27 September 2012

Africa: The Other Side of the Coin the Contradiction of Education


SOME African countries have succeeded in educating their populations. Good examples are Zimbabwe, Zambia and to a certain degree Nigeria and Swaziland. Others have failed. Bad examples are South Africa and a host of Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone African countries.

Many factors have led to the demise and the collapse to a certain degree of national education throughout this continent. Those are the remnants of exploitative colonial racism as well as corrupt officials.

As repeatedly pointed out, no matter how willing and committed popular ruling parties and their democratic governments are, corrupt individuals infiltrate and undermine them. Those countries were set up to fail from the onset.

In addition to the above-mentioned woes, the rampant global debt holocaust with the strategic support of Opec's oil price manipulation and the hostile corporatisation of the world economy, have become the worst enemies of people throughout. Education has become elitist. Most parents can't afford to send their children to schools.

Many learners attend government schools with no access to well-qualified teachers, sound classrooms and buildings, not to mention books. Whereas children of the elite from both, the public and private sectors are able to attend exclusive private schools with highly qualified teachers and global exchange programmes.

Once the learners finish school and qualify to study at universities, the majority of students fall through the cracks. Many universities do not allow tutorials. Deans of faculties ramble on in their lectures, which allow students to catch up on their lost sleep. In other words, there is no proper guidance. It is a question of setting students up to lose interest and eventually fail.

Most bursaries are set up to assist the students up to a point only. Education fees are paid for, but neither books, nor accommodation, nor meals, nor transport are included.

Even the above-average intelligent student is set up to fail. Particularly, students from a "previously" disadvantaged background have no access to a family member, or anyone else with a higher education in a solid workplace to ask for guidance. This gets worse, when those hopefuls attend courses in chartered accountancy and economics.

Since the fall of colonialism in the 1950s, education has successfully been undermined and cunningly developed to further an exclusive classist system. That strategy has ensured that the economy remains inaccessible.

It also means that cartelisation and corporatisation, cross-shareholding, price-fixing and downright plundering of natural resources and funds built on hidden collusion and conspiracies cannot be stopped.

On the contrary, the oligarchs of the economy never had it as good as today. In addition, workers remain limited and underpaid. Nothing has changed since the "former" colonisers have "given up" their occupation of the "former" colonies and their privileges and countries have become "independent".

If young people qualify against all the odds, they still struggle to find a job. They find themselves being educated into unemployment. Structured endemic poverty cruelly follows its victims throughout generations and life.

The above-mentioned create a fertile ground for covert infiltration and overt destabilisation by Third Forces. Their warlords further their interests to push for the collapse of ruling parties, governments and economies, paving the way to a dustbowl economy.

A rapidly shrinking global economic market has made the situation worse, as even the G-8 countries' unemployment rate rises to frightening levels.

Until the year 2000, the 'Guinness Book of World Records' had rated Zimbabwe for many years among the top three best-educated nations in the world. President Robert Mugabe had turned the former colonial educational system on its head and made education compulsory for all citizens.

The standard of education catapulted to new heights this region had never experienced before. This in return, enabled Zimbabweans to build up their economy. But, they too had no access to their own land.

When Britain's Labour Party Prime Minister, Tony Blair, took over 10 Downing Street, he instructed his Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Africa and the Middle East, Claire Short, to breach the international 'Lancaster House Agreement of 1979', with the feeble excuse that neither he, nor his party had ever supported Rhodesia and Ian Smith, nor apartheid South Africa.

Blair's opportunism was merely to prevent the land from being returned to the indigenous Zimbabweans. When Zimbabwe refused to accept that illegal act committed under the watch of the British Crown, Zimbabwe found itself severely punished with international sanctions and character assassinations by a hostile foreign owned media.

In order to survive, Zimbabweans fled to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique. Many left for Britain in search of employment. They had become economic refugees, as educated and qualified as they are.

However, Zimbabwe should be serving as a solid example for educating a nation. Despite all efforts to dump Zimbabwe into a smouldering civil war, that country remained stable and people kept their sanity.

Today, Zimbabwe has almost overcome the foreign onslaught. Malaysia leads by example, how to indigenise one's own economy.

SADC would be well advised to look at Malaysia's economic development through indigenisation under Prime Minister Mohammad Mahatir. Land is a thorny issue and would have to be tackled without fear or favour.

It is any country's duty to integrate its population with the land, making it a success through agricultural programmes. Similar to medical practitioners, who have to do their internships in hospitals and attorneys their articles in law firms, agricultural scholars could be deployed to farms across the country to till the land and manage the farms for a period of three to five years.

This would enable them not only to gather hands-on experience. It would also give them the opportunity to derive an income and savings. With the assistance of their governments, they would then be able to buy their own land.

Governments are left with no choice, but to prioritise their active role in addressing that unfortunate mess, that has been set up to destabilise their countries. In fact, time has run out to be mere oratorical experts.

The writer is a political and socio-economic analyst and columnist, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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