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school staff with students

universal education for Africa by western students
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In most discussions about post-colonial Africa there is a kind of Godwin Law to end each discussion: "education is the solution." Where there is a universal, accessible, good schooling system you will see that poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, AIDS, large families, superstitions and all that decrease. Just look at countries who do well today, but were poor a few decades ago.

Unfortunately, the governments of African countries are usually too corrupt and generally incapable to achieve this. Actually, the 'nations' are a problem already, as they are not 'natural', but unfortunate designs from us, colonisators, in the past.

How to educate the African population? If you organise it through NGOs or with government aid the funds do not end up there where you want them.

The best way to control exactly what happens is to go there in person. It is already happening, individuals go there to set up a school or something. They have an enrichening experience, although they remember it like a drop of water on a hot plate.

Now, make this obligatory for each western student before they are admitted to university. They go there to set up and run a school, but it is important they do not teach themselves. That is something locals should do. By hiring locals as teachers you also prevent a 'brain drain' to the west. They can actually earn a living in their own community like that. They receive their wages on a daily basis (that is how it works there), not grab the money and run.

The western students are there only to facilitate as: school bus drivers, school carpenters, secretary, supervisor, accountant, warden, cook, doorman, librarian, sysop and so on. In close cooperation with the locals when possible.

With their twenty-plus years of experience in the western world they can convert this into practise in a culture where everyone is just trying to survive from day to day. Which is exactly what makes it difficult to run a school because the locals want to steal everything of value to feed their families. The students do not have to 'survive' and can offer a 'corruption free' environment where children learn the basic skills.

It should be done by students because they have the energy to put up with the difficult situations, they need to be awarded responsabilities as part of their education, they usually have no families yet to support themselves, they are not motivated by altruistic or evangelical motives, they just want to learn to achieve the set goals, so they can continue learning. They are also more likely to approach things in a pragmatic, managerial style in contrast with soft hippie-type idealists. The locals will treat them as adults at that age, while back home they usually are treated as children as long as possible by over-protective parents and marketeers. It will be also good for their health to be away from fast and convenience food for a few months.

They go to programs selected and organised by the university of their choice. They meet other students who intent to go to the same university (which takes away the need for fraternities and so on). When they arrive, they receive a quick training of a few weeks by their predecessor. The written equivalent of it is their 'exam'.

(is there a better category for this?)

rrr, May 12 2007

Dictating Development http://www.upress.p...s.aspx?bookId=35797
This book argues that economic success and failure in the developing world is not determined solely by a nation's economic policy but also by how they were influenced by colonalism, military agression, international markets, and foreign aid. [django, May 12 2007]

UK 'crippling Africa healthcare' http://news.bbc.co..../health/4582283.stm
The UK is crippling sub-Saharan Africa's healthcare system by poaching its staff, UK doctors have warned. [django, May 12 2007]

Africa air staff 'being poached' http://news.bbc.co..../africa/6646217.stm
Middle Eastern and Asian companies lure away pilots, engineers and cabin crew trained in Africa, the head of the African Airlines Association has said. [django, May 12 2007]

Lobby Ludd - I claim my ten shillings. http://archive.this.../2005/5/19/721.html
[AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 13 2007]


       //colonisators// Sir, YOU are the mystery George Bush and I claim my ten shillings.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 12 2007

       "YOU are the mystery George Bush and I claim my ten shillings." Please explain.
rrr, May 12 2007

       Easy: you were the mystery George Bush, and he claimed his ten shillings, but you are now the mystery Pauline Hanson, and I don't.
pertinax, May 12 2007

       //Please explain// Sorry. In the UK, local newspapers used to run competitions where someone would go out in disguise. The first person who recognized him and said "You are So-and-so and I claim my ten shillings" would win the ten shillings.   

       Your "colonisators" gave you away as George Bush in disguise. Hey ho.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 12 2007

       This is an election issue in my country. The Christian-democrats want to subsidize this "fourth" pillar of development aid: all youngsters, volunteers, students and post-career people with energy left, will receive a basic income from the State to do development work in the South (and their working time in the developing country will count as labor time accumulated for their retirement).   

       It's a hot topic across Europe (Sarkozy has similar plans: train immigrants who want to return voluntarily and pay them from France if they choose to participate in teaching programs in their country of origin).   

       Personally, I'm a bit sceptical because the idea has traits of paternalism. This can only work on invitation by the host government in the South, and volunteers must be screened carefully in order to avoid abuse of the system.   

       I would personally prefer it if all doctors, nurses, teachers, airline pilots, engineers and other highly qualified people from poor countries are not treated as a commodity by countries in the North. This is a true disaster: the only doctors that Africa produces are employed as cheap labor in the UK and France. It's a disgrace. Let's solve this first.   

       Finally, I hate to think that with such a scheme you export a hegemonic discourse on development, education, knowledge, etc.... You're not going to be able to teach our Western boys and girls to learn the native language; you're going to push English and French, you're going to push a cultural agenda. You can't escape this basic fact. I would prefer it if developing countries were to build their own, autochtonous capacities in education. They're actually doing this and they are creating novel forms of modernity out of this. It would be foolish to want to nivellate this creativity and destroy it so that it can join the monotonous grey goo of a hegemonic globalised culture (that happens to be Euro-American).   

       I'm not going to fishbone the idea as such, but it needs much more nuance and a broader context in which the many other real issues that have led to Africa's underdevelopment are discussed.   

       Let's talk about the Euro-America induced wars that have raged on the continent. Let's talk about the Congo war that killed 4.5 million and that was fuelled by 84 Western companies that were exposed by the UN Security Council. Let's talk about the perversities of capitalism, which fuels inequalities and which pushes the African elite to Europe, while it should be helping its own population. These are - by far - the most important factors determining the success and failure of African states [see link].   

       Last but not least, why don't we start by doing what we promised? We promised to spend 0.7% of our GDP's on development assistance to reach the Millennium Development Goals. The US gives, what, 0.2% or so. Most European countries give maybe 0.5%. Only a handful are reaching their promise (Sweden, Luxemburg, Norway). Other promises: debt relief, Doha and fairer trade regimes, more timely and thorough interventions to prevent conflicts (but to no avail: see Darfur, etc...).   

       I'm sorry, but we are very much responsible for keeping Africa underdeveloped. Not shifting the blame here, it's just the reality.
django, May 12 2007

       // "colonisators" // is this used for irrigation?   

       [MaxwellBuchanan] and who says Poirot isn't educational?   

       But seriously folks, I've often toyed with the idea of going to Africa somewhere for a year and building a school or something, but I don't think a team of 18 year olds would be the best crew for the job. I see it more as a mid-life crisis cure, combining could-be-worse philosophy with I-made-that therapy.
marklar, May 13 2007

       Instead of discussing the colonial past I only want to make sure the children in the south get a basic education. Once they are literate the education can spread, it can travel through the written word, they can calculate what happens around them.   

       To avoid imperialistic schemes I do not want the teachers to be from the west, I only want the students from the west to facilitate the local operational part with their managerial skills without corruption. A corrupt and less effective system is what you would get now if you let the locals do it.   

       I completely want to bypass local governments because I simply don't trust them. I do agree with your premise of being invited. Before a university chooses a locale to help, they have to establish a durable and good relationship with that local community.
rrr, May 13 2007

       //who says Poirot isn't educational// Quite so, [Mr. Lar]. And well-linked, [Absinthe]
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2007

       //And well-linked, [Absinthe]// So where's my ten bob?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 13 2007

       //So where's my ten bob?// The Belgian is in the post (the Cheque couldn't make it).   

       And don't call me bob.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2007

       Noexits' HalfBakery Rule: If an idea contains the term "obligatory" it shall be automatically 'boned.
Noexit, May 14 2007


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