A very good Chinese proverb states that ‘ If you’re thinking a year ahead, plant a seed. If you’re thinking a decade ahead, plant a tree. If you’re thinking a century ahead, educate the people.’ If we today desire to have a better tomorrow for our nation, we need to start working on the building blocks of this nation and these building blocks are the children of this country. Abraham Lincoln once rightly said, “ The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next generation.”
The early years of human being’s life are the most favourable ones for developing the attitudes and values that form the basis of their personalities. The structure of values and attitudes built in early years are strong and permanent roots for one’s entire life. They will always be used as references for main decisions that challenge men and women. Those first values determine ethical and moral behaviours throughout life. When a person has to face difficult and complex situations or when a new challenge demands important decisions, those values that originally carved the personality will guide options and resolutions, reactions or behaviours. Therefore, if we desire to have adults in future to respect, care, nurture each other, their mother nation and other nations, the world and the universe, it is important to sow today a very strong foundation in the children education programme to reap a beautiful tomorrow.
These initial years are the time to begin helping children to form strong, positive self-images and grow up to respect and get along with people who are different from themselves. We know from research that children between 2 years and 5 years of age start becoming aware of gender, race, ethnicity and disabilities. They also begin to absorb both the positive attitudes and negative biases and prejudices that are still far too prevalent in our nation. If we do not invest in their development now our children will necessarily pay a far greater price, both financially and in the quality of their lives. Education for sustainable development is about helping children to become active citizens contributing to a sustainable society. This can be done by giving children opportunities to experience community and nature and to develop their knowledge, values and concern for each other and nature. Children need to listen to others and the express themselves. Children should not be expected to solve problems for which adults are responsible, but rather be given experience and tools to use in decision – making and action taking for a sustainable future. We must find some effective methods of teaching that can make children understand deeply and even shock them out of their unawareness. These early stages of human life are so crucial as it is during this stage the overall personality, nature, the character starts to build up. These values incorporated and the form it takes in the human mind decides the future of any nation, whether the nation get a civilized person or a terror-minded personality.
We are aware of plenty of cases when a smart, educated and developed minded person has been able to ruin the system of a nation in better ways than an uneducated person. Theodore Roosevelt rightly stated, “ A man who has never been to school may steal from a freight car, but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad.” In today’s era of technological advancement can we stop terrorism or threats similar to these even after providing an adequate education? Or by providing education we are creating future threats for ourselves? Victor Hugo said, “ He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” The harsh fact of today is that we do have thousands of school but yet our prisons are filled and yet there are threats to the nation roaming freely outside prisons and some in the classrooms today. If only we can find out all the root causes to these threats and curb them in the correct manner in early childhood by providing a rich quality of education and morale building in the classrooms today, we can then ensure to have safe tomorrow for our nation. Jim Rohn once quoted, “If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.”