Can’t Imagine we Have Failed

 

Every morning on the plains of Africa, a gazelle awakens, knowing that it must outrun the fastest lion, or be killed. At the same time, a lion awakens, knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. So it doesn’t much matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, start running.~ African Proverb

Suddenly, and without much warning, Africa finds itself in the predicament of the lion and the gazelle. Instead of the easy grazing of the past sixty years or so, now running is not optional but imperative. Economic competition is global, focused, and unrelenting; there is no such thing as a “safe” job. Whatever it was that formed the basis of our country economy 50, 30, or even 10 years ago is now at risk; and whatever it is that is coming next is hard to see or define, let alone prepare for it.

This came home to me years ago, when I heard of the Unemployment Graduate Association, and we all thought they were the next face of industrialism, this as disappear almost as fast as they had come. It suddenly hit me that I had no idea what the citizens of my Country were going to do for a living 20 (or even 10) years from now. And the events of the past ten years have only intensified this sense—and my conclusion that the recession we have been in for the past few years is more structural than cyclical. The fact is that everybody in Ghana wants already made job and the standard of living that comes with it, and for the first time ever, they have the means to take it. So what do we do?

Well, surely not going to help us, adapt to the new reality all around us just to look at other options, my mother use to tell me, when they give birth to you as a man, you give birth to yourself, so my mother was perfectly  right. But the question is, how do we help, so they can help themselves, I mean young people;

I believe there is something, actually one thing, we can and must do to give ourselves a fighting chance dramatically improve both the output and efficiency of our schools. We cannot compete on wages or access to natural resources or capital, and besides, those are the currency of the age just past. The new competition is in innovation and invention, creativity, productivity, and vision. And the wellspring of all of these is learning history and language, science and math, drama, music, and dance. We are seeing the fruition of the promise and the threat of industrialism. A person’s economic future depends on brains, not brawn, and the best brains, or maybe more accurately, the best trained brains, will win.

But it is not about cramming more physics or French into 16-year-old heads; it is about giving them the tools and techniques to teach themselves, both in school and beyond. In this connection, there is a great profound observation made run across on 21st century education: “It is no longer good enough for schools to send out students who know how to do what they were taught. The modern Ghana needs citizens who can do what they were not taught. We call this ‘learning learning.’ ”

In order to achieve this, we need change that is big and transformational, not gradual and incremental. It means twice the educational output, however measured; at something less than today’s cost. It also means educational equity on an unprecedented scale; given the stakes, we simply cannot aord the massive waste of talent represented by failing schools and lost communities. And it means education that is at once more rigorous and more engaging, more collaborative and more inclusive.

Technology Integrated Project for Schools (TIPS) is nothing less than a blueprint for remaking Africa education second to none, not through more or better testing, charter schools, longer school days, more or even better teachers, but through fundamentally altering how we do education, the first real change in the process of education itself in a thousand years.

We did not create this blueprint out of whole cloth and presenting instead, it is the product of old-fashioned observation—a hard analytical look at what is working in schools and school districts around the country. And what is working is ubiquitous technology (a fancy way of saying that every kid has a laptop) fully integrated into the classroom by well-prepared and well-led teachers. The closer the student-computer ratio gets to 1:1, the better the results; the better prepared the teachers are to take full advantage of the potential of the technology, the better the results; and the stronger the leadership of the process by the principal, the better the results.

Technology can play a huge role in increasing educational productivity, but not just as an add-on or for a high-tech reproduction of current practice. Again, we need to change the underlying processes to leverage the capabilities of technology. The military calls it a force multiplier. Better use of online learning, virtual schools, and other smart uses of technology is not so much about replacing educational roles as it is about giving each person the tools they need to be more successful reducing wasted time, energy, and money.

By far, the best strategy for boosting productivity is to leverage transformational change in the educational system to improve outcomes for children. To do so, requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and delivery of education in the country called Ghana.

Amin Yahaya

Director – Business Development,

Samakose Entreprising Development

www.facebook.com/samakose

 
 

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