Today, 25th May 2018, the world is celebrating Africa Day. On this day in 1963 the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union) was founded. This day reminds us to celebrate African unity. In this blog I want to reflect on sustainable development within Africa.
We celebrate Africa Day at a time when many African countries are still suffering from hunger, disease, war and terrorism; there is political will for African countries to unite but we still have a way to go. As an educator, I believe that many of these problems are caused by the poor education that children receive from schools and from their homes. Sustainable development in Africa is possible, but the only right way to achieve it is to ensure that Africa’s young generations are all given a quality education. There are many ways that schools can contribute to sustainable development throughout Africa.
When children’s right to access quality education is met as stipulated in SDG4 (to ensure inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning) they learn new knowledge, skills and attitudes. If the number of students who do not attend or drop out of school remains high, it is a barrier for Africa' development because the new generation are not given the necessary tools for a bright future. Every child has the right to go to school, however attending school is one thing and learning is another. On this Africa Day, I want to appeal to the decision makers of Africa to ensure that all school-aged children are supported to learn.
This means that the content of lessons and the necessary resources and teaching aids must be available and the teaching techniques allow every child to learn.
Teaching and promoting African culture at school is a strong key pillar to African sustainable development. Knowing and valuing your identity develops happiness, confidence and love. These three values are very crucial in developing peace and unity. Looking at African culture, you see that it is a hub of knowledge, skills, aesthetic, innovation; teaching and promoting African culture also values global diversity. The young generation need to know their mother tongues, traditional stories, their national history and many other things.
Having the basic knowledge of your culture forms a strong foundation for a bright future. New knowledge, new skills and new attitudes can be built upon this.
Africa is not an island; international partnerships are also needed to empower the next generation. This links to SDG17 which focuses on partnerships for meeting the goals. Africa’s young generation should be introduced to global citizenship. Young generations should not only be limited to the local community but to the world in general. Adults need to know that the wider global community is the destination of our children. This means that Africa’s young generation need to be given all the necessary tools that will enable them to succeed everywhere. For instance, using ICT equipment makes learning very smart and suitable. Using new technologies in education is also a way of broadening students’ outreach.
On Africa Day, it is important to remember that full African Unity will not be a product of guns and violence but a result of skills, knowledge, love, cooperation, peace-building and positive mindsets … all things promoted at Umubano Primary School.
Happy Africa Day!
Jean de Dieu DUSINGIZE
Head teacher of Umubano Primary School