4 March 2016

Africa: Colonial Education System Is Killing Africa

opinion

Although the traditional African system of education used to cause positive changes in society, the one forged for us by the colonial masters has done the opposite.

Traditional Africans were inventive but today's African scholars have nothing original to show to the world; they just recite ideas already said by Europeans and North Americans.

The term education was derived from a Latin word ducti, which is related to the homonym dc that means to lead forth, bring out, bring up, unfold the power of the mind. This means that education should lead to the development of the educated's potentials to improve himself and of society of which he is part.

It leads to the individual's personality development which is comprised of: physical, intellectual, moral, social, economic, spiritual dimensions as well as national development. No doubt that education is fundamental in any society for the creation and maintenance of the social structures that help to preserve the lives of the citizens.

Education that can lead to development of an individual and his society, therefore, has to emerge out of society's environment and its learning process must be related to the life and patterns of work in that society.

For example, in traditional Bemba (former Northern Rhodesia), children by the age of six had to be able to name fifty to sixty species of tree plants. This was so because they were in an environment where household needs were met by tree plant products.

In traditional Africa, education had a survival-value not just for the sake of knowing. Such type of education to life was contrary to the fake colonial education which prepares the youth to despise manual productive labour in favour of working in industries and businesses of foreigners.

The colonially-created education that we follow encourages dependence which, rather than training creativity and inventiveness, trains students how to memorize and reproduce ideas to pass exams. This is verified by those schools which we see in the media praising themselves for having a greater number of first grades in P7, S4 and S6 Uneb exams.

The point should not be how many got high grades but how many can do something with the education they got. I suspect that majority of the university graduates in technology-related courses cannot produce anything with their degrees apart from working in industries of foreigners. This means that they have been schooled without being educated.

Colonial education, which we still cling onto, corrupts the thinking and sensibility of the African and fills him with abnormal complexes. True education is supposed to help us develop our cultures, not to be ashamed of them; it is supposed to develop our intellectual independence.

As teachers, we feel proud when we teach students Western ideas and methodologies as if Africa had nothing of its own. This approach promotes a self-distractive system of education that leads to self- alienation and dependence. This explains why when an internal problem comes, we kneel before Europeans and Americans and ask them for what to do.

There is, therefore, a very urgent need to restructure African education systems both formal and informal. They should be designed in such a way that can lead to an effective decolonisation of an African mind, procure and secure a respectable true African identity based on historical achievements.

I believe that this is the only way that we can acquire the psychological prop we need to formulate the political setup that will guarantee economic, social, and religious progress needed for African development.

Fellow Africans, do not despise the wisdom of your ancestors. Let our education be characterised by the wisdom they passed onto us. Let us interpret it according to the signs of our time. The current education teaches us to despise our tradition; but let's remember that an uprooted tree cannot withstand the strength of the wind.

Traditional wisdom is not outdated astuteness; we can still use it to reconstruct Africa. Just as a firm hut is built with old bamboo poles, Africa cannot firmly stand without a return to its old (traditional) wisdom.

From such wisdom, we can formulate a type of education that produces well-rounded persons who fit in our societies.

The author is a lecturer at Uganda Martyrs University.

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