What has happened to the Pan-African vision?: Part Three …call for paradigm shift in education


IN part one we looked at the Pan–African vision of the 1950s and 60s and how it inspired a whole generation to liberate our continent from Western colonialism.
In part two we made concrete suggestions on how to update as well as institutionalise the same Pan-African vision using education as a tool.
In this article, we continue to interrogate the relevance of current education systems in Africa in light of where we want to go as a continent.
After reading the African Union (AU) plan of action on education entitled, ‘Second Decade of Education for Africa: 2006-2015’ one is impressed by the detailed list of things which the AU promises to do in order to improve education in Africa.
The list includes culture and gender issues, curriculum development, teacher training, access to education, science and technology, funding etc.
The comprehensiveness of the plan of action tells us that experts who penned it know a lot about the shortcomings of our current education systems in Africa.
However, when the same document is looked at in light of the vision of achieving continental unity, it has some glaring omissions—the experts do not tell us about the nature, orientation and role of that education.
More seriously they do not dwell at all on how to use that same education they are talking about to unite Africa yet this is a key issue which, if not addressed at the educational level, will prove fatal to the whole agenda of the AU!
The mere fact that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) decided to transform itself into an AU in 2002 speaks volumes about the strategic nature of the kind of unity which Africa is trying to achieve! Failure to unite the continent will simply guarantee that Africa is overrun sooner rather than later and that a second round of colonisation is completed by the same powers which colonised us before!
Why, one may ask?
Because the issue of accessing natural resources which Africa has in great abundance is becoming more and more of national and regional security issue from the standpoint of almost all Western countries.
This assessment is amply demonstrated by the recent invasion and conquest of Libya, and the subsequent destabilisation of the whole of North Africa by the same imperialist forces which colonised Africa before!
Beyond Africa is the Middle East which has also witnessed the invasion and conquest of Iraq and the destabilisation of Syria, again by the same imperialist forces seeking to control and exploit vast oil resources of the area!
In brief, there is an ongoing war over natural resources and Africa which is richly endowed with almost all the resources one can think of is very much caught up in that war !
Only an economically powerful Africa which is well co-ordinated culturally, socially, politically and militarily stands a chance of counteracting the imperialist forces of the West which often masquerade as part of the much touted, but often misunderstood concept of globalisation.
In fact, the so-called ‘global village’ which most of us in our innocence love to refer to with fondness turns out to be a treacherous jungle!
In light of the above, it is obvious that one of the many ways to strengthen Africa while at the same time safeguarding its interests is to talk to future generations meaningfully and adequately through the education system.
These generations need to understand where Africa is coming from, its tragedies and triumphs, as well as its aspirations as a sovereign continent!
Put differently the process of generational handover-take-over of both tangible and intangible resources of our continent can only be done successfully when people are fully alerted and alive to the fundamental issues pertaining to our common destiny as a continent. And education is one of the readily available tools at our disposal, but it has to be the right kind of education!
Accordingly, the AU should have recognised from the very beginning the strategic role which education could play in realising the grand dream of uniting all 54 African countries into the United States of Africa.
The dream is a seminal one, groundbreaking in all respects, awesome in all its dimensions, exciting as well as forbidding, but necessary nevertheless. Such a dream needs a big buy-in from all of us, but more critically from all future generations!
And one way to speak to these generations and sell the grand dream of African unity and strength to them, including those still to be born, is to institutionalise an education system purposefully designed to promote that dream while at the same time profitably linking them to the larger world!
Naturally the current education systems in Africa need to be revisited not simply to rearrange subjects and disciplines as well as to create more opportunities for various age-groups, although this is crucial, but to reconceptualise the whole education system and its role as part of shifting and re-defining the current educational paradigm which most of us admit is largely colonial and Europe centred.
This Eurocentric paradigm largely explains why our elites are keen to abandon Africa for Europe, to buy from Europe rather than Africa, to favour all things European at the expense of their own and to dream European dreams if only the Almighty could assist them to do so! They are a decentred lot, always looking outside themselves for reference purposes-the outcome of it all is their irritating imitativeness arising from their deep seated inferiority complex and shallow existence!
By re-defining the educational paradigm, one is talking about an education system which makes us know more about ourselves first and foremost, an education which gives us self-confidence and a desire to build our own home, a good one for everyone, here in Africa, an education which empowers us with knowledge about Africa, its people, its resources and its ambitions, an education which anchors us in our continent and unites us while at the same time linking us to the larger world not as targeted victims as has been the case so far, but as equals!
The challenge which the AU faces is simple one.
If it does not as a collective re-design its education system to suit its continental dream and ambitions, it cannot create the ‘New African’ who, ironically, is envisaged in almost all of its programmes of action!
The AU has no choice, but to look at education as a strategic area with immense potential to promote its vision; it is the new frontline which demands the presence of visionaries with talent and foresight to put together a new architecture to host and nurture a new education system in line with the Pan-African vision.


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