You Don’t Value Your Gold Until You’ve Lost It.

The following letter comes to us by the way of Ethiopia, authored by a very bright and knowledge hungry adult student who is attending an American college here in the Southeast. The topic and basis of the discussion from their professor was for each student to determine what challenges or motivates them to get an education. This student took it upon herself to share her personal experiences growing up in another country and the differences in her home country’s education system as opposed to that of the United States. As you read this think about your personal perspective about education and see if there are similarities or differences between what is written here and your own worldview. Feel free to discuss in the comment section. (Other than a few grammatical corrections this letter is unedited and in her own words.) Permission from the student was granted to post her letter in this blog.
This might help to motivate the students in my class. In my opinion, it seems to me they don’t have any idea of the opportunity they have by sitting in the College Success class. Here is an old Ethiopian saying “A fool will be thirsty in the midst of the spring water”. School from where I came from (Ethiopia) is totally different. When I say different, I don’t mean it is best but I am glad that I had different experience to appreciate what is on hand and what I get. Without doubt, every Ethiopian is desperate to attend school. To do well at school is to gain the highest recognition with your peers, your family and also key to open doors to embrace your future. 70 to 75 students share one Classroom. Text books borrowed from school at the beginning of the year one for 5 to 6 students. Taking notes on lecture time is the only means of grasping the important information. The biggest challenge start when students start high school. The English language is taken as one subject in lower class will be the learning language almost all of high school classes. Every year a student must pass an endorsement exam, at Grades 8 & 10 these are nationally assessed, otherwise they are regionally evaluated. Failure means repeating a year, after a second failure the student can no longer attend a government school. Entry level grades to universities and colleges are continually being revised upwards as more students pass through the system and government college/university expansion is unable to accommodate all new entrants. To attend ones interest of study depends on the student’s score and how many spots are available at each university and within ones choice. But if the student passed with a lower score or if the student’s universities of choice are full, then the government can place the student in another university with a different course of study. From an American perspective, I know how this sounds, but until the last couple of decades, there were only few universities in Ethiopia, so spots were very limited and very competitive. Now there are around 31 universities so acceptance is still competitive but more openings exist for students to attend. Motivation always depends on your needs to achieve something. Abraham Maslow, considered by many to be the father of modern management psychology believed everyone is capable and has the desire to reach their highest hierarchy  of self actualization.”  If you are competing from 80,000 students to attend two Universities; keep in mind universities capacity are not more than 30,000 students every year, and Math was the key of getting in, you will be motivated to succeed in algebra or any higher level math. If there were no Pell-grants, no student loans, not enough text books, no college successes classes and no exams re- takes, in my opinion, we might see fewer students in college but every one of them would fight harder to be better in  math and they would relate school to every aspect of their life. It is not effective only for math however, but for most areas of our lives. If we really need it we will try to get it; if we really TRY to get it we will succeed in getting it.

Konjit Whitaker

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