As I continue to examine the Guyanese society in an effort to identify the gaps and hindrances to our growth and development, I would like point out that one of the major gaps which is also a hindrance; is the absence of a wider sense of ‘shared values’. Here is where the Ministries of Education and Social Protection have to be more strategic and systematic at three levels: Nursery Education, Primary Education and the family.
The ideal ages to teach values are between birth to 5 years or birth to ten years old. It is difficult to teach some values after age 10. Most of one’s life is filtered and processed through values which were taught in infancy, early childhood and middle childhood.
As one observes the behaviour of our society, both the behaviour of individuals and institutions; for instance the pervasiveness of corruption; one recognizes a system failure in the area of ‘shared values’. As we deconstruct and reconstruct our society for the next phase of our development, we have to correct this fault line. One of the key purposes of a public education system in any society; is to design, develop and educate citizens on aspects of values which are essential for the sustainable growth and development of that society. One of the reasons why organisations do on–the-job training for new employees, as well as periodic training for existing employees is to ensure that the organizational values are understood and their relevance to achieving the goals and objectives of that organization or business is understood.
While I appreciate the relaunching of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) which focuses on developing and orienting adolescence or teenagers, perhaps consideration should also be given to the re-establishment of the Young Brigades. Previously, this was the ‘Young Brigade and National Cadet Corps’ (YB&NCC); the Young Brigades were the Primary school students. This was another construct for transferring shared values.
We may develop ideas other than the YB&NCC for orienting our children and young people around the principles and values necessary for transforming the country but our Nursery and Primary levels have to be reviewed in this context, with a sense of urgency.