Opinion and Editorial

How Education Has Become a Profit Driven Industry

Shafaat Ahmed
Filed on October 30, 2009

The significance of education for the development of individuals, society and nations cannot be over emphasised. On paper, the world seems to have realised this, but in reality the more the world focuses on ‘education for all,’ the more it is getting out of the reach of millions.

To be precise, a UNESCO report says 101 million children across the world still don’t know what a classroom looked like. It’s true that the ‘lords of the world’ have been running long-standing campaigns to force those limited letters and digits in the guise of education upon the less fortunate sections of the society. But the real education will continue to be the prerogative of a certain privileged lot, as it has always been. (By the way, don’t confuse the so- called literacy campaigns for education.) And those who are caught between the privileged and the less fortunate—the middleclass—few of whom manage to cross the threshold of the universities that produce the modern professionals, are left with no choice but to join the system that has been created only for the benefit of a few.

Are you under the illusion that by educating the world those ‘masters’ of ours mean to make it a better place? You buy those lines? Do you think they care? Yes, they do care, but only for their swelling coffers. They just mean to make you more resourceful for their unending conundrum of information-age industries. How else will the world’s corporate behemoths tap this vital resource? When the industries were labour-based they kept people illiterate and now when these have become knowledge-based, they want to educate people. Either way it’s to serve their purpose.

But, what are we to lose? Good for men and women, the lords are at least transforming millions of crude souls into a useful resource. Just as they transform crude oil into petrol and diesel. How thankless can we get? I think human beings have never ever been elevated to such lofty status. Thanks to the lords that we are at least on par with oil. Sound a bit cynical, don’t I? But does the state of affairs our world is in, leaves you any choice? Our state is far from inspiring. However, I am not going to torture you with the depressing tales of the deprived and downtrodden. There is just too much said and written about those who are less fortunate.

Let me throw some light on what we give our little ones in the name of education, where we send them to procure it and how some ingenious souls have transformed education into another lucrative industry.

I have a question for all the parents: Why do you want to educate your kids? To make him/her a money-vending machine? Sounds harsh, but that’s what we have all come to be, and that’s what we want our kids to be— money-vending machines. Though we call ourselves by different titles—doctors, engineers and scientists—none think of being human or giving their kids lessons in humanity. Even if there is some kind of morality anywhere it’s barely sufficient. That’s the reason why we see so much human suffering round the world.

I firmly believe in material achievement, but why not add a bit of soul to it. There is no denying the importance of money, and I have not an iota of doubt about its significance. I would be lying if I said I don’t want to earn money or it doesn’t attract me. In fact, it is the reason why I migrated from my homeland and settled in the heat of Dubai. But the point I want to drive home is: nothing can be greater than humanity. Right from the moment a child is born he/she is initiated to this highly-commercialised system. At home they are groomed to rake in the moolah, and in school they are programmed to achieve it at any cost.

The values and principles on which the modern education industry is based, creates great professionals, but they don’t create humans anymore. Those specimens have long ceased to exist. In fact, the institutions and the gurus that created those endearing personalities have been relegated to the annals of history. We have replaced them with sophisticated factories that send high-performance humanoids out of their assembly lines, which are universally programmed to do the one and only task—to make money, by hook or crook.

How can anybody expect the institutions which are founded solely on the philosophy of material supremacy, bring out anything other than that? My objection is to the world’s morbid obsession with money. Money has become our ultimate object of attainment. It won’t be an exaggeration if I said that money has become our God. What we have done is, we have effectively cast God out of all the aspects of our life—education being one of them—and replaced Him with money. Now, religionis relegated to the confines of mosques, churches and temples. As if that wasn’t enough, a section of human population has cast him it of the universe. Doing that effectively means casting all the possibilities of peace and security out of your lives. When you don’t have any fear of accountability then why would anybody care about morality, justice and peace.

In an attempt to get ahead of one another, human beings seem to have left humanity behind. Forget about others’ rights, we don’t even have time for ourselves. Where will this cutthroat race lead us? Do we even have a moment to pause and ponder?

We have let money to become a larger than life monster and it’s about time we place it back in its earthly slot.

Shafaat Ahmed is a senior sub-editor at Khaleej Times. shafaat@khaleejtimes.com

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