February 20, 2005

Education, Human Resources and Leadership

EDUCATION, HUMAN RESOURCE AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: A Karen Context
By -- Saw Kapi

The intent of this missive is to generate discussion on the role of education and human resource building in the process of developing a people; in this case, the Karens. In this discussion, I will try to explore the interrelation involved with the challenge of human resource development currently faced by our people, and assess at least the present level of educational attainment among young Karens. Attempts will then be made at the end to offer suggestions on the programmatic tasks for all groups and organizations that aim to take part in our national development process. In mapping out a development path for our people, it is important that we place special emphasis on the youth as they always play a crucial role in the process of national development. It is imperative, also, that a development program is developed to empower our young people to make a meaningful contribution to the development of our entire Karen population.

While some politically sensitive factors are beyond our control, achieving higher education through any available means is something we can and should focus on. It has been a proven fact that educational attainment among our young people can have a great positive impact on our overall national development. In the meantime, we need to make sure that we develop a patriotic human resource base needed for advancing the goals of national development. For this reason, we first need to find out our current human resources both domestically and internationally, create a network among Karen students and academics, and then generate ideas and opinions on how to develop our own society. Thinking about Karen human resources, it would be highly deficient to look only at those who can ascend to high positions in the government. Nor will it be enough to analyze only those who at present have access to higher education. And yet, it is crucial that we start from some point and move on with whatever is available to us.

“If we truly are aspired to prosper as a people, having a strong knowledge-based human resource is quintessential.”

At present, available statistics indicate that we have more than two hundred Karen students studying in vocational institutes in Singapore, and about forty to fifty in Thailand, and more than fifty Karen students are now going to the universities and colleges, studying in different fields, throughout North America. It is indeed encouraging to see that many Karen students are studying computer science, engineering and business administration. A good number of them in Singapore are in nursing programs. A few studying in the United States are pursuing their advanced degrees in fields such as economics and laws.

However, acquiring education is not an end in itself; it, in fact, is only a means through which we seek to accomplish our goals. The question then is, where and how are we going to use our knowledge and expertise? While young people must be encouraged to acquire scientific information through education, research and other means, they must also be continually reminded of their fellow Karens, who often have to struggle and survive under entirely different circumstances. While many of us may find it difficult to secure means and access to a higher education inside the country at present, a coordinated effort to prepare ourselves for further study abroad is consequently necessary. It is, therefore, essential that those of us who are studying at the colleges and universities abroad have regular communication (or network) with those who are inside and are willing to try and invest in their future education. This should be done on an individual basis as well as by means of organized group-efforts. Even though we do not have either the infrastructure or the resources to embark on any kind of program on a massive scale, we can start with self-support educational funding or loan programs that encourage our young people to get started with their search for further educational opportunity.

Outreach educational programs that target the historically disadvantaged communities in order to encourage educational interests amongst young people can be very instrumental to achieving our objectives. The unfortunate part in this type of outreach is that the demand for resources will always exceed what can be made available. We must realize that such a situation may well create competition, and it is only important that we utilize whatever available resources not only with a sense of responsibility to fairness but also to their optimum. At present, we can see that many of our young people find it so difficult to get to the level where they can be ready to grasp whatever opportunity may present itself.

Conservative estimates suggest that the rate of Karen students who continue their schooling beyond high school has gone down. Criticisms have been circulating that young Karens are not trying hard to seek education but many of them are abusing alcohol and drugs, and that they are falling behind compared to their counterparts from other nationalities. Worse is the situation of our people in certain conflict areas, where most of the time, the absence of even modest educational institution is common. Not only is the living situation extremely harsh for those in such areas, but the total lack of opportunity for the children and young people to pursue any kind of formal education is the greatest loss suffered by them. In some cases, the absence of a peaceful environment is the major obstacle to acquiring proper education for our children who will inevitably become key players in the future.

Several factors contribute to the current predicament of our people, and yet we must not fail to see that an organized effort to encourage our young people for competition in educational achievement can make a huge difference for development in the future. Obviously, churches and church-affiliated organizations can play a crucial role in this regard. The Karen Educational Foundation recently established by a group of successful Karen businessmen for Karen students studying in Singapore is inspiring and indeed helpful. The Klo & Kweh Educational Development Programs, first idealized and now materialized by some farsighted Karen youths currently studying in the United States, is at its early stage in providing scholarship primarily, but not restrictively, to high school students who maintain their cultural knowledge and social consciousness. One of the objectives of the KKEDP is to establish a resource center for Karen students who want to explore the possibilities of further education: especially to study abroad. It also aims to create a coordinated connection between Karen students inside and outside, and provide the opportunity to share their educational experience as well as practical information about education systems abroad. It is hoped that such information sharing and networking will open the eyes of many more young people and, in the meantime, unfold opportunities for their study.

Today, Karens are faced with numerous pressing national issues. Among them is the need to nurture a new breed of leadership that can critically question its surroundings and wisely develop it for the betterment of the whole community. It is imperative that educators and intellectuals of all backgrounds, few as they may be among the Karens, play their own role in this process. Our sense of sharing and our sensitivity to injustice around us are as important as our educational attainment and our professionalism. Rendering service to and for the betterment of our own people must become a unique trait of our new leaders. To this end, the new generations Karen leadership must, at least, learn to see the situation around them "not as they simply are, but as they come to be." They will then have to shape their environment the way they see just and lead their people on to the path of development.

If we truly are aspired to prosper as a people, having a strong knowledge-based human resource is quintessential. Circumstances may not always be in our favor to build our own institutions and infrastructures; nonetheless, through farsighted programs and well-managed projects, we can help promote educational opportunities for our young generation. It is through modern education that we must seek to build a strong human resource foundation, which must essentially serve as a vehicle to carry our people forward.

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2 comments:

Wendi said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.

A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.

We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.

The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". personal development

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