Education for development

I was born and bred in one of the East African countries and feel proudly so. I have been fairly educated and feel good about it; however over the years I have travelled, interacted and made several
Students in a practical physics lesson. Practical-oriented educational training is what creates a hands-on labour force.  The New Times / File.
Students in a practical physics lesson. Practical-oriented educational training is what creates a hands-on labour force. The New Times / File.

I was born and bred in one of the East African countries and feel proudly so. I have been fairly educated and feel good about it; however over the years I have travelled, interacted and made several

observations. It goes without saying that education is a pillar of development.

Development is a process that transforms people’s way of life, the development of this country depends on several pillars such as culture, religion and cohesion, technology, environment and good

neighbourhood. My experience is that we have not recognized the true

value of education in Rwanda and indeed Africa in general.

Did you know that the person with the responsibility of educating the future generation might not necessarily be qualified and ready to do so?

Being an educationist I confine my discussion to education and its more immediate environment—creation, processing’s storage and dissemination of knowledge. This is what we in education should do. However, is it what we do? Do we collaborate to improve and expand the educational services for all?

Many children in the rural areas hardly know why they go to schools and those who do could vividly tell that they do it because their parents could not let them stay home. Can anybody stand up and answer some of the questions below that have perturbed me repeatedly?

•What if every person benefited from education that promotes development; education that is environmentally sound, socially equitable, culturally sensitive and economically affordable?

•What if learning was about knowledge and also about doing, being interactive with others and changing the world?

•What if informed learning was enjoyable, hands on and relevant to life outside school while addressing the problems of our world?

•What if every person, benefited from genuine learning opportunities throughout their life, in the workplace and, within the country?

What if the education systems prepared learners to enter the workplace as well as handle crises, be resilient, become responsible citizens, adapt to change and recognize and solve local problems with global solutions, meet other cultures with respect and create a peaceful and sustainable society?

This is exactly why I do not blame but take responsibility by influencing all the stakeholders especially you and I to begin thinking and doing. We have been involved in rhetoric and benefited little from it. I have wondered why our roads are still made and repaired using foreign technology, materials and human capital when every other day there is a large number of engineers from our colleges

and universities.

We are mass consumers and hardly manufacturers indeed; our education system is not sensitive to our local needs and problems. Whose demand does it address then? IT experts for example, will learn how to apply knowledge and get busy learning something new from another person busy producing. We can’t do the catch up game and assume we shall develop someday. We need to ask ourselves the tough questions and find ideal answers through our research. We need to use our platforms to make them known as well as discuss for informing policy.

Our teachers are busy teaching instead of helping out learners by equipping them with useful skills applicable and required for tomorrow. Think about it, most teachers here are neither respected nor regarded as an important person in the society. They touch all our lives as engineers, doctors, architects, lawyers, carpenters, constructors, drivers, artists, models and so on yet they are barely surviving. Can we rethink on reforming our education system to develop in all spheres of life?

We can do it through the Infrastructure Programs that provide local social organizations (LSOs) with the opportunity to obtain small scale funding for projects that create or strengthen educational opportunities for disadvantaged children and youth. The funding provided through this should be intended to support the LSOs in improving and developing the infrastructure needed for the functioning of their organization.

We can also focus on management and advisory services to provide hands on (individual) support/advise in the areas of management to local organizations which focuses on the following areas: Human Resources, Project Management, Finance/ accounting, Strategic development,

Fundraising and PR, and General Management.

Then we can also provide mentoring/coaching support to these managers to build their skills and experience in these areas. Our policies are well phrased and we all need to stand and be counted for example on teacher training.

“Developing a skilled and motivated teaching, training and lecturing workforce through development of a comprehensive teacher development and management system (including an HIV/AIDS in the Workplace policy); an implementation plan for the use of English as the medium of instruction; and   measures to improve teacher motivation such as expansion of the Umwalimu SACCO initiative...” This is an example of a statement that sets goals into action. However, how do we in the first case determine who joins the teacher training institutions?

Sometimes the person who ends up in teaching at some levels of our education system might have failed to join what they considered their dream profession and resorted to teaching. Therefore, this comes as their last option and therefore they do it as a job first and as a passion later. Can you imagine if a medical doctor was to attend to a patient just because he has to do it? The results would be scary and I am sure, the same would apply for an architect on the houses we own and work in.

Training Programmes will focus on providing all staff (both teaching and non-teaching) with the opportunity to participate in trainings to build their capacity to deliver quality education. The future’s great authors with talents that match George Orwell’s (animal farm author), Chinua Achebe’s, Ngugi Wathingo’s can be groomed by our education system. This is true for great astronauts, pilots, physicians and musicians among so many other professions; they can all be born out of our current education system if it gets aggressive toward attaining high quality and practically oriented careers for the students it churns out.

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