Can our schools nurture the next Obama and Romney?

Saying that the world is truly a global village is no longer a new revelation. Technology has managed to make us all feel like we actually live in the same village. Social media takes this a little further by creating the illusion that we even know each other closely.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

Saying that the world is truly a global village is no longer a new revelation. Technology has managed to make us all feel like we actually live in the same village. Social media takes this a little further by creating the illusion that we even know each other closely.

Technologies like the television, radio and of late the mobile phone and the Internet have destroyed the geographical barriers that kept us far apart for centuries and centuries. Children of today are aware of things that happen miles away and often at the very time they happen. 

The best example of this is the keen followership (almost idol worship) of the football leagues in Europe, precisely the English Premier League. People in Butare or Cyangugu will know almost instantly, the moment a goal is scored against the team they support or the one that it will be playing against.

The technology has also helped children to know something about major events and personalities from different countries without having to read up about them. For example many primary school children will confidently tell you that Barack Obama is the president of the US. Some even have the tendency of asking any white person they see, whether he/she knows Obama personally.

With the US elections drawing closer, many people are taking the time to follow events in the US keenly as the country decides whether to keep Barack Obama in office or replace him with Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Just before I wrote this piece, the buzz on Facebook and Twitter was about the second public debate between Obama and Romney.

The debates between the two presidential candidates always get people talking but personally it got me thinking. My mind has been toying with the idea of establishing public debates in schools especially for those seeking to be student leaders.

Schools often allow students to campaign for posts as prefects and the process is almost similar to what happens in the world out there. The students submit their names and then they are vetted by the teachers. The ones with poor academic or discipline records are kicked off the list early enough leaving those that the school administration feels are able to lead fellow student.

Once the final lists are out, students move from class to class and to the dormitories trying to convince their colleagues to vote them into office. What I think would be interesting is if schools organised a public debate at least for the top post of head boy or head girl.

The aspiring leaders should be asked to explain the plans they have for the school and student population. And because of this, students can be sure of getting a leader who will easily present their issues to the school administration without stammering. 

Such an event would ensure that whoever is elected as a leader is not just a student who is popular but one who can also confidently answer random questions without losing his/her temper as well as coherence in speech. It is such students that can grow up to take on this world with confidence and eloquence.

Away from the debates, I ask you all to pray for a little girl called Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban fighters in Pakistan. Her crime – advocating for education rights for girls like herself. She is in critical condition with a bullet possibly lodged close to her brain.

However what is even more annoying is that the Taliban have vowed to kill her if she survives the gunshot wounds she got. According to the New York Times, the spokesman for the Taliban considers Ms Yousafzai’s crusade for education rights as an obscenity. It is a shame that this young girl can be considered a threat by the militia. Sad indeed.

 

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