Wednesday, January 20, 2010

limited access to education

I just realized something painful about so-called 'wonder' stories about people dropping college and becoming the richest (or wealthiest) man in the world (Bill Gates) and every other 'beautiful' stories about people 'making it'. The only truest rags to riches story I believe would come from the entertainment industry. Now that's a hodge podge of some who were born to act and went to prestigious art schools for music or the stage, OR those who struggled relatively really struggled with poverty to become rich and famous. Oh, I also extend this rags to riches to those who do sports or modeling. The rest? Not so. Sure there are, it is impossible that there aren't considering that there are 6 billion people on this planet, the odds are mind-boggling of course. And out of this 6 billion many will, from the lowest rung of poverty 'make it' through working class, or middle class and hey if you're even luckier, upper class. But the majority of people aren't and I noticed that all of these reasons are simple. Access to education and knowledge. Sure, everyone says, there are public libraries, proponents of such and such would argue, they would go on to say that it is dependent upon their laziness that they do not wish or want to get above themselves. But what if you spent your life thinking that you're not able to read a single book? Too long? Too tiring? Not enough interest or imagination to pull it off? Hey, it's common here in Brunei, a majority of the middle and upper classes do get off books, they prey on it, but the rest? Fat chance, in this small country of 180 thousand locals and more than half made up of expatriates, the truth is there are only three actual living breathing working bookstores while the rest are actually magazine newsstands mimicking as bookstores or text book stores (which make a lot of money actually, a LOT). The access to knowledge is very limited, lack of transportation is a good way of citing it, then there is the fact that the children will grow up seeing that their parents do not read and therefore they don't read (although I have heard stories that the children do read and end up being the better for it), even parents who 'fear' their children reading due to superstition or local stigma. I have seen it before, it is regardless if you're Moslem, their only answer is that the Koran is the only one worth reading. Fair enough for those religious zealots out there, why not? The problem is this a majority who do read it don't understand a single thing about it! Amazing! Many scholars, anthropologists and sociologists have found out that this is quite strange especially among Southeast Asian Moslems. Why? If the Muslims in the West (including the Middle East) have managed to read it upside down inside out then interpreting it, understanding it and actually reading it!! (iqra bismirrabikalazi khalak)The Moslems in Southeast Asia rarely do understand what they are reading. It has in a certain way become so deified that they fear understanding it, that they would sin in understanding it without proper guidance (which they never bother to find in the first place). The Jews and the Christians, the Hindus and Buddhists have had a long intellectual history, even the Moslems. But often I see here is a stagnation that cannot marry both intellectual progress (which ever you wanna understand it, even in terms of Sahlins' the original affluent society) and religion at the same time. That, I think is their prerogative, I'm sorry to say despite the extreme oppression faced by Iranians on a daily basis they still do and have intellectual histories, the study of even fine arts (!!) and yes of course, the so-called Mr. Burnsesque nuclear power-plant.

This limited access to education ofcourse is consolidated with the idea of power and of course money. Limited means to gain education, I mean think about this, I started off with Bill Gates and I might as well end with a bitter note (not that bitter, people should, can and will try) he had a score of 1590 out of 1600 in his SATS, he was highly intelligent, comes from an UPPER MIDDLE CLASS family. Inherited 50,000 dollars to play with, a huge sum in those days, not that he didn't work hard, he did ofcourse. So did Warren Buffet who also came from a 'business' oriented family, they worked hard, they persevered, they didn't spend so much money. But it's easy to see that despite the fact that sociologists accuse the working class as being crass and 'immediately seeking gratification' squandering off their money for enjoyment. You have to understand, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates had lived and enjoyed since their childhood, they have never felt the pain of poverty and therefore were comfortable enough to not need 'immediate gratification' for their hard work.

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