Giving a name to progress. When education becomes a luxury matter.

Postat in Mai 21 2014 - 1:45pm by Alexandra Galan
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“ Africa’s blessing is not just the numerous resources, not just it’s biodiversity and it’s topographical beauty; it is in it’s people who are a spiritual and physical resource” Lord Boateng

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We all heard about humanitarian aid, about international projects that are meant to sustain the development of many countries in Africa. Few of us had the real opportunity to visit some of these countries, and realize the potential that hides in there. I said, and I would dare to say it again, Africa is not a rich continent because of its natural resources, but because of its people. Traveling all over the African countries, you would discover in the eyes of the people that genuine ambition, a breath-taking energy to persevere no matter what, that gives you the feeling that everything is possible when you speak with them.

Going back in history, we discover that a few people saw this potential and they give it a name: progress trough education. Between 1959 and 1963, Tom Mboya, a Kenyan politician manage to convince US charities to send 770 young men and women from Kenya and nine other East, Central and Southern countries for studies in the USA, among them president Barack Obama’s father.[1]

This educational project, known also as “Operation Airlift Africa”[2] was meant to be one of the most important initiatives that would educate the young people so they could come back and shape the future of their countries.

Since then, we heard many voices saying that the re-prioritizing of higher and further education within the African education system is a real priority, but little was done in this direction. The internationalization of higher education has taken on a wider dimension with the world-wide migration of students, and no country should ignore this massive movement. Conakry, capital city of Guinea shouldn’t make an exception either.

One of the primary schools in Conakry is passing through a critical period of economical decline. Students are forced to stay and write on the floor, because they have not enough desks. Teachers are often forced to stay in miserable conditions, because the school does not afford cleaners, or often bring with them food at school because there are children who don’t have what to eat at home.

This is wrong. Where education is taken seriously, the result not only pumps skilled workforce into the national coffers, but it is the most powerful measure of development known to man. Our perceptions of other societies are shaped by the films, and all the media networking, but sometimes the reality contrasts with the film.  Interestingly, there are two sides of the coin.

There is a direct link between education and a country development. Perhaps the first is essential for the second to occur, but however you look, Africa has all the ingredients required to emerge as a major player. In this sense, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Conakry and also Dakar are well placed to connect with the Asian countries, and that’s one of the reasons why most of the educational exchanges are made between these countries.

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In Guinea, the life expectancy at birth is 58 years. In addition, the literacy rate of the adult population, i.e., people aged 15 or above, is 39%. This means that over 6 million people cannot read or write.[3]

Coming back to Conakry, the minister acknowledges that there is a lack of educational infrastructure. This is the objective of this article. The rehabilitation of the primary school in Conakry is a project that saw the light of the day a year ago, and is currently being rolled out by Paulina Lewandowska and another few volunteers.  We are literally building things brick by brick. In real terms, each desk bought represents a mini-project in itself. This new initiative has already seen results. Seven desks have been already purchased and ten more follows. Taking the initiative at a small level was one of the best decisions, since we consider that help can be delivered individually.

It is needed to encourage people to participate, because this is a reform of both, pedagogical and institutional aspects, not only for the infrastructure. Conakry has not been witness to such an ambitious program in over 60 years.

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[1] New African Magazine, February 2014, issue 536

[2] Mansfield I. SMITH, The East African airlifts of 1959, 1960 and 1961, Syracuse University, 1966; pp 26-86

[3] According to Promo Guineé : http://promoguinee.org/education/

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