Data show Nigerians the most educated in the U.S. BACHELOR’S AND BEYOND

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In America, Nigerians’ education pursuit is above rest Whether driven by immigration or family, data show more earn degrees

For Woodlands resident David Olowokere, one of Nigeria’s sons, having a master’s degree in engineering just wasn’t enough for his people back home. So he got a doctorate.

His wife, Shalewa Olowokere, a civil engineer, didn’t stop at a bachelor’s, either. She went for her master’s.

The same obsession with education runs in the Udeh household in Sugar Land. Foluke Udeh and her husband, Nduka, both have master’s degrees. Anything less, she reckons, would have amounted to failure.

“If you see an average Nigerian family, everybody has a college degree these days,” said Udeh, 32, a physical therapist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “But a post-graduate degree, that’s like pride for the family.”

Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in this city and the nation, surpassing whites and Asians, according to Census data bolstered by an analysis of 13 annual Houston-area surveys conducted by Rice University.

Although they make up a tiny portion of the U.S. population, a whopping 17 percent of all Nigerians in this country held master’s degrees while 4 percent had a doctorate, according to the 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 37 percent had bachelor’s degrees.

In comparison

To put those numbers in perspective, 8 percent of the white population in the U.S. had master’s degrees, according to the Census survey. And 1 percent held doctorates. About 19 percent of white residents had bachelor’s degrees. Asians come closer to the Nigerians with 12 percent holding master’s degrees and 3 percent having doctorates.

The Nigerian numbers are “strikingly high,” said Roderick Harrison, demographer at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that specializes in researching black issues. “There is no doubt that these are highly educated professionals who are probably working in the petrochemical, medical and business sectors in Houston.”

Harrison analyzed the census data for the Houston Chronicle.

Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University who conducts the annual Houston Area Survey, suspects the percentage of Nigerian immigrants with post-graduate degrees is higher than Census data shows.

Of all the Nigerian immigrants he reached in his random phone surveys 1994 through 2007 — 45 households total — Klineberg said 40 percent of the Nigerians said they had post-graduate degrees.

“These are higher levels of educational attainment than were found in any other … community,” Klineberg said.

There are more than 12,000 Nigerians in Houston, according to the latest Census data, a figure sociologists and Nigerian community leaders say is a gross undercount. They believe the number to be closer to 100,000.

Staying in school

The reasons Nigerians have more post-graduate degrees than any other racial or ethnic group are largely due to Nigerian society’s emphasis on mandatory and free education. Once immigrating to this country, practical matters of immigration laws get in the way.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 made it easier for Africans to enter the U.S., but mostly as students or highly skilled professionals — not through family sponsorships, Klineberg said.

So many Africans pursue higher levels of education as an unintended consequence of navigating the tricky minefield of immigration, said Amadu Jacky Kaba, an associate professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., who has done research on African immigrants in the U.S.

“In a way, it’s a Catch-22 — because of immigration laws you are forced to remain in school, but then the funny thing is you end up getting your doctorate at the age of 29,” Kaba said. “If you stay in school, immigration will leave you alone.”

Although Kaba, who teaches Africana Studies, is not from Nigeria (he is Liberian), he said he, too, found himself pursuing a master’s and then a doctorate to remain in this country legally.

But not all Africans have to go this route. Some say their motivation is driven by their desire to overcome being a double minority: black and African.

Take Oluyinka Olutoye, 41, associate professor of pediatric surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. He came to this country already as a medical doctor but decided to pursue his doctorate in anatomy to help set himself apart.

“Being black, you are already at a disadvantage,” said Olutoye, whose wife, Toyin Olutoye, is an anesthesiologist at Baylor. “You really need to excel far above if you want to be considered for anything in this country.”

Family expectations

All this talk of education creates high expectations for children of Nigerian immigrants. The eldest child of David Olowokere, chairman of the engineering technologies department at Texas Southern University, for example, is already working on her master’s degree in public health in Atlanta; the middle child is pursuing a bachelor’s in pre-medicine. His youngest, a son, attends The Woodlands High School. He already has aspirations to go into engineering, just like his parents, Olowokere beams.

“The goal is for them to do as good as us — if not better,” he said.

Oluyinka Olutoye put it another way.

“The typical saying in a Nigerian household is that the best inheritance that a parent can give you is not jewelry or cash or material things, it is a good education,” he said. “It is expected.”

leslie.casimir@chron.com“>leslie.casimir@chron.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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The 10 Most Educated Countries in the World

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Read Time:8 Minute, 34 Second

In the past 50 years, college graduation rates in developed countries have increased nearly 200%, according to Education at a Glance 2011, a recently published report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report shows that while education has improved across the board, it has not improved evenly, with some countries enjoying much greater rates of educational attainment than others. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 developed countries with the most educated populations.

The countries with the most highly educated citizens are also some of the wealthiest in the world. The United States, Japan and Canada are on our list and also have among the largest GDPs. Norway and Australia, also featured, have the second and sixth-highest GDPs per capita, respectively. All these countries aggressively invest in education.

The countries that invest the most in education have the most-educated people. All of the best-educated countries, except for the UK, fall within the top 15 OECD countries for greatest spending on tertiary — that is, college or college-equivalent — spending as a percentage of GDP. The U.S. spends the second most and Canada spends the fourth most.

Interestingly, public expenditure on educational institutions relative to private spending by these countries is small compared with other countries in the OECD. While the majority of education is still funded with public money, eight of the countries on our list rely the least on public funding as a percentage of total education spending.

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The countries included here have had educated populations for a long time. While they have steadily increased the percentages of their populations with postsecondary educations, the increases are modest compared to developing countries. The U.S., Canada and Japan have had tertiary educational attainment above 30% since at least 1997. Poland, a recently developed country that is not on our list, had a tertiary educational rate of 10% in 1997. As of 2009, that rate had grown to 21%.

These are the 10 most educated countries in the world.

10. Finland
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.8% (3rd lowest)
> GDP per capita: $36,585 (14th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.15% (10th lowest)

Finland is a small country relative to the other OECD members. The share of its adult population with some sort of postsecondary education, however, is rather large. This select group is reaching the end of its expansion. From 1999 to 2009, the number of college-educated adults increased only 1.8% annually — the third-smallest amount among all OECD countries. Finland is also one of only two countries, the other being Korea, in which the fields of social sciences, business and law are not the most popular among students. In Finland, new entrants are most likely to study engineering, manufacturing and construction.

9. Australia
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.3% (11th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $40,719 (6th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 14.63% (3rd highest)

Australia’s population grew 14.63% between 2000 and 2009. This is the third-largest increase among OECD countries. Its tertiary-educated adult population is increasing at the much less impressive annual rate of 3.3%. Australia also spends the sixth-least amount in public funds on education as a percentage of all expenditures. The country also draws large numbers of international students.

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8. United Kingdom
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 4.0% (9th highest)
> GDP per capita: $35,504 (16th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.47% (13th lowest)

Unlike most of the countries with the highest percentage of educated adults, the UK’s educated group increased measurably — more than 4% between 1999 and 2009. Its entire population only grew 3.5% between 2000 and 2009. One aspect that the UK does share with a number of other countries on this list is relatively low public expenditure on education institutions as a percentage of all educational spending. As of 2008, 69.5% of spending came from public sources — the fourth-smallest amount among OECD countries.

7. Norway
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
> GDP per capita: $56,617 (2nd highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 7.52% (14th highest)

Norway has the third-greatest expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, at 7.3%. Roughly 23% of that is spent on tertiary education. In Norway, more than 60% of all tertiary graduates were in a bachelor’s program, well more than the U.S., which is close to the OECD average of 45%. The country is one of the wealthiest in the world. GDP per capita is $56,617, second only to Luxembourg in the OECD.

6. South Korea
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 39%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 5.3% (5th highest)
> GDP per capita: $29,101 (13th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.70% (14th lowest)

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Korea is another standout country for its recent increase in the percentage of its population that has a tertiary education. Graduates increased 5.3% between 1999 and 2009, the fifth-highest among OECD countries. Like the UK, this rate is greater than the country’s recent population growth. Korea is also one of only two countries — the other being Finland — in which the most popular fields of study are not social sciences, business and law. In Korea, new students choose to study education, humanities and arts at the greatest rates. Only 59.6% of expenditures on educational institutions come from public funds — the second-lowest rate.

5. New Zealand
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 40%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.5% (14th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $29,871 (14th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 11.88% (8th largest)

New Zealand is not a particularly wealthy country. GDP per capita is less than $30,000, and is the 14th lowest in the OECD. However, 40% of the population engages in tertiary education, the fifth-highest rate in the world. The country actually has a rapidly growing population, increasing 11.88% between 2000 and 2009. This was the eighth-largest increase in the OECD. Part of the reason for the high rate of tertiary graduates is the high output from secondary schools. More than 90% of residents graduate from secondary school.

4. United States
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 41%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.4% (the lowest)
> GDP per capita: $46,588 (4th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 8.68% (12th highest)

The U.S. experienced a fairly large growth in population from 2000 to 2009. During the period, the population increased 8.68% — the 12th highest among OECD countries. Meanwhile, the rate at which the share of the population with a tertiary education is growing has slowed to an annual rate of 1.4% — the lowest among the 34 OECD countries. Just 71% of funding for educational institutions in the country comes from public funds, placing the U.S. sixth-lowest in this measure. Among OECD countries, the largest share of adults with a tertiary education live in the United States — 25.8%.

3. Japan
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 44%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.2% (10th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $33,751 (17th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 0.46% (6th lowest)

In Japan, 44% of the adult population has some form of tertiary education. The U.S. by comparison has a rate of 41%. Japan’s population increased just 0.46% between 2000 and 2009, the sixth-slowest growth rate in the OECD, and the slowest among our list of 10. Japan is tied with Finland for the third-highest upper-secondary graduation rate in the world, at 95%. It has the third-highest tertiary graduation rate in the world, but only spends the equivalent of 1.5% of GDP on tertiary education — the 17th lowest rate in the OECD.

[Also see: College Majors that are Popular]

2. Israel
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 45%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
> GDP per capita: $28,596 (12th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 19.02% (the highest)

Although there is no data on the percentage of Israeli citizens with postsecondary education dating back to 1999, the numbers going back to 2002 show that growth is slowing dramatically compared to other countries. In fact, in 2006, 46% of adults ages 25 to 64 had a tertiary education. In 2007 this number fell to 44%. Only 78% of funds spent on educational institutions in Israel are public funds. The country is also only one of three — the other two being Ireland and Sweden — where expenditure on educational institutions as a proportion of GDP decreased from 2000 to 2008. Israel also had the largest increase in overall population, approximately 19% from 2000 to 2009.

1. Canada
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 50%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 2.3% (5th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $39,070 (10th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 9.89% (10th highest)

In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD. Each year, public and private expenditure on education amount to 2.5% of GDP, the fourth-highest rate in the world. Tertiary education spending accounts for 41% of total education spending in the country. In the U.S., the proportion is closer to 37%. In Israel, the rate is 22%. In Canada, nearly 25% of students have an immigrant background.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Anambra State produced another 6297 graduates

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ABOUT 6297 graduates were awarded first degree certificates by the Anambra State University, (ANSU), Uli, at the third convocation of the institution held at the main campus, Uli, over the weekend.

Addressing the graduates and students at the ceremony attended by Governor Peter Obi, top government officials among other dignitaries, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Fidelis U. Okafor, commended them for successfully completing their studies for the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 academic sessions.

He charged them to be good ambassadors of the university, and engage in honest and meaningful activity aimed at sustaining themselves.

The VC commended them for recording high level of success despite the challenges experienced while studying in Nigerian higher institutions.

He also announced the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees of ANSU to the following eminent personalities: the Prime Minister of Belze, Dr Dean Barrow (D.Litt), Dr Ben Nwazojie (SAN) who bagged (LLD), and Chief Emma Bishop Okonkwo (DBA)

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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A diagnosis of the African predicament

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Read Time:8 Minute, 20 Second

Stanley Uys reviews Greg Mills’s outstanding new book ‘Why Africa is Poor’

Greg Mills is nothing if not forthright. The first sentence of the introduction to his book reads: “The main reason why Africa’s people are poor is because their leaders have made this choice.” This sentence is repeated in the middle of the book. It is repeated again in at the end of Greg’s conclusions. Could this insistent message be plainer? Or will Africa just continue to ignore the lessons of international reform as it suits them?

The purpose of Mills’s book is “not to name and shame” (most of the continent’s 52 states would have to be inscribed in the book of shame), but to put forward “proposals for improving this situation, in getting African leader’s incentives straight.” Chapter 4 “shows why it is that African leaders have made these bad choices.”

It is worth observing that while Mills makes plain his dismay (I almost said despair) over the course most African leaders have taken, he admires the input of which African women are capable. “No one can tell me,” he says, “that anyone works harder for less than an African woman working in the fields.” Tactfully, Mills draws no comparisons with African men – a very touchy subject – but others for long have seen Africa as the home of the male chauvinist.

As various reviewers have urged, Mills’s book should be required reading for every South African cabinet minister, senior (and upcoming) government official, business leader – for everyone interested in the development of what the Economist some years ago called the “hopeless continent.” The book took three years to write. The effort was prodigious. Mills admits he tackled “an enormous and complex subject.”

The range of the prestigious offices Mills has occupied, his peregrinations, his research and comment – they are all are remarkable. For 10 years he was national director of the SA Institute of International Affairs; he published 25 books and lectured widely; in 2005 he became (and remains) head of the Brenthurst Foundation, founded by the Oppenheimer family; he has held other influential and unusual positions – in 2006, he was special adviser to the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, in 2008 Strategy Adviser to the President of Rwanda; he is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (this is only the short list).

Mills explains: “The methodology of the Brenthurst Foundation…is to employ the policy examples of high-growth economies as diverse as Vietnam and Costa Rica, Morocco, India, China, Panama and Singapore”. Mill’s travel itinerary for the purposes of writing his book – East Africa to Kazakhstan to East Asia – is exhausting just to list. The chapter on aid (the charities at work in Africa) is a must-read section in itself. Mills says the bleeding hearts who surge into the continent under one or other auspice undermine the self-confidence of sovereign states to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. On this topic, Mills (usually measured and courteous) allows himself a caustic tongue.

Mills also discusses South Africa’s resistance to globalisation, and generally Africa’s eagerness to attend the myriad international events to which its leaders are invited, instead of submitting strategic and detailed execution plans that should attend these events.

“Africa has the biggest voting bloc in the UN, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other such organisations,” Mills notes. “But what does it ‘trade’ its vote for? Help for Cuba and the Palestinians, blocking UN managerial reform, and manoeuvring around tougher action on Burma and Iran. None of this does one bit for Africa or for Africans outside of the New York diplomats, who revel in such posturing, or those leaders overwrought by their own anti-colonial complexes. Africa is often the subject of these meetings, but its leaders generally miss the point.

“As the collapse of the global trade talks in Geneva in 2008 showed, the WTO was perhaps the worst example. Led by South Africa, 40 African votes were locked together with China, India and Brazil, with the aim of resisting European and American demands for the South American and South Asian giants to open their markets.

“Fine for them, but those same countries had as high – or higher – tariffs on African goods as the EU and US did. If African votes in support of their positions had been exchanged for commitment from those countries to provide duty- and quota-free status to Africa (a small price for them to pay given the limited share Africa would gain in their markets), this position would have made sense Instead, Africa sold its votes for some form of ‘South-South’ solidarity, without any return to serve its own interests. India, China and Brazil must laugh all the way to Geneva for every WTO session…Until the Africans are prepared to use their voting power like every other multilateral bloc – to advance the interests of their own people – the posturing will continue and conferences, not commitments, will rule the day.”

For how much longer does Africa want to be known as the failed continent? Its reputation is appalling. Consider this comment in The (UK) Times by a former Conservative MP and influential columnist, Matthew Parris, responding to the constant squeals from African leaders that the West are trying to re-colonise them: “Great powers aren’t interested in administering wild places any more, still less in settling them; just raping them. Black gangster governments sponsored by self-interested Asian or Western powers could become the central story in 21st– century African history…The continent is in many places run by outfits that resemble gangs rather than governments…You hardly need visit the …the gang’s territory….You simply give it support, munitions, bribes and protection to keep the roads and airports open and it pays you with access to resources…It is when China, then America, , and perhaps even Russia or India follow, that the scramble for Africa will truly be resumed”. Parris wrote that comment in April 2008.

Yet it is within the power of African governments to make more civilised arrangements, as Mills spells out in his book. Why don’t they do it?

Surveying Africa’s record, Mills writes: “In a half-century of independence, Africa has not realised its potential. Instead, its greatest national assets have undermined its prosperity. Africa’s youth, far from being a huge source of talent and energy to be harnessed, are regarded as a destabilising force because they are largely unemployed and uneducated. This is not only a threat to Africa’s security. By 2025 one in four young people worldwide will be from sub-Saharan Africa. If they do not find jobs on the continent, they will seek them elsewhere.”

Drawing on his Rwandan experience, Mills says the reason why things do or don’t happen there is no different to most countries. Doing things the Rwandan way is understandable and indeed necessary for local ownership, “which invariably leads to a lot of frustrating reinventing-of-the-wheel and related delays.” It leads, too, to fixation on maintaining control, and it effectively crowds out the private sector. Rwanda is good at delivering the “donor patter,” but not as good at delivering development.

When African leaders read what further Mills has to say, they should squirm, because they know it applies to most of them: “Things are highly politicised in the small sense of the word – keeping matters in the party’s ambit, rather than true checks and balances on government…In the short term, Rwanda’s choices result in a failure to prioritise and get things done; a failure to follow up on projects; a failure to plan and deliver; a failure to concentrate on the private sector; and a lack of investment in productive economic sectors. This runs the risk of the calamitous societal upheaval that (President Paul) Kagame has been so determined to prevent.”

To return to Mills’s conclusions: “The principal problem with African economics is politics, and the choices that leaders make in the interests of their short-term expediency of staying in power and ensuring control. In trying to balance the urges of maintaining control with the realisation that, for sustained economic growth to occur they need to relax their grip, they invariably err on the side of control first – and not always for selfless financial reasons. Better balances and choices by the continent’s leadership, not those of donors and other outsiders, will realise the prospect of a more prosperous African future.”

“Each African country,” says Mills, “is a crowded stage of domestic players, bilateral aid agencies of widely differing approaches and abilities, self-assured if somewhat ham-fisted multilaterals, NGOs, consultants, development foundations and foreign governments. The cacophony can overwhelm and disorient, and often becomes a source of patronage of political power rather then being, as was intended, a source of development funding served by these various international organisations.”

Mills acknowledges: “Academics like to write books filled with obtuse theory. The former Taoiseach of Ireland (and previously university professor) Garret Fitzgerald is reputed, perhaps apocryphally, to have asked in a cabinet meeting: ‘That’s all right in practice, but how might it work in theory?’ I hope that this volume proves if nothing else to be that unusual academic combination of readable and analytical.”

It is impossible, in this review, to tap into all the riches of a book like Why Africa is Poor. We would still be here next week. But the book is hugely readable. Mills has the quality of waltzing into a country like a tourist guide, relating anecdotes, sketching the colour and the architecture, introducing the reader to the mix of players, strolling the boulevards, identifying the rich and the poor, and then explaining why the country ticks, or fails to tick, what the remedies are – and how close or far the governments are from applying them. It’s a tour de force if ever there was one.

Why Africa is Poor and what Africans can do about it, by Greg Mills. Penguin Books (South Africa), 2010

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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A Life Lived Whole

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Read Time:11 Minute, 2 Second

“There is in all things … a hidden wholeness.”
Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and mystic who wrote these words, was speaking of the human world as well as the world of nature. But in our every?day lives, Merton’s words can sound like wishful thinking. Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished, or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities and become separated from ourown souls. We end up leading divided lives, far removed from our birthright wholeness.
Continue reading

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Detentions Spark Protests

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Immigrants won a major victory in January when a District Court judge ruled that the US government may not deport Somalis. The decision dealt a setback to Bush administration policies of sweeping detentions and deportations of immigrants from Arab and Muslim nations. Continue reading

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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101 Ways To Get Educated

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Read Time:5 Minute, 33 Second

-Grow enough grain for one loaf of bread — and make and eat the loaf

-Answer ALL the questions of a 3 year old for a week

-Spend a day alone in a wild place

-Follow your trash to its final resting place

-Collect food and blankets and spend a day giving them to homeless people taking the time to stop and talk about life

-Help in the birth of a lamb, cow, or horse

-Visit a slaughter house (try to withhold judgment)

-Organize a rite of passage ceremony for an adolescent, someone at mid-life, or yourself

-Switch genders for the day

-Build a house (your own, or for Habitat for Humanity)

-Ask a low rider how the lifters on their car work

-Apprentice yourself to someone you’ve always wanted to learn from

-Take a picture of you and all your stuff in front of the place where you live. Compare it to the pictures in Peter Menzel’s Material World

-Read the sacred texts of another tradition

-Imagine your most delicious relationship and then go first

-Work for a week on an assembly line

-Spend a week without stepping in a car. Pay attention to how your town looks from a bike, bus, or sidewalk

-Exchange tutoring with a teenager – math or bicycle repair in exchange for Web browsing, skate boarding, dance, or ??

-Go to someone else’s church, synagogue, or place of worship

-Go on a vision quest

-Take a dance class from a different culture

-Interview the oldest person you can find; record the conversation

-Interview a child

-Imagine a day in your life 15 years from now

-Plant and care for a tree

-Ask yourself, “What if everyone in the world behaved the way I am behaving?”

-Get the names of the favorite books of your dentist, grocery store clerk, mother, co-worker, and your minister/rabbi/priest or spiritual guide. Read those books

-Pretend to be someone else on the Internet

-Trace your water supply back to its source – and follow it down the drainpipes to its destiny

-Finger paint

-Spend a day in a neighborhood where you’ve never been before – without carrying any money

-Ask your friends, and your ex-friends, to anonymously send you a list of your five best and five worst character traits

-Live for a day off your garden

-Channel surf for an evening; ask yourself what about the programs is drawing people

-Be quiet for 5 minutes per day; increase gradually to 20

-Ask a young person what’s on his or her mind and heart, and listen (don’t try to ‘fix it’)

-Figure out when and on what part of your dwelling the sun’s rays fall at different times of year (for extra credit: calculate the photovoltaic potential of your roof)

-Take a year off

-Read a foreign newspaper

-Meditate on the life of your unborn grandchild

-Talk to the janitor

-Assume that everything is your responsibility, if not your fault

-Examine a handful of compost or rich soil under a microscope

-Go without food for three days

-Watch a child being born

-Write a creation myth

-Visit an observatory, and look at the stars through a big telescope

-Map the creeks, streams, and rivers in your watershed

-Choose six jobs that interest you; find someone to interview for each and spend a day working alongside them

-Watch a snail

-Find out what percentage of the world’s financial wealth is owned by the top 50 corporations, and how much by the 50 wealthiest people

-Visit the emergency ward of a major hospital

-Sleep outside under the stars

-Discuss these questions with a friend : If the Universe is finite, what happens at its edge ? If it’s infinite, how did it get there ? If the Universe started 15 billion years ago, what was there before it started? Does time go on forever ?

-Visit a spiritual healer

-Find out what the clerk at the grocery store is thinking about

-Follow your electric wires to the source of the electricity

-Learn to line dance

-Spend two hours with a counsellor exploring your life

-Pick three trees of different species and spend an hour meditating under each one

-Go on a week-long solo journey by bus, bike, or foot to a place you’ve never been; listen to the people you meet

-Learn how to build a wall

-Fall in love

-Take a bicycle to pieces and put it together again

-Visit a Native American reservation and talk with the people you meet about their past and future

-Learn how to give a good massage

-Spend a day watching a state or provincial legislature at work

-Calculate how much carbon dioxide your family is adding to the atmosphere each year

-Ask a good friend to share the most important lessons he or she has learned about sex and how to make love

-Perform menial or repetitive work at a job that lasts at least a week

-Read primary sources on history, science, social science (that is, avoid the authors who are interpreting the work of others)

-Carry all your trash around with you for a week. At the end of the week, weigh it all

-Write an episode of one of the current top-rated sitcoms on commercial TV; explain the story line to a friend

-Repair a damaged relationship

-Start that band/garden/book/art movement you told yourself you’d always do

-Throw the biggest party you can; try to get someone from every decade dancing

-Ask your parents about their relationship

-Refuse to do meaningless work for one week

-Offer to help your child’s teacher

-Admit that you don’t know and ask for help

-Tell people how you are really doing

-Go to a punk rock or hip-hop show

-Sell your car and go to India

-Seek out a friend of a different race & class

-Ask people what they are planning to do about the year 2000 computer bug

-Calculate the total miles traveled from the towns labeled on food cans in your pantry

-Ask a kid about divorce

-Teach yourself to play guitar

-Go to the industrial section of town and see how much free stuff is available (go dumpster diving)

-Make a movie about your neighborhood

-Visit the nearest creek once a week for a month and notice changes along the banks, in the water flows, in the pools

-Collect dumpling recipes from around the world; throw a dumpling party

-Imagine yourself looking back on your life at 90 years of age: what are the highlights? Who has been most important? What do you wish you had done? Now go out and do those things, thank those people and live those highlights.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Education for Life -Integral Life, Integral Teacher

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Read Time:12 Minute, 15 Second

How can an inner decision to live and work with integrity spark a social movement?

Parker J. Palmer is a writer, teacher, and activist who speaks and leads workshops on education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. He is a senior associate of the American Association of Higher Education, and senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute and designer of their Teacher Formation Program. His prolific writing includes The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teachers Life, To Know as we are Known, andThe Active Life.

Sarah: What is it that’s not working for teachers right now?

Parker Palmer: There’s so much. In public education, one of the things that’s not working is the fact that education is such a convenient political whipping post for lots of other frustrations. We can blame on the schools and ultimately on the teachers all the problems that we don’t know how to solve in any other arena: family, government, civic associations, church and so forth.

That’s an example of an external pressure that makes the teacher’s work difficult. But there are internal pressures within the profession itself. These include the tendency in education to try to reduce every problem that teachers face to a matter of technique or curriculum reform – or anything but the basic questions of the teacher’s inner life and the lack of a community of teachers that can help them sustain each other in difficult times.

This isolation is a complaint that I hear from teachers everywhere I go. It’s especially pronounced in higher education where closing your office door and being alone with your “work,” or closing your classroom door and teaching out of sight of colleagues – these forms of isolation are regarded as high virtues, rather than as a pathology that undermines community. It also makes college faculty very powerless, I might add.

Sarah: One of the things that I found very striking about your work is the idea that the simple choice to live with integrity can have far-reaching effects. What experiences brought you to believe that this was such a central issue?

Parker: What I know about living a divided life starts with my training as an academic. I was taught to keep things in airtight compartments: to keep my ideas apart from my feelings, because ideas were reliable but feelings were not; to keep my theories apart from my actions, because the theory can be pure, but the action is always sullied.

For the teachers I meet around the country, the decision to live divided-no-more means teaching in a way that corresponds to the truth that they know, rather than according to the latest pedagogical fad or to whatever pressures the institution may be putting on them.

These are teachers, for example, who are integrating emotional work with cognitive work in the classroom. Certainly in higher education, there’s a real taboo against doing that. These teachers are choosing to take the significant risks that come with going against the taboo because they know from their own experience that the mind and the heart can’t be separated.

An example of that is the work of Sheila Tobias and others who have helped young women learn mathematics by dealing not just with the intellect, but with the emotional paralysis that many young women have felt about math. By addressing that message at the emotional level, Sheila Tobias and others have helped women achieve in mathematics at rates equal to, and surpassing, those of men.

But the divided life is not just an academic dilemma, it’s a human dilemma. We work within institutions like schools, businesses, and civic society, because they provide us with opportunities that we value. But the claims those institutions make on us are sometimes at odds with our hearts – for example, the demand for loyalty to the corporation, right or wrong, can conflict with the inward imperative to speak truth. That tension can be creative, up to a point. But it becomes pathological when the heart becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the organization, when we internalize organizational logic and allow it to overwhelm the logic of our own lives.

At a certain juncture, some people find they must choose between allowing selfhood to die or claiming their identity and integrity. What I mean by divided-no-more is living on the outside the truth you know on the inside.

Sarah: What happens to peoples lives when they make that choice, to live “divided-no-more”?

Parker: Let me tell you a story about two teachers, a story I tell in The Courage to Teach.
Alan and Eric were born into different families of skilled rural craftspeople. Each grew skilled in working with his hands and developed a sense of pride in their respective crafts. Both also excelled in school and became the first in their families to go to college, eventually earning doctorates and choosing academic careers.

Here their paths diverged. Eric, who attended an elite private college, suffered culture shock and was always insecure with fellow students and later with academic colleagues. He learned to speak and act like an intellectual, but he always felt fraudulent. This insecurity didn’t draw Eric into self-reflection; instead, he bullied his way through his professional life, made pronouncements rather than probes, listened for weaknesses rather than strengths in what other people said. In his classroom, Eric was critical and judgmental, quick to put down “stupid questions,” adept at using trick questions of his own, and merciless in mocking wrong answers.

Alan’s is a different story. He attended a land-grant university where many students had backgrounds much like his own. He was not driven to hide his gift, but was able to honor and transform it by turning it toward his work in academia. Watching Alan teach, you felt that you were watching a craftsman at work. In his lectures, every move Alan made was informed by attention to detail and respect for the materials at hand.

Beyond the classroom, students knew that Alan would extend himself with great generosity to any of them who wanted to become his apprentice.

Alan taught from an undivided self – an integral state of being in which every major thread of one’s life experience is honored, creating a weave of coherence and strength. Such a self is able to make the outward connections on which good teaching depends.

Sarah: There’s another dimension implicit here. I gather that you support teachers bringing their learnings from their spiritual life into the classroom.

Parker: Yes, in fact, I’d put it even more strongly than that. I don’t see how a teacher or any human being can fail to bring their spirituality into whatever it is they’re doing. And by that I don’t mean the content of one’s religious belief. I mean the way we deal with fundamental questions like, “What am I doing here?” and “Does my life have a meaning?” and “Does that meaning depend on how successful I am in whatever I’m doing?” and “What about the fact that I’m going to die one day?”

These are the same questions that our students have. We need to find ways to support our students in asking these questions. I’m not saying we need to give them the answers. These are questions that you wrap your life around. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, you live these questions and don’t try to get formulaic answers to them. They’re too important for that.

Sarah: There are those who feel that schools ought to make sure that young people get “correct” answers to those questions. One of the traditions that many people feel very strongly about is the separation of church and schooling or church and state.

Parker: I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state. As a Quaker, I come from a history of people who were persecuted, imprisoned, even executed by folks who found our religious beliefs nonconforming with the truth they knew absolutely.

But I think that the surest way to encourage religious fascism is to sweep questions of meaning under the rug; pretend that either they don’t exist or that they aren’t important, rather than to hold these questions in a way that illuminates them and helps young people learn to live them more and more deeply.

Sarah: Have you seen that done successfully?

Parker: I was teaching, not too long ago, at a college in Appalachia where the students came from very fundamentalist religious backgrounds. In the middle of the year, the Dalai Lama visited the college. There was a group of students who protested this visit; from their point of view, the Dalai Lama was the Anti-Christ.

One of these students started talking in class about what a terrible thing it was, that the Tibetan Buddhists hold certain beliefs about the Dalai Lama. He said he felt it was especially ridiculous that the Tibetans went out and found a young child, somehow magically decided that he was the one they were seeking, and then raised him up to his current status.

I said to him, “Like you, I’m a Christian, and what I need to do is to explore with you the fact that our own faith tradition has a very similar belief. In fact, we believe that we identified Jesus when he was an infant, younger even than the boy that became the Dalai Lama.”

Well, that opened up a dialogue about some very basic questions, such as how people discern reality. I framed this as an open question – I didn’t put him down for putting down someone else, but simply held up as a matter of wonder that around the world, we look at babies and young children, and we say that they have something of truth that we need and want to nurture into larger life. So what could have been a shoot-out became a genuine conversation. Months later he thanked me and said that he’d never stopped thinking about this conversation.

Sarah: Talking to people with values so different from our own can be very scary. How do you overcome your own fear and that of your students?

Parker: The answer is not to avoid situations where you feel fearful; the more you try to ignore fear or to sweep it under the rug, the stronger it becomes. There’s a curious alchemy in the spiritual life – when I acknowledge and embrace those parts of myself that are most difficult, I find they have less power over me or that the power somehow starts working for me rather than against me.

Sarah: We’ve been talking so far mainly about the inner work of being divided no more – learning to be true to ourselves, and getting beyond our fears. What about the implications for society? What happens on a larger scale when people decide they will no longer live divided lives?

Parker: In political/social terms, I call this the Rosa Parks decision. She essentially said, “I’m no longer going to behave on the outside as if I were less than the full person I know myself to be on the inside.”
How do people find the courage to bring inner convictions into harmony with outer acts, knowing the risks involved? I think in Rosa Parks’ story there’s a clue: When the police came to Rosa Parks on the bus and informed her that they would have to put her in jail if she did not move, she replied, “You may do that.” It was a very polite way of saying, “How could your jail begin to compare with the jail I have had myself in all these years by collaborating with this racist system?”

When you realize that you can no longer collaborate in something that violates your own integrity, your understanding of punishment is suddenly transformed.

Sarah: How does this individual act set the stage for a larger shift in society?

Parker: In the second stage of a movement, people who have chosen the undivided life but still feel shaky about it come together in “communities of congruence.” The first purpose of these communities is mutual reassurance; people help each other to understand that the “normal” behavior expected by the institutions they are part of can be crazy, but that seeking integrity is always sane. In the movement sparked by Rosa

Parks, the Black churches provided gathering places for people who needed to know that they were not alone in choosing an integral life.

These communities are also places where people begin to develop the language to explain their vision – and that language provides the strength they will need in the rough-and-tumble world of the public realm, which is where a movement goes into the third stage.

As a movement goes public, the identity and integrity of its participants are tested against the great diversity of values and visions at work in the public arena. Paradoxically, although we must stay close to our own integrity in this complex field of forces, we must also risk opening ourselves to conflicting influences, because in that way both the movement and our integrity can grow.

In the final stage, the movement returns to alter the logic of the organizations from which it first sprang. Movements have this power when people decide that the institution’s punishments are irrelevant and develop an alternative system of rewards. In the first stage, the rewards involve learning more about one’s identity. In Stage 2, the reward comes from being in community. In Stage 3, the reward comes in living a more expansive public life. In Stage 4, people are clear that no reward anyone offers them could be greater than the way they reward themselves by living their own truth. As this happens, institutions often awaken to the need for change, lest the action go elsewhere and they become irrelevant to people’s lives.

Sarah: That’s a powerful analysis of social movements. I guess I don’t normally think of teachers as social change activists.

Parker: I am a teacher at heart, and I am not naturally drawn to political activism. But I’ve found that there is no essential conflict between loving to teach and working to reform education. An authentic movement is not a play for power – it is teaching and learning writ large. Now the world becomes our classroom, and the potential to teach and learn is found everywhere. We need only be in the world as our true selves, with open hearts and minds.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria: Yorubaland in Moves to Shore Up Education

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Read Time:5 Minute, 8 Second

Some prominent indigenes of Yorubaland who are not comfortable with the poor state of education in the geo-political zone have formed a steering committee for mobilizing

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Globalisation and the internationalization of education

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Read Time:23 Minute, 4 Second

Speech for the African Students’ Convention held at Mary ‘Yek Hall Sarawak on January 8th 2005.

Title: Issues related to globalization and the internationalization of education – building your personal capacity to contribute to your country of origin

I am speaking to you today as an educationalist who is Australian and Australian trained, in a college in Malaysia and my audience is substantially African from many parts of the African continent. It is not something that I would have imagined myself doing 10 or 20 years ago.

This scenario is part of a growing trend in education across the world, due to the internationalization and globalization of education and the development of market forces in education. It illustrates how the world is a much smaller place today. It illustrates how we are now moving around the globe in growing numbers and enrolling and working increasingly in diverse places. The impact that this has on the enculturation of all involved in this process shows that increasingly we are all broadening our cultural knowledge and, in the process, learning other ways of doing things.

It allows you, as young people from the African continent, to experience, at first hand, the cultural lives and the systems of a country, which has an historical background not uncommon with your own historical development as post colonial nations.

This surely must be a good thing for you all, especially when you return to your home countries to work alongside your fellow countrymen and women in the process of building and strengthening the services in your country of origin. You will take with you a perspective and experiences, which will broaden the responses you might make to challenges you will experience as you, begin your journeys in life
 
In reality we have more in common than you might imagine. Australia, Malaysia and the countries of Africa have grown out of colonial beginnings. We are all, despite the ages of the continents on which we live, members of quite young countries on the world stage.

Australia has become a successful developed country since federation in 1901; Malaysia has developed amazingly since her independence, in 1957 and increasingly in the last two decades. Your own countries have gained independence since the early 1960s with varying degrees of stability. You are all members of countries, which have great potential to develop into successful and modern countries. It is vital, too, that your development honours your cultural heritages and cultural mixes.
I was asked to talk to you about how you can best use your acquired knowledge and experience when you return to your countries of origin. This is a weighty challenge and one quite frankly I do not believe I am really qualified to meet. I am humbled that you might even ask me to do such a thing.

The provision of quality services, in education, health and other public areas that are expected as basic common rights in developed countries, is a burning issue for you here today.

To this assembled group of privileged youth from many countries across the African Continent, depending on the stage of growth and stability in your countries of origin, will fall the task of rebuilding, modernizing, restructuring and re-engineering, the infrastructures of your countries using the knowledge and skills you are acquiring here in the colleges and universities of Malaysia. You, with your peers, who are enrolled in universities and colleges in all parts of the world, are at a special place in time.
That you have been able to travel from your own country to gain an education, internationally, means that you are already more privileged than many of your friends and family back home. No doubt many of you also carry the heavy burden of expectation and hope of your families and your countries.

What is it that you will gain your journey here? What is it that you will be able to take home with you to your respective countries? Through my speech I hope to give you some “food” for thought in this area. I do not, I am afraid, have any answers for you.

  •  You are the ones who will have to use the skills and knowledge you gain to help build the futures of your countries.
  •  ?You are the ones who will have to face the challenges back home and work to overcome some huge challenges using your problem solving abilities, your creativity, the sweat of your brows and your dedicated hard work.

One Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Malcolm Fraser, admonished Australians some years ago that:

”Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” The full text of this quote by George Bernard Shaw is “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but take courage child because it can be delightful.”

As you ponder your futures and take up the challenges of your lives these are admirable words to remember.
Recently in conversation with a young man on sabbatical from Oxford, I mentioned that I was preparing this speech. “You know, Dr Wee”, he said, “One of the great dilemmas I see, working in the academic field in the UK, is that many highly capable and intelligent
Africans choose not to go home to work in their fields but choose to stay in the UK or elsewhere. Thus they contribute to the “brain drain” from Africa itself.” That unsolicited observation is quite telling. If your brightest and most capable choose not to go back, then that certainly is a problem and one, which your governments should try to address. However, one must also put that decision of these highly educated men and women into context. The systems in many African countries are still geared and constrained by the postcolonial intentions of the systems left by earlier colonial administrations. This means that even if these young men and women choose to go back to their countries of origin, depending on their area of study or specialization, the opportunities for advancement or even of putting their specialized skills and knowledge to good use may be limited or non-existent. The number of universities and the ability to carry out research may be severely restricted for them.

Some years ago, when investigating change in education, we explored the notion that the current era of change in technology and computers could be likened to the change that swept Europe in the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution changed Europe almost over night from an agrarian society to an industrialized one with massive population movements from the countryside and farms to the factory towns and cities of Great Britain and Europe. With the Industrial Revolution came enormous and unparalleled change, unemployment and job diversification.

The impact of the computer age, explosion of knowledge and the impact of new technologies today are impacting on societies, globally, in ways that parallel the changes of the Industrial Revolution.. We were shown a graphic of a steamroller with the caption: “When confronted with the steamroller of change, one can choose to be part of the steamroller or part of the road.”
For you young people here today, this is a choice you can make when you return to your own countries to take up the challenge of rebuilding, restructuring and reengineering of your countries and to help your countries move forward into the future.
You can stand by, as part of the road, and watch the changes in the rest of the world pass you by or you can be part of the steamroller and play an active roll in bringing change and progress to your countries.
Many countries, in Africa, have difficult pasts often; it must be acknowledged, as a result of colonialisation and the difficulties encountered in the political fields in many African countries. The aftermath of independence and the history of many ex-colonial countries have seen troubled and difficult times especially in developing sustainable governments.

Many countries, in Africa, at this very moment are caught up in disasters, which are both manmade and environmental. Civil strife has resulted in economic stagnation and disintegration of services and infrastructure in many places. Religious wars, tribal disputes, political in fighting and public health and educational issues of enormous magnitude can be found at this very moment across the African continent as they are also found in many other parts of the world. The problem of HIV/AIDS is devastating in many areas and has severely affected the ability to maintain services because of the impact on families and trained personnel. As young men and women returning home you will have to help deal with and manage these problems. My advice to you?
•    Look around you with a critical eye as you travel around this country and others you may visit. Ask yourself: How might we adapt this model or this process in a similar system back home?
•    ?Be observant and ask questions – talk to people in positions of management, authority and leadership. Use your knowledge of the system in place in your home country and talk to people in similar positions here.
•    Learn as much as you can about systems and administrations. Ask questions and gain experience.

In other words, become like sponges and soak up as much as you can about the places around you so that you can integrate these experiences to help bring about change and improvement in your home countries.
With your newly acquired knowledge and the experience of living in another system and culture you will have the capacity to adapt old systems to work more efficiently and effectively and to apply new solutions and even use your own creativity and innovations when you return home.

There is much debate at present on how African states can best react to –providing services and education for all their population. Often infrastructure and services within larger urban areas are adequate but in rural areas the services are not so good if they exist at all. Many African states suffer from the legacies of colonial rule. The infrastructure that was established by the colonial rulers as they left Africa was in reality meant to maintain the status quo and intentions of past colonial policies. To maintain a small core elite and an education system which was primarily geared to giving the rest of the population sufficient education to work in low paid, agrarian jobs. There was little attempt at providing for or building up the economies of African countries to do anything other than to extract product from the land. This is the real dilemma for modern day African states. African countries have struggled to provide adequately for their people in education and other areas – much waste has occurred too. Conflict has crippled and devastated many countries in the region.

Of course, it is not as simplistic or as negative as I have painted. Many, many events have occurred on the African scene, which have conspired to hold many African countries back and hamper their development. There are many positives as well.
I believe that the process of sending many young men and women such as you out across the globe to far flung and different environments is an empowering gesture. It is widening your field of reference. You are seeing how other countries deal with their problems. You are seeing countries at many stages along the spectrum of development.
You are being taught by lecturers who have not necessarily worked only in places where resources are plentiful and solutions varied and expensive. Your lecturers have much to offer you of a practical and realistic range of experience, which can be applied without too much adjustment when you get home.
Of course you must know about innovative techniques and best practice and you must be taught the latest techniques. What your Malaysian experience offers you is access to lecturers and an environment, which is in the process of developing, where manpower is still used extensively and solutions and experience can be readily adapted to your home experience.

In preparing for this speech, I was overwhelmed by the wonderful boost to the image of African women in the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 to Wangani Maathai in recognition primarily for her work on environmental issues in Kenya. Highly educated and articulate, she demonstrated her dedication and commitment to country through her untiring work for the Kenyan community. Surely an inspirational woman who through her award will inspire others in the African community to know that they can and will be recognised and acknowledged for their contributions and effort.

I found comfort, also, in a report I read by Daniel Sifuna who reported some positive trends and attempts in various countries across Africa, to develop alternative and innovative strategies to improve the educational provision and living standards in their countries. These programmes involved working with communities from the grass root level and finding solutions, which were unique to and relevant to the needs of the specific African communities.

In the Australian context, a problem we have is the poor standard of living and poor health of our indigenous aboriginal population. Our government has tried unsuccessfully to improve the lot of the indigenous aborigines through throwing large sums of money into countless schemes to improve housing, health and education – mostly with little success. Currently the Aborigines themselves at the grass root level are developing strategies to deal with their problems locally with increasing success.

Past experience has demonstrated that relying on building educational structures that mimic western systems and replicate the systems of the countries of the ex-colonial powers have not necessarily improved the lot of whole populations, in Africa. They have in fact perpetuated the academic and book based educational systems, which suit the industrialized nations of the former colonial masters but are not necessarily providing the answer in present day Africa. Hence my friend’s observations about your “brain drain” of talent.
Malaysia, as an ex-colonial country and a young nation, has developed a strong sense of national identity and communal spirit and through her strategic visions for the future has become a successful developing country. She is in the process of ensuring that her educational system caters for the needs of her own population and that her varied cultures are valued within the country. In the past 20 years, they have also sought to strengthen the use of the Malay language while recognising the value of using English to empower her students in the areas of Mathematics and Science and in international education. Malaysia is building her technical and industrial base in manufacturing and technology.

International scholars recognise that countries everywhere, and in particular Africa and developing countries, must develop their own research capacity in education, technology, health management, in fact all areas of public need to bridge the gap between policy and practice. Targeted and viable in-country research allows a country to develop relevant and meaningful solutions and approaches to common problems and difficulties.

  • ?How to provide educational opportunities and improve standards,
  • How to develop employment options and opportunities
  • How to provide healthcare and management
  • How to build awareness to deal with the havoc of HIV/AIDS.
  • How to build ICT capacity and competence without marginalizing large sectors of the country.

In Ghana and other African countries for instance, the provision of ICT as a positive government policy has tended to emphasize the divide between the “haves” and “havenots” in education which is primarily a disparity between the urban “haves” and the rural ‘have-nots”. Research indicates too that lack of technical support is a major problem as is the lack of infrastructure, generally, resources and qualified teaching staff. I am pleased to relate that many of you in this theatre are undertaking computer studies and will therefore be able to contribute meaningfully to your countries needs when you return home. Dr David Stasavage, from the London School of Economics and Political Science in a report on political systems and education in Africa argues the type of political system in place can positively improve standards and service provision. He argues that:

  • The processes of democracy have lead to increased spending on primary education in many parts of Africa
  • The reemergence of multiparty democracy has had significant impact on individual policy areas throughout Africa

The reasons are quite simply that when politicians have to gather support from constituents then they have to be more open to public opinion and more ready to address problems of basic need such as education and health.

Earlier this year, there was an APEC Summit on Education in Beijing. All twenty-one APEC leaders agreed that to fully participate in the 21st Century world, students must develop a common set of skills.

The common set of skills agreed to by the APEC leaders are that students must have:

1. Mastery of core knowledge in mathematics and science as well as a foreign language, which includes:

  • Conceptual comprehension, that is understanding, of the content knowledge being learnt;
  • Procedural competency to use concepts that is the “how to” for applying learnt conceptual knowledge
  • Problem solving ability to apply knowledge in a real-world, global context, both individually and as members of teams. i.e. it is critical that students can work cooperatively and jointly within a group or a team.

2. Personal responsibility and excitement about learning, so that students will acquire:

  • Life-long learning skills – it is understood that in this century students will train for and move through at least 3 job changes in their life-time and also face the prospect of increased leisure time in their later years as life expectancy increases across the globe.
  • A work ethic that encourages both independent learning and team participation – the ability to work in and participate effectively in teams will become increasing important and a required skill for employment.
  • Global citizenship through knowledge of the culture, language, and background of others – that you are listening to this speech highlights the growing importance of this point.
  • Skills to communicate clearly with others, both orally and in writing

– Employers rate this ability highly in fact more highly than paper qualifications once you are employed

3. Ability to use 21st Century tools (ICT) so that they can

  • Use appropriate technology to motivate learning and facilitate communication – rapid advances mean that new skills must be acquired constantly
  • Demonstrate computer literacy skills in real world situations – in this century those who are not computer literate will be discarded and marginalized in the employment stakes.

Many of these skills are skills, which you are acquiring through the courses you are undertaking here at INTI College and elsewhere. It is a list of skills, which you would all do well to know and understand. These skills will certainly help you as you move back into your countries of origin. These skills are important skills to be taught and focused on in your home countries.

I have spoken of some of the problems in educational provision, ICT management as well as the effects of postcolonial structures.

Which of these skills do I believe are most important?

  • The ability to solve problems and to construct new knowledge – these two are extremely powerful and critical abilities as they are the means to advancing your countries.
  • The ability to use 21st century tools as the challenges raised by rapid advances in information and communications technology (ICT) will mean the difference in being actively involved in this century or being mere by-standers watching helplessly from the side lines– remember the steamroller analogy?
  • Sensitivity to the culture and the context in which you live and work so that solutions you develop in your teams are relevant to the people you are living and working with and not merely externally imposed solutions that might be better suited to another culture and another context. Just because a scheme, an idea or a project worked very well in another area, or country, does not necessarily mean it will work in the situation in which you find yourself. This is where you need to be creative and innovative to adapt the useful to work in your particular setting.

Other areas of importance for you to consider are:

  • Recognizing the importance of collaborative research and partnerships between “insiders” and “outsiders – that is that where solutions are built through partnerships that objectivity must be employed to prevent vested interests “taking over” the decisions or conspiring to thwart development.
  • Building research and development capacity, in your countries, so that solutions are sensitive to local, social constructions of reality. In other words, if you have a problem, locally conducted research to understand the problem and engineered solutions based on the real needs of the community may be far more effective than attempted solutions that have worked well in overseas countries but which may only be partially relevant to the needs of your country. This requires investment and support for your own universities and colleges hopefully full of your most intelligent and smartest researchers
  • One important characteristic, which is not mentioned in the APEC list, is the importance of building capacity for leadership in our youth and at all levels of society. As part of your college life, you should use every opportunity to involve yourselves in leadership opportunities. It could be as grand as organizing something like this conference or it could be as small as organising a study group of your fellow students. Every opportunity no matter how small is building your capacity to lead and influence others when you arrive home full of enthusiasm and new knowledge to share with your communities.

Globally there is an understanding that rethinking is needed in educational provision. Findings by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicate that:

  • A transformation of schools on a dramatic scale will occur in the early years of the 21st century with the core business of schools, teaching and learning, being transformed.

It is predicted that 21st century schools are going to be quite different to the old, existing models of schools around in the globe. Perhaps this prediction provides an opportunity for African countries to develop innovative and flexible approaches to the provision of teaching and learning, in the coming years in the primary, secondary, technical and  tertiary areas. It may require no more than for some one to follow that famous quote from the film, “Dead Poets’ Society” to…………………………………… “Seize the day.” Instead of just providing schools and educational institutions along old and outdated models, the opportunity exists for a transformation of educational institutions to occur in line with modern and flexible approaches to educational provision. Even the developed world and supposed leaders in education are searching for the way forward at the present time.

Why must the lead come only from the West and established countries? There is no reason why African countries cannot develop innovative approaches, which could become models of excellence for others to follow. It requires only the will and imagination and hard work of some dedicated members of the community.

Think of the example of Wangani Maathai. The major reforms in educational decentralisation which have taken place in Australia, UK, Canada and many European countries in recent years had their humble beginnings in the smallest state in Australia, Tasmania, where two academics wrote the definitive book on self managed schools which provided the “bible” for others to use, worldwide. It is an amazing testament to the rapid dissemination of knowledge and the impact ideas can have quite quickly and rapidly. One of those authors went on to become the Dean of Education at The University of Melbourne. It is highly feasible that some bright and innovative thinkers from Africa could write the “bible” for the rest of us to follow in transforming educational provision or developing innovative solutions to major problems found in many countries during the 21st century. This is a very possible. Could this not be something I could be making a speech about 10 years from now? That some of you sitting here today might possibly be the ones “to seize the day” in building a bright and positive future for African countries. I hope so! The transformation of schools? – The transformation of knowledge? Jointly with the expansion and development of the information technology sectors? These are wonderful opportunities for African countries to grasp and to develop a new mindset to allow research conducted by your universities and your brightest scholars and students to explore ways to accommodate change based on the values, skills and knowledge that are relevant to the African environment. Instead of pushing ahead with systems and models which have proven to be unsuited and unsuccessful in the African environment, the opportunity exists to provide education and services which suit the particular needs of particular communities rather than continuing to provide education and services based on models that are no longer relevant, if indeed they ever were.

How does one do this? How does one encourage a community to be innovative, to develop creative solutions?
I believe one needs to look to educational strategies which:

  • Encourage creativity,
  • Encourage understanding and critical thinking in the curriculum.

Of course the basic skills of reading, writing, mathematics, science and technology are needed and are vitally important. Critical, too, are the skills of cognition and teaching and learning strategies which:

  • Encourage and allow learning for understanding,
  • Encourage students to explore, to be innovative and flexible in their thinking.
  • Develop and encourage the use of problem solving skills and abilities.

Of critical importance is the support of government, though, to construct new and viable ways of providing education and other services. It needs the collective cooperation of governments, the private sector and the encouragement of your most skilled workers and thinkers who can provide the vision for action. I wish to close my speech with this thought: Education is the most powerful gift that can be given to our youth. However, that education must be relevant and it must be useful for the 21st century. That education must build not only character but also strength of character. It must empower our youth to solve the problems of the future. It must train our youth to think and to think critically. It must teach our youth to be thinkers and problem solvers, to be creative and innovative and above all it must teach our youth to have persistence and resilience. For what use is knowledge and education if the character of the man is not honorable and just, is not strong and resourceful. Education must also allow our youth to delight in the world. Not just any education. But an education that will allow our students at all levels of performance and ability to “Seize the day.” And enjoy the wonders of our world, which is increasingly open to us all as part of the global and international community.
Let me leave you with this quotation as you ponder the complexities and the enormity of the tasks ahead of you. “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, but take courage child because it can be delightful.”

I have referred to selected works of Professor Daniel N. Sifuna, Jamil Salmi, and Dr David Stasavage in writing this speech. I have drawn also on my own educational knowledge and background in preparing this speech.

Dr Julie Wee

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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