Op-Ed|Education for more jobs and less crime
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STUDIES continue to show that deliberate efforts to provide sustained schooling for children, not only ensure an ‘educated nation – in relation to Guyana,’ but also provide jobs, while reducing crime. It is said that crimes committed by teenagers are at the highest somewhere around age 18, though it can be at a much lower age also. This is an important period of time, when teenagers should be either about to successfully conclude high school; approaching further technical or vocational training; getting a job or going on to even higher learning.

Whatever the situation, well-established research findings have shown that education reduces crime and anti-social behaviour. Centuries of studies by researchers and criminologists have discovered, with certainty, that there is that positive correlation of crime and education.

However, because of the complexity of human nature, this rule cannot be generalised across all peoples. There are some exceptions. For instance, researchers have pointed to findings where there are possibilities that highly-educated people can also be inclined to commit criminal acts; that persons may use their increased abilities and knowledge to mastermind criminal activities. Also, that they may use their weird sense of ‘intelligence’ to easily plan and execute financial crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, computer crimes, as well as other forms of heinous actions.

Nonetheless, countless researchers continue to put forward the point that the more educated an individual is, the more likely he or she is willing to ponder the immediate or future consequences of committing a crime or other antisocial behavior, thus being likely to cancel the action all together.

Education policy
Guyana’s situation in relation to education policy-induced crime reduction is a clear one. It has been established that stable jobs and good wages can decrease the chances of people getting involved in crime.

President David Granger has iterated that education is critical to national development and that every child must attend school. He has established in direct and in-direct ways that especially the young people must be kept busy; being involved in academic studies, including STEM subjects; vocational training that would help them to acquire immediate jobs, either as entrepreneurs, or within the public or private sectors.

“The most important legacy that we can bequeath to our children is a sound education. You cannot go anywhere in life, especially in this competitive age, without a sound education.”

“It is in the Constitution; I didn’t invent it. It is an entitlement of every Guyanese child. I urge and insisted that when we get more money particularly through petroleum revenues… part of it will be dedicated to education. You cannot achieve anything in life without being educated,” President Granger stated.

He labelled crime as one of “the greatest impediment to human safety and prosperity,” adding that crime has to be curtailed in order for the people of Guyana to feel safe and to be able to enjoy to fruits of their labour. For this reason, even as he addressed students, teachers and staff of the Ministry of Education for Education Month, soon after taking office in 2015, he said:
“…Education is the gateway to that good life. Education is the mother of good jobs; education is the mother of employment; education is the mother of enterprise.”

Supported beliefs
Studies have shown that there is a connection between education and crime. There are empirical evidence that shows the possibility of a person’s lack of education may lead to a pathway that is more susceptible to crime and antisocial behavior. But, as was established before, this is not a hard and fast rule, since the opposite can be considered true as well.
However, it has also been established that the lack of education and educational attainment can limit a person’s IQ, thus making him or her more vulnerable to others for exploitation and the possibility of an easy target to criminal activities.

Therefore, it can be presumed that education can determine how a person evaluates himself or herself, which in most cases can be in a positive manner. Research further shows that a highly-educated person is more prone to be more ‘social’; have a high self-esteem; feels a greater push to engage people at high levels and more acceptable for the job market. At the end of the day such persons will have a better quality of life which, according to criminologists, would make them less motivated to be involved in crime.

Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry, in a recent address to students said, “Today’s students need 21st Century skills like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and use of digital technologies. In this regard, the Ministry of Education is currently focusing on reforming the curriculum to aptly prepare and equip our students with these and other skills relevant for the 21st Century.”

“Our 2019-2030 Education Sector plan is being designed to bridge the disparity that exists between the hinterland and the coast, the implementation of new technologies for the delivery of education, provision of vocational and technical training for out-of-school youths, thereby giving them a second chance, among other critical aspects of educational growth.”

‘Giving them a second chance’, is what the coalition government seemed bent on doing for the young and not-so-young people of this land. There is obviously a concerted effort by the government, through all of its various ministries, which include education, public telecommunications, social cohesion – especially sports and culture, to bridge the divide between the uneducated and education. The chances of young people becoming less vulnerable and more motivated to stay away from crime and other antisocial behaviours becomes much more likely today.

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