Co-ops Can Do Something For The Youth

I mentioned last time in this column about my passion for teaching the youth so that they can expand their mindset, plan for their future and pointing out that life has more to offer than what they see around them. While looking around for ideas to which I can base my next article as a follow up from last week, I remember a book I read some few years ago. This book is about the story of Israel’s economic miracle.  But embedded therein, in one of the book’s earlier chapters, some information revealing a government policy for young Israelis. I found out that the Israel military had all the privilege in the world to recruit the best students by the time they graduate or even before they graduate from high school.

While our high school students are having a difficult time deciding what course to take or where to get money for college tuition, the Israeli high school seniors do not face this kind of stress. Everybody is required to report to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recruitment centers for examinations, interview and evaluation. Then they will undergo their training in a particular military unit they are suited for.

Meanwhile, someone asked me a question why they are not being included on this almost serialized discussion on Federalism especially on the talks about Cordillera Autonomy. This person belongs to the generation of young professionals. It seems the youth are not part of and have no say in the discussions, he observed. “Isn’t it a fact that we, the young generation, bear the consequences of whatever the outcome of this political exercise?”, he lamented. “We should also be heard!” By this time, the person I’m talking about must have already been a fully grown adult. Although I still haven’t heard his voice, he is right. The youth are the most affected from the result of all the things we do today.

As to these young Israelis, and that means both male and female, they are not preparing to go to college. They are positioning themselves in order to be recruited by the IDF. The most coveted aspirations of these teenagers, is to be included in the most elite units in the IDF. According to what I’ve read, it is where they will get the best education they ever get in their lives. They learn leadership, critical decision-making, discipline, innovations in technology and of course, survival. These are all essential qualities that will enhance their career later in life.

However, only the best students will be able to be admitted in the IDF Elite Units that are considered to be the equivalence of Harvard, Princeton or Yale University. One particular unit in the IDF where only the extremely exceptional students can be qualified is the Talpiot. By the time they are through with the program, the cadets will earn a University Degree in Math or Physics. The ultimate goal of the course however, is to transform the students into mission-oriented leaders and problem solvers. They are trained to be responsible. The phrase, “it’s not my fault”, is removed from their vocabulary.

This is what our own educational system differs from them. Our system is not focused on training our young generation to become leaders with a mission for the good of the country and contribute to solving the ills of society. It is more on memorization and less on critical thinking. And by the time we graduate from college, we forget everything we memorized. Well, at least, that is as far as I’m concerned.

This is the reason why I fully endorse and promote the formation of Laboratory Co-ops in all active, vibrant and thriving co-operatives. Co-operatives can contribute to the development of our young people. Co-ops has that capability to teach leadership, financial literacy and discipline to our young people. Co-ops can make a difference in their lives. Not as good as Israel but the good thing is that someone is going to do something.

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