Juliet Asante: Why Education Prepares Us to Fail


About five years ago, I made a decision to spend more time outside my home country. A number of things had culminated into this decision. Feeling burnt out and alarmed, I packed my bags and with my daughter, took a sabbatical so to speak.

My predominant feeling at the time was despair. I was a misfit. I felt misunderstood and targeted; and then something monumental happened. On my last night in my home, an email from the Harvard Kennedy School informed me of my acceptance. Unable to carry my suddenly dead weight, my knees crumbled, as warm, salty tasting drops trickled down to trembling lips. I whispered again and again ‘Lord, I am not stupid, lord, I am not stupid’… for by this time, circumstances had conspired to have me questioning my sanity.

A strong believer in the value of a good education, my daughter attended a prestigious school. She and myself interacted with the upwardly mobile of society and we were no strangers to the occasional red-eye flight that took us half way across the world. As an open-minded parent, I did my best to be progressive in my parenting.

Hardly had we settled into our new home, when the first shock of my daughter’s school report hit. The bottom line – my daughter was relatively timid, lacking in sufficient independent thought, initiative and generally lacked a firm grasp of critical educational principles. In a state of shock, I took a very quick, but painful decision to repeat her school year, allowing her the space she needed to adapt and catch up. My decision paid off as she flourished within months.

My own year at school was no trip in the park; I struggled to break free, both from a mindset and a clear gap in my education on many levels. As my elasticity was tested, I experienced sensory overload, sometimes manifesting in extreme physical discomfort.

I come from a country and continent that was once colonized. The colonial masters did leave, but not with everything. Key; was structured education, as we know it. As dutiful servants, we have carried on the culture in relative purity. Indeed, I dare say that the masters would be surprised at our demonstrated faithfulness, for even they have veered off track, recognizing the need to, in some cases, move on. The Educational institutions of our ‘masters’ welcome and encourage change; cherishing the past, but understanding that it only exist to give us grounding into the future. For as there cannot be a future without a past, a past without a future will ultimately lead to extinction. Therein lays the secrets to man’s progress.

The British are particularly great at preserving traditions. Within this tradition is a class system, beautifully represented by her majesty the queen, who we deservedly pay homage to. Let me here hasten to add that I was recently delighted when her majesty supposedly sent out her first tweet!

Colonization was built on the bedrock of the class system; so intricately crafted, that it has the ability to perpetuate itself, even in the absence of the master. Ghana has been ‘independent’ since 1957.

The British had one goal when they colonized; to keep the colonized, colonized. They have done a very good job. We have therefore faithfully failed to think independently. Failing to adapt our education, in a very fast changing world. Subsequently, the education in almost all African countries, lack attributes of independent thought, creativity etc., things that ultimately lead to inventions, the sciences, entrepreneurship; the confidence to explore and question, and the permission to fail honorably. Our colonial masters left a long time ago, but the proxy masters… Alas! Those who benefit from the status-quo, the stand-in masters, prefer to keep it just the way it is. Victims higher up the food chain.

In 2015, the universities will not adapt what they teach to the job market; insisting on teaching outdated curricula, and in some instances, using books that are no longer in print. The resulting gaps in what the job market wants and the skills sets of graduates is alarming, inflaming the already testy job market. My country suffers from a youth unemployment rate of over 60%, social structures are breaking down, leadership is confused, corruption is rapt; Work ethic and attitude is at its worst and inventions are relatively non-existent.

I just recently sat down with two same-aged nephews in different parts of the globe. Both aged 5. It was all I could do not to cry. We absolutely will continue to be slaves, for the next generation is already doomed. The chasm seems so insurmountable, Words fail me… words fail me

Ghanaians are smart people. Ghanaians continue to excel all over the world, even under the most trying conditions and with the worst of starts. Recently a gentleman of Ghanaian decent, preparing to go to college, was accepted in all the major ivy leagues schools in the United States. Such a feat it was, that it was covered on prime-time television. This and other cases, continue to prove, that indeed, this may be a case of nurture and not nature.

In the meantime, in the land of the purposeless, a new threat looms. Groups like ISIS have sniffed the hopelessness that engulfs our youth, and like vultures that feed on carcass, they circle our shores, licking lips shimmering with spit…

-Source: http://www.myjoyonline.com/opinion/2015/August-28th/why-education-prepares-us-to-fail-by-juliet-asante.php#sthash.XnrSFnLg.dpuf

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