Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ching Ching From Education: It Is That Real

Taking things for granted is one of the fatal mistakes we can ever make. Some things in life are so crucial and valuable, but we can downplay their importance if we aren’t careful. One of those things that folks in Tanzania are taking for granted is education. I am convinced that the Tanzanian government and the entire society have not come to the point of comprehending the true value of education -- $$ wise.

Being enlightened through education is probably the most wonderful thing that can ever happen to a human being. I am not kidding; even the Bible stresses the value of education. See for thyself. Proverbs 4:7 says this “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding”.

Generally, educated folks command a higher pay rate. On the other hand, education is a product/service that can be commercially marketed. Most governments are compelled by the citizens to provide free elementary and secondary education, but from that point it is all about commercialized education. Even at the primary and secondary level, parents send their kids to private school, if they perceive private institutions to offer a quality education than public ones.

Good education is highly priced. Try Harvard. Try Yale. Try Oxford. See? The list goes on and on.

Apart from American kids who have no compelling reasons to pursue good college education somewhere else in the world, the rest of the world is willing to search for quality anywhere, regardless of the distance from the homeland. And Africans are good at logging some major miles in search of good education.

So lets talk about the dollar signs behind education. According to The Christian Monitor, international students pumped in $13.5 billion to the United States economy in 2005. No wonder Dina Habib Powell, Assistant Secretary of State is working to woo more Chinese kids to the United States .

But what really stink about this is the fact that despite bringing in the money, most international students stay behind in foreign countries, adding up to the already bad brain drain situation. Trust me, I know that, because my mind could have been utilized in Tanzania, but instead helping the American society to grow.

I wonder if anybody in the Tanzanian government is aware of these realities. I wish that the Tanzanian government would create an environment in which our higher learning institutions will become the greatest in the Africa, and later extending that supremacy to the entire world. I wish that we would come to the point of making Tanzanian the destination for the African kids pursuing higher education.

I understand that this probably would not make sense for some, but trust me; Kenyans and Ugandans have already set a trap for the Tanzanian kids and parents. All well-to-do families are sending their kids to Kenyans and Uganda for secondary and high school. These kids are not studying there for free. We are dropping some major ching-ching to the Kenyans and Ugandans. I am not sure if the kids learn anything superior other than the ability to speak English, but it is working.

Creating top-notch institutions will require more than just giving podium speeches. Such an endeavor will require a deliberate move. The fact that CBE graduates are not even able to grasp changes around them shows how crappy our education is, to some extent. The fact some academicians, such as Professor Bavu of the University of Dar Es Salaam, who recently confessed that the university has been offering some irrelevant courses proves that we are miles away from creating superior institutions.

Worse is the fact that the Bongoland government is not funding research, but would rather buy an expensive radar, an expensive presidential jet, or a fleet of expensive sports utility vehicles.

So before you go to bed tonight, just think about the fact that the United States ripped-off $13.5 billion (not millions) from foreign students in 2005. If we have a strategy in place, we can certainly get a piece of that cake, especially from African students. What is cool is the fact that just 1% of that amount alone will translate into about $13.5million to the Tanzanian economy.

I wonder if we can get there though, given we have failed even to ensure a steady flow of power supply. And we have been “independent” for how long?

1 comment:

Maiki said...

Jaduong, you hit the nail right at the head! Generally, at the start of a very young age, children learn to develop and use their mental, moral and physical powers, which they acquire through various types of education. Education is commonly referred to as the process of learning and obtaining knowledge at school, in a form of formal education. However, the process of education does not only start when a child first attends school. Education begins at home. One does not only acquire knowledge from a teacher; one can learn and receive knowledge from a parent, family member and even an acquaintance. In almost all societies, attending school and receiving an education is extremely vital and necessary if one wants to achieve success.

However, unfortunately we have places in the world, where not everyone has an opportunity to receive this formal type of education. The opportunities that are offered are greatly limited. Sometimes there are not enough resources to provide schooling. Furthermore because parents need their children to help them work in factories, have odd jobs, or just do farm work.

Since it is not traditional, in some places, to receive a formal education, the one who receives an education is usually envied, praised and even admired by members of the community. Children sometimes look at other children with awe. Just the same way as one child might envy another because he got a new pair of sneakers, and wishes he could have too. There is a sense of admiration but at the same time there is a sense of jealousy as well. Seeing your peer do better than yourself causes some tension and jealousy because of the scarce opportunities available. As a child, it's hard to understand why there is a difference.

Learning subjects in school is not enough. One can learn history, math, science in school, and be "book-smart". In addition, one can learn how to live life by knowing what to say when, acting a certain way in certain situations and be "street-smart". These two types of knowledge are extremely essential to be successful in life. For example, you can have all the "book" knowledge in the world about a certain profession, but if you don't know how to behave with your co-workers and or your superiors, having "book" knowledge won't get you too far.

But no matter what, education is the key that allows people to move up in the world, seek better jobs, and ultimately succeed fully in life. Education is very important, and no one should be deprived of it!