Archive for August 2009

The New Trends in Assyrian Education

I hope this is nothing more than a trend exclusive to Assyrians in the local Toronto area. But I am afraid it is not, as I have heard it from others from other parts of the world.

It goes something like this: an Assyrian teen is in high school. He finds a job that pays a modest income which can pay for their modest expenses and other leisure activities; if lucky enough, they get enough to buy a car. Then they get distracted away from school
and start spending more time on the Internet, social networking with others, and doing almost everything, except for focusing on their studies. Then comes the life-changing moment. Quitting their school!

This is a new trend that is gaining momentum amongst our youth.  It is one of the biggest dangers facing our society these days.  Almost as serious as our political and national problems.  Hear me out to know why.

What is a nation without its youth and young generation in whose hands the future lies? Furthermore, if it is an illiterate and uneducated generation, there is not much hope for a bright future. That is what we are facing here. These teenagers are quitting their education even before they get their high school diploma, let alone getting to college. Even the Bill Gates and Michael Dells of the world were already in university when they quit school to pursue their world-changing entrepreneurial adventures.  So why are a lot of our young and upcoming generation youth quitting on school and education?  Why are they replacing a trip to the library with a lazy session on Youtube or Facebook; not taking anything away from those two sites, especially if used productively.

If these trends continue or worsen, we can expect to see a dark future.  One where we have few, if any, engineers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, teachers, scholars.  If these professions become rare in our society in the future, who will represent us on the professional and international stage?  Who will lead the fight for our rights at the UN and other political institutions? Who will engineer and build the new economy in the Nineveh Plains?  Or the doctors and scholars that will be healing and finding the next cure for cancer?

Parents need to play a bigger and tougher role to reverse this phenomenon. They are partly to blame, if not the most.  If they are not paying attention to what their kids are doing from an early age, things could quickly grow out of control.  But parents are not always at fault.  It simply is the new situation they (youth)  find themselves in after leaving their homeland.  It takes years to adopt, a period in which the parent don’t have much control over their kids.

The kids themselves find that they are lost in two non-overlapping, but more of clashing cultures.  The Assyrian culture and the new Western culture. Unfortunately, this clash often results in the kids losing track of who they are and what they want.  It takes years to finally figure it out, and by the time they do, it is usually a little too late and their education and academia become the victims.  Which is why the many of the Assyrians who do continue their higher education, are often the ones who were born or arrived here at an early age. Early enough to make them fit into the new culture with ease.

The fix for this serious issue will and should take the group effort of the entire community. Each parent should get more involved with what their kids are doing and where they are heading. Most importantly, we need better and more Assyrian role models to look up to. This is where student organizations such as ACSSU come into play. Their promotion of higher education, hosting of different educational and cultural activities, and helping students, should be highly recognized.  If our youth will not care for its future, we should and if we don’t, then we are all in trouble.