In my last post , I talked about the 17 sustainable development goals set by world leaders in the summit of 2015. I went further to state what in my view are the best ways to achieve these goals. In this blog post, I will focus on one of the two things that I mentioned – prioritization of education and information sharing.
Since their formation in 2015, SDGS have made progress. However, this progress has been slow and uneven. For instance, Central and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have been seen to make the most improvement. On the other end, for the longest time, Africa continues to lag seriously behind. The question I ask myself is this; why is Africa lagging behind? What are we not doing? What are the others doing that we should also do to catch up? Well I do not have the answers as at now, but I have attempted to base the sluggishness on one issue that Africa has not fully managed to addressed.
Education & Information Sharing.
First, we need to appreciate Africa is the second largest, and second most populous continent in the world. We also need to recognize that Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 200 million youth and it continues to grow. These youth and children are in need of an education. Since 1990, Sub-saharan Africa has made the greatest progress in primary school enrollment among all developing regions. This means that more children are going to school, especially girls, who have in the past 20 years faced serious cultural challenges. According to a report(which I encourage you to read) from the education sector in Kenya, the number of ECDE(early child development education or nursery school) centers increased from 40,211 in 2014 to 40,775 in 2015 and further to 41,248 in 2016. Enrollment increased from 3,019 in 2014, 3,167 in 2015 to 3,199 in 2016 representing Gross Enrollment Rate of 76.3%, 76.5% and 76.6% respectively. Progress. The government has also increased it’s spending on education. Why? Because it has noticed that education is the mother of all progress. Other governments continue to invest seriously in education.
Here is how I know Africa can achieve all the SDGS just by paying extra attention to goal number 4.
- No poverty and zero hunger. Poor people will most likely sleep hungry, hungry people are most likely poor. What causes people to be poor? A number of things like; a country’s history, war and political instability, extreme weather conditions like floods and drought, diseases like AIDS and malaria, social problems like drug addiction, LACK OF EDUCATION etc. All these problems, in my view, are interconnected, with education standing out. An educated people are an informed people. They are aware of the problems that they face. Since every human being hates discomfort (problems are uncomfortable), they tend to seek comfort. Education gives people the power to find sustainable solutions to these challenges that they face. Education will increase job creation and hence more employment opportunities that will improve the lives of people. When people are working and not working poor, they will not have to sleep hungry unless they are fasting.
- Clean water & sanitation and good health & well being. As I have mentioned above, an educated people are an informed people who have the power to change the course of their lives. A government made up of educated people and elected by educated voters knows that it has to ensure that all it’s citizens have access to basic facilities such as food, shelter, clothing and education. It will encourage and find sustainable ways to make sure that it’s citizens do not lack clean water. As more children continue to learn and graduate, they get absorbed into various careers which include the health sector. We will get many more doctors in the various fields of medicine who will serve our sick nation with commitment and care. Actually, improved access to health information will reduce the number of people who get sick. People will be able to know how to take care of themselves – so they’ll visit a doctor less.
- Gender equality, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth. Teach people about their rights and they will become more aware of those rights and privileges. When they are aware of their rights, they will know when these rights are being infringed on. When they are aware of this, they are better placed to call for action and respect for these rights. For example, when employees know their rights at the workplace, they will demand for better pay and working conditions. The employer himself will be educated enough to understand that he should keep his employees motivated – through ways such as better pay, empowerment, communicating better etc – if he is to excel in his business. Motivated employees across the board will in turn have a multiplier effect on the economy. Women will be respected more when you make them aware of who they are. Respect will even be greater when you teach men to treat them as equals and the benefits that will accrue. You agree that the world is a better place when people are aware of their rights and when these rights are respected. Now lets assume that you have educated all men and women and they are treating each other as equals. What results is diversity. You have many more brains in the market, meaning you have many more perspectives and ideas, so chances of finding solutions to your societal/natural problems are greater.
- Affordable & clean energy, industry, innovation & infrastructure, responsible consumption and production and sustainable cities & communities. Rural-Urban migration is not just in textbooks. It’s real. Africa urbanizes at a faster rate than all the other continents, and more than half of the population in the world currently lives in urban places. Urbanization is a good thing, but in Africa, it has led to the growth of slums, where there is concentration of extreme poverty. With educated leaders and policy makers, I think there will be better urban and rural infrastructural planning. Educated people will recognize the importance of good roads, good drainage systems, electricity etc. They will further develop clean means to meet and sustain the energy requirements of these cities. People will have knowledge that they need the environment more than the environment needs them. So, they will not use plastic bags (and other non-biodegradable shit) since they harm the environment. They will know that petrol and fuel are expensive – and will not even dare mention coal – and may run out in the future. See how education is important?
- Life on land, life below water and climate action. As mentioned above – and the entire blog, educating Africans is going to play a very significant role in changing the world. All continents are basically very large islands. This means they are all surrounded by water. Imagine how water is important in our lives – all the fun it offers, all the beautiful life it has and how much more it gives. Now some dumb human beings decide to empty poisonous shit from their factories into the water. Now this water no longer gives life, but rather it takes it away. You are right, it’s not that these people do not know, it’s that they are arrogant. If they are to change, we need to teach them how not to be arrogant by showing them the consequences of their actions and actually making them understand. If they still ignore, jail them! Do the same for illegal loggers, irresponsible miners, irresponsible fishers and that lot of irresponsible guys. Education.
African countries need to review their current education systems and methods. Instead of the usual cramming, lets teach children how to think, to understand. Lets not impose someone else’s understanding on them, but rather lets provide them with frameworks within which they can come up with their own correct theories. We need to educate with not just the past and present in mind, but also the future. Lets teach them values so that they appreciate one another and accommodate each others differences and diversities. We’ll need to ensure that every corner of the continent has access to information through the internet, and that we invest heavily in school infrastructure(classrooms, desks, books etc) and teachers.
There’s so many angles to look at this from, and so much to say but I cannot write it all here. If you want to see what education can do for you, study countries like Japan, South Korea, China, the UK, Norway etc. If you still are not convinced, you need an education..haha!