboyamas and Na Wulus are the physical heads. These have spiritual powers used to foretell the future and catch witches. They are the senior teachers. The Na Sokos are the service teachers. They can initiate girls even up to the advanced stage of the Society. The Digbas are the general teachers and stay close to the initiates. The Sampas are the skillful dancers and errand girls/women. They make announcements about the progress and activities or programs during the graduation ceremony.The Na Fets, as the name implies do not know all the secrecy of the institution. They carry the institutional implements and regalia. The Karr Ayeamus are the ‘waiters’ to be initiated into the higher status of the institution. Girls admitted to the Bondo/Sande Society are trained informally. Classes are held at Kantha or sacred home. The teachers are largely concerned with the transmission to these adolescent girls the skills and knowledge which adult women are expected to possess in order to function properly and intelligently in their community. The subjects girls are taught include Cooking, Performing Arts, Fishing, Husband and Child Care, and Home Management. In Cooking girls are taught how to prepare food through observation and participation in the preparation of various dishes and are later allowed to have a go with little or no supervision. Those who could not cook properly are allowed to repeat. In Performing Arts girls are taught how to compose and sing songs and how to beat the Bondo/Sande drums (sambories). Alongside singing girls are taught how to dance and those who dance well may join the hierarchy of the Sampas. Girls are also taught how to fishing, make fishing nets, fishing baskets, sleeping mats from bamboo and palm leaves. Further girls are taught how to help their prospective husbands and how to take care of children especially those of senior members. Like the Poro Society graduation ceremonies are marked by massive preparations. Both parents and prospective husbands would buy new dresses, slippers, perfumes, powder, and beads to make neck laces. On the day of the graduation ceremony the new initiates are arrayed in white with coronets. They come out with new names such as Burah, Yeanor, Rukor and Yainkain. This demonstrates a sign of maturity. Initiating girls into Bondo/Sande society lasts between a few months and three years.CHALLENGESIf education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to richer and more fruitful expression then both the Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies, as traditional agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these secret societies the nation’s culture flows from one generation to the other and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. They stand at a point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities. Through these secret societies children remember the past activities of their predecessors. They help in behavioral training patterns of society. These societies are institutions of inspiration and both politicians and chiefs use them to advantage. That is to either gain or maintain power. Major and binding decisions are taken in the Poro Bush of which only members are allowed to attend and take part. The Poro Secret Society acts as a check against the abuse of power. In crisis ridden situations major decision are taken in the Poro Bush. The Poro society even acts as arbitrator in chiefdom disputes and could promulgate general laws and regulate trading practices. It is also involved in the burial of chiefs and other important local officials (Alie, 1990).Western education has existed in the country for long and is now so integral part of the civilized life that there is a tendency to assume that it is the main or sole means of imparting skills, knowledge and social values in children. This is not the case in Sierra Leone. The importance of the Poro and Bondo traditional secret societies cannot be over-sighted because of their enormous potentiality in educating children for life in society. Fundamental is that respect for persons as persons is the basis of traditional society. Linked with this is courtesy, sensitivity to the needs of others, cooperativeness, self-discipline, moral and physical courage, hard work and high standards of achievement. These are passed on to children in the environment in which they are part of their daily experiences. Notwithstanding, these traditional institutions as agents of education are currently faced with many challenges there-by forcing their demise. The practice of female genital circumcision is of international concern and in Sierra Leone people are agitating for its total ban. Currently girls are allowed to be circumcised at age eighteen during which time a child is perceived to be matured enough to choose whether or not to be initiated into the Bondo/Sande secret society. In addition the period of initiation is perceived too long and is being challenged. Besides children these days no longer have to be initiated into these societies to be taught how to be clean, cook, rear children, practice agriculture, and inculcate morals and virtues to cite a few examples. All these could be learnt either in or outside formal schooling through reading. What is more Religion, especially Christianity and Islam, western life, as well as rural-urban migration are forcing these secret societies to obliteration.Besides the activities and work of these traditional societies are not in curriculum form and documented. Neither also is the use of herbs documented. Therefore by discontinuing these traditional secret societies Sierra Leoneans stand to lose their cultural heritage. If however, education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to a richer and more fruitful expression then these traditional secret societies, as agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these societies the national culture flows from one generation to another and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. These secret societies stand at the point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities.

Fatal System Errors in the US Education System

7 Reasons the U.S. Education System Is Failing!Recently, today actually, I saw a post of a video on Facebook that detailed simple questions posed to university students regarding BASIC social and historic facts, events and the people who govern our country. The results were astounding to say the least! Abject failure and an inability to name or identify ANY of the people, places and events. Let me repeat… NONE.The formal education system in the U.S. was designed to meet the demands of the industrial revolution by providing basic education to the masses. Pretty simple right? So why is it that we fail to recognize or refuse to acknowledge that the demands are different today? There has not been a calculable redefinition or evolution of the educational system since. This is scary as it will define the failure of our country step-by-step and bit-by-bit until we are reduced to a social collection of ignorance.Let’s examine the cause and solutions.1. Closed for Business!Schools find their existence tied to community standards and financial restraints based on the community support… or lack of. The result is that schools are closing at an alarming rate across the country. The decision to close a school rarely reflects the needs of a community or, more importantly, the needs of the students!There seems to be less concern for the needs of the communities children’s education than the economic demands of the location of the school or the resources available. Where is the federal government when this happens? Well, they are partially to blame. The government rhetoric details the need for affordable, quality education while they demand that school systems adhere to specific federal mandates that tie the school administration’s hands to comply with political wants. So much for federal support.2. Two-Gallons of milk in a one-gallon jug!So, how many kids can you cram into a classroom and still teach effectively? That depends on whether you are looking to teach the children or be a daycare service. I know, pretty harsh but look at the function of schools today. They take your children and house them and feed them for about 6-7 hours a day. Mostly providing them with basic discipline and food that they rarely get a t home! Oh yes, admin it. Teachers are required to discipline your children in a crowded atmosphere where safety is no longer guaranteed and education takes a back seat to providing basic needs that parents are unwilling to, uneducated to or unable to provide. Wait, what about education? Well, there is so little time for that that caring for them takes priority over teaching them.Secondarily, because of the constraints of federally-mandated guidelines, the children are taught in a cookie-cutter style standard of personality-limiting, creative-minimizing and individually-restrictive processes to get them to their adulthood. Basic education with basic performance that aligns children to basic standards that align with everyone else’s basic needs. Sad because it is done in crowded classrooms where teachers are forced to “teach” more children than one person could attend to. How effective is that?3. If You Do What You’ve Always Done… You’ll Get What You’ve Always Gotten!How can we expect our children to excel when their parents are minimally educated. One must understand that this cycle of poor education will produce more poorly educated children who will produce more poorly-educated children and so on and so on. Parents are so busy struggling to make a living today because of a poor economy or a lack of opportunity that there is little time to attend to their children’s education at home let alone at school. Involvement is also critical especially when the parents are minimally educated because they lack the foresight and experience to guide a young person to the right path. The result is a continually-repeated system that fails students and undermines this country’s future. It matters not whether you are poor and struggling to make a living that doesn’t allow for time to teach your kids at home OR whether your well off and struggle to maintain a career that doesn’t allow for time to attend to your kids at home. Either way, the education suffers.4. Once Stated Always Abated!I was once told that I was stupid. I was told that I could never learn because I lacked the basic ability to understand or comprehend anything that a normal person was expected to know. Can you imagine? Well, today I am in pursuit of a doctorate in education. Highly educated holding several degrees and formally recognized for my teaching abilities and performance as an educator. So there, take that!If a child is to be challenged then the child has to recognize their worth and value as an individual. EVERY child is talented and gifted in something and should be recognized for it immediately and consistently. Oh yes, failure happens but that is part of the lesson as well. Individualized learning platforms and initiatives are crucial to the support and future of educational success. The talented and gifted programs require that a child be recognized and advanced because of their special gift instead of the initiative being available to ALL students. I believe that EVERY child has the opportunity to reveal their gift if given the opportunity to allow it to reveal itself. Why limit other children’s opportunity to excel because someone didn’t recognize their talents? Beyond me.This lack of diversity in basic education is driven by personal prejudices and the nuances of social conformity and economic availability in a school district. Shameful that every student doesn’t have the same opportunity to be recognized for their inevitable contribution to society.5. There’s a Step to the Prep!According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Education Department, 80% of all high school students graduate and student graduation rates are at an all-time high. This sounds great doesn’t it? Well, no it doesn’t because about 80% of high school seniors cannot pass basic proficiency exams or read at a basic level. The fundamental and core foundation for a successful future lies in their ability to read and comprehend and it is failing miserably. Because of a politically-correct mindset and an unwillingness to admit that we are failing we are passing kids without prejudice. What is the dynamic here? Money, acknowledgment, standards, social constraint?With fewer than 40% of graduating students able to perform basic reading and math skills, what will their future look like? Poor at best because they are set up for failure and aren’t educated enough to know it. They are not prepared for any part of life let alone future education without the basic skills to learn. It seems a path to socialism.6. Teacher to Preacher!With the lack of people who are willing to sacrifice their future for low-paying academic careers there is little to choose from in the way of well-educated teachers. Enter teachers. As student education becomes more technology-supported so must teacher innovation education. A once-proud career, teachers are opting for more industrial careers using their basic educational achievements because it pays more and is less restricting. A lack of qualified teachers translates to a lack of quality education from under qualified teachers. The cultural shift in classrooms demands an academic shift in recognizing and utilizing qualified teachers who must meet higher-level standards before being allowed to teach.Alas, distance learning take the personalization from the process, individualism from the practice and allows for lesser-educated teachers to perform office-like academics instead of teaching-like practices. Poorly educated teachers who are not held to the highest standards will produce poorly-educated students who will perpetuate the same. Pay teachers better and demand more from them and we will produce quality educated people. There is something askew when ball players make millions and teachers make nothing! Time to rethink this one.7. Girls Will Be Girls and Boys Will Be Boys!Or will they? There is a huge nationwide divide in the gender makeup of the student population today in schools. The STEM program is experiencing a narrowing range of student diversity as of recent examinations of student diversity in education. Formerly male student dominated academics and careers are changing to a more female dominated academic showing. Women are now able to perform as well or better than their male counterparts in science, technology engineering and math… previously neglected and they have always had the ability but unrecognized or acknowledged.A globally competitive market demands equal and qualified individuals to perform and defend the right of opportunity regardless of gender, race, creed or social standing. As we develop our more-diverse communities, so should we develop our academically-driven future with better-educated people… no matter what!By Dr. Mark Zupo

Education and Islam

Islam is the religion of peace, and it is one of the most sacred and trustworthy religions, which has given us guidance in every aspect of life. Islam has given us education with knowledge which has no limits. The Holy Quran is the most sacred book of Allah revealed on Prophet Muhammad (SAW), for the upliftment guidance and enriched messages to the humanity.Education is the knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use. Without education, no one can find the proper right path in this world.This importance of education is basically for two reasons. Education makes man a right thinker. Without education, no one can think properly in an appropriate context you. It tells man how to think and how to make decision. The second reason for the importance of education is that only through the attainment of education, man is enabled to receive information from the external world. It is well said that”Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards outside world.”This is why Islam attaches such great importance to knowledge and education. When the Quran began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read..The reflective book of Holy Quran is so rich in content and meaning that if the history of human thought continues forever, this book is not likely to be read to its end. Every day it conveys a new message to the humanity. Every morning, it gives us new thoughtful ideas and bound us in the boundaries of ethics.Islamic Education is one of the best systems of education, which makes an ethical groomed person with all the qualities, which he/she should have as a human being. The Western world has created the wrong image of Islam in the world. They don’t know that our teachings are directly given to us from Allah, who is the creator of this world, through our Prophets.The Muslims all over the world are thirsty of acquiring quality education. They know their boundaries and never try to cross it. It is the West, which has created a hype that the Muslim are not in a path of getting proper education. They think that our education teaches us fighting, about weapons, etc., which is so false. This is true that there are certain elements, which force an individual to be on the wrong path, because as we will mould a child, they will be like that, but it doesn’t mean that our religion teaches improperly to us.Our Holy Prophet (SAW), said,Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.And:Seek knowledge even [if it is to be found in a place as distant as China. At the battle of Badr, in which our beloved Holy Prophet (SAW) gained victory over his foes, seventy people of the enemy rank were taken to prison. These prisoners were literate people. In order to benefit from their education the Prophet declared that if one prisoner teaches ten Muslim children how to read and write, this will serve as his ransom and he will be set free. This was the first school in the history of Islam established by the Prophet himself with all its teachers being non-Muslims. The Sunnah of the Prophet shows that education is to be received whatever the risk involved.Today, the Muslims are acquiring good ideas, thoughts, knowledge, and skills, from all corners of the world. The world is moving very fast, and in this industrialize world, It is the duty of the teachers to give quality ethical integrated education to the Muslim students worldwide, because children are invaluable assets of future generations.The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) encouraged all Muslims to acquire knowledge and share it. He said:”Acquire knowledge, for he who acquires it in the way of Allah performs an act of piety; he who speaks of it, praises the Lord; he who seeks it, adores Allah; he who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and he who imparts it to others, performs an act of devotion to Allah.” (Bukhari, Muslim)All the teachers of either secular or religious education should give more attention to the pupils inside the classroom. It is necessary that in the Islamic system that we should consider these dear children as our own children, and put aside all other considerations, and rise above all such things and realize our duty and our mission. We should raise the standards of education and attend to the needs of these children. We should realize our duties with earnestness and awaken to the sense of responsibility. It has been seen that there are certain teacher who are not fulfilling their duties with keen interest. I would like to request all the teachers that for the sake of God, for the sake of your revolutionary duty, teach the children with devotion and dedication.It is important that we advance our work through discussions, debates, studies, and through proper distribution of work among ourselves.We must never forget that we are living in an Islamic State, and our aim should be simultaneously to create both an independent as well as an Islamic culture in character. Independence and richness of content are indeed among the characteristics of the Islamic culture. Our system is an ideological system.We should make our child enthusiastic, dynamic, and this search should pervade every corner of our society. We should aspire them to be truthful and sincere.Self-sacrifice and generosity, love of freedom, the resolve for resistance and headstrong perseverance, the courage to welcome martyrdom-all these are the new values of the new generation, which should be taught according to the teaching of Islam.The doors of the school should always be kept open for the sake of Islam, for the sake of the Muslim Ummah.