On Education

It’s late at night and I cannot sleep. It is not insomia but a jetlag. Never before have I suffered a jetlag like this time round despite my enormous travels to countries in all continents but one.  So I’ve decided the best thing is to wake up and read as many international news as I can. After reading most of the international news, which revolve around two major stories: Gaza Strikes and Obama’s trip to Asia. I decided to sit back and reflect on international affairs and development.  China came to my mind.  So I remember my conversation with my brother-Shirumisha that was prompted by an argument that I came across from a book ‘Why Nations Fail’. To paraphrase, the book argues that since China has extractive institutions in place, it is likely that its economic prosperity will not last long. The authors compare the situation with the 1970s USSR when its economy was growing and that a number of economics scholars were even praising it.  Well, whether China’s economic prosperity is sustainable or not is a long debate that cannot be handled in this brief blog entry.  However, the argument in the book reminded me of my bro’s American friend’s grandpa who said that China’s fast growth should not scare US since it will not last.  Well whether that is a consolation or truth is again a subject of a long debate.  When discussing this with my bro, he said ‘listen Aika, China cannot be compared to 1970s USSR because it has sent so many of its children to the world’s top universities to learn and they go back to China and apply that knowledge’. I thought that was a convincing argument although I don’t have data or evidence for it. But in a glance that could be true. In the University of Nottingham, one of the top Universities in the UK, there were so many Chinese students. One of the last seminar groups I taught in ‘International Political Economy and Global Development’  module had all Chinese students apart from two British students. These students always came to class prepared although they could not contribute much due to language difficulties and probably their culture. The evidence of their preparedness was on their essays, which had coherent arguments with relevant back ups from relevant academic journal articles and books. They understood what they were taught. During my PhD research at the University of Nottingham I occasionally invigilated exams and I was always amazed by a number of Chinese students taking engineering courses. Whenever I invigilated an engineering or mathematics exam it was vivid that Chinese students outnumbered other nationalities. This was evident by their use of Chinese-English dictionaries, which, as an invigilator, I had to look through them before allowing the students to use them during exam.  It’s not only the University of Nottingham that has many Chinese students, almost all top universities in the UK and US have significant numbers of Chinese students. Even the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, had her daughter studying at Harvard with a different name.

 However, the argument in this article is not about the future of China but the importance of education in nation building and sustainable prosperity.  Without proper education countries cannot build sustainable economies. Why would China need to educate its youths while it can employ them in the many factories it has all over the country? It is simple! they know education is the only investment that can ensure sustainability throughout.  Inspirational world leaders have also said positive and challenging things about education. These are examples:

 “ In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity- it is a pre-requisite”

Barack Obama

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the World”

Nelson Mandela

 Those are just two examples but there are other world-renown leaders who have spoken about education and its importance in changing people’s lives.

 If Africa wants to change its destiny it has to invest in Education. Discovery of natural resources such as gas and oil and invitation of foreign direct investments will not change Africa’s future. Rare and precious products (from ‘slavery’ to gas&oil) have been discovered in Africa from time immemorial yet the continent is still struggling to keep itself in a strong economic shape.

 It is sad to see how governments in Africa put education in a low priority list and leave it to be the business of either faith-based organizations or donors.  When I look at the schools in my home village, for example, I always wonder if I should cry or laugh. The focus is always on building roads and collecting money for weddings and other parties. These are not bad, but I wonder where should they stand in terms of priority against  education. Looking at the conditions of many schools in Tanzania you can be sure that there will be no development whatsoever in 50 years to come. I am not pessimistic but I am just realistic about the situation. Unless there is a miracle, how can these kids compete in this world when they are receiving such a poor quality education?

 I was very fortunate to have parents who sacrificed everything they had to ensure that my siblings and I are getting the best education. For this, as my dad always tell us, I feel the need to give back to my community. As the famous saying ‘charity starts home’ guides us, I have started a project to raise funds for improving a primary school in my home village. This school is called Nkwasangare Primary School located in Nshara village, Machame. Please help in this effort to secure the future of the precious kids who have no other option but to go that school.  For more, see the Nkwasangare Project Sub-Page in this site under extra-curricular activities.

As for now let me go back and force my self to rest before the dawn so I can fully participate in the AAR Conference sessions later on. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “On Education

    1. Aikande Kwayu

      Thank you Sophia..we really need to work on this issue! Africa can only be saved by education…unfortunately our politicians never see the need for this…I wonder if that is because most of them ‘made it’ without education…:( really sad!

      1. Marsya

        Since there is so many fields of splecaities that I have a choice of, I still really can’t choose one. So I am going base on my personal experiences. My original goal back in high school and maybe even before that, was to work in a Neonatal ICU! I had a brother that passed before he had his first birthday from heart complications, and that year I spent a lot of time at hospitals with my parents. My goal the first couple of years was to work with babies just like him. That was until I had my own children, I would of still loved to have worked in that career field but the heart ache I would most likely endure when one of those babies did not make it home. I could not have handled!On to more positive experiences, I have worked with the elderly and Geriatrics interests me very much. Being surrounded with people that have lived a fulfilled life is so much more rewarding. Even though at times it is the ending stages of their lives, and it is sad when someone does pass. It’s less of a heartache to know that most of the time they are ready to move on. They are still very dependent on you and when you are able to help them with their needs that’s the most rewarding of all, plus you form a special relationship with the patients and their families.

  1. Elaine

    Ive enjoyed reading the article. It is sad how fundrsising /investment for Education in Africa is not on high priority.

  2. Arthur Shoo

    Another quotation relevant to your article……..“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin. I am very impressed by your article Aika. Nations should invest in Education. It pains me when I see the small budget allocated to Education sector by the governments in developing countries. Our leaders are not yet taking the issue of education seriously.

    1. Roberto

      Mikinsey is not one of the big four I think it’s either not big eougnh or does not have an accounting/auditing arm which all big Fours have.The current big Fours are:- PwC- Deloitte- KPMG- E Y (Ernst Young)

    2. Panda

      16aec351ebHey would you mind sharing which blog plratofm you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask! 185

  3. Alilya Emmanuelle

    My mum’s favourite quote – “Learning is the only wealth tyrant that cannot be spoiled”. Education needs more attention and serious call in Africa. I live close to one of higher education institution, and everyday when I pass that road I get so sad. Recently, I had an opportunity to stop by adminstration offices I could not believe what I saw….in short, the environment does not supporting learning of any kind. Students were just scattered around with no proper facilities to equip them with their studies. We need to do something about Education! We need to see changes that we can believe on.

  4. Pingback: Reflections on #Education and #Extremism in Tanzania through the ‘eyes’ of #Tariq Ramadan’s book – Islam and the Arab Awakening (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). | Aikandekwayu

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