Egyptian student Farris Hamid, 6, opens his schoolbag in the hallway at the Egypt British International school in Cairo. Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP

Before Education Was a Profitable Business

A note of appreciation to everyone who ever rose up to the responsibility of being a teacher, to those who lighted a spark that still moves me to this very day. I am forever in debt to you!

It’s not uncommon that we roll our eyes when our parents, or any member of their generation, embark on the oh-so-thrilling journey down memory lane. But it seems like times are now changing fast enough that I look around, and think how “back in my day” things used to be a lot better.

Over the past while, I have often shared my concern over the mindless pursuit of value in materialistic purchases. However, among the things that upset me most is how education has greatly turned primarily into a business that aims at making the most profit. At most schools, maybe -and that is not even guaranteed- character building would assume a spot much later on the priority list.

Before my school turned into another hub for gold diggers, it used to be a pretty good school where I had teachers who had faith in me, teachers I could learn so much from about life and not just academic material.

I may not yet be a writer worthy of mention, but if there’s one thing I know for sure it is that writing is all I ever want to do. Although it took me many, many years to come to this as a definite conclusion, it amazes me how my teachers, 10 or 15 years ago could clearly see it.

In a note that my third primary Arabic teacher Heba Samir wrote me as the year concluded, she said how “I bear the seeds of a brilliant future writer.” Only four years later when I was 12, my English teacher Samah Elnowaihi asked me if she could keep my composition copybook because I demonstrated promising writing skills that she hoped she could show her future students.

Now, as they did back then, such small acts of faith, and many more that I have no room herein to mention, fill me up with belief that I can always be much more than what I think I am, they give me the will and stamina to fight my lack of self-confidence and lack of persistence.

I can go around celebrating every successful piece of writing as an accomplishment of my own, but I would be an ungrateful, unworthy and egocentric idiot if I fail to mention and remind myself of those who believed in me, those who celebrated the potential that I’ve barely started acknowledging, all-together making me who I am today — a not-so-successful writer, but one who has faith in what she can one day become.

Our modern society is screwed up as it is, please don’t make it worse by breeding twisted personalities who have an obscure idea on what really matters in life. If you are a teacher, please be anything like the teachers who put our development as human beings before anything else. Please be a stepping stone for stable grown-ups who will help those around them become the best versions of themselves.

Please stop contributing to this freak-show at the cost of personalities that parents have entrusted you with.

(Inspired by ‘Dead Poets Society’)