Teaching Development, Appropriately

When you are teaching development this coming school year, please, please, please, use this video:

How Africa can use its traditional knowledge to make progress

It’s a TED Talk given by Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu during TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania in September 2017. Dr. Ezeanya-Esiobu is an evangelist for African indigenous knowledge. Her experiences growing up in the African education system and her subsequent work earning her doctorate and working with the World Bank have provided her with a unique and progressive view on how Africa can solve many problems not with top-down western ‘knowledge’, but with indigenous African knowledge that has been successful for centuries.

Sadly, much of that knowledge has fallen victim to the dominant paradigm that western knowledge is somehow better. I remember learning about the fallacies of western development 30 years ago after tractors had been donated to African farmers which, a few years later were sitting out in fields rusting. The farmers did not have the money for fuel, nor to maintain the tractors. Furthermore, when the tractors were running, they put people out of work. The great western saviour failed, miserably. A classic case of inappropriate development.

I thought things had improved since then – and in all fairness they have. Many development projects by NGOs such as WorldVision are grassroots in nature, to provide basic necessities first clean water, sanitation and food security. However, there is still a tendency for westerners to assume what they are doing is not only helpful, but necessary. It is critically important to assess how we are ‘doing it’ to ensure what we are doing is still appropriate. Education is a good example.

Education of Africans must have as its foundation African values, African context and African content. Africans must be educated to be Africans, not westerners! This is the basis for Dr. Ezeanya-Esiobu TEDTalk and one we must always be central to our discussions and teaching of development.

Here is the video:

Teaching Development, Appropriately
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