In pursuit of merit: powered by investing in education

By Azam Dawood

Is meritocracy real? Does it actually exist? It’s certainly hard to see in our everyday lives. In fact, we tend to see more examples that question our faith in the idea of meritocracy than we do those that enforce it. Whether it is real or not is not the relevant question. Meritocracy represents an ideal that we, as a Canadian society, must continue to strive for. Meritocracy wields tremendous power in its ability to motivate us and drive us. It is an unwavering belief in meritocracy that underpins our pursuit of success and progress.

Some say, and statistics suggest, that the income gap continues to widen – that the bridge between the have’s and have not’s continues to grow. Socio-economic mobility is at an all-time low, at a level more consistent with our days as an aristocracy than today’s modern society. Is yesterday’s class structure still alive? Are we putting up more barriers so that the bridge to success fraught with more obstacles than ever before?

Today, information is more readily and equally available to everyone than at any other time in our history. There are no longer any secrets to success. Everyone can access the base information required to foster success and mobility. What differentiates us from each other are effort and education. These are the pillars that generate opportunity and they operate in concert with each other to help us cross the bridge.

Effort and the desire to succeed have been components of this journey since the beginning of civilization. We look across to the other side of the bridge and our ambition grows. As long as we can see a path to the other side, we recognize that an opportunity exists and our desire is fueled.

Education is the vehicle that drives us across the bridge. It gives us our sense of direction and provides us with the tools needed to make it to the other side. Our education system has suffered numerous indignities over the past twenty years – from disappearing funding to labour issues to declining expectations and standards. The vehicle is damaged. It is in need of maintenance and in need of improvement to today’s standards.

Our education system, as a foundational pillar in the pursuit of success, needs help.  If we are to continue in our pursuit of progress and in the ideal of meritocracy, we must invest in educating ourselves.  Education will move us forward and will allow society to continue to leverage our greatest asset – the power of ourselves.  It certainly merits our attention and best efforts.

Azam Dawood (UCC ’89), a UCC Dad, is CEO of Flying Colours International and Vice President of Dafina Advisory Services.

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