Sierra Leone’s decadent and dysfunctional education system needs deep soul-searching – Op ed – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph
Alhaji U. N’jai: Sierra Leone Telegraph: October 15, 2022:
The reality of cheating and fake academic results from primary to middle and high schools today in Sierra Leone is an epidemic that should be declared a national emergency for the survival and prosperity of the nation state. (Photo above: President Bio launching his National Education Sector Plan).
The sad reality is that we are busy focusing on political scoring rather than tackling a cancerous situation that could lead us to greater mediocrity as a people. The education that leads to human excellence is much more holistic in nature than just standardized curricula and exams.
Something is wrong when you realize that you are producing more graduates, but regress in various aspects of professional needs and rely on foreign interns to perform these tasks for you.
Our educational system calls for introspection. If the goal is to deceptively celebrate 100% success on standardized exams, we should just abolish them. It is enough to allow everyone to go to university and save the population additional costs. If cheating is celebrated and fake diplomas/certificates/awards go unpunished, why do I have to work hard; why do I have to show integrity.
If I work hard and do the right things but have failed and others who have done less are doing brilliantly, why do I have to work hard. If those who cheat on school exams and those who falsify diplomas/awards are celebrated in society, what does that say about ethical standards in our society.
How to effectively fight corruption and promote quality in our education systems, when the focus is on political scoring and celebrating fakes. Our current educational situation and our decadence on all levels call for a deep introspection into where we have become and where we are headed as a society.
Education is more than just increasing the literacy and numeracy levels in a country. The neoliberal agenda of promoting literacy in English or our colonial languages has only served to promote Western hegemony, alienate us from our people and render us powerless when it comes to the development and domestication of modernization.
Our powerlessness and inability to solve our own problems, our perpetual addictions, poverty amid plenty is largely opaque, even as we now record literacy levels of 95% and more students graduating universities.
Why is the gron always dry? Why do we still suffer from food poverty? Why do the Chinese, Turks, etc., with little English literacy, do our roads and our airports? Literacy and numeracy criteria work well to attract funds and money from neoliberal donors, but in reality they have done very little to create collective economic success accompanied by equity and social justice; something extremely important for us in Africa, where community relations and cultural pluralism are so present.
The truth is that education that leads to social or cultural empowerment and literacy are fundamentally different. In the same way, education as in college degrees and enlightenment are fundamentally different.
Education without enlightenment produces dependence, regression and tragic accidents for society. Enlightenment is at the heart of consciousness, disruptive innovation, building social capital and greater appropriation of its resources. Education together with enlightenment creates progress, transformational change and development based on the domestication of modernization.
In the same vein, the use of digital technologies in schools for learning, which are only enabling tools, often vectors of globalization, colonialism, dependency and the expansion of economies market, should not be confused with an education that leads to social empowerment and decolonization.
Obviously, in terms of information and communication technologies (ICT), the realities of 10 or 20 years ago are very different from our current realities; some of the technologies have become accessible, cheap, adaptable and can be implemented easily. For example, with today’s mobile technology, it is no longer rocket science to transmit school results to parents or students; something that would have been a daunting task 10 to 20 years ago.
In the 80s to 90s, one can easily get a PhD by studying a single gene like p53 that regulates apoptosis in the cell. Today, with the advent of genomic science, access to sequencers, next-gen technologies, etc., you can express the gene expression of 10,000 genes, which is still not enough to get a Ph.D.
I believe that education is not only a matter of free and quality, what we lack in Sierra Leone is an ideology that sufficiently integrates our cultural experiences to develop local production and consumption and, at the same time, strengthen the sense of national identity, cohesion and patriotism. To achieve these standards, our universities in Sierra Leone must play a greater role.
A radical transformation of university systems from agents of Western imperialism and domination to agents of decolonization and social empowerment. The process must begin with tougher college entrance exams for all disciplines and an overhaul of colonial or neo-colonial brainwashing curricula that limit local ingenuity, innovation and sense of self.
Beyond slogans and mere words, radical educational programs must move towards a decolonized curriculum that reinforces our Africanness according to the seven lenses of culture proposed by Professor Ali Mazrui.
In doing so, our culture within our educational framework can lead to development by serving as a source of motivation, or a standard of perception, our standard of judgment, our basis for stratification, our means of communication, our means of production and consumption. , and especially our identity base.
Education is at the heart of our national development and its decay must therefore be treated as an emergency epidemic similar to Covid-19 or Ebola.
About the Author
Alhaji U. N’jai is a senior scientist, professor, pan-African researcher, founder and chief strategist of Project 1808, Inc., and freelance writer “Roaming in the Mountains of Kabala Republic”. #Jata #Meejoh #ThePeoplesScientist.