For the last 10 days or so I have been (gratefully) engaged in a consultancy assignment, which requires me to review higher education policies in Tanzania. This has been eye opening. In addition to documentary reviews, I have had to carry out semi-structured interviews with a number of key stakeholders in higher education in Tanzania. The assignment has consumed lots of my time but it has also came at a right time when I am reading Piketty, whose major conclusion, after analysis of cross-countries data cutting through centuries, is – diffusion of knowledge is the most sustainable way of reducing inequality. Discussion of this will be subject to a review of Piketty’s book, which I hope to do it this June.
Well, so while interviewing one bright officer, he got very emotional explaining how Tanzanian youths have come to like shortcuts in life. He lamented that youths want to acquire materials without working hard. They want to drive expensive cars that they cannot maintain, etc etc…He then said worst of all, youths are no more patriotic to the country. He further observed and complained that “the President’s monthly speeches do not touch on these issues.” He said, “the President should use the platform (monthly speeches) to talk about patriotism, ethics, and our values. He should not come out to tell the nation how many things the government has done, those are the jobs of watendaji, not the president. He should learn from Nyerere who addressed the nation to be faithful to its values, nationalistic, and proud of the country.” Wow! I was touched by this guy! I left his office with so much joy yet with lots of worries in my heart – a mixed feeling at its core. Happy because we still have bright Tanzanian youths who look so ordinary yet they think about the country and its issues day and night. Worried because I wondered how did we get here? Why are Tanzanians fighting their own values? I recalled (I hope it was a rumour) some tweets on Draft Constitution debates in which some groups in the Constitution Assembly were apparently advocating for the removal of ‘values’ section! Well, that evening I went to have dinner and drinks with friends at Sea Cliff and the conversations led me to thinking of these things more…I was there smiling and having fun but my earlier interview/conversation with the officer influenced my silent interpretation of whatever discussion we were having…although lots of it were on music, fun, relationships, etc (thanks to God we didnt touch politics!!! Sighhhh)….
Anyways, so we talked about talents and the importance of enhancing our children’s talents. Somebody in the table commented that many parents in Tanzania are now willing for their children to be musicians or artists after seeing the success in these industries. This was not the case before. Indeed, music and movie acting in Tanzania are becoming increasingly popular. This is alright. At least (or hopefully) economically- as Nigerians’ recent GDP have shown!
Mmmh so in Tanzania, government leaders and politicians have also embraced the musicians and actors…as well as wanting to live like them or fancying their celebrity lifestyles…fair enough! It’s sexy…I hope!
But I want to stress one thing…let’s make education sexy too! Or rather lets highlight the sexiness of education …because I believe nothing is sexier than education. It is long lasting. I am speaking from experience. Sorry if you don’t like it…because I am going to educate myself even more so I can be more and more sexy….so watch the space!…and you are warmly invited to follow along…
But how then do we make education sexy as a nation????
How do we make parents increasingly sacrifice everything they have for the best education of their children? how do we make society see and appreciate the sexiness of education? How do we make politicians, government leaders admire, appreciate, and relate to educated youths as much as they do to celebrities?
These are the questions that I am leaving you to ponder…and if you are kind enough please share your thoughts!