We have to look into our education system and the way we raise our children, to improve the country. At the moment we raise our children to have unquestioning obedience to elders, and the education system is based on the “piggy bank” system, where the teacher “deposits” knowledge into the head of the learner, the way someone would deposit money into a bank.
These ways of bringing up our children have been outdated for at least 50 years. By the time Dr Banda brought the education system from England, it was already viewed as outdated over there. But he was an old man with little creativity and sense of innovation, so he introduced to us a system that even then was not up to date. Too little has been innovated since then, and consequently we are running hopelessly behind the developed world. Our ministry of education is no help either: they design beautiful policies that cannot be implemented and consequently the reports disappear into a drawer to never be seen again. It is no use designing regulations for Malawi that are totally up to date for Western European standards. Here we do not have the funds to implement construction standards, computer standards, and other equipment, when we have a terrible shortage even of books.
The biggest innovation in our education system since independence has been designed and implemented (and financed!) by Unicef.
Depositing knowledge that a learner is supposed to reproduce at an exam is no good in the fast changing environment of the 21st century. We need to teach our learners creativity, independent thinking, and flexibility. We need to emphasize un-learning, when the facts necessitate this. We need to teach our learners to overcome their cognitive dissonance if the (new) situation requires it.
For now our society is totally fossilized, because we have not been able to adapt to new circumstances. The government situation with a freeze of budget support shows it: donors do not see seriousness in reforms. The civil service reform headed by the (formerly hyperactive) vice president Saulos Chilima progresses at a snail’s pace if anything. Our industry, our business practices, our management, our equipment, it is all outdated, and we do not have the ability to innovate.
We need to raise our children to think, not to obey unthinkingly. We need to educate our students to be active, to be pro active, to think and develop their problem solving abilities. We need to teach creativity and independent thinking. This requires a paradigm shift in our education. For the details I recommend to read: “Pedagogy of the oppressed” by Freire. It explains his experiences and tested approach to education renewal.