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Children learn what they live

By Chew Yiwennona

In celebration of the 18th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 2007, CHEW YIWENNONA  from the Star’s BRATs (Bright, Roving, Annoying Teens) shares her thoughts about the CRC’s Article 29.

KUALA LUMPUR - ARTICLE 29 of the Convention on The Rights of the Child (CRC) states that education should develop the child’s personality and abilities to the fullest, and that the child’s education should also teach him/her to respect his/her parents, human rights, the environment, our own and other’s cultures. The child’s education should develop national values of his/her own country.

If Article 29 is fully observed, there’d be thousands like athlete Nicol David, designer Jimmy Choo and Angkasawan Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.

Instead, we read about graduates who find it difficult to get jobs, and have to go for more training to make them more employable.

More and more students are scoring strings of As, but what abilities do they have? Memorising and spotting questions? When a teacher asks “Class, would you like to score ‘A’ or gain knowledge?”, the students (including yours truly ), quickly and loudly answered “Score ‘A’.”

We all study hard to get good results. However, many of us are still at a loss about what to do after secondary school. Most of us go on to further our education in college, but without really knowing if the subject we are studying is the one we are interested in.

Some college students end up changing courses, and hopping from college to college, looking for something they want to study.

The values our children learn

If our education develops a child’s personality and abilities to the fullest, wouldn’t our youngsters be more confident about what they want to do with their lives.

If Article 29 were fully implemented, then we'd also have a higher sense of civic consciousness. There’d be no Mamee or Choki-choki wrappers flung out the yellow school bus window. There will be no piles of rubbish around the sign that says `No Littering'.

Then again, education is not only confined to schools. Children also learn elsewhere. The poem Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte articulates the values that children learn from the input they receive. Teachers may teach, preachers may preach, leaders make great speeches and parents advise but children learn what they live and from what happens around them.

We learn never to commit crimes yet snatch thieves are everywhere, women are harassed and raped, children are kidnapped and murdered.

We learn to keep our environment clean, and write essays about recycling in class. and yet we litter.

“Oh? Then why do they litter?” I asked one of my friends.

“They know it is wrong but after they finish eating they just piuuuu….( make a flipping gesture) the plastic bag…everyone also do what…We learn all the right things but never use only what.”

Children learn what they live

Children learn what they live. I realise that education can only do so much, but in the end what a child can do is choose, like the boy who chooses to sit and chat while his classmates are busy sweeping the class or who chooses to go for tuition classes instead of volleyball or debate practice.

How will she develop her skills in other things but scoring ‘A’s? Some parents push their children into Science class for it holds a “brighter future” although the child is talented in the creative field. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. But in this case the child was not encouraged, so his confidence wanes.

It's true that we learn many things in school, but do we really understand what we learn.We are taught to love our country, and to work towards achieving Vision 2020.

There are nine challenges Malaysia have to overcome to be a developed country under Vision 2020, but do students know what they are. Many use the word Wawasan 2020 but do not even know the meaning. I have been writing most of my secondary exam essays with a conclusion: “We have to keep working together to achieve Wawasan 2020” without any knowledge about the nine challenges until I learnt about them in Sixth Form.

We can all go on and on blaming the education system for not developing us fully as individuals, or lament about how our rights under Article 29 of the CRC are not met. Parents, teachers and religious leaders have educated children to the best of their abilities.

But, in the end it is the individual who has to decide which path to follow, and take responsibility for his/her self development.

This article was published in The Star on 28 October 2007.





Resources - CRC

CRC Overview
CRC Full Text
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 CRC Committee
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