Informal Education, Culture and Social Integration

Informal education, similar to the formal one enables each and every child to maximize their potential and to become contributing members of a society. It is a fact that intensive, significant and culturally sensitive efforts are needed to allow the children to attain the achievements they need to integrate successfully into the society. Culture is a key discipline that is nurtured mainly via informal educational settings and during the socialisation process.

 

Therefore, a culture is socially learned. To say that culture is socially learned is to say that individuals acquire it in the process of growing up in the society or some other kind of group. Enculturisation generally happens as a normal part of one’s childhood. This denies the fact that culture is transferred genetically by biologically reproduction but something the people born into that group acquire with growing up among other members.

 

When the process of social learning over many generations continues, knowledge will be developed and accumulated. Ideal democratic scenario will suggest that people live today off the cultural knowledge transmitted by the previous generations and will transfer to the next generations together with the new knowledge acquired from the modern society as well. This further paves the way for the development of one’s culture as well.

 

In a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic society like Sri Lanka enculturisation process needs to address the principles of social cohesion that encourages social integration. Hence, the first lessons that come from home should encourage the process of building the values and relations within an individual. Such constructs however are essential to respect another person for who he/she is, irrespective of the language spoken, colour of the skin, gender, age or any other factors. Most importantly, our children should be taught that respecting one’s culture does not hinder us being part of ours.
Human behaviour in this regard varies from culture to culture. Even the two kids in the same family who are brought-up in the same culture differ in their behaviours. The behaviour of individuals varies for several reasons. First, individuals have different social identities: males and females, old and young, rich and poor, parents and children and so forth. Moreover people act and behave differently based on the context and situation as well. Cultural standards for and expectations of behaviour of people therefore are not always clear. It is therefore a mistake to think that all people will behave in the same manner within cultural borders.

 

Informal education is the best platform for our children to learn these differences, to understand the diversity among us: as people of the same culture and from different ones. To understand that the society we live in is for all. We take responsibility to build democratic values and healthy relations among our students as essential for the creation of such an equitable and dynamic society, where all individuals regardless of their race, sex, language, religion, can fully exercise their rights and responsibilities on an equal basis with others and contribute to a cohesive Sri Lanka. As parents and responsible citizens of present, we are to invest for an inclusive society for our children of tomorrow.

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