The way forward to transform education for a better future

By Shimbo Pastory, CSSp.

Education is central and has the power to transform the world, human life, human activities, events, beliefs and interests. This is why the UN decided in 2018 to dedicate January 24 of each year to celebrating the positive contribution of education in the world.

Education has also played a great role in societies by managing and maximizing their human and economic resources, organizing societal welfare and socio-political affairs, preserving cultures, ideologies, traditions and histories , as well as avoiding, controlling and solving human problems. and structural conflicts.

In a nutshell, education, a basic human right, has been paramount in making the world a better place, even if the old-school secular debate that “money is better than education” will not easily succumb. to this informed deduction.

The theme for International Day of Education 2022, which was yesterday, is truly transformative, it says: “Changing Course: Transforming Education”.

Adapt to modern demands

Given the reality around us, as a global community, we really need it now. The pandemic has impacted the regular education systems that we have long preserved, and it is possible that the change that has been brought about, especially in learning patterns, will stay with us. The technology that has been developed around the world to help make education possible cannot simply be thrown away.

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Along with this, there are global concerns that really need to be integrated into the delivery, content, material component and overall goal of the education that is imparted.

These include the fight to save the planet from greenhouse gas emissions, excessive and unrecyclable industrial waste and goods, controlled obsolescence, unfair trade, as well as the fluidity of theories regarding human worth and value as weighed by the scales of scientific curiosity. With these changes so evident, there is a real need to reconsider what has been put in place as guiding policies, both locally and internationally.

The role of language

Retired Professor Fikeni Senkoro, Institute of Kiswahili Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, highlights the use of indigenous languages ​​in the transmission of education. As language is a tool of communication, without which no effective interaction can take place, the empowerment and intellectualization of indigenous African languages, and their admission into the mainstream through their use as languages ​​of instruction, enhance the involvement and confidence of their goalkeepers.

“The need to use indigenous African languages ​​as a medium of instruction can simply be stated as follows: teachers and students benefit from and enjoy the teaching and learning process if and when they understand and are comfortable with it. the language used in the process,” he explained.

“They become more resourceful, creative and insightful as they are able to encode, manipulate and explain otherwise difficult concepts in a foreign language. They can relate to the culture that is embedded in the language used and in doing so they presume teaching and learning in their environment.

In short, Senkoro asserts, as we all know, that knowledge is power, and that its dissemination through the languages ​​of another people in which the cultural values ​​and inclination of imperial and colonial powers are embedded, ensures continued dominance, dependence and non-creativity because, in effect, learning in a foreign language suppresses scientific discoveries, while killing linguistic talents, such as poetry, creative writing, drawing and painting and d other imaginative arts. It kills innovative industry which would otherwise thrive if it spoke in and through a language well understood by its creators and guardians.

The need to learn in indigenous languages

Talking about whether learning foreign languages ​​has an influence on the human, historical and socio-political worldviews of those involved, Professor Senkoro did not mince his assertion. The impact is much more powerful than we can imagine.

It posits that no nation in the world has ever developed sustainably using the language of other peoples, which cannot and does not culturally relate to its people.

In languages ​​are embedded the human, historical and general worldviews of a people that can only be articulated through the indigenous languages ​​of those peoples. These languages ​​are rich not only in conveying the philosophical perspectives of a people, but also in stating their ontology – the nature of their existence.

Learning in a foreign language and not integrating African languages ​​into the equation and the development process is, according to Professor Senkoro, a negation of sustainable development. To do the opposite by adopting an indigenous language as the language of instruction is liberating, as such a move will ultimately strengthen the African people who will possess an identity of their own.

Children and their taste for literature in foreign languages

As education begins in childhood, it is important to consider what children experience when they first encounter literature. Based on his findings, Dan Brockington, a professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, says that African children are discouraged from taking an interest in reading and writing because they barely have access to local literature that has better stories than poverty, suffering and abuse. . Publishers focus on publishing literature for native English speakers.

“English doesn’t make stories told in other languages ​​less interesting, just as it shouldn’t make stories told in English more important. Novels written in English or French and Portuguese—in the languages ​​of the colonization- will not be the only answer to children’s creative and imaginative needs. But English children’s books still matter, as English provides access to some of Africa’s most powerful literature, not to mention multiple career benefits,” says Dan.

The influence of teachers and parents/guardians

Mrs. Fides Mkenda highlights the influence of teachers and parents on student performance. She was a teacher and academic mistress at Marian Girls for a decade and at Marian Boys for seven years. She is currently Principal of Libermann Boys Secondary School in Dar es Salaam.

She insists on the fact that the involvement of parents in the school life of their children by providing them with support and knowledge at home is essential. This helps students complete homework given in school and develop a lifelong love of learning. Good relationships between teachers, parents and students in academic and integral development can be created through friendly communication.

Teachers and parents should show a positive attitude towards student education and use appropriate/correct methods to facilitate the learning process. Counseling and guidance should be used by teachers to discipline students rather than corporal punishment. Encouraged and motivated words should be used by teachers and parents.

“Schools can alleviate the unnecessary burden placed on students by creating supportive teaching and learning environments, particularly in terms of infrastructure, by forgoing corporal punishment and by encouraging guidance, counseling and mentoring, and employing enough competent staff. Girls’ schools must have hostels and there should be strict implementation of child protection policies,” she explains.

In addition, parents should be sensitized to support feeding programs for day school students. Moral and spiritual education should also be encouraged in schools and included in official curricula, and students should be encouraged to participate in sports activities. All of this contributes to the transformation and growth that is the goal of education.

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