This was not the first or last time that a similar experiment was conducted and results seen that confirmed the Burundi experiment. Recently in the Netherlands, high school students were subjects of a similar scientific experiment. For a significant period of time, one group received instruction in English while the other used Dutch, the national language of Holland. Though the results obtained after examinations were similar to the Burundi experiment, the big gap in pass rates seen in the former example was not repeated.
One explanation for why Burundi children taught in their mother tongue scored so highly compared to the control group is the fact the two languages used were not closely related. The languages applied in the latter experiment, Dutch and English, are both Germanic tongues that have very similar syntactic-semantic structures.
Another reason for the disparities lay in the age differences, and especially proficiency levels the subjects had in the languages used in the experiments. In the Dutch example, the test subjects were teens in later phases of the education process. They were already proficient in their mother tongue, Dutch, and, as is the culture in this country, they spoke perfect English. It was discovered in the Dutch example that those who were negatively affected were not in the least aware that this was the case. Many students were interviewed prior to the exams during which researchers noted that the Dutch students overestimated their command of English. They felt they were as competent using it as their mother tongue. Only the comparably poor results students obtained after the examination proved how wrong they had been.
What these results confirm, beyond a shadow of doubt, is that individuals who are learning a foreign language, including in this bracket others who already are fluent in one, have their capacity to learn adversely affected when it is a medium of instruction. When such instruction occurs in the formative stages of life, if the second language permanently replaces the mother tongue, then it is not just the capacity to comprehend that is negatively affected, but the mental apparatus is subsequently stunted in growth.
The explanation for this is actually straightforward, and can be laid out without the employ of jargon.
The learning of a second or other language is an activity that is superimposed on prior mastery of one's first language, and is a different process intellectually Only once in our lives do we learn how to speak. In acquiring a second language, however, we learn how to say what we already know in our mother tongue using words and language rules (grammar) of the tongue to be learnt, a process in which translation plays a crucial role. How well we learn the new language depends on our proficiency level in the mother tongue. We also tend to depend on our command of one language to figure out how to express ourselves in the new one, sometimes to such an extent we may transfer all the rules of grammar but the words of the primary language to the one we are learning. This is what happened when Africans were shipped to the Caribbean during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Here, due to necessity, they forged a lingua franca using the languages they were forced to use by their captors. Patois, the language spoken by Jamaicans, combines terms derived from various European languages, but preserves in full the syntactic structure of African languages spoken on the African continent today.
The first language we all learn after birth is called the mother tongue. At the age of approximately five or six, children are introduced to formal education where their mastery of this language is put to use. At this point in their lives, children already have a command of their local language that can get their heads around basic concepts, and possess a basic vocabulary, all of which would enable them to satisfactorily handle the demands of the initial learning process in school, a reality clearly demonstrated by the results of Diagne's experiment. The way the current education system is designed Africa, however, this stage of development is not used for learning to read and write, but for learning how to speak a foreign language that children then have to depend on to acquire reading and writing skills. This second language will also become the language of instruction for the rest of the education process.
This process is wrong because the linguistic skills in the foreign language are obviously insufficient for the complexity of such an exercise. This is also clearly demonstrated by the poor showing the control group made in the exams in Diagne's experiment. When the huge difference in pass rates is considered, it becomes plain that much more time is required for the children to master the foreign language to levels that will impact positively on their rate of uptake, as will prevent a scenario where they are in fact thrown back in time in terms of their capacity to learn new things.
Our children do gradually build their command of English, French or Portuguese, but then on a foundation developing in the non-official realm. The consequence of this is that linguistic skills in a language that is not directly involved in the school procedure, but is crucial to the learning process, more or less stagnate. As such, African children build a tower on a foundation of quick sand at a time when there is a need to reinforce all aspects of the learning process. The correct procedure should be that if the children receive instruction in English, then the mother tongue, the foundation upon which this learning is superimposed, has also got to be worked upon, otherwise the arrest in mental development that the poor results exposed in Diagne's experiment hint at will become reality as the years roll on into the future.
The children will never make a full recovery from the delay in mental development caused by learning new things using minimal linguistic skills. The functions of language as it relates to thought facilitation cannot be taken advantage of as it takes time before the African's grasp of the foreign tongue gets to levels where this is possible. For the growing infant, much more could have been learnt, much more of their mentality developed, if only the level attained in the mother tongue had been put to use in the very beginning. The mental growth of the child is actually put on hold for a while and, at the point in time when command of the foreign language can be considered at par with the mother tongue, which is usually a good number of years into school, the second language becomes the primary language and takes up the functions of language in relation to mental development.
We Africans brought up in this education system actually find it easier to express ourselves in European languages even when, by way of the process explained above, the proficiency levels are well below those of native speakers, nor are they equal to what we would have attained in our mother tongues had there been no pause and switch in the primary language learning process. Comparison of the mentality of African children to those in the West reveals ours are not as conceptually dexterous, which is no surprise. This issue is confounded by the fact subjects are not aware they are underperforming mentally, meaning they are unable to see the disadvantage, a fact that will not make them take corrective measures when they have gone through the entire education process and are running the system themselves. This means that our future leaders will end up thinking there is nothing wrong with the setup, while in reality they are underperforming mentally. They will in fact make the same error in judgment that the Dutch students made.
Things cannot possibly get worse, but the bad news is this isn't where it all ends. It is not just the mentality of the nation that suffers as a result of such gross oversight. In addition, the African who undergoes such a process is robbed of his culture, his identity and ultimately loses his mind in the process. Outlandish as this may sound, this process, like the previous one, can be laid out using simple words.
Language interacts with every other aspect of human life in society, and cannot be understood unless considered in this context. Each language is both a working system of communication in the period and in the community in which it is used, and also a product of its past history and the source of its future development. A simplified dictionary definition that may enable laymanly comprehension of the issue states that a language is "a system of terms used by a people sharing a history and a culture".
There is a linguistic relativity hypothesis by Benjamin Lee Whorf that can opportunely be applied to help clarify the point I am making. It describes how the syntactic-semantic structure of a language becomes an underlying structure for the worldview of a people through the organization of the causal perception of the world and the linguistic categorization of entities. As linguistic categorization emerges as a representation of worldview and causality, it further modifies social perception and thereby leads to a continual interaction between language and perception.
Central to comprehending and meaningfully applying this hypothesis to the matter at hand is worldview. In straightforward terms, it is the interpretation of perceived reality based on group perspective. Simplified further, it is that which is central to the saying "what is truth on one side of the Pyrenees is falsehood on the other", or the statement "if humans look ugly to aliens, then aliens look ugly to humans". The point here is that people define their reality according to how they interpret their perception of it.
Reality around us lends itself to perception by the senses we possess. We then define what we perceive according to the parameters of the apparatus we use for such interpretation, central of which is the mind, of course, and the language it utilizes for the process. It is common knowledge that people react differently when confronted with the same phenomenon. If a number of people unexpectedly ran into a spider, some may get frightened and others not, some delighted while others will be disgusted, etc. This is all due to how differently our minds are tuned, accounting for different interpretations of the same phenomenon that elicits different responses.
Language is not free from factors in its structure that can affect how perceived phenomenon is interpreted. If we see an alien, our interpretation of what we are seeing is going to ultimately get influenced by the information relayed to the mind by the use of the terms and expressions that exist in the same language for defining observable fact of this nature. Apply to this linguistic categorization and it becomes clear why the complete definition that is relayed to our mind is determined by the parameters of the very language.
Different languages have a different or differing syntactic-semantic structure which, after expansion, accounts for the reason translation is nothing more than interpretation. Different cultural entities, or ethnicities, have different languages, each language playing a crucial part in how the group interprets their perception of reality, each language influencing the worldview of the group, therefore affecting group identity.
Because language is also cultural heritage, it becomes clear why by forcing English on Germans, Yoruba on the Zulus in the same manner African schools force foreign languages on African children, we take away that which would make the children have a full German, English, Zulu or Yoruba identity. We render the child devoid of a cultural identity, and if they cannot be defined as anything culturally, then they can definitely not know any culture.
Africans who can communicate better in English than they can in their own language are basically culture-less, if we also see that language functions as the key to their culture. This means teaching our children foreign tongues, especially at a point in their lives when they are their most impressionable and, considering that children are born culture-less, before they have been introduced to their culture, is placing them in a situation where they will never adopt their culture, nor develop cultural identity, let alone a personal one with roots in their culture. A person without an identity knows not the difference between self and other. An individual without an identity cannot have knowledge of self, knows not the difference between friend and foe, and would under normal circumstances be considered a fool, unless the condition is understood.
The same can be applied to a community or nation. In an antagonistic world, a nation without a worldview, that nonetheless believes it has one, is lost among other nations that do have a solid one.
The propositions I have seen advanced for the resolution of this issue, where it has been identified, include allowing children to first master their mother tongue sufficiently before introduction to a different language, which would enhance competency. This entails using the mother tongue some way into the education process. Another of the many propositions is to simply not wait until they have reached school going age before teaching them the language of instruction.
The problem with the former proposal is it doesn't take into account the fact the capacity to learn is always going to be adversely affected when a language other than the mother tongue is used as a medium of instruction, as evidenced in the Dutch experiment. The latter proposal is being applied by an increasing number of parents in Africa, but substituting a foreign language for the mother tongue deprives children of minimal contact with their culture, which makes matters worse. Also, African parents and/or the African community cannot adequately reinforce in their child the linguistic skills in a European language that will suffice to prevent poor or second rate linguistic skills, minimal conceptual dexterity, underperformance or retardation. Our African milieu cannot compete with the native French, English or Portuguese milieu where this is concerned. Most African parents do not speak these languages as well.
It has incidentally already been ascertained in developed countries that the reason children of minorities who use a language that is different from the official one in their daily lives suffer disadvantage in the learning process is precisely because of this. This is also the case when the children grow up in neighborhoods that use the official tongue where parents possess poor linguistic skills due to the many factors that can cause this, of which a poor educational background, inarticulacy, foreign descent, or general intelligence are some.
For Africa, making the tribal tongue, a dialect or other closely related language, the medium of instruction is the only way to ensure the best results. Most world languages are not being used for the purpose of education because they have not been adapted to the demands of the institution, but a look at this tool with manifold applications reveals the process is uncomplicated. In developed countries, it has actually been the norm since the advantage of so doing was realized.
One feature that distinguishes human languages from all known modes of animal communication is its infinite productivity and creativity. Humans are unrestricted in what they can talk about. No area of experience is accepted as necessarily incommunicable, but it may be necessary to adapt a language to cope with new discoveries or modes of thought. When different languages meet, unless a conscious effort is made by the users of one language to prevent interlarding, the languages will form a new, richer language, each language bringing to the mix its own particular experiences that the respective group has been through. In time, this mixing too will be etched and preserved in the new language, and will go with the group wherever they go.
For example, two thousand years ago, the English language was quite different from what it is today. The vocabulary was basic, comprising words used for everyday, simple activities. Contact with foreign cultures (Roman, French, etc) exposed the English to new terminology, new concepts, new technology, new institutions, and so on. Slowly but surely, a new language was born that today is known as modern English, that is not that different from the original language whose basic structure it has preserved, but which tells a lot about where the English have been. The foreign additions to English can be traced right back to their origin, and this can tell a lot about the culture of the time, and that of today, and also of the people using the language then, and now.
This capacity for all languages to undergo metamorphosis of sorts that transforms them in part or completely, from simple to complex, from rudimentary to sophisticated, is the reason many Africans today accept the argument what Africa is going through is a natural process that will prove beneficial in the long run. English, Portuguese, or French have become part of our heritage, our culture, and it should be accepted they are here to stay. The problem with taking this position is revealed in the experiment done in Burundi, which exposes flaws within, pointing out an abnormal situation. In this case, it is the inevitable mental backwardness that results when individuals in a society are divorced, at an early age, from the language they first learnt after birth, and instead of a permanent divorce from one language to another, are thrown into the middle where essential linguistic skills on either side are not done justice, and also of the loss of a people's worldview that makes of how Africa came to speak foreign, European languages a completely different issue from how English came to have French words.
Africa got stuck with western languages that left Africans mired in a cultural existence that is not good for their mental well-being. It is not only that our people cannot be and give their best mentally as a result of this unnatural process, but also that, even though there is a lot of culture adoption, we Africans become neither ourselves nor complete Englishmen, French men, or Portuguese, either of which would be better than what we become…which is mere worldview devoid, culture-less carriers of foreign languages who can never even boast of being experts in their use without knowledge of the culture, traditions and customs of native speakers.
I read an article on the Internet where an African writer expressed how he was at once fascinated by the number of things he can express in the English language as opposed to his local language, and criticized those who wish for the reinstatement of indigenous tongues that he considered "poor of vocabulary, awkward, overly and unnecessarily complex of grammar, difficult to read", and as such not modern enough, and definitely not up to the standards of modern times. This writer didn't give recognition to the fact that his poor grasp of his own language was a result of the aforementioned processes, including in this the lack of constant practice. If a vital part of our school years are spent learning how to express ourselves in our own tongues, then surely the many complex ways we can express ourselves in European languages can be equaled and even surpassed given that we take a conscious effort to adapt our languages to this civilization (culture). The adage "practice makes perfect" is apt for this case. To repeat, the ease with which I can read and understand English is a result of constant practice. The difficulty I experience understanding my own language is simply because of lack of practice.
It is very true that, in their present form, African languages are not modern enough. They lack the necessary vocabulary, the numbers of ways one can express self are less than in European languages. For example, in my mother tongue there is only one word for "fool". This means that one has to determine the sense in which the word is being used according to context, an awkward manner of communicating. Most people do not even try to see what the exact meaning is. Obviously, the range of conscious of people communicating is such a manner is greatly diminished. But then all of this is only because we, the users, have not made a conscious effort to upgrade these languages.
One good example that exposes the error in the position adopted by this writer, and a lot of Africans in defense of the present state of affairs is China. The number of characters contained in the standard Chinese dictionary is 47,035 and though only a requirement of from 3,000 to 4,000 characters is necessary for full literacy, it is still a large amount of symbols to master. The fact the Chinese government has promoted standard simplified sets of Chinese characters that are based partly on phonetic simplifications of the traditional writing form in an attempt to increase literacy is proof of how much harder mastering their own symbols is compared to other systems, yet the Chinese are making economic, technological and social gains without major help from the use of a western language, meaning the language's full functions are in optimum effect. Without the use of simplification, the country has achieved a literacy rate of 85% as estimated by UNESCO in its 2000 figures, which is impressive considering the odds.
If the Chinese neglected to learn their language using traditional symbols and adopted English as their language of instruction, then they would have an even tougher time than we do switching back from the foreign language to their own language, written in traditional Chinese characters when practice in one is less than the other
As the case is in Africa today, the products of institutions of learning that pass through a process whose real effect can only be compared to a lobotomy become the future leaders we have to depend on for the resolution of issues like the one raised by the Diagne experiment, who are mentally ill disposed to interpret results of this nature, let alone know they are so affected. What we are dealing with here is a poignant reminder of a lost generation scenario, and all Africans who have been through the education system are victims.
This statement may seem harsh, but it is a logically deductible truth that Africans cannot afford not to confront any more.
At the time I started researching this issue, I lived in Europe and knew from the numerous debates that raged over the education system: the legislation and policy making responsibilities, the administration, facility maintenance, curriculum planning, teacher preparation and selection, etc., how importantly the leaders of the "Developed World" regard the role education plays in the maintenance of their way of life. This much I know, that if there ever was to be a sign that the western education system was as flawed in the manner the results of the Burundi experiment suggested about the institution there, then efforts to rectify the situation would have been launched in earnest, as though it were a matter of life and death, one that made the difference between having a meal on one's table or starvation, affluence or abject poverty lest the function of education be undermined and society suffer the consequences. There would definitely have been a public outcry. In countries where high achievement is everything, such as Germany, Japan or even China, heads would have rolled, figuratively speaking.
This is not to say Africans do not understand the role education plays in the welfare of their communities, but it would appear from the continent-wide lack of reaction to the Burundi experiment that a wholesome comprehension of the institution is lacking. Credit should be given where it is due, and in this light the role played by African governments in ensuring that their citizens are offered the opportunity to get an education cannot be underplayed. The fact of the matter remains that our leaders strive to provide education to the masses in the hope of improving their prospects, but have not grasped the finer points of the process, meaning the efforts to educate the masses are bound to fail.
I believe that, apart from the issues mentioned before, at the core of this failure lies an induced ideological poverty, the same kind that plagued the very first leaders on the continent. It is known that they were of the "let independence come and solutions will follow" mentality. In the case of efforts to educate the masses of Africa, our leaders tend to believe the solution to development lies in merely building schools, educating teachers to teach, packing classrooms full to the brim with African children, then sitting back and hoping that all else will follow.
The importance of education in our modern world requires that we formulate the overall objectives, content, organization and strategies of education. It is not just enough to have a number of schools we must see to it that they are able to get us where we want to go. If we discover we shall require 200 of a kind of factory within 30 years, it is to the schools we must look for the personnel that will run them. Here, we must ensure that the quantity and quality of labor required to properly run the plants is delivered in time, failure of which could make the project impossible, too expensive if we get the factories but have to rely on more expensive foreign labor, and so on. In this light, it is prudent to change aspects of the education process that hamper the objectives we set as soon as we are aware of them, otherwise we settle for second best or, as the case is in the present, schools themselves become the vehicle by which so much goes wrong, by which we fail, the weak link in the system.
Having dealt with a function of language as it relates to the intellectual growth of an individual, we can proceed to the function of education as it also relates to intellectual growth. Here, I will explain just why this function cannot sufficiently be fulfilled when the student goes through the process encumbered linguistically, why, instead of improving their mentality, most of them will actually walk out of the other end of this system less the better.
The purpose of education is to transmit knowledge and cultural heritage as well as influence the social and intellectual growth of the individual. A more philosophical way of looking at it is provided by PD. Maroon Tiger. According to him,
"...education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda...
...The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living."
The Burundi experiment shows us, and very clearly at that, that the education process in Africa is not good enough where the institution's overall aims and objectives are concerned. When we fully comprehend the implications of this, we can see how it can affect a country's very prosperity, its capacity to hold its own in an antagonistic world.
Education (or mis-education in the African case) then, can form part of the cause for a country's under-performance in economic encounters with other, better organized nations. For leaders and economists struggling to keep the ship afloat, looking every which way for impetus and flaws, the result of this experiment should be welcome news, an opportunity to reduce the number of obstacles to development. The inactivity regarding the results of the Diagne experiment makes it plain Africans, not just those in authority, have not done much of the basic math, unless, of course, they are not aware of this experiment, which is also not an excuse given the abundance of similar findings. The answer to the question of just why African countries are failing to do the right thing could very well lie here.
What the result of this experiment suggests about the products of such a flawed education system is the truth it is not just our leaders who are suffering from backwardness peculiar to the circumstances, but all of us Africans who matter to the system are affected. The problem, then, is not so much that our leaders are inept, but what becomes of all of us after we have been through an education system that is not designed to benefit us. An education system such as the one we have in Africa is only good for continued colonialism. It actually lobotomizes our minds, leaving our continent barren of essential intellectual clout, among many other things. This is to state, in no uncertain terms, that most of us Africans are suffering from a mental backwardness the defiling processing in these plants we call schools tinctures our minds with, and our propensity to blame our leaders for all of the continent's problems epitomizes the resulting mind-set. In other words, it is the pot calling the kettle black, if only the implied hypocrisy is replaced with ignorance and desperate finger pointing.
We know from the inaction that followed the Burundi experiment that as much our leaders as the bureaucrats in the education system, and the rest of us have no clue. We are like the Dutch Students thinking all is well, otherwise we would not have hesitated to do away with foreign languages and invested in a project to rewrite text books into a select African tongue, sparing no cost as we went about the venture, knowing the returns in terms of contribution from a better educated population will more than make up for the expense incurred in the process. We would have known that an Africa where the pass rate is 60% better than it currently is translates into an Africa where, for example, the average menial laborer is as conceptually dexterous as a witty and successful writer belonging to a society where only 5% make the exam cut off mark.
The difference between the two groups in the Burundi experiment is stunning when expressed in ratios, and should impinge upon any critical minded person's imagination. Only 1 out of 20 African children taught in French passed the exam, as opposed to 2 out of every 3 when the mother tongue was the medium of instruction. This is a ridiculously large margin that makes the point very clear indeed, pointing out that if it is education that Africans want to give to their children, if we understand what the purpose of schooling really is, that the point is how well turned out the final product is, then we are doing something wrong considering children taught in a local language can be better than those of us who were educated using foreign languages, this improvement itself coming without actual reforms to the education system, without any improvements to the teaching method so that it is more effective.
There can be no other explanation for why only in Africa such results do not prompt research into how such a negative situation could have escaped attention for so long, as such allowing us to learn that much more about our state, than the fact we are all negatively affected by our very education system. It is only in Africa where, even though the corporate well being of the nation is sought in socio-economic activity, such a counterproductive flaw in the system can be overlooked.
Much has been said and written over the reason why Africa fails to perform as well as most other nations outside the sphere economically. The continent keeps sliding backwards in comparable development. All the figures of growth given by our governments are worthless when the size of our economies is considered. 5-6% growth rate per fiscal year only mean the gap between the richer countries and Africa widens with the day. At this rate, we would have to make increases in GDP that are humanly impossible for there to be the prospect of change to our circumstances. Even if we are improving, we are still going backwards compared to richer countries. This statement is not farfetched for those of us who have had the opportunity to travel and reside in affluent climes. Africa looks the very image of a culture caught up in the past whenever we return. Useful technologies come and go in the West and other developed countries without reaching Africa before they are phased out, because the infrastructure for their use is still not available in Africa, and cannot even be contemplated.
There are a lot of African thinkers who attempt to bring this reality home but, to me, the reasons most of them put forward to explain this sad state of affairs pick out effects rather than root causes. There is however a book out there that comes close to the conclusion I draw here called "IQ and the wealth of nations". It is essentially the IQ of Africa that is the chief culprit in this affair. Where my argument differs from that of the authors of this book is in the fact I do not believe Africans are in any way inherently inferior to anybody out there. I also do not think it is possible to measure intelligence with numbers. Unlike the authors of this book, I think IQ is a measure of how well adapted one is to the prevailing culture, or system.
All in all, "IQ and the wealth of nations" is an attempt to support a preconception. The conclusions are drawn from fallacious arguments born not so much out of evil intentions, but as much hypocrisy and a desire to cover up the ugly truths responsible for the state Africa is in, and provide the cloak by which the robbery of a people can continue.
The authors of this book were obviously at pains to underplay the role neo-colonialism still plays in Africa's underdevelopment, which includes the frustration of progressive ideas, something that is unnecessary if their argument held some grain of truth.
Indeed, IQ does have a lot to do with it, but then I base the cause of this problem on the education system rather than genetic factors. Unlike those waiting for the "Flynn effect" to take effect, I believe the true potential of the African's mind is clearly demonstrated by the result of Diagne's experiment: by the group in that experiment that outdid all expectations.
Given the African has the potential, the conclusion must be drawn there is something going wrong with his education. Diagne's experiment actually provides us with the problem and resolution if we only can see this. It is well known that IQ scores tend to be genetic. A+ students also have high IQ test results. Obviously, an Africa where an average of 65% of students pass the exams, as opposed to only 5% in the control group, represents an Africa with a significant increase in the mean IQ. This means that a lot of our bright people are failing to show their colors in the education system, not because they are genetically dumb, but because there is an impediment inherent in the institution as it is in Africa they are failing to surmount.
At the risk of sounding simplistic, I should state I am aware there are a lot of factors that should be taken into consideration before drawing the kind of conclusions that I have here, one of which would be a follow up of the Diagne process throughout the education life of the subjects. Only if such pass rates can be sustained throughout the learning process, everywhere in Africa, can the result be considered conclusive.
Frankly, I cannot see how the performance of these pupils at a later stage in the education process could be different given what we are dealing with here is the foundation, given the fact a good foundation is the most important part of the education process.
To stress this point, Africa does indeed have a low IQ issue that is fortunately a problem that can be solved in a mere generation's time because it is not genetic, as long as we Africans modernize our tongues, change the language of tuition in our schools, then eventually hand control over to the generation that has been educated solely in these adjusted institutions of learning, and remember to keep them safe from those benefiting from neo-colonialism while we go about this procedure, otherwise they will find a way to throw a spanner in the works. This may seem crude, but we Africans need to realize those of us who are products of the education system are not good enough as leaders in such a system. We are out of it, lost generations that need to step out of the game as soon as those whose mentalities have not been defiled, as ours have, are ready to take over.
The usual objection raised whenever the issue of such a massive scale overhaul of an institution is raised, especially in an impoverished country, is cost. As has already been stated, the process of changing the language of tuition will cost money, but it is a good investment. The Investment will definitely be worth it in the long run. We can be sure of this if we understand the role education plays in the life of man. It is one of those things that we cannot afford not to do.
The good news is that such a venture doesn't have to be massively expensive. To spare the costs, it is not necessary to change all the books at once, but to do it gradually, starting with a single age group, a single school year. As the first experimental group progresses through the system, those to come will simply follow through their footsteps, through an improving system that is being tested every step of the way.
My point in writing this piece is to use the research I have done on the flawed education process in Africa, taking advantage of the experiment done in Burundi, and some other places, that makes it easier to portray the flaw, to enlighten about precisely the issue of schools churning out individuals whose minds are so tampered with they are of limited use to the future of the nation, about what we are doing to the minds of our children, and by connection to the intellects of those tasked to lead us into a better tomorrow, when we send them on the education journey that is peculiarly African. I hope that I have shown in this essay the connection between this and the loss of our worldview, and our very intellects. Keep in mind that there is much more being sacrificed as a result of this issue.
I hope that it is not too late to remedy the situation, that somewhere, soon, a leader will emerge who will help us take the steps we need to make the appropriate changes to our education culture that includes what I propose, and also the reinstatement and/or reinvigoration of those of our ways that have been cast aside as we went about building our new nations merely believing if we do as others outwardly do, all else will follow. I fear that, as time is passing, as more and more generations are robbed of their cultural heritage, and less and less of the people who can see the madness exist, the chances of correcting this issue get slimmer and slimmer. Keep in mind that without a worldview, we are a people who have forgotten who they were. The skeletal structures of our languages are still there to provide some kind of one-eyed guidance, but it will not take long before even this is gone. Then, we will have lost the last link we have to our past, the past civilizations still reverberating in our tongues, and possibly the capacity to survive itself, for, in a world like this one, in a system like the prevailing one, a people who forget who they are die.
(Excerpt from the book Africa's Lost Generations. Adapted to this blog by Mukazo Vunda)