Imagine if an "education revolution" sparked a wave of intellectually curiosity across the African continent. If young children in rural villages across the continent could access vital resources needed to ensure their success and that of their communities. What if we could even find the next Einstien on the Adrican continent? Neil Turok delves into all of these queries in this thought-provoking lecture. Take a look, and as always prepare to look forward to the realization of a better tommorow.
By: Deonta D. Wortham
For the past decade the African content has seen an unprecedented period of economic growth. Forged by a select group of economies, the ongoing economic cycle has been propelled by economic momentum that has not been seen since the rise of the infamous “Asian Tigers” in the last quarter of the previous century.
Though, as the continent has witnessed this unprecedented period of economic virility, persistent inequalities have prevented nearly one billion Africans from reaping the benefits of this so called “ boom.”
Today, with nearly 18 million young Africans entering the labor force annually, rising female labor force participating rates, and the continent’s increasingly prominent role on the international economic stage, continued inaction in the realm of public policy will only undermine economic strides seen across the continent.
As Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank (ADB) has stated, “[The continent] has had strong economic growth, now we must turn it into economic transformation.”
The ADB has noted it is time to “reduce inequalities and promote inclusion,” ensuring that the possibility of acquiring “decent [employment], a living wage, access to basic governments, and [participating in functioning democracies]” is available to every African.
As the popular adage goes, “You can't eat GDP growth.”
Now is the time to ensure that the economic strides that are seen across the continent are met with sound fiscal economic policies that benefit the majority of Africa’s citizens. Ignoring this fact will only increase the various inequities currently seen across the continent.
At last week's World Economic Forum on Africa, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, a small panel involving various international actors discussed this very topic. In a lively thirty minute “briefing” Winnie Byanyima, Phuzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Jennifer Blanke, and Edward Ndopu addressed how private and public actors can work together to ensure that Africa’s continued economic rise benefits individuals across the continent.
Without further ado, here is a thoroughly thought provoking discussion on the importance of economic inclusivity brought to you by the World Economic Forum.
By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
On May 29, 2015, esteemed author, activist, and speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed Wellesley College's graduating class. Her inspiring address explored the importance of self-worth, the power of determination, and the awe-inspiring role of tenacity that connects every human.
I wasn’t very interested in makeup until I was in my twenties, which is when I began to wear makeup. Because of a man. A loud, unpleasant man. He was one of the guests at a friend’s dinner party. I was also a guest. I was about 23, but people often told me I looked 12. The conversation at dinner was about traditional Igbo culture, about the custom that allows only men to break the kola nut, and the kola nut is a deeply symbolic part of Igbo cosmology.
I argued that it would be better if that honor were based on achievement rather than gender, and he looked at me and said, dismissively, “You don’t know what you are talking about, you’re a small girl.”
I wanted him to disagree with the substance of my argument, but by looking at me, young and female, it was easy for him to dismiss what I said. So I decided to try to look older.
So I thought lipstick might help. And eyeliner.
And I am grateful to that man because I have since come to love makeup, and its wonderful possibilities for temporary transformation.
So, I have not told you this anecdote as a way to illustrate my discovery of gender injustice. If anything, it’s really just an ode to makeup.
It’s really just to say that this: your graduation is a good time to buy some lipsticks—if makeup is your sort of thing—because a good shade of lipstick can always put you in a slightly better mood on dark days.
It’s not about my discovering gender injustice because of course I had discovered years before then. From childhood. From watching the world.
I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.
I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.
And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.
I knew from this personal experience, from the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me
Victimhood is not a virtue. We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.
And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.
Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.
Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.
Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.
Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.
Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.
Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.
Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.
All over the world, girls are raised to make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.
Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.
I am lucky that my writing has given me a platform that I choose to use to talk about things that I care about, and
The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping. I have said a few things that have not been so popular with a number of people. I have been told to shut up about certain things – such as my position on the equal rights of gay people on the continent of Africa, such as my deeply held belief that men and women are completely equal. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.
I don’t mean to sound precious but please don’t waste your time on earth, but there is one exception. The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.
Okay, one last thing about my mother. My mother and I do not agree on many things regarding gender. There are certain things my mother believes a person should do, for the simple reason that said person ‘is a woman.’ Such as nod occasionally and smile even when smiling is the last thing one wants to do. Such as strategically give in to certain arguments, especially when arguing with a non-female. Such as get married and have children. I can think of fairly good reasons for doing any of these. But ‘because you are a woman’ is not one of them. And so, Class of 2015, never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing anything.
Finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.
Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.
Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.
Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.
By: Deonta D. Wortham
The thrills from Davos don't stop!
Today we have yet another intriguing piece to share with you from the 2015 World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting. To be honest I believe that we have saved the best for your to enjoy on the fine winter morning.
During the course of a riveting thirty minute discussion Angélique Kidjo - an internationally admired vocalist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador from the West African nation of Benin - discusses a variety of topics that have contributed to her success and inspired her renowned education advocacy work.
Kidjo attended the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland to receive the 2015 Crystal Award for her ongoing work in the realm of girl educational advancement on the African continent.
We at Foresight know the importance of education in respect to the development of African societies, it is the most important aspect of societal development. To have an advocate of the stature of Angélique Kidjo is simply amazing.
Take a few moments to watch this amazing sit down. Laugh and learn about Angélique Kidjo and the work of The Batonga Foundation, her distinguished nonprofit organization.
Italian architect Tomà Berlanda, co-founder of Active Social Architecture, has brought his talents to Rwanda, to assist in the nation's development of quality education environments that place an emphasis on design and community engagement.
Design Indaba has highlighted his work, it simply is amazing. Enjoy!
By: Danielle Taylor
Tostan is an African-based development organization whose approach is unlike most development organizations. Their unique approach has led to unprecedented, sustained, community-led advancements in areas of health, education, governance, economic growth, and environment.
Through 20 years of trial and error, Tostan has successfully demonstrated the value of a bottom-up approach to meeting community needs. When it enters a community, it does not go in with a bag of money and preconceived answers to the existing problems. Instead, they enter with what can be called a values assessment.
This starts with simplified conversations among community members in which fundamental values are teased out. In a recent presentation by the organization’s founder, Molly Melching, six values have been consistently found in the communities in which Tostan operates: the primacy of the family and social network, peace and unity, hospitality, fulfilling one’s role in society, respect and dignity, and patience and perseverance (especially for women). With these expressions of underlying values, the conversation then moves to identifying what problems exist in the community, determining the causes of the problems, and deciding how the community members can work together to address these issues while maintaining their values.
This is contrary to the approach of many international aid organizations, despite their best intentions. Typically, outside groups enter with sermons on particular problems, such as the need for an increased number of health works or the rights of women and girls, thereby failing to consider the interconnectivity of these and other issues. These foreign organizations also usually fail to tap into the internal motivation for and ownership of development by residents in the communities in which they seek to serve. This is the key to the sustainability of their efforts.
Most importantly, Tostan doesn’t use the “blame and shame” tactics often elicited by community outsiders. Keeping value judgments, concerning the people engaged in certain practices at bay, allows for an understanding of the underlying reasons for the continuation of harmful practices.
For example, there is the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM). Of the eight countries in which Tostan has operated, over 7,000 communities have made public declarations to abandon FGM. How was this achieved in light of the considerable international uproar over the time-honored practice, and an equal amount of pushback from practicing communities over the lack of cultural respect and understanding? Tostan’s approach was to first assess the underlying values involved in carrying out this tradition. Of those previously mentioned, maintaining the family and social network and the respect and dignity of the girl child were most highly evident. Families wanted to ensure their daughters’ marriageability and prevent the child from being ostracized by the community for being “unclean”.
Acknowledging the desire to help the community’s girls was the starting point for further conversations about the implications of the practice such as short and long term health problems that often prevented the girl from being productive in later years.
What’s most interesting about the issue of FGM is that Tostan never explicitly set out to end FGM. It was an outcome of the holistic, community led approach to development. Government foreign-aid agencies, NGOs, and even socially responsible corporations should be encouraged to follow Tostan’s model to realize sustainable and desired development results.
One of our contributors is currently in Uganda doing some great work in one of the nation’s northern provinces. Here’s his take on the nation’s development progress…
By: Jordan Bland
The whole of Africa is developing incredibly quickly. Creativity and growth can be seen in virtually every aspect of society. One region worth giving special attention to is northern Uganda. Fewer than fifteen years ago, war was at its peak, and the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, had complete control of northern Uganda.
At that time, children were abducted by the LRA, and the boys would be trained as child soldiers while the girls were used as either soldiers or, most often, sex slaves. These children would be abducted, starved, trained for two weeks on how to become a soldier, and then sent to the front lines of battle. When a child would do something noteworthy, whether it be killing an enemy soldier or reporting rumors of planned escapes by abducted citizens-turned-soldiers, they would be rewarded with food.
This resulted in once innocent children becoming increasingly willing, and even zealous for the chance to kill or report rumors, knowing the result would be a full belly.
When the LRA were finally forced to lay down their arms less than ten years ago, the population of northern Uganda consisted largely of traumatized, uneducated young adults. Despite this fact, the progress that has been made is astounding. Most of the former LRA rebels were given amnesty, and they now have shops and goods that can sustain their families. Many places in the region also practice wage equality for women.
The greatest example of progress, though, is seen in education. This most recent generation of children are excelling far beyond what their parents were able to achieve academically. Most of the young parents in northern Uganda never went beyond third grade, but now it is common to see children complete both their primary and secondary education. And the greatest champions of the children’s education are the parents. They have seen firsthand what a lack of education can lead to, so they push their children further and further in the education system.
Furthermore, in the recent past, many Western educators have come to visit northern Uganda, offering seminars and practical training in hopes of seeing the region rise higher than ever before. For example, just one week ago, there was a visiting professor from Baylor University offering a course in management, finance, and entrepreneurship. One of the adults attending the lectures spoke with the professor and told him, “I am old and unable to read, but I will teach everything you have told me to my son so that he may do the things you are saying.”
This is foresight. This is initiative. This is development,
By: Deonta Wortham
Imagine being a child using tech instruments to assist you with your homework. Imagine being a 6th grader and using your cell phone to help with math homework. For many of us, the idea of doing so is a memory rather than an obscure concept. It is something that is tangible, we’ve done it. We know how it feels to use a computer to assist in our learning process; we’ve done so for countless years. But children residing in developing nations, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa, the ability to access tangible forms of technology made for education purposes is a mere luxury; something that is scantly accessible.
However, an extraordinary phenomenon is taking place across the African continent. African tech startups are increasingly launching programs that aim to bring educational resources to African students outside of a classroom setting. Most importantly they are doing so by utilizing tech instruments that are readily accessible to African students.
In Tanzania, Ubongo, a children’s program, is using “edutainment” to equip young Tanzanians with literacy and numeracy skills that are overlooked in African classroom setting. The reach of Ubongo is breathtaking. On Saturday mornings thousands of young Tanzanians gather around their family’s television sets and directly interact with characters of Ubongo by sending text messages to answer math and reading questions. Due to the immense impact that the organization has had since its launch has led Ubongo is currently in the process of expanding it broadcast across the East African region.
Sterio.me a Nigerian tech start-up, focuses on engaging African learners outside of the classroom using a model that is similar to that of Ubongo’s. Sterio.me tasks students with the responsibility of using their mobile devices as a means of reinforcing the lessons that they learn in the classroom, on a daily basis, through the uses of skill specific quizzes that are then sent to their instructors.
Both of these enterprises are transforming the way that young Africans are learning across the continent. Innovative ideas, such as these, will play a pivotal role in transforming the African narrative. In their efforts we are able to see the possibility of developing sound methods of learning reinforcement vital to the development of the African youth population. e-Education is laying the foundation for a learned and prosperous African continent, let’s collectively work together to ensure that their work does not go unmerited. Let’s encourage the establishment of enterprises of this sort, knowing that they broaden the capacities of the African continent and its people while strengthening the African continent’s development effort.
By: Deonta Wortham
A lot can be said regarding the development effort across the African continent. In last week’s “Weekend Read” we discussed that conclusive development goes beyond the introduction of basic infrastructure to impoverished communities. This week, we pivot to one aspect of development across the African continent which is exceedingly contributing to the wider development effort; that is the work of the African social entrepreneur.
These individuals are initiating tasks that are directly impacting the lives of countless Africans across the continent. They are creating an arena for collaborative communal growth while empowering marginalized communities –such as the poor, rural citizens, and women- that have long been overlooked by national governments. African social entrepreneurs are giving a voice to the voiceless and equipping individuals with the skills needed to positively contribute to their respected societies.
In Uganda, Best Aiyorworth established the Girls Power Lending Organization, an association that focuses on providing women with needed financial assistance to establish businesses. The organization’s hope is that these new financially empowered female entrepreneurs will then invest in the education of young girls in Uganda's Nebbi Region. So far there efforts have been a success; countless women have established local enterprises and many young girls have likewise received an education on the part of female benefactors. Mind you Best is only 21, and has one The Anzisha Prize work the work her organization is undertaking!
In Botswana, Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING) is a youth-led organization that has instituted intensive training programs that equip young Batswana with skills needed in the nation’s growing tech industry. These young Batswana are receiving tech-focused skills that are aimed at assisting in the nation's development process, and ultimately contributing to the development of the continent's ICT sphere.
In 2005, South African Neftaly Malatji, who is 22, formed the Diepslott Youth Project which aims to equip young adults in the township of Diepslott, just north of Johannesburg, with marketable skills that are desired across the labor market. So far, Neftaly and his team have help hundreds of young adults attain computer skills and countless others have taken advantage of the other training programs that the organization offers.
Across the continent individuals and organizations are charging forward with a “banner of progress” that will mark the transformation of the African continent. Young Africans, across the continent, are initiating formative steps that will go on to assure that the development of the African continent occurs in a manner that reaches every African, and takes into account every African voice.
The stories that I have mentioned do not tell the entirety of the work that is being done by social entrepreneurs across the continent. These individuals number in the thousands, and are equally making a concerted effort to ensure that the development of the African continent and her people comes on the part of African citizens that are willing, and capable, of transforming the African narrative.