Africa needs to review its education system. Education ought to empower African people with skills and knowledge to manage African development. This implies a demand driven education system. It is demoralizing to see African school curricula filled with knowledge that does not translate into any development related effort.
As soon as children leave their homes, where education is actually demand driven and relevant to each families' plans and activities, they are faced with a new and off target system. At inception, emphasis is put on learning a foreign language. This leaves them detached from the education at home. Of course, a foreign language is needed for future linkages, but local languages should not be excluded! All networking should start at national and regional level, therefore, why do children go for say, English and not Swahili in the first place?
When it comes to knowledge, a good understanding of their environment is well taught, but it is not related to the potential for development and the future role each of the children may have. The situation is made worse where the teachers themselves originate from a pre-cambrian education system. In this case, teachers' ability to link knowledge to the actual reality tends to be minimal. The victim is the school child, who then studies to only pass examinations and go to higher classes.
Even at secondary school level the situation is not different. These are adolescent students, the most important age for development of Africa. Their exposure is too wide and most often based on foreign geography and some national plus African issues, which predominantly lack focus on the development of the continent. The ultimate goal for education even at this level would be formation of future developers of the continent. They must grow up well aware of their tasks, the difficulties involved and possible solutions based on existing opportunities and resources. At this stage, very few students know how endowed mother Africa is.
Is Africa poor? This is far from the truth. Africa is very rich and should be depicted so. It is this knowledge that would empower our children with vigour to be prepared to use learnt skills and knowledge to steer the development of the continent. Furthermore, University education is not different. Today some people even think of a universal curriculum for University education! This would kill innovation and relevance of University education.
Africa is diverse and each environment has different demands. These demands should shape the curriculum and note the academia thinking about what would be most scientific or better artistic. The issue is, does the offered knowledge and skills empower our university graduates to contribute to national and Africa's development? Higher education institutions ought to exercise the freedom to develop demand driven curricula that meets community needs, and finely leads to African development. We are not leaving in contemporary times. Africa is far behind. Therefore, we must act as soon as yesterday for a better Africa. Let all curricula from primary to University level be fine tuned to meet Africa's needs.
By Dr. Ssekyewa Charles
Director of Research, Uganda Martyrs University
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