Wed, Jul 15, 2015
One recent survey found that 80 percent of Grade 3 pupils in Sokoto cannot read a single word.
The inherited “dogma of two” is the absolute truth.
“One plus one equals two” has become a global rhyme sung by an appreciable number of school going children in the world at large, and those in Africa, in particular. It is commonly heard during the infant stages when the innocent creatures have had their naïve awareness enriched with a new, reportedly future-saving skill (according to the children’s teachers) of arithmetic called addition. It is indeed future-saving as long as “the future” is laden with an avalanche of theoretical exams. It gives birth to a pang of shame in the onlooker, seeing that when a child attempts to question the correctness of the rhyme by maybe arguing that “one plus one equals three”, they are met with a strong resistance from the teachers. Even when the child showcases a thoughtful reasoning to invent their own theory, this emerging genius is suppressed. The dogma of two is the absolute truth! What is further saddening is the fact that this glorified truth is an inheritance of the West and European education policies. The extent of the dogma is so widespread that it reaches the superior levels of education like university education. I believe this step by step transfer of prejudice is sustained by the immense glorification of the dogma in the grassroots of infantry. The maturation of the dogma is in synch with advancement of education levels. At university, there’s even a more complicated problem.
The dogma has influenced the policies that are used to run the universities, the delivery mechanism of knowledge and the political atmosphere. For example, in the department of engineering at Makerere University, the “Harvard of Africa” as it is called by many elites; lectures are so rigid that they find it hard to embrace project methodology that is entirely aided by computer modelling. The dogma has gotten a serious hold of them that for some work to qualify to as a project, the project methodology must involve field activities. Well, they could be right, but the issue is that their rigidity has made, out of a dogma, a severely limited final year project policy. The policy is too blind to see that computer modelling could be a breakthrough and or an additional skill for the department. This kind of absolutism has derailed a once renowned University in Africa. Is it the lecturer’s fault or are they simply following a fault-filled, documented policy? It is heart-breaking to see that, either way, the dogma reigns.
What could have been the state of the situation in case we did not accept this inheritance? Well, it is important to note that I’m not against the European and or Western education policies as the propellants of our education system. I am against the way we glorify them as absolutes in that we shut down the innovative and cognitive faculties of our highly rich human instincts as Africans. A merger of the African education policy with the earlier mentioned policies would be great.
Has Africa’s Education System reached a poignant climax?
If you want a glimpse into Africa’s education crisis there is no better vantage point than the town of Bodinga, located in the impoverished Savannah region of Sokoto state in north-western Nigeria. Drop into one of the local primary schools and you’ll typically find more than 50 students crammed into a class. Just a few will have textbooks. If the teacher is there, and they are often absent, the children will be on the receiving end of a monotone recitation geared towards rote learning. One recent survey found that 80 percent of Sokoto’s Grade 3 pupils cannot read a single word. They have gone through three years of zero value-added schooling. More still, roughly 3 million school-aged children in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso are not enrolled in school. National survey data from Mali reports that only 47 percent of rural eligible children were enrolled in the first level of schooling in 2006. This underscores the urgent educational policy problem of how to effectively engage out-of-school children.
A glance at the Uganda Vision 2040, section 5, sub-section 5.3 on education and literacy, is met with highly convincing statistics exalting the triumph of Uganda’s education strategies. This statistic, whose authenticity and reliability is over rated, portrays an overwhelming rise in overall enrolment in schools and universities back home in Uganda. The overwhelming rise has not translated to an equally overwhelming rise in quality of scholars. Maybe they can’t assess the quality. Who knows why they left it out? I guess no one knows!
With the above real realities engulfing the African education system, one can comfortably conclude that the education system in Africa has reached a poignant climax. By making this seemingly inevitable conclusion, are we really being harsh to our very own? Well, maybe we should reduce on the judgemental attitude. A lot of recognisable and firm elites have been born of this system. My only cry is, “why is the legacy steadily fading?” I believe this is owed to the fading physical reasoning and I must say a revival plan is incumbent on the elites of the continent.
Physical reasoning is the break out route from the dreadful dogmata.What is education? Have Africans forgotten the meaning of education? The ultimate aim of any education system is to equip children with the numeracy, literacy and wider skills that they need to realize their potential and that their countries need to generate jobs, innovation and economic growth. The latter fruits of education can only be achieved if Africans embrace physical reasoning. The few enlightened ones need to intensively engage in activities geared to liberalise the mindsets of the beneficiaries in the education sector. The activities include studying the present curricula, adding the liberal policies that have made them the liberal elites that they are, so as to unlock the dogma of two embedded in there. More still, the elites should wholeheartedly invest in kindergarten education, enriching it with curricula that uphold the fusion of African culture with the other policies. This will eradicate the growth of dogma at the grassroots hence an overall eradication will suffice. In the end, we’ll have a mega revamping of the African society because education is the arena for mass enlightenment. (Image Credit: USAID)
Edrine Habasa is an autodidact bridge engineer, dialectician and knowledge enthusiast. He's also a debunker of falsehoods as he champions the truth.
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