There are huge strides made so far and continuous conversations around the need to develop transformative education that is adaptive to peoples needs while acknowledging the global changes, trends and relevance. Some of the questions however that one would be tempted to ask are: what is education? Who is it for? And who is producing it?
One of the prominent protagonists of education, Paulo Freire (1921–97), who was a Brazilian educator whose ideas on the role of education for the poor were heavily criticized, but they were widely used by the proponents of equal access and opportunity to education to date. In his work, Freire emphasizes the need to develop an education that is reflective of the society in which it is being offered by showing synergic relationships between the student, the teacher and the society.
Paulo Freire opposes what he calls the “banking”-education, the traditional western education where you treat minds like piggy banks, filling up an empty container until it is full and ready. Critical thinking thus should be central in the development, implementation and approach to education. It is from this background that education systems the world over, and mostly in Africa, in their borrowed state, have failed to be inclusive and adaptive to the lived realities of most populations it purports to serve. This is due to several number of factors which includes but is not limited to the colonial legacy, top down approach to the creation of knowledge, limited scope to what is defined as education and excessive censorship from governments. As well, limited resources are important to acknowledge as one deterrent factor in the case of Zimbabwe, the majority of Africa, parts of Asia and Latin America. These challenges, in most cases are uninspiring for many, paralyzing critical thinking and negating creativity.
Of significant concern is the continuous neglect of nonacademic knowledge systems and skills. In Zimbabwe, sport and related vocational skills and education have played second fiddle, resulting in the country’s failure to tap into the skills and passions of many children who can not make it academically but are more grounded in diverse spheres of equally important aspects of human functioning. Education has therefore been defined sorely in academic terms.
On the other hand, the world has taken a blind eye to the potential that indigenous knowledge systems have towards reshaping and re-transforming education and its outcomes. The neglect of knowledge systems of indigenous people worldwide is worrying. Organizations such as the Norwegian Students and Academics International Help Fund constantly continue to push and advocate towards the decolonization of the academia, bringing in some hope for inclusion.
In addition, lack of investment in sport and self-skills inspired education and professions is on the low especially in Zimbabwe. With the work of organizations such as Young Achievement Sports for Development, who uses sport to rehabilitate, educate and transform lives of young people from vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe, their work carries more potential provided more support is harnessed from both government and private players. It is thus important to rethink and redefine the purpose of education, what it really mean for communities and how that can help in developing and shaping the consciousness of individuals, communities and the world at large.
Education is undoubtedly the tool to transform society, develop and create sustainable solutions. The role of education however can be meaningful only if the development and application of the knowledge is free, critical and transformative at the same time bringing meaning to the individual, the community and the world at length.