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Foro Económico

Desde el 20 de Agosto de 2006

Ignorance is the Mother of All Social Evils

Arturo J. Solórzano. August 2004.

The low level of education of a people can be seen on the streets, dirty and full of garbage, when infants and children are used by adults for begging, in buses and taxis stopping at any place without worrying delay to others; in the contempt for pedestrians, not only by drivers but also by municipal authorities who do not build sidewalks, pedestrian traffic lights, etc .-; markets and other places where shops, businesses or workshops fill the public circulation spaces; in the news ratings and sensationalist newspapers as well as in the farce of reality shows that make the misfortune of others a source of entertainment; in crumbling public schools falling apart, with 70 students in the classroom almost without desks with obsolete teachers and where much of the year is a holiday; in universities where old-fashioned professors remain entrenched, who instill students contempt for business, market and progress; on nepotism in the government and enterprises; when you can only do business through bribery and corruption; in judges freeing drug dealers and embezzlers of public goods; in twisted justice favoring the powerful and harming the weak; when public authorities use their power to enrich tehmselves and remain in power by violating laws and persecuting those who disagree; when opinions are requested by journalists to the public on issues that both, journalist and interviewers, do not have a clear idea of what they are talking about; when people vote for dishonest, unscrupulous politicians, and ... stop counting because the litany is endless.

In the field of economy, the low level of education of a people is manifested in the disproportionate size of the informal sector and low wages in the formal sector, the concentration of production in primary activities, traditional crafts, the limited industrial development and services using new technologies and the low level of exports, the weak capacity of research and product development, the high level of paperwork and regulations that stifle business activity, fiscal and monetary policies that achieve the opposite of what proposes, in short, a number of indicators that characterize developing countries.

An ignorant people is impossible to expect to be able to choose honest and intelligent leaders. Every people has the government it deserves, says this wise saying. Moreover, these same politicians are responsible to make the people continue mired in ignorance, because the votes of the ignorant, easily manipulated, are which guarantee them power.

But not only politicians, for self interest, disdain any initiative aimed at raising the level of education of the population, but many government officials in the highest and intermediate positions of power, advisers and officials of different levels. Paradoxically, teachers' unions and university authorities, with their attitudes and actions also hinder the possibility for education to reach more people and better quality. It is impossible not to mention many international aid agencies for which the emphasis of its development assistance has been in other respects and poorly in education. In all this there are many examples in sight.

To ask the rulers, politicians, officials and all those who should put their bit to bring the country out of ignorance, expecting that overnight they enlighten their mind, is like asking the impossible. And not because they are ignorant in the sense of lack of formal education. It's not enough to have a college degree to understand this relationship between education and development. Not everyone understood or understand it. Something more is needed, which is the common sense, the least common of the senses. The ability to analyze problems and find the causes. The ability to see beyond the surface manifestations, symptoms, and scan in search of the underlying causes.

Ignorance is the mother of all the misfortunes that afflict people, as it is said that laziness is the mother of all vices. Causes of poverty, malnutrition, disease, unemployment, crime, prostitution, fatal accidents, pollution, protest that destroy public and private property, wars, dictatorships and populist regimes, the bureaucracy, nepotism, protectionism, chauvinism, consumerism, and many other evils that keep us in underdevelopment.

Stop the ignorance must be the priority. However, this can not be solved only by allowing more people to climb the ladder of formal education. That is to solve a part of the problem and continue to offer "more of the same." An issue rarely analyzed and studied is what kind of education should receive the people, what kind of content should be placed on formal education to prepare people in order they can boost rather than hinder, economic and social development. If young people continue to be taught using methods and contents of the eighteenth or nineteenth century, perhaps a bit of the XX, so we will continue getting citizens unable to transform economy and society in order to achieve higher living standards and personal satisfaction.

Comments and contributions on this topic are welcome and will be published in this page.