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Opinion
Political education is the only answer to Africa’s failed statesPublish Date: Dec 21, 2013
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By James Katongana

Somalia, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan, Egypt, are some of the countries which are torn by civil strife. Most of these have armies of intervention to avert human catastrophe.

This means that the political leadership can not handle the situation without the help from external forces and further that if foreign troops withdraw the situation slides back into chaos. In most cases, the causes of conflict in these countries are ethnicity, religion and struggle for power. These conflicts could only be averted by serious training in political education in order to inculcate into citizenry the spirit of patriotism.

Neither of these rebel leaders nor governments themselves are focused to do it. They are busy enriching themselves. When you look at the contingents of peace keeping forces in these countries, you wonder why they cannot raise the armies by themselves to protect their sovereignty. DR Congo has a contingent of only 27,000 from MUNUSCO, Somalia has 27,000 from AMISOM and if these countries could raise and train their armies over and above those provided either by UN or AU, what would stop them from defending themselves? How are they prepared to take over from the peace keeping missions?

These countries are busy promoting civil rights as international community wants it but forget that the circumstance here are different and that education relevant to these countries is vital.

Countries like Cuba used its public education to teach the rights and duties of citizenship, foster patriotism and national solidarity and aimed at meeting the country's employment and production requirements. They observed that ‘No independent and democratic nation could succeed where public education failed.’ Cubans placed great faith in the power of education to resolve all problems, both individual and national.

They even refused private education. One Ismael Clark, a school inspector observed that, ‘private school use texts printed abroad, in which the subjects are not treated in accordance with scientific truth, nor a pedagogical plan, or in which Cuba is omitted, when it is not slandered .’

Even Castro claimed for his movement the legacy of Cuba’s apostle, Jose Marti ‘An educated people, will always be strong and free” During his trial after the unsuccessful assault on the Moncada barracks in 1953, Castro questioned the relevance of foreign education and had this to say ‘Our educational system is a perfect complement to our other problems. In a country where the farmer is not the owner of the land, why should any man want agricultural schools? In a city where there is no industry, what need is there for technical or industrial schools? ... Less than half of the children of school age attend rural public schools, and those who do are barefoot, half naked, and undernourished. Many times it is the teacher who buys the necessary school materials with his own salary. Is this the way to make a nation great?’

Countries like ours need to borrow a leaf from Cuba. Theirs was an indigenous and it worked well and as we speak now Cuba has attained almost 100% relevant quality education.

In Burkina Faso also, Thomas Sankara before his assassination did wonders in a record period of 3years.His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nation-wide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles. On the localized level Sankara also called on every village to build a medical dispensary and had over 350 communities construct schools with their own labour. That would be the way to go in Somalia, DR Congo, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan.

What is happening now is the struggle for power, ethnic conflicts and religious myopism. We need toe the line of Late Nelson Mandela, Mahtma Ghandi and Thomas Sankara. Leaders like Sankara never thought of enriching himself at the cost of his people.

His first moves upon taking office were to slash his own salary and that of his ministers and senior public servants. He replaced the luxury official vehicle fleet with the cheapest brand in the market. He stopped the practice of putting politicians’ portraits in public spaces and forego air-conditioning in government offices because the majority of the population could not afford such a luxury. These are the leaders we need.

The writer is a Pan Africanist

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