From Building Blocks to Building Nations through education

Building school
Building school
A nation is built when students have decent schools

It has become obvious that politics is what drives the economies of nations. Acemoglu and Robinson (2012) assert in their seminal book ‘Why Nations Fail’ that the major difference between developed countries and developing countries is in their political evolution. Developed countries have political and economic systems that affect education systems and are inclusive and offer opportunities for some to create wealth or at least enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

In contrast, most developing economies have political and economic systems that are extractive. That is, those within the ruling class have a strong hold on political power and use it by means of nepotism by which they neve reach  the most vulnerable and be cautious of.

Such is why, a Non- Government Organization (NGO), Jump for Bread (JFB) must continue to remain diplomatic where the forms of aid in Africa requires a suitable platform of distribution and also at the same time, offer necessary materials required in order for the younger generations to eliminate this cycle of corruption.

In other words, NGO’s have to tread very carefully to ensure the hard work they are planning, preparing and later provide do not fall into the hands of the corrupt and become expensive tools, provided for schools to simply become available on an unofficial market.

Additionally, as previously mentioned blog (1), Gobalization is the reality of our period. There is increasing economic, social, technical, cultural and political interdependence between nations. Individuals are more interconnected now than ever before. The availability of worldwide communication systems through rapid improvements in communication- technology and the internet has led to more international trade and cultural exchange. Yet, Gobalization does not appear to be hastening Africa’s development. The problem is also rooted in the political structure and the leadership culture prevalent in Africa. Globalization affects the economic, social, technical, cultural, political and interdependence between nations. Companies are more interconnected now than ever before. The availability of worldwide communication systems through rapid improvements in communication technology and the internet has led to more international trade and cultural exchange. But Gobalization does not appear to be hastening Africa’s development. The issues may also be rooted in the political structure and the leadership culture prevalent in Africa.

Thus, the World continues to rapidly exchange trade and outsource materials, increasing their GDP’s, lessening the gap amongst those who are able to compete at such a speed. However, unless Africa is supported through education in Business, Finance and IT, the future prediction looks more depressing as the gap of poverty between the West increase exponentially.

WE AS AN NGO NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT FUTURE LEADERS.

The problem of leadership

This is where I would like to interject and add how jfb is successfully beginning its mission in creating opportunities for developing future leaders today through providing better education for young people by building new schools, repairing dilapidating old schools, hiring newly qualified teachers and raising revenue to ensure classrooms are fitted with appropriate technology so as future generations will compete with other Global markets.

Education in the developing countries such as Africa have never been in greater need within our increasingly complex world as it is today. Diagnosing leadership development needs, especially in Africa, requires an assessment of the entire leadership culture. For example, the GLOBE project, (2020) conceived of by Robert J. House of the Wharton Business School, conducted organizations and middle-level managers around the world, and describe countries in sub-Saharan Africa as scoring high in power distance and in-group collectivism, that is to say individuals from his research worked well together but were slow when it came to the end result.( IBID)

Leaders do whatever it takes to produce results in such a leadership culture, and they usually position themselves and their colleagues above the law. Most of the citizens have leadership potential, but several factors inhibit their leadership development, such as bad governance, poverty, corruption and religious bias. Most young people in Africa are enthusiastic to learn and to realize their potential. They seek respected mentors and resources to help them navigate the complex life challenges they face. However, there is a dearth of institutions and curricula to help them realize such desires. (House. 2007)

A broader view of leadership development provides insights into why some initiatives are more successful than others at generating change in individual behaviour. To have an impact, the capabilities being developed in the individual need to mesh with the leadership culture in which the leader is embedded. Most of the leadership development curriculum developed in Western countries may not particularly address individual situations, especially youth in developing parts of the world, who have little education as a foundation, and who are distracted by the struggle for survival occasioned by rampant poverty. This makes absolute sense given the many struggles many young people are subjected to.( IBID)

According to the GLOBE studies, (2020) emerging leaders in some developing countries approach foreigners cautiously; that’s because they’re not used to participative styles of leadership, and prefer bold, assertive styles of leadership. The notion of fear is high due to the conservativeness in the culture, and most people have not been trained to be independent thinkers that are willing to step outside their ‘boxes’ unless directed to do so by leaders. They have developed a learned state of helplessness, (Seligman.1967) with the overwhelming feeling that they cannot change their circumstances. The culture is permission seeking. Unfortunately, the ruling class are not interested in granting permission for the mass of the people to be admitted into its cadre. In such a culture, the community dominates the individual, and gender inequality is rampant, leading to another key factor needing to be addressed within the curriculum.( IBID)

Change is possible !

Africa’s large youth population presents a great opportunity to influence the emergence of a new generation of leaders. The reality, though, is that the exclusive classes on the continent tend to appropriate the existing curriculum for leadership development and to equate an expensive, executive education programme in business schools, where fees are beyond the capabilities of the major part of the population as elitist. Yet very much outdated. There is a

need to democratize the leadership development process in the developing world. The high rate of infusion of mobile technology could be an advantage. This will make formal and informal leadership development an inclusive process that will reach people at all levels of society.

Africa needs cultural change agents such as NGO’s that leverage both business and non-profit platforms and may offer leadership development training to a large proportion of the population. Such agents must have experienced a change in their own mind-sets also. Development partners around the globe who genuinely seek Africa’s transformation should appreciate that the extractive leadership structures in that part of the world will not allow the intellectual, material and financial resources they distribute to create any meaningful and lasting change on the continent. They should cut down on the volume of financial aid, while partnering with cultural change agents such as jfb who are democratizing the development of leaders at all levels, enhancing the evolution of inclusive political and economic structures.

For example, my own experience on teaching undergraduate students, suggests the improvement of essential skills to further develop education are the challenges set for higher degree education teachers. That is to say, because young people are effectively citizens within their own rights and hold their own political views may remain fixed and rigid within the current model and perpetuate the cycle of corruption in which case our efforts would have been futile. On the other hand, as an NGO we are fully prepared, take full responsibility in finding dynamic professors who have the ability to engage young minds into Geopolitics and International Relations. 

Learners will gradually become to think deeply on how to reflect about their modules and become critical thinkers. By having such a cognitive shift in their mindset, it will enable them to become considerate leaders within their own countries. For example, the issue of NGO’s expressed in the previous paragraph, or the way in which the researchers described how many of the electronic social networks introduced within their disciplines may empower them rather than act as a form of oppression.

The information society has created, new communications mechanisms, may now become a bridge rather than a mocking lens.  Anyone with a video camera, a website and an opinion can post a fascinating subject. This fact must necessarily be reflected in our educational system. We need to guide students on how to use such tools articulatory because in the words of (Heidegger) “one is what one does” In other words, Africa has been bound in language through binary oppositions, for example, good, bad, black, white. However, with JFB supporting schools, providing necessary school equipment which will raise education in order to reduce corruption at the political level. The language begins to unfold into a more eloquent discursive that is discourse, flexible where political leaders may no longer feel overwhelmed by learnt helplessness. (Seligman)

To conclude, it is imperative for educators in Africa to understand the dynamics of the project as a holistic, operational shift and not only fixate on the soft skills such as reading and writing but where their educational tools shall take the students in their future! Discourse! That is the ability to speak freely and flexibly.

Teachers would do well to insist every child has access to a laptop, every Senior Leadership Team would also facilitate their mission statement if they could provide schools with a competent IT team which has a cascading effect upon the entire community raising opportunities of employment! 

Imagine today, a dilapidated school in Africa, children rarely attend, they are malnourished, there are very few resources and for the children who do attend, spend most of their days thinking about food as they are hungry.

Now, travel 2022, the very same school after JFB ( IBID) has raised money

Primary children have received breakfast on arrival to school, lunch is provided (however, the kitchen staff are busy preparing fresh food, they appear happy as they have a regular income since the new school project) the children’s ability to learn has improved as too have their retention rates. The cause, Simply food. 

Envisage walking into the classrooms to find children of grade 6 writing blogs on issues regarding World topics and which may be on any subject matter of their choice. The students are not led by an ‘Iron fist’ instead, their teacher allows the student to actively use their imaginations and thus aid in becoming self-confident which in accordance, with child psychologists such as (Erickson) psychologically empowers pupils to become without them knowing, self-actualized (Maslow) fills them with confidence to explore their imaginations and provide comments to an audience such as their peers and later parents (a very useful tool because as the student matures and later accomplishes projects requiring higher order thinking  skills with profounder challenging, objectives) and electronic social networks in order to maintain levels of communication from primary, up into University level.

We at JFB (IBID) of course visualize a wider audience, from this small set of grades 6, we have a vision of politician’s, political leaders, scholars, scientists, feminists and above all a healthy respectful community who are living in a free World filled with options and choices.

Références

  • Abramson, l.y ; Seligman,MEP.; TEASDALE, JD (1978) Learned helplessness in humans critique and reformation.”Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 87 (1): 49-47. education
  • DOI:10:103/10021-843.149.PMID 649856.
  • Acemoglu et al: (2012) Why Nations Fail. Edition 1. Crown Business Publisher.

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