If I were a leader in Africa the single change I would aim to bring aboutby Shirumisha Kwayu on 07/20/14
Solomon, the wisest men ever lived said that, ‘righteousness exalts a nation’. In Africa and arguable in the entire world, righteousness is scarce. This is reflected in increasing inequality that leads to injustice and persistent poverty. If I were a leader in Africa the single change I would aim to bring about is reducing inequality, because it kills morale and perpetuates poverty. I would so by reforming education.
Empowering the weak in the society is the solution towards reducing inequality. This can best be done through education that provides knowledge and skills as Francis Bacon once said that ‘Knowledge is power’. Knowledge has the power to create and innovate. The empowering through knowledge is the most practical and efficient means to build a more equal and just society. Research has it that one of the most powerful explanatory factors for Chinese success in the last 35 years is learning, done under a Confucius concept known as Jiaohua- meaning transforming the society by learning. As an Africa leader, in the midst of other commercial and diplomatic relations with China, I would imitate their concept of Jiaohua with an African flavor to suit into my society’s context and cultural sensitivities. Education is the best inheritance that this nation can confer to its citizens - an inheritance that is mobile, safe and instrumental in times of trouble. Education helps citizens to cope with the socio-economic environment of wherever they go around the universe. Good education enables citizens to survive in a world that becomes more competitive each morning. It is a password to engage in a connected world, lifetime endowment and a sustainable investment. Education capacitates productivity. An educated society is able to fight for its rights leading to just institutions that provides and protect equal opportunities for all. Therefore, education remains to be the crucial infrastructure for progression and sustainability of a nation. In light of this, as a leader, I would uphold education as a tool to empower the weak, fight poverty, and make the society equal. To this end, an education reform would be a must.
Education is a sophisticated means of production. It is an expensive investment! The preference to provide free education for all is desirable and possible. However, experience has shown us that it impairs quality. Moreover, free education in Africa has mostly been made possible with donor money, which can cease any time donor’s interest on education dies. A better education needs heavy investment, which is costly. The question is, how do we cover these costs sustainably? The appealing solution would be to charge education fee relatively to one’s income. Thus, citizens who have more income pay more than those who have less income for the same type and quality education. All schools, private, faith-based, and public/government owned schools would provide the same quality education with equal pay to teachers. Thus, the government would subsidize education costs of the weak in the society. In this way we would prevent free riders and most important we would unlock potentials of the beneficiaries and the society in general.
Another aspect of education reform would be pedagogical. The focus would change from teaching to learning, from a subject orientation to a training orientation, from education of life preparation to education as part of life. This reformation is essential to suit the needs of the present and future time. Learning is necessary for the independence of individual; training builds confidence and certainty whereas education as part of life is the sustainability of our society.
To achieve the above two reforms, there are three crucial things that must be done. First, the need to revisit and formulate an education policy that would ensure all missing gaps is filled. This will require evidence based policymaking bringing in different stakeholders and community at large. To make policy for an education that is part of life would require involvement of communities so that they own and hence ensure its implementation. Second, there would be a need to create and maintain capable institutions that would be able to embed education as part of life in our society. And third, there would be a need to change attitudes towards education and understand it as an investment that is expensive but with high returns. Having right education policies and institutions but without investment, is like clouds without rain.
In conclusion therefore, if I were a leader in Africa the single change I would institute is education reform. Education reforms would be done through formulation of proper policy, creation of strong institutions, and ample investment. Education is the most effective weapon to fight inequality through provision of equal opportunities to members of the society. This would ultimately uphold righteousness and our continent would be exalted.