We often speak of how underdeveloped African countries: they fail to provide basic amenities such as proper sanitation and access to education to all citizens. We grumble bitterly about our corrupt politicians and the inefficiency of our governments at raising the living standards of citizens and freeing the country of accumulated debt. We lament about how we are in the 21st century and we are still battling energy issues, (#dumsor) while the rest of the world leaps and bounds ahead of us.
What breaks my heart isn’t the complaining, these are valid issues which need to be addressed and I for one, strongly believe that the time for playing the colonialism card as an excuse for not having developed, has long elapsed. Take Ghana for example, we have enjoyed over half a century of independence and all we have to show for it is the ever increasing wealth disparity.
After we have exhausted our eternal lists of reasons why Africa will never succeed, we quickly follow it up with “Anyways it’s not my problem, I’m going to study Engineering in the states then I’ll get my Master’s degree in the UK and after that and perhaps settle down in Switzerland, I hear the scenery is to die for.” We clamour to leave our countries seeking greener pastures, instead of staying behind to fix the problems we have here.
Forgetting to add ourselves to the unending list of reasons Africa remains underdeveloped, we argue that Africa continues to need good passionate leaders. Yet we quickly abandon Africa to her own fate after acquiring the very attributes our continent needs in competent leaders in school. Through the student leadership opportunities presented at our educational institutions, we hone these invaluable skills then fail to give back to our motherland. For example, in Consortium Club you pick up strategic thinking, in Pan-African and Interact Clubs, you learn to inspire people and get them to believe in your vision, as monitors and prefects you begin to grasp the challenges of peer leading and liaising up a hierarchy.
Therefore today, I challenge all of us to reflect carefully on what our curriculum seeks to achieve. It is easy to jump on a bus, go to a deprived community, teach the kids and come back to the hostel to attend to our numerous assignments. The bigger question, however, remains unanswered. What impact did we have on those communities? Have we improved those communities? Have we given those communities, the necessary tools to enable them escape the vicious cycle of poverty? Are those communities better off because of their interaction with us, or they are left waiting till the next time we come, ready to provide more solutions?
What I am suggesting here is that, our curriculum is deeply etched in the philosophy of the school, knowledge in the service of Africa. I am imploring all of us to take ownership of our experiences here in the school. After all, we have the skills, the knowledge, and the opportunities to transform our continent. We can no longer wait for a benevolent benefactor to come save us from ourselves. We have the knowledge, now to start serving those around us.
by Claudette Wilson