By : Michael P M Mhlanga
The ethos, values, and fundamentals of every society are interwoven with its knowledge base and its internal and external pace in terms of progress rides on the waves of its academic endeavors. The value and ethos of education are engraved in the ideals and principles that we, as people embrace as we climb up the steep slope of success or go down the valleys of failure.
This writer believes in the sanctity of a society’s knowledge base as it is the determinant of the standing of that society in relation to its human and natural environment and the legality of its claims for a place in the global terrain. It is, therefore, upon this ideology that the writer decided to delve a little bit deeper into the murky pools of the academic terrain and try to fish out the values of this terrain in relation to the human elements that depend upon such a pool.
As a recent graduate from Great Zimbabwe University and a holder of the Bachelor of Education Honors Degree Secondary Pre-service with Geography as my area of specialty, the inert stimuli that kindled my love for education grew from my poor background and my exposure and interaction with other people from the so-called “elite society”. As an individual hailing from a society embroiled in the pains of a difficult and hard life, I traversed the academic terrains with a unique purpose, of bringing back to my society that which they crave for, the knowledge that empowers.
I saw in education, a new ideology of how society is controlled and manipulated. Throughout my academic journey, I realized the inebriety of the uneducated soul which is easily manipulated sometimes to the detriment of the society. What inspired me was my craving for an enlightened learner so that my society is not duped by others and emboldens them to venture into the world and explore its prospects and precincts. It was my affection for learning that pushed me this far and the same yearning is pushing me to go further, to unravel more obscurities in education. I desire to see a changed society and the young people therein.
I, therefore, swore to myself, that I must ride on the wings of my academic success and strive to achieve that which my society craves for, the knowledge that empowers. The human mind is such a delicate element that is easily manipulated in a manner that can be detrimental to the individual and society. This element, if properly and timeous harnessed is a tool that can make the society to move with unprecedented speedy through the valleys of economic success and the mountains of social and political growth.
Each field as presented by the human mind, in the academic terrain, provides an indelible link to the chain of societal success. The economic and political gurus are not made by the magnetic aroma that might seem to surround them, but by the small elements that are gathered together by their managers, accountants, bookkeepers, historians, secretaries, receptionists, agents, drivers, cooks, skilled domestic workers, cleaners, builders, bankers, till operators, waiters, guards and all those that converge on one company, institution, home, government, ministry or church for one purpose. In short, an individual might seem to be uneducated personally, but he or she always rides on the wings of academic success as provided by all those who surround him.
Therefore, this academic field is an indelible element of society’s success. It is my wish to see my society riding on the waves of academic success and attain that which it craves for, the knowledge that empowers. Throughout my academic journey, I have realized that many individuals who are released by institutions of knowledge in my society are sometimes devoid of the appropriate academic skills that qualify them to act in a highly competitive local and international environment.
During my undergraduate studies, I got exposed to students from secondary schools. My interaction with these learners has made a new reality to dawn upon me which is the volatility and fragility of the human mind. This exposure has made me realize how the human mind can be manipulated easily for the benefit or detriment of the individual and/or society as a whole. I have come across learners with the ability to succeed in life for the better but sadly it has turned to be otherwise as a result of negligence by teachers. My interactions with these learners brought me to a sad reality that many educators are more concerned with getting their salaries and coaching learners only to pass but not to know with a Cram, Pass and Forget mantra.
This has made me have a desire to delve deeper into the murky waters of the education sector of my society and attempt to stabilize them by providing the intellectual resource that is needed for such a feat. It is my desire to see a society that is enlightened. As I further interacted with the young minds of my society, I realized that the education system of my society has inadvertently helped to create a delinquent society which is rich in the book knowledge but poor in the realities of everyday life due to limited exposure and focusing more on bench and desk education. The explorative stimuli which should be activated by the rightful teaching seem to be dead. It lacks what it craves for, the knowledge that empowers.
When I look at my society, I feel the pains of a dejected soul, I see a people whose intellectual; faculties are devoid of knowledge, I see a people whose reasoning is drowned in the ideals of hand to mouth consumption and I see a backward people. When I look at my society, I see visions of youths moving in a jumbo mumbo fashion with no valuable resource of their own, talk more of employment. As I move in the ghetto town which I hail from, I see pools in the middle of the road, gullies where there should be settlements, derelict buildings, decaying infrastructure and economic despondency. My society needs an intellectual remedy to acquire that which they crave for, the knowledge that empowers.
Recently, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe revised the curriculum for Ordinary and Advanced level in an attempt to create learners that are skills-based. This was further cemented by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education’s initiative of supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects at Advanced level. What they forgot though, is the fact that the individual mindset is not changed by changing the curriculum but by changing the behavior. My four years as an undergraduate have taught me that nations are not built by politicians but by intellects, think-tanks, owners of knowledge and academic authorities. Being skillful in a vocational subject such as agriculture or woodwork can be null and void if the individual lacks the proper mind-set and will which usually comes with intellect. That is why my nation suffered for long because they believe more in being literate only and being skillful in vocational areas but are ignorant of the need to create wealth for themselves and their societies.
Understanding STEM is their prerogative but it’s not enough. There is a need for society with such knowledge, as will be competitive on the international academic market when a comparative analysis is taken. Society should rise up and take a claim in the academic terrains of this global village that we are living in. My desire is not to see a society that is rooted in medievalism and archaic knowledge systems but one that is modern. The society should be aware of the fact that skills without a will are devoid of knowledge and will without skills is devoid of ability.
Therefore, when we look at our individual selves, and when we conduct an in-depth self-analysis, we should see ourselves as an academically able individual whose qualities can be enhanced by further education and appropriately tapped for the betterment of the society.
The economic, political and social scenario that underpins our society should push us to forge ahead in academia and bring back that which my society craves for, education and enlightenment. We should act as a catalyst that speeds up the necessary change the community is yearning for. Ours is a duty of liberating the minds from the shackles of deprivation and the pools of solitudes that society is embroiled in. We have the mandate to realign the intellects of OUR society in such a way that they are not coerced into being stooges of the powerful but they become creators of wealth and participants in the global and local arena. There is an adage in my own mother language that says “Chitsva chiri murutsoka” which when directly translated means “New things are brought by traveling”. Let the US bring back new things to OUR society. Let us be the change that society craves for. We will bring that which society yearns for, the knowledge that empowers.
Michael P M Mhlanga is a 24-year-old author of 7 books, numerous articles, and commentaries. The young man is a recent graduate from Great Zimbabwe University, a motivational speaker, preacher, debater, and public speaker.