#19 - "Children are our most valuable resource."

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- Herbert Hoover, 31st US president

What a wonderful saying and so true. You’d be hard pressed (have difficulty) to find a politician in the world that does not revert to some variation of the numerous types of ‘the children are our future’ sayings, especially when his/her country is affected by an economic crisis. Yet you would be even harder pressed to find a politician to really put his money where his mouth is (to do something rather than to just talk about it) in regards to the education of our children… especially during an economic crisis.

Well that is not entirely correct. They actually do something. They cut away at the very future of our children by making significant cuts in education. It seems like when a crisis hits, education merits little or no protection. In fact, it is often one of the first areas to be hacked at. Here in Portugal is no exception. Not only have teachers’ pensions and salaries been reduced, but changes in curriculum have been enacted to further cut the education budget. This includes an increase of class sizes (as though they were not large enough already) and the closure of about 300 primary schools throughout the country. The austerity measures have also included the implementing of a reduction of actual teaching hours for teachers. This, of course, adversely affects the quality of education provided and significantly affects those hardest who are already socially disadvantaged and/or those in need of additional instruction. One step ahead when the going is good but two or three steps back when the going gets tough! That seems to be the motto here in Portugal and various other countries throughout the world.

What are we doing here? Instead of closing loopholes that often let the wealthiest (whether it be corporations or individuals) evade contributing to the betterment of society, we continue to allow the middle class and poor take the brunt of the burden. Sadly, our children and youth are ultimately hardest hit.

Let’s put education back where it belongs… as a top priority regardless of one’s socio-economic class. Let’s pave the way for our children to help solve the vastly complicated and overwhelming problems that our generation and the ones before have essentially created (and are still creating!) Another great (anonymous) quote sums up my view “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” We owe it to them, especially now.

Courtney How, Managing Director

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