Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thankful for Spiritual Freedom...

Did I ever tell you that I “love” Tanzania? Well, forget about the NBA’s slogan, “Where amazing happens”. I think the amazing really happens in Tanzania. Some the “amazing” things can actually freak any normal human being out. I mean, where else does the “man-eat-man” actually is practiced?

If you missed it, just revisit this crazy story .

I know I can discuss critical thinking and the ability to put things in the right perspective as the way forward. However, I know that when all fails, there is the Almighty God who is in charge. Can you mix faith and intellect? Absolutely! I do it all the time. If you a bit confused on how that works, please shoot me an email.

Freaky stories like the one above really makes me revere God even more. Such stories makes even more thankful of God’s amazing grace. Even more, I am thankful of the revelation and knowledge of how great it is to have a fear of God. It makes me appreciate the fact that my salvation is unmerited, as I could have very well been in very deep and weird spiritual bondage.

And for all of you have been blessed enough to have the knowledge of what God can do, why wouldn’t just lift up Salome Yohana’s family in prayers? Furthermore, why wouldn’t you pray for the spiritual deliverance of this man-eating young man who is definitely under deep spiritual bondage?
Photo Credit: Michuzi

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MPs Boredom Pill…?

I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom, but as it is, Tanzania has a long way to go. Nonetheless, I find comfort in knowing that nothing stays the same. Life has never stopped providing plenty of surprises for all of us. Who knew, for instance, that Robert Mugabe would come to the point of hanging by the cliff’s edge?

So cheer up, Tanzania has better days ahead. I think that the Tanzanian society, especially those that want to keep the status quo, are failing to change and accept the fact that the Tanzanian society is being more informed. Folk are no longer glued to RTD or Uhuru newspaper for information. You could just get the juiciest stories from Jamboforums.

Again, let’s just see what will transpire five years from now.

In my previous post I reflected on the quality of the Tanzanian education. From my point of view, I really think that the Tanzanian education is missing one key ingredient, which is critical thinking. And I think most readers would agree with that.

So let’s just go this story, shall we?

In summary, the above story is about the MP for Kigoma North, Mr. Kabwe’s call for prohibition of MPs from becoming board members of parastatals or government wholly-owned corporations. Personally, I think the call is brilliant, since the central rationale behind that call is that MPs can’t have it both ways. That is, the MPs can’t be in both in the judicial and executive branches. Lawmakers must remain impartial and objective, ideally.

I have blogged on the notion of separation between the judicial and executive branch before. So Hon Kabwe is just picking up where I left.

So wouldn’t you expect that a “reputable” lawyer such as Hon. Nimrod Mkono to get it? Hardly. The guy is actually contending that prohibiting MPs from parastatals’ board membership is equivalent to injustice, since Parliament sessions are so short and that MPs will only end up being idle. Furthermore, Mr. Mkono contented that participation in board meetings would supplement MPs’ income.

Is that amazing or what?

Obviously, there is bucketful one can say about Mr. Mkono’s argument, the summary of which is simply stupidity. If our MPs are only productive during the Bunge sessions, then something is wrong. What about using the “off season” for communication with constituents, attraction of investments in their respective areas, review and research on upcoming and proposed bills, etc?

If we have to give MPs board membership as a boredom pill and a means of supplementing their income, then we are missing the core function of boards (wonder why profitable parastatals went under?). Furthermore, this argument from Mr. Mkono just solidifies our shortsightedness and stupidity as a nation.

Trust me; something is terribly wrong with the Tanzanian society. I am yet to be proven wrong on that. Seriously, if Mkono is a degreed individual and yet does not have a clear perspective, what about a poor uneducated farmer in rural Musoma?

Photo Credit: Michuzi

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tanzanian Education: A Piece of Junk?

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone said something about the pathetic state of Tanzanian education. Apparently graduate students from various colleges and universities in Tanzania have the view that the Tanzania education system is unable to prepare competent graduates capable of doing practical work in a dynamic labor market.

Check out this article for yourself.

Well, that is sad, but true.

Though I didn’t get my degree in Tanzania, I experienced the elementary and secondary education there. As such, I would not categorize the Tanzania education as useless completely. As a matter of fact, I believe that the Tanzania education has some really solid contents. In the post primary education, I “specialized” in business education. I can tell you that we truly went deep into book-keeping, commerce and all other subjects. However, that was it.

The biggest problem with the Tanzanian education system, as already alluded to, is that it lacks the ability to empower and transform. And to me, the education system that produces citizens who can’t critically think is junk.

Given that most Tanzania students I know perform extremely well in Western schools, the problem is not with Tanzanian students. I strongly believe the problem is the inability of the government – which sets up the educational philosophy – to create transforming education system. That is, the government has failed to determine whether the Tanzanian education should focus on revolutionizing the Tanzania experience or merely a tool to communicate already established experiences, values and expectations.

Think I am kidding? Just read the Ministry of Education’s vision: “To have a Tanzanian who is well educated, knowledgeable, skilled, and culturally mature to handle national and international challenges in various political and social-economic fields by 2025.” Just think with me. Is the MOE’s vision going to change post 2025? Isn’t education supposed to be a life changing experience not focused on a limited timeframe?

Based on my own observation, the Tanzania education is set up to maintain certain expectations that are stale and do not align well with the current state of affairs. The worst part is that most of the current decision-makers in Tanzania do not know the alternative. That is because they went through the same educational system.

As it is, we shouldn’t expect anything to change, unless competition between higher learning institutions in Tanzania causes flexibility and innovation in the delivery of education.

So how bad is the situation? Just read this excerpt from the above referenced Guardian article:
“…it was established previously that people who even graduated with First Class were not able to perform well once employed and it was difficult for them to learn fast while training on the job”. If we have graduates who can’t perform in the labor market, what constitutes a “well educated” Tanzanian?

Don’t you think it is a little odd that a seemingly super intelligent student cannot comprehend job training instructions? Well, I am not surprised. The problem circles back to the root, which is the emphasis on rote learning as opposed to critical thinking, communication and other soft skills that empower and equip students to be well rounded. And that is why foreign companies in Tanzania like to hire and pay higher salaries to employees educated in the UK or the USA compared to locally educated counterparts.

And this quote from this very article, solidifies my argument: “It is discouraging to find degree holders in low-standard jobs. If you are a graduate, then you should secure a job that is commensurate to what have studied”.

Well, well, didn’t I say that the Tanzania education is set up to maintain certain expectations that are stale and do not align well with the current state of affairs? Let’s be practical. Who said that all graduates should be formally employed? What about graduates being able to create new things through an entrepreneural spirit?Furthermore, in a free market environment, shouldn’t the labor market determine how much a UDSM graduate in accounting, for instance, is worth? Who says that pay rate is based on education alone and not other unique skills that an employee brings to the employer?

As depressing as it could sound, the reality is that if a UDSM graduate is being paid peanuts, it could be that the Tanzanian labor market has determined that the UDSM graduate is worth peanuts.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the above quote from Ms Sylvia Ngemela reflects what the Tanzanian education has failed to provide – empowerment of students to critically think.

If you believe in the “junk in, junk out” thing, then I am convinced Tanzanian education system is an epitome of that.
Photo Credit: Unknown

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Painful Moments…

Life is just, well, life
It provided me with a wonderful mother-in-law,
A mother to my wife
But why would she go so soon, what was her flaw?
These are painful moments

Life is just, well, life
Through many questions, pains and even sorrow
That cut as knife,
Your memories will be alive today and tomorrow
To overcome painful moments

Life is just, well, life
But through it all, God is still the best
In joy and strife
He provides peace, wisdom and uncommon rest
Even in painful moments

Jaduong’ Metty
Columbus, Ohio

In memory of my wonderful mother-in-law who passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on Monday, March 31, 2008 in Moshi, Tanzania.