Advances in technology have brought about many changes in our lives. They have made our lives simpler, better, healthier and even safer.
This era of technology has also influenced the norms and values of societies. Globally, there has been a decay of morals and values. Spiritual and ethical values have been undermined. People are becoming self-centered. As a result of the fast deterioration of morality, antisocial behaviors are becoming rampant throughout the world. Developing and developed countries are equally troubled by the misconduct of their youth.
Children and the youth are supposed to grow in a morally good environment for their own individual development and societal advancement. Social values and moral principles hold a society together. Understanding the benefits of social values families, governments and non-government organizations are working to impart moral principles and values to their fellows to make them better and responsible citizens. We can say that the greatness of any nation can be predicted by the principles and values upheld by its youth. Education is a principal instrument used in promoting knowledge, skills, habits, values and positive attitudes and enabling the young generation to be contributors to the development of their country and the world.
Social values are seen in the social relationships and social institutions created by a society. They serve as a glue to cement the social relations of the society. Social values determine the nature of the economic and political structure of a society. Values such as perseverance, confidence, peace, love, adaptability, hospitality, self-reliance, benevolence, etc. help build a stable and prosperous country.
The Eritrean society has rich cultural heritage and also developed progressive values during the liberation struggle. The Eritrean culture is characterized by perseverance, love of country, respect for humanity, unity, love of truth and justice, respect for law, hard work, self-confidence, self-reliance, courage and faith. We must cherish, preserve and develop these values which helped us to become triumphant in the past and must be the core of our national values again to help us be successful in the process of nation building. Social, political and educational institutions of the country have to give appropriate attention to these values and impart them on children and the youth. The government is working to encourage the values of solidarity, love and respect of family, unity, equality, tolerance and the like by incorporating them in the nation’s curriculum. Eritrean students are taught citizenship education that is centered on the Eritrean culture and tradition and on national and international values in order to create a tolerant and harmonious society. To educate means to help the youth understand the interests of the society and to fashion their personal interests in a way that does not contradict the collective interests. There is no more stupidity than craving to enjoy the luxury of life without paying your debt to the poor that have paid for your education.
Social problems can no longer be solved by political measures as international problems between nations cannot be solved by war. Social values that could bring about peace, unity and stability are the only safe bases for building a better future. The social world of twenty first century is interwoven by networks of communication that have undermined the political boundaries among nations of the world. Technology has turned the planet into a global village. Although we walk and work on different countries we share the same web, we adhere to the same values and we are all affected by a single event that has happened somewhere in the world. Egocentrism and individualism cannot help us to make the world our home. Since individualism is a disintegrative behavior, coordinated efforts must be undertaken to ensure that it does not get transmitted to the next generation.
In Eritrea, institutions such as schools, the mass media, the film and music industries have been working to inculcate the necessary values in the minds of the youth. For instance, Sawa is one such place where the Eritrean youth from different parts of the country and walks of life come together and gain the experience, knowledge, and values necessary for employment and active citizenship. “To create hard working, disciplined and an ever ready generation that participate in reconstruction” is one of the objectives of national service in Eritrea (Article 5). Again, the revised civil code of Eritrea states that the law of the land “should reflect our national values and norms (which is) one of the lessons of our accumulated experience.” The national charter of Eritrea also stipulates that “caution should be exercised so that aspects of our heritage such as love of family and people, and community and cooperation, are not eroded by individualism and selfishness in the name of modernization.” The draft constitution of Eritrea maintains that “the State shall encourage the values of community solidarity and the love and respect of family” (Art 11/2). The general objective of education, among others, is “to produce a population equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and culture”.
However in order for the youth to become good citizens of a society first and foremost families must guide their children in the correct path. Family is the first and major agency of socialization that has great influence in terms of value inculcation. Families should strive to give good values more than material goods to their children. Family is the first home of citizenship and parents are the first and most important teachers that teach values. Therefore, they should train their kids and work all the time to accumulate social capital.
In sociology the term “Lost Generation” is used to indicate the moral loss or aimlessness of young adults. In order to save our generation, families alongside government agencies should tirelessly strive to inculcate the moral values such as truthfulness, patience, obedience, honesty, integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, tolerance, loyalty, justice, fairness and equality. The programs and activities of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) must be directed toward the physical, emotional, cultural, intellectual and moral wellbeing of the Eritrean youth. Young people with immense power and moral values can make Eritrea prosperous. The prosperity of Eritrea depends more on the moral dispositions of its youth than on its natural riches.
Thanks to the expansion of education, Eritrea has made major strides in its efforts of eradicating illiteracy. However, we should remember that the mere ability to read and write or even the acquisition of college degrees alone cannot turn the youth into agents of development. We have to make sure that our education is tied up to the values of the Eritrean society. We can make our country great with a combination of education, values and discipline. The same way as we make terracing to prevent soil erosion, we have to protect our values from the immoral avalanche of foreign culture that threaten our values and our very nature.