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