On Friday, 15 January, one of the most anticipated days at ALA, was the annual Africa: Land of Opportunities Day (ALOO). The theme for this year’s ALOO was “Education: Rethink and Rebuild”. Our young leaders, staffulty and invited guests got the opportunity to connect and explore the many possible solutions to tackling the issue of education on the continent. The current state of education in Africa, provides an opportunity for us to rethink how we tackle an issue that is essential to the development of the continent, rather than seeing it as a restraint to Africa’s growth and ability to be a contender on a global platform.
Looking at current education systems on the continent, our young leaders along with staffulty and an esteemed panel of guests discussed ways in which education in Africa can be more Afrocentric and more inclusive of the respective African societies in order to enable us to be more impactful on the continent “We took a broad topic such as education, broke it down and allowed people to find easy ways to contribute to [the education reform conversation] on the continent”, says Gigi Ngcobo (Class of 2014) from South Africa.
Through discussions led by the young leaders and faculty members, and drawing from current issues such as the #FeesMustFall protests throughout South Africa, the “COP21” conference on climate change held in Paris at the end of last year and also the debates surrounding LGBTI rights on the continent; we discussed how we could rethink education in order for us to have a greater impact on the continent. The breakout groups were chosen along nine key themes; Entrepreneurship, Economics, Sciences, Film, music and art, Gender and Feminism, Natural Resources, Health, Race and Sexuality and Gender Identity. Each group gave insightful recommendations on how they see themselves contributing to a more transformative education system. Speaking on the importance of such an event in fulfilling ALA’s mission, Writing and Rhetoric faculty, Mopati Morake (Botswana) stressed: “This is intentionally about what we’re trying to do and the types of citizens we should be trying to create”.
Indeed, although our conversations on the campus that day are somewhat long-term solutions to an eminent problem such as education, all solutions come from dialogue and the best solutions arise from the collaboration of many great minds. And as Paulo Freire put it: “Education does not transform the world. Education changes people, people change the world”.