This article was originally published at Perfil on November 4th, 2021.
A few days ago, the fourth edition of the World Congress of Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue was held in Buenos Aires. I had the privilege of participating in the panel titled like this short note, together with the Minister of Education of the City of Buenos Aires, Soledad Acuña, the president of the National Academy of Education, Guillermo Jaim Etcheverry and the Rector of the UCA, Miguel Angel Schiavone. This note deepens the column entitled Education for Work, based on which I developed my presentation.
Education, a solution for the future of the country and its people. A simple idea, even an obvious one, that can be found in the most diverse traditions. For example, John Paul II expressed in 1987: “Stable and fairly remunerated work has, more than any other subsidy, the possibility of reversing that circular process that you have called repetition of poverty. This possibility is realized, however, only if the worker reaches a certain minimum degree of education and job training, and has the opportunity to also give it to his children. And it is here, where we are touching the neuralgic point of the whole problem: education, master key of the future, way of integration of the marginalized, soul of social dynamism, right and essential duty of the human person. ”
EDUCATION IS THE BEST REMEDY AGAINST LOW SALARIES
The logic of this idea is not new; we can find it, for example, in the writings of Baron Maurice de Hirsch, a forgotten figure in our history, who in 1873 pointed out that: “poverty originates from the lack of education, and only the education and training of the new generations they will be able to remedy this unfortunate situation. “
Almost 150 years later, two Nobel Laureates in economics provide us with the same answer:
Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, once declared that “better education offers a hope of narrowing the gap between the most and least-skilled workers, of defending ourselves against the prospect of a society divided between rich and poor, of a society of classes in which an educated elite supports a permanent class of unemployed ”.
A STRONGER EDUCATION TO PREVENT UNEMPLOYMENT
Theodore Schultz, Nobel Prize in Economics 1979, explained why. In his view, education is the main engine of social mobility, since income differences between people are related to differences in access to education, which increases their capacities to perform productive jobs.
Let us return to our contemporaneity. On July 18, 2018, I had the honor of presenting Father Pedro Opeka with the Doctorate Honoris Causa from UCEMA. During the ceremony, Father Opeka said that “the real help comes from education for work, for undertaking and doing,” to which he added: “In Akamasoa our people have understood that only with work, and the schooling of children and young people, we will get out of poverty ”.
Education for work. How to do it? As I propose in the Education for Work column, the German dual education system may be the answer. In it, students spends many hours acquiring work experience in companies, while attending high school. As the years go by, students increase their time working in the company and reduce the time in school. The result of this is that upon graduation, they can join the company with the technical knowledge and social skills necessary to function in this field. In Germany, two thirds of young people who are not interested or do not qualify for university participate in dual education.
Adapting this dual system to our reality would help incentivize many young people from low-income families not to drop out of secondary school, by facilitating a quick exit to the job market.
Education, but education for work, a possible solution for the future of our country and its people. I think it deserves to be considered.