Liberate the African Youth With Purposeful Education

Temba Rwambiwa
The essence of education is to empower and elevate one towards attaining personal goals and contributing to the development of society. Much of human development can be attributed to various forms of education, however the type of education referred to in this article is the formal education of schools, colleges and universities. 

Most African countries at independence adopted the education systems of their colonial masters, and through the years little or no changes were made to suit the African standards. In most cases education helped to further Colonise the African mind than liberate it. Our history lessons were filled with the stories of the Europeans. We grew up knowing more about Hitler, Napoleon, French revolutions than our own Sankaras, Lumumba, Biko and others. The system was not created to benefit us mostly but it served more as a form of mental slavery.
The more one became educated in the western oriented system the more one became alien to his/her African environment. Hence, why we are failing to creatively find lasting solutions to the challenges the continent is facing. Instead most of the educated found it worthy to leave the continent in search for employment outside their home countries.

Over the years, education prepared us to be employees and nothing more. The ultimate goal was to pass and attain the qualifications that would guarantee employment. Today Africa is faced with a lot of educated young people, but is unable to employ them due to various reasons. In countries like Zimbabwe where the rate of unemployment is on the rise due to economic and political challenges, the majority are left stranded on pavements selling donated second hand clothes. The youth are left vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse and young girls exposed to prostitution. The system has failed to create enough jobs for the educated. This trend can be seen across the continent because Africa shares a common history. Among these and other challenges, governments have tried to come up with policies that are focused on empowering the youth. In certain cases youth were assisted with loans but ended up failing to service the loans because they lacked the proper business knowledge. If the education system incorporated courses that teach business administration and entrepreneurship at an early age, such cases would be few.

The truth is Africa cannot afford mistakes at this moment and time, our efforts towards development should be focused and thorough. The African mind has to find creative solutions that meet the needs of the continent and the time is now. One solution is to develop an education system inclined towards entrepreneurship. Innovative entrepreneurship will create more employers and ensure that African economies are driven by local businesses. In a more recent interview with the BBC one of Africa's greatest entrepreneurs Strive Masiyiwa founder of Econet Wireless said “The continent has to deliver millions of new jobs a year, and we are delivering a fraction of that. The only vehicle that I know through which we can create jobs is through an explosion of entrepreneurship on this continent, supported by the right policies.”

An effective education system has to train and nurture the African mind to find creative solutions through entrepreneurship. If the youth can attain business skills from a young age they will most likely succeed in business. The different curricula have to be flexible for timely updates to remain relevant. At the present moment we seem to be lagging behind the needs of the continent. In the field of tertiary education the courses have to be updated regularly to meet industry needs. For example it's pointless nowadays in the age of electronics to learn how to fix certain gadgets, because the costs of repairing are more than buying a new one. Technology has revolutionized the way we do things and so must our education.

The more leaders and innovators we have in business the better the continent will be, and this should see the youth of Africa taking the continent further. Imagine an Africa that fully utilizes its resources in a sustainable manner for the benefit of its people and future generations. A self-sustaining continent where school leavers do not have to wait for jobs, but the self- defined African is master of destiny.  

Our history shows us how innovative and creative our ancestors were, it is known that Africa is the cradle of mankind. We had our standards and ways that were relevant to our environment and whatever form of education we adopt must be in tune with our realities of today. Education should liberate and empower the African youth for they are the future and the future is now!

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