Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

This old Chinese proverb holds true and spells out the importance of not solving just the immediate issue of food, clothing, and shelter by helping someone (which of course is important) but also thinking of the long-term possibilities that this person might have if only they could help themselves too.

This is where education comes in. In the distant past, our economy was facing literacy problems as most of society could not even read.

This is no longer the case (although still a problem with a minority), but we now face another huge challenge for a modern Western economy.

The basic skills of literacy and numeracy are still very important and shouldn’t be shunned, but we now need to skill people beyond this.

Excellent vocational training is essential for most of the population but is sadly lacking and those that have academic potential are also being overlooked.

As much as possible our education system should allow people to blossom and find their true potential in whatever field they are suited to.

The article about educational opportunities by Lee Elliot Major is poignant as it describes his journey from ‘binman’ to professor. It is illustrative of the amazing changes that can be wrought by educational opportunity.

I also come from a working-class background and grew up in a council house. I had wonderful parents, but they never had any educational opportunities.

Lee Elliot Major’s story really chimes with me and I agree wholeheartedly with him.

My parents believed that education could provide me with opportunities where they had had none. They were in that postwar generation who wanted something better for their children and society began to offer it for many.

However, we must remember that not everybody wants to be or can be a professor.

Lee Elliot Major is an example of someone who had amazing academic potential and he took the opportunities that were available to him and took advantage of them.

For those who are more vocationally orientated (around 75%), the same thing needs to happen.

In the last 20 or so years, there has been an over-emphasis on pursuing academic education and this locks out many from the system.

The pandemic has indeed widened the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged even more.

It is crucial that we provide young people from less-advantaged backgrounds with the support and the pathways to betterment. This means internet access and the right technology during the crisis.

The government and private companies that have spare equipment should donate this in order to help these students.

However, our educational system must also stop pushing people in directions that might not be suitable.

Those with academic potential must be given the best opportunities to pursue that line of education, and those with vocational potential should also be given the same level of access. This means our school system needs reform and this is the best time to consider this.

While everything is thrown up in the air, there is a chance to really change direction.