Excellence In Education In The Context Of Pan-Africanism And Digitization
By Toyin Falola
For different justifiable reasons, the development of a society has always been tied to the quality of education – formal or informal – that the people in that society have access to. The truth is, before the human mind can conceive innovative ideas that will revolutionize societies and institutions, it must first be made fertile by exposure to information about its societal realities and predicaments. No doubt, what we today refer to as “civilization” or “development of the west” has education as its backbone. So, one may not be wrong to conclude that the development of a society like Africa reflects the quality of its education.
Since it is not the case that Africa has no access to formal education, what puzzles me is that with Africa’s access, its development across different areas remains below par with global standards. Considering formal education, Christian missionaries have, as early as the late 15th century, established mission schools in parts of Africa. Before this, Africa had developed a functional system of education where indigenous African societies learned indigenous knowledge, crafts, and skills. But then, despite this, there is still a remarkable lag in the level of development in Africa compared to other continents in the world. What, then, could be the problem with our education? Why are we not achieving excellence in education? More importantly, what do we have to do to achieve excellence in education in line with Pan-Africanism and digitization?
Here’s the rough edge: education in Africa reeks of foreign legacies overshadowed by the lingering effects of colonialism in African institutional cultures, institutional structures, and educational curricula. Africa’s educational system was created using Western models, which impacted its ideologies, institutional cultures, organizational structures, and curricula. As a result, African students were instructed to interpret knowledge from Western views in African colleges and universities, which were initially founded in European colonies. Many scholars have referred to this as the colonization of Africa’s educational system. But since there was a vibrant education system in pre-colonial Africa, many scholars have pushed for a reversal to indigenous African knowledge systems.
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Reverting to the indigenous knowledge systems that served as the cornerstone of knowledge and education in pre-colonial Africa has been suggested by several scholars and policymakers working to bring African educational systems back to the level of development that existed before the arrival of colonialism. The development of information and communication technologies has also given rise to new possibilities for expanding Africa’s educational systems. Some have stated that the twin initiatives of Africanization and digitization must be carried out concurrently to “decolonize” the education system. It is important to carefully consider the implications of Pan-Africanism and digitization on decolonization and the growth of the educational sector in post-colonial Africa.
African education and knowledge systems were introduced to the West by European colonizers and Christian missionaries. The first members of these systems underwent years of professional training and exposure to political engineering in Western countries. They gradually organized into political and cultural movements that came to be referred to as “Pan-African movements.” The history of modern education in Africa and Pan-Africanism are intricately linked. African intellectuals who were Pan-Africanist used the advanced educational system that European colonists established as a tool to establish a new socio-cultural and political order on the continent. A “modern education system” acknowledges the knowledge and educational systems that existed in Africa before colonization.
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Recent literature has provided a perspective on Pan-Africanism as a movement for education. As an intellectual movement, Pan-Africanism embodies Africa’s philosophy, notions, and ideas as a united nation. As an educational movement, Pan-Africanism aims to inform the African public about the ideas, ideologies, and cultures that distinguish Africa from European colonial endeavors as a distinct political and cultural entity.
Currently, Africans are taught subjects in Western-styled educational institutions that, though pertinent for Europe and the Americas, are poorly suited to African realities. Therefore, campaigns to change the education and knowledge production systems on the continent have been inspired by the need for reform among African educational systems to accommodate African realities. However, the majority of the modifications made to African educational systems are merely cosmetic, focusing solely on minor adjustments to the curricula and supporting procedures. Though certain educational reforms have involved adding new courses, names, and assessment methods, the curriculum still fulfills the same old functions.
According to Kaya and Seleti in their article on African indigenous knowledge systems and relevance of higher education in South Africa, adopting Western-style education systems in Africa had an effect not just on the curricula and syllabuses of educational institutions but also altered how people conceptualized knowledge and knowledge systems. Other academics have also argued that the adoption of education systems modeled after those in the West encouraged a restrictionist view of African knowledge and knowledge systems because those systems’ proponents favored sophisticated knowledge and knowledge system understandings that excluded African indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems. This is why I agree that only through the Africanization of such systems will there be a true transformation within African educational systems. This process of “Africanization” is frequently defined as a revitalized interest in Africa and efforts to free the continent from colonialism. Regarding education, Africanization is interpreted as the need for African universities to create new curricula, syllabuses, and educational cultures to address African realities.
South Africa has arguably taken the Africanization of its educational systems more seriously than any other nation. As the nation endured decades of tyranny under sub-imperialist authoritarian regimes, the value of Africanization was emphasized. Apartheid was imposed on South Africa as a new form of harsh rule after decades of colonization. Still, meaningful discussions on creating an Africanized educational system that could replace apartheid education took place in South Africa. A fresh approach to education was required to recognize Black people’s humanity because apartheid schooling had colonized their cognitive processes. It was proposed during this time that a “people’s education system” could be created to set the groundwork for South Africa’s future in education. Despite the failure of the people’s education system, major efforts were still made to integrate African ideologies and indigenous knowledge systems into South Africa’s educational system. Though there is still a long way to go, South Africa appears to be moving in the right direction, and it is only expected that other African countries will follow suit.
With digitization, the development of information and communications technology has made knowledge production and acquisition more difficult for Africa. The expansion of information and communication technology in Africa has resulted in the loss of traditional, cultural, and customary knowledge, despite the claim that technological innovation has enormous benefits for sustainable development worldwide. African indigenous knowledge is based on data obtained via centuries-old cultural practices, unlike Western knowledge systems that may be “scientific” and theoretically oriented. Westerners have used conventional and technologically advanced techniques to maintain Western knowledge systems. Oral transmission from one generation to the next has, however, been the traditional method for maintaining indigenous knowledge in Africa. This knowledge is susceptible to loss if modern technological developments are not used to effectively maintain indigenous African knowledge.
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African indigenous knowledge has enormous potential for sustainable development, but the continent has not taken the necessary steps to protect it, making it impossible to utilize it. Some people have argued that African indigenous knowledge should be preserved using contemporary strategies because the continent’s traditional oral preservation methods have some drawbacks. The knowledge gathered from earlier generations will eventually be changed, falsified, or lost if it is not properly kept. In this way, digital technologies have proven effective for the acquisition, transmission, and preservation of knowledge.
Digitalization has created new possibilities for both industrialized and developing nations. However, actual data acquired from developing nations, particularly in Africa, has revealed that these nations have not been able to fully capitalize on the prospects offered by such technologies. The low rate of internet usage in Africa continues to be a significant barrier to the widespread and efficient deployment of digital technology. African countries have been sluggish in using technology to remove the last remnants of colonialism from their educational institutions. Indigenous knowledge, which encompasses a variety of cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes, cannot endure without sufficient recording.
Supporting discussions regarding the decolonization of education in Africa requires intentional government action and efforts by other stakeholders in the education sector of each African nation. Only a combination of Africanization and digitization may result in the liberation of African educational systems. Decolonization is one action we must take concerning the African educational system to overcome this deficiency. However, the pursuit of greatness in Africa’s educational system, goes beyond decolonization. It calls for initiatives that are pan-Africanist in nature, using technology to digitally portray Africa to the rest of the globe.
Hence, we must actively build Pan-Africanism in its purest form so that our children will be motivated to carry it out, just as we must consciously eliminate the structures of European epistemology from our curriculum. As the link between authentic African traditions and modern lifestyles, it is our responsibility to hold the hands of the current generation of Africans until they return to the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
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It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we maintain the ideality and applicability of our ideologies. Pan-Africanism belongs to the future just as much as it does to our current or past situations. Making the world recognize us for who we are – a continent full of intelligent people who won’t submit to western norms – is one approach to doing this. And we use digitization to accomplish this. Since the current issue is the educational system, we must start there. Africanizing African educational institutions’ structures, traditions, and curricula, as well as utilizing digital technology in research, teaching, and learning, are prerequisites for decolonizing African educational systems.
Lastly, we must pay close attention to the process and establish a feeling of quality control as we work towards decolonization, Pan-Africanism, and the digitization of our educational system. We must continue to advance the cause of African scholarship’s fair treatment while strengthening our procedures. This implies that we must be selective about who assumes the responsibility of educating our children in the context of our educational system. Are they individuals who share the principles of Pan-Africanism and want to preach them openly, or are they hired just because there is a gap that needs to be filled? This time, we must take a different, long-term approach to create a digital pan-African education system. The total decolonization of Africa’s educational systems won’t happen suddenly; it will take time and careful effort. The development of Afrocentric materials and pedagogies, the use of digital technologies in research and teaching, the rethinking of models for doctoral training, and the investment of time and resources to address language issues in African universities are some of the actions that must be taken.
(Excerpt of a Public Lecture to mark the 20th Anniversary of the African University College of Communications, Accra, Ghana, November 23, 2022)
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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The 2023 Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria
By Hope Nwawolo
Despite the hues and cries that greeted the results of the 2023 elections, what if the court’s pendulum stays or swings otherwise in the expected litigations?
What will it teach our inquisitive young children?
What will it do to the hopes and dreams of the youths?
What will it do to the mind set of those in diaspora, waiting and hoping to return?
How will it affect our heroes still alive and yearning for the good old times?
One basic fact is that no matter where the pendulum swings, something new has started in the political sphere of Nigeria. And because it was unexpected, it has become almost impossible to strangulate it.
In every competition, there is an expectation that the best man will win. That may not always be in politics, particularly, in Nigeria…where the winner may not be the best man or even the better man. And when it is said that politics is a game of numbers, sometimes, the actual numbers may not be visible to determine the end result. It becomes a case of the more you look the less you see; until interpreted by respected learned men with high integrity.
Politics, they say is a dirty game, where money speaks and promises made are broken without an iota of guilt. Where the gullible minds of the masses are deceived, with as little as a box of indomie. Where some vibrant but jobless youths are brainwashed to risk their lives to snatch ballot boxes for the politicians who do not know them beyond giving them stipends through some third parties. Where market women are forced to come out for rallies and campaigns because they cannot afford the fine that will be imposed on them if they failed to participate. They also do not want the harassment of the market leaders.
In politics, fear is palpable in the air, before, during and after elections. The 2023 elections recently carried out, depicted these more than expected in both the politicians and electorate. What started like the usual political pattern took a drastic turn about nine months to the first elections and though it was said to be only a social media affair, it got everyone sitting upright and tightening his seat belt, particularly after the first elections.
Now, there is a generational shift, a new awakening, a new dawn and a new political birth, waiting to happen. To wherever the pendulum turns; where the court stands, it will make a turnaround in Nigeria. It may be turbulent at the beginning, it may be emotionally draining and psychologically traumatizing, but it will point to light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a new hope backed by a high spirit of determination. An unexplainable faith in many people for that newness of existence and purpose. An unprecedented emotional and psychological strength in the youths not to give up on their dreams. An unquenchable desire to keep praying. Soon a newness will break forth to calm all nerves and dry all tears.
A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,
A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,
A newness that will usher in unquestionable and transparent political systems in future elections,
A newness of freedom to choose a candidate without coercion or molestation
A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.
This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…
Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.
Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge
By Tunji Olaopa
If I am asked to give a succinct and apt summary of the entire challenge faced by the Nigerian state in terms of her policy architecture and development management, in spite of contestation in the development literature, I will not hesitate in stating clearly and unambiguously that it is the challenge of policy implementation; the whole dynamics of getting things done. By elimination, the implication is that the challenge cannot be located as that of the dearth of development ideas, insights, models and paradigms. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been inundated with several ideas, both local and global, about development policy and frameworks. And yet, policy outcomes keep getting bogged down in the murky waters of political shenanigans. This means that the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu has its challenge mapped out, in red, for it.
There is no shying away from this postcolonial predicament that has limited and kept limiting Nigeria’s capacity to honour the terms of her social contract with Nigerians. Hence, the Tinubu government will soon be inundated with the impatient agitations of Nigerians for a quick and tangible fix that will address their sufferings. And they are justified since they have not been given any real deal for the past sixty-three years of sovereign independence. And the new administration is obligated because that is the reason for seeking office in the first place.
Prof. Olaopa’s new book on public policy and development challenges
How then can we begin to understand this policy execution challenge? It is simple: how can an administration in Nigeria transition from governance vision and policy intention to policy outcomes that elevate and transform the quality of life of its citizens? Failure to understand and give critical and political attention to this question lies at the heart of the governance failures of successive Nigerian administrations. The new Tinubu administration cannot afford such a glaring mistake. And so, a fundamental case must be made out of the question of how policy intentions get circumscribed in the dynamics of policy execution that occasions policy failures in past administrations.
Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.The capacity to perform each and all of these functions very well within an integrated framework in the governance context is what delivers the dividends of democratic governance to the citizens, and it enhances the state’s competitive and human development rating in global reckoning. With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States,Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.
From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. For instance, there is a trajectory of relationship that links elite bargains to development bargains. In other words, development is a
function of elite nationalism and the extent to which the political class of a state can commit elite suicide and gamble on development on behalf of the people they are leading. In Nigeria, low
manifestation of elite nationalism has made it really difficult for the political class to set aside their personal and egoistic class interests in ways that enable them to clearly and ideologically discern and navigate the deadly developmental landmines strewn all over our governance landscape by the
neoliberal implication of ideological apparatuses and frameworks to which Nigeria is beholden. And here, the factor of development gamble of the Asian Tigers’ elites comes into bold relief. From within the ideological ambit of the developmental state, the leadership of the Asian Tigers were able to define a policy space that consciously and critically weighed the benefits and shortfalls of external influences, especially the type that came from the World Bank, IMF and the other cohorts of the neoliberal policy dynamics. Their developmental circumspection paid off!
Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’(project and change management effectiveness), and overcoming the various political, cultural, structural and systemic constraints that trapped past well-meaning policies and intentions of Nigerian leaders in the dynamics of implementation.
There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to weak implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption. In essence, development has failed not because Nigeria lacks the blueprint or paradigms to make it happen, but due to the dynamics of the politics that the political elite plays with Nigeria’s development potential.
Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it
does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa. According to the finding, 29% of development projects ever get completed, 45% of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26% of such projects invariably get cancelled. Such a review can never backstop a solid development project of a developmental state.
The politics of policy implementation in
Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices. One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public
administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality. The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any
specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a
national development plan and strategy that are not implementation- ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success. Two: this
presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The
extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration. The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with. Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before
they are pushed into implementation. This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.
All the issues raised above constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration requires to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals. The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. Governance successes are necessarily a function of how government business engages the complexities of the policy design and execution processes within a results-oriented frame. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes. This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend, it becomes imperative to have a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases that enable staff and program continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterativep performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanismsf for overall national development policy tracking and reporting.
The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. And this cannot be achieved through the wanton multiplication or even duplication of
governance plans, programs and blueprints. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration needs that fighting chance!
. Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration .
Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!
Orezime: A moral what?
Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?
Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?
Adamu: A moral burden, I said!
Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?
Gani: Or Mars?
Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!
Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.
Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!
Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.
Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.
Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.
Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.
Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!
Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!
Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!
Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?
Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?
Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.
Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.
Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?
Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!
Bankole: May we not travel that route!
Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.
Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.
Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.
Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.
Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.
Bankole: That’s ominous!
Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing. Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.
Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!
Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!
Emeka: Tough luck!
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