In the last quarter of the 19th Century Africa saw a wave of imperialists’ entry into the continent. The imperialists came in the form of tourists, missionaries, and businessmen.
The colonization came with an onslaught not only on the physical bodies of the Africans but their psychology as well. There was an attack on social lives, education, history, and religion. The Europeans undermined the education and achievements of the Africans and stripped the Africans of their knowledge and began imposing their own education.
The education proved beneficial to the white people because it was culturally their own, to the Africans this was a foreign imposition. Years after independence the African continent is still faced with multiple problems and no one suited to solve them, this is because the education imposed on Africans is not suited to solve the African questions.
The African continent is marred with different problems which include underdevelopment, poor governance, unemployment, wars, poverty amongst others. The result of this can be traced back to the education that has been imposed on Africa which has alienated the Africans on their own continent.
The European colonization of the African states led to the dismantling of African tribes, the implementation of borders between African nations, and the imposing of foreign languages. Africans were taught to disregard their educational system of storytelling, traditional medicine, and cave wall writings, for the Europeans’ alternative of black ink on white paper.
There was a serious distortion of African religion and medicine, it was villainously labeled “black magic” as opposed to the European medicine which was regularised and imposed on the Africans. With the power of superior military equipment, the Europeans managed to pacify Africans and make them believe their education was superior and more reliable. During colonization, the Europeans imparted their education by one of two administrative techniques association (maintaining a difference but close enough to ensure the Africans emulated their way of life, mostly implemented in British colonies) and assimilation (this would entail changing the African to become just as the oppressor with the only difference being skin color, this was most prevalent in French colonies).
The Europeans built schools with a system like those in Europe both in structure and content. The Africans were taught of subjects foreign to them, they read literature that spoke of white people and climatic conditions they had never known on Africa. The Africans were made to internalize a knowledge of life that is thousands of kilometers away from them. This created aliens of black men on the continent who know so much about foreign lands, people equipped with the knowledge to navigate the socio-economic landscape in Europe and not Africa.
Africa is facing a plethora of challenges, at the same time African universities are pumping out graduates in huge numbers, however, industries keep closing and unemployment is still peaking. The problem is that an educational system imposed by Europeans years ago is still in place.
After colonization, the systems stayed in place, there was a superficial change of the people who conducted similar roles. White teachers were replaced by black people, but the content remained the same. The problem with a curriculum filled with white characters and achievements of mostly white people is that it gives the presupposition that black people are not as great if not greater.
The decolonization of African education does not mean a radical approach of taking away European content and replacing it with African content, regardless of how useless it may be. The decolonization of education is changing the language of teaching because African languages are just as effective and easy to understand. It will include having a curriculum with more African authors, literature that speaks of Africans, and texts that celebrate African inventions and achievements.
The decolonized education in Africa will instill the identity, that Africans were robbed of. The new system will seek to have educated people who can navigate through the problems of their times within Africa. An education like that of Europe is not a bad thing, however, it is not the system Africa needs right now. Africa for the greater part is yet to fully industrialize and as such the education needed to develop, grow, and earn a decent living in Africa should be determined in the right context. African methods of teachings and the use of native languages need to come to the fore.
The decolonization of African education is not an emotional reaction to remove all reminders of colonization, it is simply a way of finding an education that will help Africa grow at its own pace. It is a contextualized form of education that assists in the development of the continent and solving the pressing African challenges. It might take a long time because of years that have been at play in normalizing foreign education, but if anything can be learned from china it is that being selfish and self-centered culturally helps.
Africa needs to selfishly guard her culture and move to the sound of the African drum in her road to development. Education has some universal principles that can be retained. However, the rest of the educational system can also be tailor-made. Africa needs an education tailor-made to solve the African issues, one that will produce people who will heal and develop the continent. We need to stop the cycle of having black bodies in African schools whilst their minds are in Europe. Africa needs educated people who will restore the glory of Africa.