What is the link between education and access to technology and instances of social unrest instances seen in Brazil and Europe? London-based Brazilian, the marketing head at talent community specialist BraveNewTalent Ramon Pedrollo Bez argues that young people must be given education that is relevant, in a guest article for IT Decisions.
If you’re Brazilian or have an interest in Brazil, you’ll be no stranger to the type of behaviour that emerged from marginalised youths in England last week. You will probably remember the arrastão collective mugging waves in the sands of Ipanema and Copacabana, the PCC mafiosi killing spree in São Paulo or the military invasion of the Complexo do Alemão slum in Rio? Not to mention the violence experienced by Brazilians throughout the entire country on a daily basis.
Whether you sympathize with, condone or vilify the teenagers who looted London, Birmingham, Manchester and other cities in the UK, you’ll most likely have heard (and quite possibly agreed) that the cause of these troubles lie on the lack of values and education of these kids. Some blamed the parents, others the government and many pointed their fingers at our consumerist culture.
“Why are these kids not in school?” asked the former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears, in an interview to Sky News. She had forgotten that the riots happened during school break, but even if they were actually supposed to be in school, what values could they be learning that would prevent them from acting that way? Blears seems to understand that the role of education is to keep kids quiet in a classroom, so they won’t disturb fellow citizens.
“We’re trying to meet the future by using educational methods used in the past, alienating millions, who (rightly so) don’t see any purpose in going to school.” argues education and creativity expert Ken Robinson, in one of his famous talks. If that is true in the US, which is historically a massive hub of innovation, imagine how serious the problem is in other countries. Add that to a financial crisis in economies that had been outsourcing or automating the only type of jobs that this population would be suitable for and you’ll get a recipe for disaster.
In Brazil we can find an unsurprisingly similar scenario, where most students can’t afford to go to private education and drop out of insufficient public schools to end up having to resort to informal jobs or criminality. And this has been happening systematically for generations now. When life-threatening criminal activity seems more rewarding than going to school, we see that there’s something very wrong with the entire system.
The issue is that technology innovations continue to leave several million people behind and that has been the case in Brazil for centuries. Millions of potentially talented people who could be integral parts of society and invaluable additions to the workforce become completely wasted assets and a “social problem.”
Just think of the ludicrous nature of the situation. Government administrations that are falling behind in the global market are systematically vilifying their most precious resources – which are the very same resources that could be helping them emerge from the crisis that they got themselves into.
The solution is simple. As Alain de Botton, writer and self-proclaimed “philosopher of everyday life”, brilliantly encapsulated in a tweet: “Make education relevant. Give people emotional and practical skills. Shakespeare can wait.”
Social problems and innovation won’t.
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Image by andrewjthomas licensed under Creative Commons.