Education for self-reliance

Education for self-reliance

The picture speaks volumes. Courtesy of Jamii Forums

A few excerpts from way back I just had to share!

Nyerere, J.K. Education for selfreliance. Dar es Salaam: Oxford University Press, 1968

The educational systems in different kinds of societies in the world have been, and are, very different in organization and in content. They are different because the societies providing the education are different, and because education, whether it be formal or informal, has a purpose. That purpose is to transmit from one generation to the next the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the society, and to prepare the young people for their future membership of the society and their active participation in its maintenance or development…..

And, in particular, our education must counteract the temptation to intellectual-arrogance; for this leads to the well-educated despising those whose abilities are non-academic or who have no special abilities but are just human beings……

Although only about 13 per cent of our primary school children will get a place in a secondary school, the basis of our primary school education is the preparation of pupils for secondary schools. Thus 87 per cent of the children who finished primary school last year—and a similar proportion of those who will finish this year—do so with a sense of failure, of a legitimate aspiration having been denied them. Indeed we all speak in these terms, by referring to them as those who failed to enter secondary schools, instead of simply as those who have finished their primacy education. On the other hand, the other 13 per cent have a feeling of having deserved a prize-and the prize they and their parents now expect is high wages, comfortable employment in towns, and personal status in the society. The same process operates again at the next highest level, when entrance to university is the question at issue…..

[On examinations]

One difficulty in the way of this kind of reorganization is the present examination system; if pupils spend more of their time on learning to do practical work, and on contributing to their own upkeep and the development of the community, they will not be able to take the present kind of examinations—at least within the same time period. It is, however, difficult to see why the present examination system should be regarded as sacrosanct. Other countries are moving away from this method of selection, and either abandoning examinations altogether at the lowest levels, or combining them with other assessments. There is no reason why Tanzania should not combine an examination, which is based on the things we teach, with a teacher and pupil assessment of work done for the school and community. This would be a more appropriate method of selecting entrants for secondary schools and for university, teacher training colleges, and so on, than the present purely academic procedure. Once a more detailed outline of this new approach to education is worked out, the question of selection procedure should be looked at again…….

Rweyemamu, JF. Africa’s Natural Resources and African Economic Development. in Third World Options: Power, Security and the Hope for Another Development. Tanzania Publishing House, 1992

Looking to the future

….. the time has come for Africa to act now; to undertake hard-nosed goal setting. The euphoria phase of independence when leaders could get away with rhetorical, simplistic, vague and inane objectives (of freedom, equality, participation), when they could afford to have contempt for hard facts and when they could keep calm confidence in their “revelation” to create a new humanity, that time is now irretrievable. This has brought African countries to disaster. Goal setting must recognize the universality of certain human attributes, the nature and implications of existing key socio-economic variables and the requirements of an economy producing for surplus. In any case objectives should no longer be set on a course aimed to placate externally generated ideologies, whims of fancies. Nor should objectives be made as if the rest of the world did not exist or matter.

The search for the elusive summum bonum might be an attraction which philosophers can ill afford to ignore; but its utility to men of action is limited, indeed. In my view, there is likely to be very little agreement at any one time, in any society as to what constitutes the summum bonum. There is however likely to be less disagreement on the proposition that human beings everywhere do not want life of suffering or misery – at least not for its own sake. I therefore submit that a commitment to minimizing the social causes of human misery may be a promising start to goal formulation. I may also add in passing that for better or for worse, human beings value what they must work for, not that they work for what they value. And so it is that the grievances of man or woman as a consumer appear to be more important than his or her concerns as a producer.

Secondly, African leaders must pay more than lip service to Adam Smith’s dictum that wealth of nations depends on “the skill, dexterity and judgment with which its labor is generally applied”. This does not mean merely the setting up of more schools, the responsibility that all African governments have not only accepted but carried out with vigor and energy. The school system tends to superimpose forms of knowledge on existing fold knowledge without necessarily deepening the latter. As a consequence little new useful knowledge is produced. There is need to establish mechanisms and institutions that will deepen and expand Africa’s stock of knowledge. Peasants, for instance, are inclined to augment their knowledge primarily from the most successful practitioners of their occupation. What must be underscored is that the basic task of education is the transfusion of values, but values cannot help us much to pick our way through life unless they become our own, a part to say of our mental makeup. An educational system has to give the people of a given culture the ability to make the world and their own lives intelligible. It is through the creation of intelligibility that meaningful education spurs the outburst of daring, initiative, invention and constructive activity. Finally, each country must critically appraise the arrangements that exist for allocating and distributing its available assets, property, power, privilege, prestige and participation – among individuals and groups, since these assets largely determine the latter’s well-being….

Joji was born and grew up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He graduated with a B.Sc in Biochemistry in Germany, and is now pursuing a Masters degree in Microbiology & Immunology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland . Joji is particularly interested in matters related to global health, and basic science research that tackles public health challenges. He is engaged in mentoring Tanzanian students in higher education issues, most notably at the Kibaha High School. In this capacity, Joji blogs with Vijana FM about scientific research and development, and how youth can gain greater access to higher learning.