TAP: Education more crucial than ever

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As the current school year begins to wind down for elementary and high school students, as a community we need to remind ourselves of the importance of education and to also congratulate all those who have overcome huge challenges in this realm over the past couple of years.

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With almost no warning, teachers, parents and students found themselves teaching, helping and studying online.

As always, some teachers, parents and students were better prepared to deal with this than others, and we will see varying degrees of success as a result.

We will also see the impact of these past couple of years for some time to come I’m sure.

On the bright side, we have seen many rise to the occasion and overcome the inherent adversities of this time, but of course there are others who did not.

And unfortunately, Chatham-Kent is not a community that can afford to let people fall through the education cracks.

Long before we’d even contemplated dealing with a pandemic, we were already challenged by a significant shortfall in higher education.

It’s something I remember covering at council meetings back when I was a reporter, but it has been a few years, so I was forced to refer my friend Google to see what the current stats would tell us.

Unfortunately, the most recent stats are from 2016, but I don’t know if much will have changed since.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 82 per cent of people aged 25 to 64 in Chatham-Kent had a high school diploma or equivalency certificate, which compares unfavorably to the national average of 86.3 per cent.

On the bright side, we have been trending upwards when it comes to bachelor’s degrees, with approximately 13 percent of people in that category in 2016, up from about 11 percent in 2006.

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And, we’ve been making gains on reducing the number of people with no certificate, diploma or degree, sitting at approximately 17 percent in 2016, compared to about 21 percent a decade earlier.

We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people attaining a college or other non-university certificate or diploma, sitting at about 32 percent in 2016, compared to about 26 percent in 2006.

But we still have a long way to go.

If we want our children and grandchildren to succeed in their careers – not to mention their lives – we need to ensure they are educated / trained to the highest degree possible.

Not all children are cut out to be scholars, but the vast majority of them are born with everything they need to succeed in one area or another.

But, they will be living in a world where a commitment to lifelong learning is more important than ever, and no matter what they do, young people will need to be resilient and adaptable.

The pandemic wrought many changes in the way we learned, the way we worked and the way we lived. The impact of those changes in the long-term is yet to be known.

We face numerous challenges today in CK: rising housing prices, rising fuel prices and rising food prices.

Many people in our community are struggling and will continue to do so. There are no easy solutions to these immediate problems.

But, if we want to build a strong and healthy Chatham-Kent, it’s crucial that we educate and train our children for the careers and trades that we need today and will rely on in the future.

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Parents play an absolutely crucial role in their children’s education and it begins with something as simple as reading to babies and extends all the way on up to respecting and supporting your child teachers.

Of course, we all want our children to have teachers who are wonderful and kind and shower them with nothing but praise, and with whose methods and results we approve of.

But, you know what? No matter how brilliant and charming your kid might be, there will be times in their lives when a boss or a co-worker doesn’t quite see that.

If we don’t allow children to fail and learn from those failures during their school years, they’re really not going to know how to cope later in life.

Teachers know our children in ways we can’t and even though we may not interact on a regular basis with those teachers, education works best as a team sport.

It’s been a difficult couple of years for everyone involved in educating children, and as we move forward and contemplate the next school year let’s make sure that all of us do whatever we can to make sure our kids are best positioned for success.

What that looks like is different for every child, but the worst thing any of us could do would be to use the pandemic as an excuse for a sub-standard education. Our children deserve better.

Stay well my friends.

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