Our Education System Should Focus On Societal Needs – Prof Bisanda

For Africa to put behind it the shackles of colonialism and move into the present realm of development, the education curriculum of the continent should be re-jigged to focus on core societal needs.

This was the central view of a guest lecturer, Prof. Elifas Tozo Bisanda, the vice-chancellor of the National Open University of Tanzania at the pre-convocation lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja on Friday.

The lecture with the theme, ‘Is Western Education still Relevant for Africa’ was borne out of several questions on the minds of Africans about whether the current trend in education is still beneficial to the continent.

Drawing examples from some African and European countries, Prof Bisanda noted that what distinguishes education in Africa and the West was the skills acquisition absent in Africa, “but present at every level of education in advanced countries.”

“Our education should focus on societal needs so that our youths would be prepared to participate in the local economy when they leave school. Those who graduated previously from colleges and universities but cannot get gainful employment must be encouraged to go back to undertake technical and vocational education to gain new skills that are relevant for this age,” he said.

According to this professor of Mechanical Engineering, there seems to be a conspiracy theory by the West against Africa so that development can be stunted.

“While the West is determined to keep us Africans where we are, we must take affirmative action to get out of this mess they have imposed on us poor, while our resources are being taken away.”

He thought that the great skills of Africans were destroyed by the West when they came to colonise Africa.

“Our forefathers could make canoes and boats for fishing and water transport, but when the colonialists came, they did everything they could to kill our indigenous skills. In Uganda, they cut off the thumbs of all blacksmiths so that they could not forge or cast tools as their thumbs were the main actor in the process of blowing air in the furnace.”

He concluded by saying that in this age of the internet and the fourth industrial revolution, learning no longer takes place in the classrooms, but in the fields and through practical experiences.

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