Africa is the world’s largest and second-most-populous continent, covering 6% of Earth’s total surface area, 20.4% of its total land area and accounts for about 16% of the world’s human population, says Wikipedia. But for me—a 20-year-old citizen—Africa is the colourful, intricate patterns of my “Aso Ebi”, a Nigerian ceremonial attire worn as indicator of communal jollification. She is the colour of my skin, the language of my father’s father, and his father’s father. Africa is in my mother’s eyes as they communicate things only I can decode. Things such as “I will give you the beating of your entire life when we get home”. Africa is also a nightmare we Africans wish to leave behind. The Africa I want is one where this nightmare does not exist. Where we do not aspire to leave our motherland and hop overseas in search for the basic needs of the human life and the comforts of their availability, but can boast of these things ourselves, find pride and a sense of fortune in calling Africa home. An Africa that is confident in her ability to create not only the unique but also relevant and indispensable resources to the world and fundamentally herself.
If we are going to be global creators, inventors, reformers and revolutionist then more than anything else we must be ground-breaking critical learners involved in the process. Unfortunately, education is a mess in Africa, due to certain persistent challenges. Schools that are privately owned and better funded are exposed to better educational resources (qualified teachers, conducive environment, and international exposure) than the public schools. This lack of equal educational opportunities produces a large percentage of low-quality graduates that cannot serve the continent to their full potential. Making matters worse, those that are provided with the best education end up emigrating to western countries for better jobs and social opportunities. This creates a dilemma for the government, because money spent on training the few that get proper education does not serve its function in Africa’s development, and so in a way education is a loss for the government. Not that the government is fair and efficient in the allocation of funds for education, most of the funds are embezzled before they arrive where they are needed.
In higher institutions most courses, except a few, are irrelevant to the problems of Africa. This is extremely frustrating for students who have spent about 4-6 years in school (excluding the long months of employee strike actions) and graduate to find that, all they have learnt are of little or no importance in the society in which they reside. This problem also affects the quality of teaching staff in secondary and primary schools, because unemployed university graduates often find that the most available job is teaching in a secondary or primary school. And so we end up with a cluster of teachers who do not have any passion for teaching. This in turn further lowers the standard of our schools.
Therefore, for us to improve the quality of education in Africa, we need the full involvement of the government in funding, restructuring and monitoring of the educational programs from primary schools upward. To standardize education in urban and rural areas, government must interact with educators and students in order to know their needs in specific areas. They must make strong partnerships with cooperate bodies to perform their social responsibility to the society. African nations should also partner with developed countries and engage in exchange programs for interactive research. For instance, The Alliance For African Partnership with Michigan State University’s Youth Empowerment Program is a good opportunity for educational development in Africa.
As a student and youth in Africa, my job is to have faith and be resourceful with the things available to me. It is also important that I keep my eyes open to the problems that affect my nation and continent and study with the mind of providing solutions. I must approach my work with a sense of passion, grit and strong faith in the good of Africa.
Parents need to be more interested in the education of their wards. In present day Nigeria for instance, most parents are not concerned with what happens in their children’s schools. They are only interested in the attainment of a certificate from an institution, not what is learnt. Parents and teachers must therefore work together to provide the most suitable environment for learning and discuss how the students can be successful. Such forum between parents and teachers do not exist in most African schools and in some cases where they do, important issues like these are not discussed. Also the curricula of higher institutions courses should be revised by small focus group of employers and entrepreneurs to know exactly who and what the country needs, so that schools can concentrate on training students to meet these needs.
Africa is a land of great potential and I believe that education is one of the best ways in which all of her potential can be groomed and cultivated for prosperity.
I wrote this for an essay contest last month but they didn’t get back to me. Nonetheless, I think the message is important and should be shared. I am very concerned and passionate about educational systems in Nigeria. I will definitely play a role in making a difference for the better in the future. I am working on ways to begin to do that even now.