TO FREEDOM AND THE FUTURE (1)
The lands were barely fertile, its children diseased,development was at a standstill and fear reigned. Meeting after meeting was held in their determination to change their fate. One final gathering changed it all for them. A young graduate, one of the few, said that if ignorance left the land the other woes would follow suit. The parents who believed in the cause sent their children to be taught so they would become educated, a word which only a few of them could pronounce. Night after night the tutors would go to the huts where children were gathered in their quest to learn. The little ones dreamt of days when they would hawk no more, days when their stomachs would be filled, and nights when they would sleep peacefully. Every letter learnt, every word pronounced correctly and every correct math solution was a victory for them.
This is the story the generation after the struggle is told. They are taught to respect and appreciate all that they see around them. “These good roads, the free education, the hospitals you see around were not here in the time of those before you. They are here because education took ignorance and made it hope”, a teacher once said to his class. They have discovered the key that unlocks the padlocks ignorance once placed on them, a key they have vowed to forever pass on; the key to freedom and the future.
This was my entry for the screening stage of the Wole Soyinka at 80 essay contest a few years back. The theme was something along the lines of Education for the Future. It is not exactly how the stories of our communities and countries go but I hope I can tell my children something similar only that at that point it wouldn’t be fiction. When we were in secondary school, I’m sure most of us had this particular essay question popping up at one point or the other, “What are the problems with the education sector?” We would go ahead to list things ranging from lack of facilities, badly maintained ones where the facilities were available, unqualified teachers and so on and so forth.Besides all these, which are major problems, there is the problem of our education system being disconnected from the people. The top schools like to boast about how they follow the British or American curriculum but where is the room for Africa and our individual countries. We follow a precedent set by countries completely different from ours so strictly that these precedents are no longer guidelines but law.
We should want our children to know Newton’s law and what Adam Smith said about economics, they need to know these things to be able to do well in life. However, we should want them to know and understand phenomena from an African perspective also, so that they don’t come out of school being able to list all the problems we face in Africa but with absolutely no clue how to go about solving them. Our education system should be creating the consciousness that a degree or certificate should not be a ticket to places across the sea but a means through which we can make the grass on our side as green as we would like it to be. Our education system should teach more than how ‘x’ can be found in an equation, it should be able to equip young Africans with the tools necessary for Africa to not just survive, but to thrive.