Commercialization in Education

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The well-renowned and wise Benjamin Franklin once quoted the importance of education through his famous saying “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Unfortunately, the very same institutions who drive knowledge and uphold the integrity of the intellectual mind are dissipating, and we are seeing a new trend of a manipulative and dynamic commodity–the most dangerous of kinds–education and knowledge based materials.

Schools, nowadays, are following different methods and procedures of teaching which they brand under the umbrella of “innovation.” Unfortunately, most of these schools calling to initiate new ways of collaboration, fostering team work and boosting children’s mental capacities are being implemented under the rise of technical novelty; more so, technology is being fused to accommodate what school systems always inherently lacked: the ability to change and adapt. However, most school systems throughout history have always succeeded in remaining ever vigilant to uphold traditions, re-iterate history and to keep the same structured rules that have educated the most talented of minds.

In a capitalistic economy, public institutions are ill-bent on advancing their goals to reap short-term securities in a relatively short amount of time. This manifested in the exponential gap between the rich and the poor, debt crisis and the depletion of the scarcest commodity known to man: Time. The horror of the symptoms are already prevalent in school systems with profits being pumped in technology (Ipads, PC’s, IT) rather than books, competent teachers, sanitary equipment, and proper infrastructure. I’ve attended several school visits and took notice that the bathrooms were being shared by Middle and High school students together, causing terror, insecurities, and excessive bullying to surface. The importance of improper infrastructure in this regard creates a hierarchy of young dictatorships who use and leverage their age to mock those much younger than them under shocking situations. Taking matters further, I have interviewed rather quietly 10 and 11 year old students who have consistently complained about the age differences in such sensitive places, with problems arising such as inappropriate name-calling (ex. “gay”, “faggot”, “Bastard”) ,  forceful habits bordering molestation (ex. “take off your clothes”) and slander. These outrageous events take place due to lack of proper infrastructure by not segregating sanitary places by age disparity and having an adequate/clean environment.

Taking my research further, I have sampled a pool of teachers competencies from two major international schools who have had a number of staff that met the minimum requirements for teaching proper specialized classes. Not to dismiss their credibility, but there were two teachers who were certified in Physical Education (sports) that were teaching History, English and Mathematics altogether to 5th and 6th Graders. Most of the material these kids were being taught were being handled on Ipads and blog posts! You’d think they were being educated in matters of media rather than hardcore integration of numbers, letters and figures that can only be taught by pen and paper! In fact, most kids were using calculators to plug in numbers rather than learning the basics of division, multiplication and proper grammar. In the teachers defense, the school administration provided them with contradictory job positions due to the lack of available space or due to the all-familiar cost-cutting techniques that  public institutions undertake with excellence. It is evident that we are witnessing a new era where education is being commercialized at the expense of our students health and understanding.

One of the International schools held a meeting with the Parent’s Council (committee that supervises student concerns) regarding the changes in school policy without their consent. Part of the drastic adjustments was setting up the IT department and implementing the Ipad policy from Kindergarden to High School students. Health risk issues, cost and damage payment were among the topics discussed. No study was made to effectively show or persuade parents that the move is beneficial for the productivity of students (especially KG), no health concerns were shared (lack of motor skills, eyesight etc.) and the only reason this move is taking place is due to the branding of “innovation under technical novelty.” The School’s Administration made it clear that Ipads were to be rented yearly from the school ($533) and fees will be incurred should damages arise (imagine Kinder-gardeners being careful with such sensitive devices). Furthermore, a simple cost analysis and estimation of the student body/devices rented showed that the total profit the school would reap on an annual basis would be approximately ($888,415). Walking around campus, many of the new projects initiated (new departments, erected buildings..) were standing like monuments from a year and a half ago, reminding us of the recession that affected all sectors except for school systems who have been reaping profits diligently and silently. The rise of yearly tuition (4% annually) may justify the cover of expenses and loans of new departments, however, no progress has been made till present and one can only question without expecting an honest answer. In addition, school supplies are already being purchased by students yearly including items that are permanently kept at the school such as : Board Markers, tissue paper, glue sticks, and scissors ! It seems that schools are closely paralleling and competing with public financial institutions with extreme measures of cost-cutting and high markup in prices rendering our kids as collateral damage in this battle for survival.

Benjamin Franklin quoted that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”, yet the only investment we’re making is in the decline of our future generation.

This article is still being updated with facts, figures and statistics to better portray the issues at hand and to add further credibility for skeptical minds.

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