Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Yes we need Collective Learning in Schools

I sat and listened to the presenters during the farewell function of Rakesh Rajani. The topic for that afternoon was "How can we help children in school learn real skills?" The founder of Twaweza Rakesh, has always wanted improvement in education and the education system in Tanzania. He has championed this ideal and he is a living testimony of a campaigner for education. Befittingly, Rakesh wanted to sign off with debates. In this particular debate on 8 January 2015, the panel which had distinguished educationists and policy practitioners highlighted a number of very interesting points. 

Although I did not have the opportunity to relay my appreciation and reaction, I choose to pen them down here. Madam Marjorie Mbilinyi, an educationist and former Executive Director of Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TDNP) highlighted a very important point. She believes the best way to make children in school learn real skills is through collective learning. A tragedy of our time, is that we live in a individualistic society, a society that is geared to competition. I call this unnecessary competition where we forget the values of working together, pulling together in the African spirit. 

Today, children are moulded to become competitive beings; who comes first is feted and he comes last is vilified. Parents demand their children to come first in class regardless of whether they grasp what is being taught. Our children today are taught how to cram and reproduce what they've crammed. What a tragedy! Children need to be taught the art of collective learning as Madam Marjorie pointed out. In addition, how do we make sure that learning is enjoyable? Learning should be fun, learning should be interesting. Hence teachers should also learn and nurture the spirit of collective learning. This spirit breeds unlimited success as children learn to appreciate their strengths, and work on their weaknesses. Children will learn to appreciate that they could get a careers in sports, music, entertainment, and not be bulldozed into the traditional careers because his father is an engineers and the mother is a paediatrician. Although not to its entirety, this can be achieved through collective learning in our schools.