Like a bad player of the monopoly board game, every uneducated person in the world is fighting not to live, but to survive. Educated people, however, can be assured C.E.Os and Managing Directors of well-respected companies. Almost certainly, their educational backgrounds influence their success in various different fields. There are high expectations for literate people; to be politicians that bring intelligent laws to the society, to be the first people to do certain things, even the things people thought were impossible. They have to be seen as role models who should make smart, intelligent decisions to fit society’s needs.
However, schools do not cater for students to fulfill the needs of the society. They are not enabling students to create jobs that need to be created. Students end up taking jobs they do not enjoy; that average doctor could easily have been the happiest activist who, through music, could have educated people about the government’s flaws. Every parent wants their child to attend a well-known school so they can have an upper hand in their careers. Nevertheless, some do not fulfill this overfamiliar dream because of financial instability and geographical or language barriers. So why should a parent’s unfortunate circumstance affect the otherwise possible success of these children? I will change education because the absence of children from classes due to financial circumstances is a constant reminder of wealth inequality in the world.
LinkedIn is a social network that stockpiles the information of its users, finds out what they are interested in, and opens up job opportunities for them; jobs that correspond with the information you shared about your interests. This is exactly how education will be in future. You will provide information about you, such as skills you want to discover, and schools with the best possibilities online will be directed to you. No parent will prefer to spend thousands of money into his or her children’s school fees every year when they can buy a laptop for them, and they can take responsibility towards their education. There are sites ranging from Ask to Udacity, which is an online tutorial of computer science from Stanford University in the United States. With sites like this, children have daily and cheaper access to education. Education in the future is going to be through technology.
My experience as a student at African Leadership Academy has provided me with a snapshot of how technology has and can transform learning. In subjects such as Economics, we have access to online quizzes and tests that instantly tell us which answer is right and which is not. A student-run enterprise called Ed-Tec (Education-Technology), focuses on utilizing technological resources to promote education. Other students are taking certain courses at the Global Online Academy, which is an online-based school with top teachers from Ivy League schools. Whilst in Johannesburg, they are taking classes with different students from different parts of the world at the same time. A department called the Africa Careers Network in the school I attend looks up summer jobs for students and alumni across the continent. This is done simply by having students and alumni log into their website and upload information about themselves: passions, skills and interests. It acknowledges skills we have to offer different companies, but most importantly, skills we are willing to learn. Elizabeth Masibo, an alumnus, learnt the skill of “collecting waste from latrines, processing it and selling it to farms as manure.” This is a skill a very small amount of teenagers can be identified with.
The change I will make towards education will start within – I want to acquire as many skills as I can, which will enable me to create jobs that do not even exist. I believe that African governments should act now to provide a platform for the private sector to lead the ingenuity in education. Governments and private schools should provide students with education that will enable them to become job makers, not seekers, and to take full potential of what technology has to offer, instead of avoiding it. Facebook and emails have replaced postal communication. The earlier we realize that this transformation will catch fire in education, the better placed we will be at taking full advantage of what technology has to offer.
In Africa, parents want their children to study medicine or engineering, and every other thing is deemed irrelevant. On the subject of arts in the African culture, an aspiring photographer once said to me, “If you have long hours, insatiable customers and tight schedules. What more could you want?” The change I will make is by merely acknowledging that by changing our own mindsets about our future careers, in Chimamanda Adichie’s words, “we regain a kind of paradise”. I envision an Africa full of promise, an Africa that is a creator of knowledge, and well placed to receive what the world has to offer. Youth like myself have as much a role to play as governments.
Written in September 2014.