It is a fact that power in Malawi is shared very unequally. The political class places itself above the law, and loots and Cashgates as their heart desires. Sometimes a few are caught and used as an example of the rule of law. These unfortunate criminals are the exception. The large majority, the well connected, they go scot free. There is some infighting how the cake is shared. Who gets the bigger share of the loot and who will have to do with smaller pieces?
Then there is a small middle class that is trying to instigate some rule of law. The newspapers and to a smaller extend the radio news are trying to get some politicians accountable. This reached a peak during the reign of His Excellency, the State President, Ngwazi, Professor, Doctor Bingu wa Mutharika (Woyee), who tried to rule like a cold war era dictator like Hasting Kamuzu Banda. This was only possible in that time because of the support of foreign powers, and Bingu failed. He got the biggest demonstrations in democratic Malawi against him and reacted with disdain (‘public lecture”) and armed violence (20 deaths).
However this was a fight between the political class and the urban middle class. The large majority of the population are left out. The small holder farmer (approximately 85 % of the population) do get no representation at all. They have no effective ways of furthering their interests, and this means democracy is not functioning. Even with elections they can only vote for the political class, which do not represent the interests of the population, but the interests of the political class. It appears impossible for representatives of the small holder farmers to penetrate the ivory Tower of Power, due to all kinds of legal and financial constraints, put there by the political class, keeping the reins of power in their own group.
How can we get the majority to learn of their own power? In a democracy the majority should have the power. The problem is a lack of consciousness, or knowing their rights, of learning their options. But these things cannot be learned from above in the traditional middle class education setting. That setting was developed in Europe of the middle class, by the middle class, for the middle class. The model of a teacher (knowing) disseminating knowledge (pre-determined by the teacher and other knowing “educationalists”) into the (unknowing) learners is not conducive for the development of consciousness. What we need is a model that problematises the build-up of society, and stimulates creative thinking, rather than the reproduction of pre conceived texts. This type of education, where the inventiveness of the learner is promoted, where the learner is made conscious of his/her own knowledge, where the learner is seen as an equal by the teacher, and where the teacher learns from the learner, like the learner learns from the teacher, that is an interactive model. This means we should speak of a teacher-learner, and a learner-teacher with interchanging roles. The situation as it is should be investigated by the learner-teacher, at the suggestion of the teacher-learner. The teacher-learner should find out what the issues are, and create open learning materials that question the situation, and ask for answers and creativity from the learner.
To make this concrete:
Mathematics: the learner goes into society to find out how much land different people have. How much input do they need?
How much yield do they get? How much can they eat? How much do they sell? How much can they spend? How much of the money realized from tobacco growing goes where? How much work does everyone in the value chain put into the equation?
Compare the different people in the village. Compare this with the cost of the 4×4 that the “Leader of the Opposition” gets from the tax payer (= tobacco grower).
Why is this so? Is this the best way to organize our society? What can we do?
This type of example can be applied to any and all of the subjects in school.
A lot of this has been applied in South America, and they are way more developed than we are. Think of leaders like Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Lulla da Silva or Che Guevara.
This is a time intensive task, but it is the only way to get the population to the point where they are capable of realizing the situation and the things they can do to improve the country.