One Rwandan elder once said about the current developments in Rwanda, that the sky rocketing education system and the increasing number of graduates should be greatly commended for the country’s current position on sustainable development.
“I vividly remember moving in the Bushy Kigali in 1980s and you could not distinguish a country’s major city with the dilapidated ghettos of the poorest Jamaican villages. Even the few graduates at the time depended much on the mercies of those in power for survival,” he noted.
Giving a simple discrepancy from the 1975 Education Act in Rwanda and the one revised in 1985 that greatly deprived Rwandese a chance to attain similar level and quality of education which played a principal role in the periphery of the country’s worst history.
Today, a lot has been done in the country’s education system to empower the future generation by providing quality education and build strong base for sustainable development.
While still digesting the elder’s comments about the state of Rwanda today and how education should not be underestimated in the country’s road to development, I received a message that we had visitors at the embassy from Rwanda who were here on official duties but spared time to address the Rwandan students studying and living in Beijing china.
A lot was said, but one Odette Uwamariya, the director of cabinet in the Office of Prime Minister gave me something to keep reflecting on for the remaining part of my life as an educationist.
She pointed out the number of delegates who they had moved with, very young Rwandans but who came to terms with what was happening home and decided to find the answers even before they finished their studies, some started companies that supply clean water simply because that was their field of specialization and they had seen it wanting back home.
“Study hard, do research and add knowledge to the one that is already in existence, it is that knowledge that will change policies for the better and be able to build a sound and vibrant economy and she summed up her speech by a serious note that “you are the greatest human resource that the country is proud of”.
But the question remains, is Uwamariya the first person to make such statements and what change has it brought in their respective countries? On the aftermath of Chinese social revolution, Mao Zedong, mentioned building a strong human resource with a vibrant education system that is directly connected to the country’s needs and the working life of all Chinese people and in so doing, the country’s economy will grow and unemployment will be no more in their country, believe me Chinese have fundamentally succeeded in their quest for a self sustaining economy and addressing unemployment among graduates.
Before a student graduates from the University, he or she is sure of where is going to be working from, some even graduate when they already have their contracts, as we struggle to get our applications submitted for any job position, the employers here struggle to get workers and its lays heredity in the country’s education philosophy which is having a common language between education and working life.
Away from China which attributes its recent economic triumphs to the quality of education and its human resources, American which is yet another economic vanguard attributes its triumph to the quality of its education that is directly connected to the needs of America, the nature of the country and the working life of the American people. For so long they recognized that investing quality education would greatly contribute to the common good, enhancing national prosperity as well as supporting families to be stable in all spheres, neighborhoods, and communities.
Educationist and other policy makers must understand that education has even become more critical today than it was many years ago, amidst economic, environmental, and social challenges, the contemporary in particular school going children can and will be able to face head-on and address future challenges if their schooling and other informal learning activities prepare them for adult roles as citizens, business owners, employees, parents, volunteers as well as managers.
To get the accolades as fully responsible adults, young people must develop various skills and knowledge that will facilitate their mastery and application of all they have studied throughout their school time to the employment field.
The hunt for jobs especially for young graduates has become a serious outcry in all developing economies particularly in Africa and some Asian countries and while looking at what could be done address the problem for these mentioned growing economies and the hunt for jobs for their graduates. Policy makers and other political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop skills such as higher-order thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management.
Private institutions, policymakers, and education organizations and other education research institutions have attempted to highlight several recommendable skills to change the status quo and be able to help the public understand how the teaching and learning of such skills is important for life of work and the needs of the country for its general and sustainable development
The contemporary education policies seems to dwell much on recalling the past and the procedures, and thus airs out yet a countenance to a wider teaching and learning of transferable 21st century skills and competencies. However, recent policy developments offer opportunities to address this challenge especially on the conceptualization of the knowledge and skills to be mastered in each discipline, including various facets of 21st century competencies of the learners and be able to align with the necessary requirements or demands in the field of work.
The write is a PhD student of Comparative Education and leadership at Beijing Normal University