From bookish education to competitive global education
by Mcedisi Rodger Solomon
Conventional wisdom yields that the process of globalization is a reality which is here and its impact on the global education systems cannot be avoided. The globalization of markets theory produces socio-economic and political conditions which compel the nation-states to rethink their education systems and possibly align them to realities of the globalization forces. This is a sad scenario especially for the developing countries because they do not have a choice but to adjust their education systems so that they get aligned to the influential globalization patterns within the global economy. The fame of capitalism unfortunately does not respect the identity of nation-states and their education systems but rather dictates that the weakest nation-states should abandon their education systems and cultures and dance to the newly found glory of globalization and modernization. As such, the philosophical underpinnings of our education systems especially in the developing countries are likely to be altered and for us in Botswana we are compelled to cast our net further into the corners of the world to think beyond just Education for Kagisano. We need a globally competitive education which raises the consciousness of graduates to function productively within the market forces. In Botswana, we certainly ought to rethink our bookish education and focus on a liberatory educational pedagogy which will enable our graduates to function productively and efficiently within the global economy. Times have changed and clinging to a static ideology of education may compromise the competitiveness of our graduates.
The spread of foreign multinational companies to all corners of the world sends a signal to us in Botswana that we should tailor our education system such that it focuses on areas such as manufacturing, corporate governance, local and foreign investment, industrial and agricultural production, etc. We cannot continue focusing on bookish education which denies the learner the opportunity to acquire skills which would enable them to open their successful enterprises and or manufacturing industries. We need industrious graduates and not certified or certificated graduates who graduate today and await God to give them a job tomorrow. Embarking on a liberatory education system would enable us to produce industrious graduates who can fend for themselves and be able to compete with the world populations. Our education system today ought to be reshaped such that we move away from too much theory and venture more on practice. In order for us to be successful in such a process-we definitely have to produce educators along the lines of a progressive education model so that they can have the autonomy to advance pragmatic education to the learners basing on the economic global trends. In a sense, we have to reform our education system and at the center of the reform process should be empowerment of educators so that they could understand the fact that the socio-economic and political realities of our world today have changed and as such the educator should rethink pedagogy along the lines of global economy and competitiveness.
We cannot continue to have teaching professionals whose duty is just to rubber-stamp policies of the government without being innovative or possibly advising the government (assuming its willing to listen) on how to mould our education system so that it becomes competitive. The process of globalization forces us as a nation especially within the education sector to channel our energies towards human capital education and development which can help produce vibrant and robust graduates. One great scholar in Peru, Joseph Mariategui, argued that to teach a man to read and write is not to educate him- rather educated people are those who get acquainted with progressive ideas of freeing the mind such that they could remain relevant and functional within their socio-economic circumstances. For us here in Botswana we need a paradigm shift in our approach to education and we need to start aligning ourselves with statements such as the one by one Mexican, Pedro Urena, who said “to learn is not only to learn to know but also to learn to do.” In all honesty, do our graduates know how to do with their hands or they know how to apply for jobs or to linger around the streets?
Mcedisi Rodger Solomon is the Treasurer of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU)