EDUCATION; FINDING OUR ROAD TO THE FUTURE AS AFRICA
The other day I listened keenly to Wole Soyinka talk over the t.v and I admired the vehemence and admiration with which he narrated his ordeal.
A few months later, another story came about the death of Prof Ali Mazrui, a man I had known right from the time I was in form one in a school somewhere in a village setting. I had coincidentally landed my hands on a newspaper that talked about Mazrui and his chancellorship at the JKUAT plus his great works. Earlier lone though, I had read Ngugi wa Thion’go’s A Grain Of Wheat and I Will Marry When I Want which he co-authored with Ngugi Wa Mirii, later on I read more about the works of these scholars and I did love two more texts by wa thion’go; Devil On The Cross and Decolonizing the mind. The late Wangari Maathai, another great Kenyan, a woman, shone throughout the world up to the point of winning a Nobel Peace Prize and demonstrated what education can do to the girl child. You might be wondering why I had to start here but I had to.
Prof Ali Mazrui was celebrated so much for telling the African story as it is, engaging scholars on pertinent issues such as poverty, education, culture and politics. He wrote about them and Africans read them-so I think-. Nelson Madiba Mandela, an iconic figure of hope for the African continent said that education holds power for the transformation of this continent and so do the likes of Ngugi and other scholars like Soyinka believe. Then, has Africa done enough justice to the ideas placed at her disposal by great leaders and scholars who believe in the future of this continent? Perhaps I should ask myself this question, perhaps you ask yourself. We make Africa.
Ignorance is a huge factor that fuels corruption, violence, discriminations, bad leadership and all kind of ill acts in our society, a thing that is contributed to largely by low literacy levels. Africa has always been looked down upon as a disposal of second hand items ranging from machinery to clothes to industrials products and many more others. Maybe sour petroleum is rich in our markets. Poorly manufactured electronics, sub standard alloy metals constitute our machines and they break as soon as they are bought. In fact ours is a market for fake items which break too easily and are disposed right here in our midst; Africa. Are we doing justice to ourselves? I bet not, this ignorance should end.
Unemployment news hits our airwaves every day, ask why and the blame will be on our education systems, our policies, our corrupt systems, our leaders and we forget to mention ourselves. We forget to look at what we can do to avoid these mishaps. If we brought together our efforts as a continent and decide to work together, we could be far today.
So what do we do?
John Dewey (1859-1952) an American philosopher and educator said that learning is summed in a phrase “learning by doing,” “education” he said, “is a process of living.” Are we learning by doing? Can we say ours is learning? Learning makes the basis of any civilization. Unless we want to say our own story, it will obviously be said on our behalf. Education is all we need in our struggles. Let us encourage our children to learn, let our people get an education. With education we can fight our poorly dominated political systems, we can say no to corruption since we can be able to see that it is our resources being stolen and not the “government’s” as been mystified to look now. With education we can have our priorities right: education, food security, health and security could be at the top, and not office miscellaneous expenses. Our government could be able to see the value of distribution of wealth and support to our schools, colleges and universities. With education the people can have a chance to see the value of resources at their disposal and hence poverty could decline.
With high literacy levels and good quality education, tribal discriminations could decline since sycophancy that we see today could be a thing of past. People will begin to see the value of life and hence insecurity and extra judicial killings could be on the downward trend. Exploration of talents for economic gain will be experienced and hence create a continent for all people. With education the people will become participants in our political systems as opposed to parochial. We will become the solutions to our own problems. Let us take quality and affordable education to the villages, let all African countries give education to their people. I would be happy to see we Africans ourselves tell our own African stories. I certainly support Dewey when he was quoted answering his critics that, “It is less important that we all believe alike than we all alike inquire freely and put at the disposal of one another such glimpses as we may attain of the truth…”
My hope for this continent will likely be similar to what Mandela stood for, to what Ngugi believes in, to what Soyinka champions for, far and wide to what Maathai did in fighting for female empowerment through education and environment preservation. The power of us as Africans is in our hands, if we hold our hands together in unity and provide quality education to all people, we accumulate such a power that can transform this continent into a hub of economic, social and political prowess within a short period of time.