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Otaala, B

 

 

EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

By

Barnabas Otaala

Introduction

Distinguished guests, fellow colleagues in the teaching and learning profession, ladies and gentlemen. 

It is reported that one lady was so incensed by the late Sir Winston Churchill's arrogance and male chauvinism that she is said to have commented to him: "If I were your wife, I would poison your tea!" Churchill is reported to have retorted, "If you were my wife, I would drink it!" 

This is, in a sense, how I feel about my invitation to be the keynote and guest speaker! That not withstanding, I feel greatly honoured by the invitation of the Executive Committee of the Swaziland Educational Research Association (SERA) to be guest speaker (even though I am no guest to many of you and to Swaziland!). I find it difficult to see how I deserve such an honour, but I felt encouraged to accept the invitation on account of the very great respect and admiration which I have for the Executive committee and what it represents in terms of the respective educational research associations in Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. 

It was as a result  of a meeting of the educational research seminar held at the University College of Botswana, Gaborone, May 4-7", 1981 that those associations were born. Credit goes to the following colleagues among others, from the region who were present at that initial meeting: Professor V M Bam; Mr C M Bohloko; Professor George Eshiwani (then Director of the Bureau of Educational Research, Kenyatta University College; now Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University); Dr Ash Hartwell; Mr Raymond M Magagula; Mrs Mary Mokgokong; Dr Ramoshebi Moletsane, then Dean of the Faculty of Education, National University of Lesotho; now Vice Chancellor of that University; Matlapeng Ray Molomo, then Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Foundations, University College of Botswana; subsequently, Minister of Education in Botswana; and currently a successful businessman in that country; Professor Leonard Ngcongco, Dr Bongile Putsoa, then Dean, Faculty of Education, University College of Swaziland; Professor E Molapi Sebatane; Mr Temba Vanqua, then Lecturer of Educational Foundations, University College of Botswana; and subsequently Dean, Faculty of Education; University of Botswana; Dr Masotsha Joel Ziyane; and the late Professor Sohl Thelejane. Since that time important deliberations known as the bi-annual symposia have been held in rotation in the three countries ofBotswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. As someone, with Dr Sheldon Schaeffler, then of the International Development Centre (IDRC) Ottawa, Canada and currently RegionalDirector, Asia and the Pacific for UNICEF, who was peripherally involved in the evolution and later revolution of the activities of the three associations of BERA, LERA and SERA. 

I feel greatly honoured to be associated with this hi-annual symposium, sixteen years after the Gaborone meeting held in May, 1981, referred to earlier. But as implied earlier, I am not so sure if I feel honoured to be guest speaker. Nevertheless, I must perform this task.

 In undertaking this task I can only repeat what La Rochefoucaultd said: "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears" because I know I certainly have both hopes and fears! In undertaking the task I also remember what Elbert Hubbard said; namely: "God will not look you over for medals, degrees, and diplomas, but for scars!"

The subject I have been given for my address today encompasses the theme of the entire Symposium. It is a vast subject, and only a genius could do real justice to it in the course of a single address Certainly, I would have considered it somewhat rash to select it for myself. However, since this is your wish, and I feel certain that you are fully aware of the dimensions of the task and of my own limitation, I am prepared to make an attempt.

I have had some good advice about this address. Some colleagues have suggested, "try not to make too many points; keep it to about three points at the most."  suggested that I should have a clear message.  I have also had some queries, "given the title: What will be the main theme?" The questioner seemed to advise me to keep to one main theme. Of course, these people might all be trying diplomatically to tell me the same thing - someone else for the talk. Perhaps they have heard me before or, struggled to read something I have written! 

The most recent advice related to the actual delivery of the talk: Read the first draft; insert helpful notes on the side such as "argument weak here shout louder!" After making the draft, and inserting the "helpful notes" I found that I had inserted this note on every page, which would have required me to "shout louder!" on every next page! And so I tore up the first draft. 

What I am going to say today contains essentially the basic positive advice; so I have taken the idea that I could have all, a message, a main theme, and six points for the talk with some concluding remarks. First to the message which I prefer to call the internal and external environments of Africa.

Internal and External Environments 

Let me start with an observation I saw recently entitled 'Think of This"! 

If we could shrink the earth' s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the extant human ratios remaining the same as now, our world today would look like this:

There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western hemisphere (North and South), and 8 Africans.

51 would be female and 49 male

70 would be non-white, and 30 white

70 would be non-Christian and 30 Christian

50 % of the entire world's wealth would be in the hands of 6 people; and 6 would be citizens in the USA

80 would live in sub-standard housing

70would be unable to read and write

50 would suffer from malnutrition

One would be near death; one near birth

Only one would have a University Education

No one would have a computer I imagine!!!

From: Carrie Auer, from Aranita Book Discussion group

Let me, using the above statement (observation) briefly refer to the internal and external environments that face or will face Africa in the coming decades in order for us to appreciate the need for educational research which is relevant, which targets issues considered germane, and which utilises appropriate strategies.

 

The Internal Environment

In Africa, living standards - often the lowest of the world in the post war years - have fallen, erasing decades of progress. According to the World Bank XOO million people do not receive sufficient food to carry on an active working life. About half the working-age population is unemployed or underemployed. Half of the city's dwellers live in shanty-towns which double in population every ten years. Besides, these figures do not reflect the pressures on the environment exacted by poverty, pressures that threaten every citizen of the world (Hesser, 1989, p.4). The continuing economic crisis, the problems created by the massive flow of refugees in recent years, natural disasters, and the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic have evoked collective actions. Internally, the challenges in addition, to eradicating poverty and hunger, will be to consolidate and heighten the fledgling democracy, social cohesion, equity and participation.

The immediate causes go beyond the prolonged drought due to failure of the rains in large parts of the continent, especially in the Sahelian and sub-desert areas of West, East and Southern Africa, and the growing problem of creeping desertification. They stem, to a large extent, from general environmental mismanagement and organisation, political misdirection or apathy and the improper ordering of priorities.

Africa need not be poor, but it is very poor; its people do not need to be hungry, but they are extremely hungry and starving. In the presence of actual and potential abundance of natural and human resources, we have become the poor and helpless relations of the human race. It is within the context of these realities that any purposefUl discussion of research in general and educational research in particular, in Africa can really take place.

The External Environment

Externally Africa faces a number of challenges, including impact of the new knowledge  base; the globalization of world economies, and issues related to sustainable development.  We comment briefly on each of these in turn.

There is a major transformation in society that is taking place globally, resulting in the  emergence of what has been called the knowledge society, with knowledge in a broad and  generic sense rather than the production of physical goods, playing a major role in the new  society. "A driving force for this change is the development of modem electronic information technology with its powerful capabilities of creating, processing, and storing and distributing information" (Hagstr(jm, 1995).

In addition there is a new global dynamic brought on by trade agreements. There is the 'North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which brings together Canada, US4 and Mexico. Chile is expected to join the ranks of this trade agreement soon. There is the European Economic Union (ECU) now European Union ~U) which brought together nine countries, a number that has recently risen to twelve. There are the 18 members who constitute the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The LomC Convention is an international treaty between the 12 member states of the European Community and 69 African, Carribean, and Pacific countries known collectively as ACP. The first Lom~ Convention was signed in 1975 and covered a five-year period.  Its negotiation was at the time seen as something of a water-shed in post-colonial relations between the EU and former colonies in Africa, the Carribean and the Pacific. The first Convention involved a European Community of 9 states and an ACP grouping of 44 countries.

Since then LomC membership has expanded to an ECU of 12 and an ACP of 69, including, since the signing ofLomC IV, all the independent countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Globally, we shall soon see the powerful potential of the trade agreements blur out   economic and thus educational borders. The World Trade Organisation and its General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS) will predictably have a major impact on those higher education systems, including Colleges of Educatin, which are paying attention. If national higher education systems do not recognise the need to prepare their students for new national and global realities, they run the risk of allowing their national professional labour force to be displaced better globally oriented foreign nationals.

With respect to the concept of sustainable development it is important to note five international events which have contributed greatly to a rethinking and new paradigm of development :

 i) In 1987 a new concept - sustainable development was born. This is development that is defined as satisfying the present generation's needs without endangering the possibilities of future generations satisfying their needs and choosing their lifestyle;

 ii) In 1990 UNDP came up with a new definition: human development - defined as a process of expanding people's choices. Three areas are highlighted as essential: (a) a long and healthy life; (b) education; (c) a decent standard of living. Human development means that the productive and creative energies of people must be mobilised and that it is decisively important to invest in them. Sustainable human development requires our moral obligation "to sustain for the next generation the opportunity and the same kind of well being that we possess" with particular emphases put on human security, which always had the two components of freedom from fear and freedom from want.

iii) In 1993 the World Conference on human rights in Vienna stipulated the universality of human rights, rejecting attempts which make human rights relative to cultural conditions.

iv) In 1995 the World Summit on social development held in Copenhagen focused on  "social issues" in the face of global unemployment. Poverty and social exclusion was put on the agenda, with emphasis on creating jobs, and social security systems.

v) In 1995 at the Beiiing Conference the importance of the special role of women in the entire development process was underlined.

Governments of industrial and developing countries have agreed to all the above dimensions, including sustainable human development. Yet there is often a wide gap between word and deed and many politicians tend to look more towards the next election date than to the next generation. This is why new alliances - national and international - have to be forged between various groups, including teacher educators, teachers unions, environmental movements, NGOs, scholars, those in politics and international organisations who can be won as supporters. I shall return to the point of alliances or partnerships later.

 

 In the developed countries and the successful cases of the so called late industrialisation" or "tiger economies" in other areas, there is a clear recognition of the central role that education, and in turn, teacher education, play in the development process. The transmission ofv alues, the ethical dimension and the forms of behaviour typical of modern citizenship, together with the generation of the capacities and skills which are essential for international competitiveness (which is increasingly based on technical progress), receive a decisive boost from education and the production of knowledge in a society. Mary Hanvood Futrell, former President of the National Education Association, put the case of importance of education (and teacher education) as well as the need for global cooperation in education when she stated: (and she was speaking about America).

Throughout our land, there has taken root a new consensus - a consensus which states that an investment in children today is an investment in a tomorrow of peace... What brought about this new consensus? Perhaps, a taste, bittersweet, of reality? In support of this assumption let me invoke the date in October, 1987. That was the day that the stock market fell by over 500 points. That day jolted America. And on that day, I believe, we began to see that our economy is intertwined with all economies, that we do indeed live in a global village, that the economic competition within that village is often fierce, and that the United States is by no means the guaranteed victor ... 

I maintain that we face an undeniable imperative for educational improvements that will enhance America's competitive edge in the world economic community. But I will also maintain that the gross national product is not - and never can be - a measure of our worth as a people ...

The foundation of global education is an attitude, an attitude that affirms the oneness of the human family - an attitude best embodied in the phrase "with malice for none, with charity for all...". Unless we recognise this decisive fact, we will, fear, subordinate international cooperation to international competition. We will, I fear, build not bridges to understanding but barriers to understanding CHesser, 1989, p.34). That can be said of all of our countries.

 

Let me turn briefly to a consideration on issues related to "duality of life" the major thrust of this symposium, and later on to implications for educational research, areas of priority and strategies for implementation.

Quality of Life

It might be helpful to spend a couple of minutes indicating what I mean or understand by

"quality of life". Perhaps the definition is in part at least provided perhaps implicitly if not

explicitly by our description of the internal and external conditions and inference of what

could be better conditions. But let me refer to wiser counsel for guidance.

 

The great British geography, J H Fleure, once described human life as proceeding in three

progressive stages: Life, More Life and the Good Life. At the level of Life, man is

barely able to survive on the basis of what he can eke out of nature. At the level of More

Life, he has more than his immediate needs and is able to expand his production base and

to increase his kind without too much anxiety about the future, while at the level of the

Good Life, he is virtual master of the situation. All his basic needs have been satisfied and

he can devote a considerable part of his attention to creature comforts and luxuries and to

intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

 

In Africa today, people at all three levels can be found, but those in the bottom and middle

tiers are far in the majority. But even for the more fortunate sectors of the population

there still remain serious uncertainties about the future.

 

Another authority (Maslow, 1954) advanced a theory of human needs referred to as a

hierarchy of needs In his theory, Maslow pointed out that some needs, particularly

physiological needs, are basic to others. It follows that such needs must be satisfied

before higher needs can be felt and fulfilled.

 

According to Maslow's view of motivation, physiological needs are the strongest, the

most demanding of satisfaction. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that drive reduction

will be aimed primarily at these lowest of needs.

 

 If the needs at the physiological level have been fulfilled, the person concerned will be

 faced with the next level of needs - the safety needs - being the need to avoid or escape

 danger and the need to be secure and protected. This is followed by the need to be loved

 and to belong; to have friends and family and to be part of a group.

There is also what is called the need for self-esteem - the need to have the respect,

confidence and admiration of others and to gain self-confidence and self respect. Once all

of these needs have been fUlfilled the person will be motivated towards self-actualisation

- towards knowing and understanding, and towards finding (deriving) satisfaction from

being sensitive to the beauty of human beings, their accomplishments, and their natural

environment. Perhaps put differently in a sentence by no less a person than AUbert

Einstein, "An empty stomach is not a good political advisor"!

 

A more recent authority (Amar, 1996) talks of "quality of life" in particular reference to

children, to the concept of quality of life as an open, unfinished project that is continually

moving towards its realization. Quality refers to a number of qualities that are in constant

construction. It cannot be defined as an entity with a complete, absolute nature identical

unto itself. Nor can it be reduced to its most visible means and products. Above all, it

must be true to itself and to the specific social context in which it is set, while at the same

time maintaining a universal perspective of human development as a mandatory reference.

 

 From this perspective, improving the quality of life is based on people's capacity for

 action, their deeds and ideals for themselves and their community. It means that groups

 recognise and take their situation in their own hands to transform and enrich it. This

 defines quality of life as a social and historically determined concept that starts with the

 needs and interests of the community. The goal is the realization of an authentic life

 project rooted in a country's specific situation. It relies on the participation of all social

 actors. At the centre is the child, who acts like a catalyst for releasing the energy needed

in order to seek a qualitative change in living conditions. It is evident that to obtain a

quality of life focus, a great deals remains to be explored.

 

However imperfectly or imprecisely "quality oflife" may have been defined, I would like

us to use this as a guide to examine some of the areas that I think we could conduct

research on that would, eventually at least, lead to improvement of quality of life in

eastern and southern Africa. We now turn to a brief consideration of these areas.

 

Some areas for urgent focus for Research

 

Whether the list of priorities that we draw up for research is long or short, it must include

areas that will enable us to deal effectively with the human and related or consequential

environmental problems that stare us in the face in our continent today: hunger,

malnutrition, filth, squalor, poverty, poor sanitation and housing, ignorance, poor harvest,

pests and the unduly high incidence of preventable and curable diseases that affect human

beings, and particularly children, mismanagement, "man-eat-man" tendencies; and the

rapid and progressive deterioration of the natural environment on which we depend for

our very existence. I can only refer to those areas that are close to my heart, to provide a

flavour of what could be done; obviously you have your own lists. I refer to work which

could be done in the area of early childhood; to the girl child and women; to

empowerment of families to look after their children; to work in curriculum, particularly

for teacher education; to work in distance education; to work in adult education, and to

partnerships.

1. Culturally relevant work on early childhood

 

  There is need for work on early child development ~CD) which should include action

  research that reflects community values and actions, that respects diverse local

  cultures and traditions, and that enables culturally appropriate interventions to improve

  the healthy development of children. A culturally sensitive, inclusive programme of

  action research rests on numerous assumptions:

 

Cultural diversity is a potential source of enrichment for theory, method, training, and

  practice in ECD.

 

All work in ECD occurs in a global context of unequal relations between the minority

  world countries of the North and the majority world countries of the South;

  asymmetries ofwealth, power, and status influence all aspects of development work

  and of knowledge construction and utilization.

 

  There is a dearth of research on young children and their circumstances in the majority

   world countries ofthe South.

 

  Current theory, research, and methodology derived from Western empiricism are often

   misapplied or misleading; although Western-based ECD research has considerable

   value; it does not apply directly in all contexts and must be examined value, it does

not apply directly in all contexts and must be examined critically with an eye toward

  issues of cultural relevance.

 

The study of young children should be situated in a social, political, economic, and

  historic framework; neither children nor ECD researchers can be separated from their

  context .

 

Research should do more than generate knowledge - it should be linked to action and

  policy changes that improve the condition of children.

 

The agenda for action research ought to include the use of research strategies that blend

qualitative and quantitative methods, use the tools and perspectives of diverse disciplines ,

enable participation by local communities, and incorporate historical perspectives. The

understanding of both children and their context requires a multidisciplinary evolving,

multidimensional social context and that communities should be treated neither as objects

nor as loci for research but as co-participants from whom there is much to be learned.

Local communities should help to define the research goals, questions research outcomes

to improve their children' s condition through local action and advocacy for enlightened

social policy. Researchers should learn from local knowledge and traditions, and they

should invite the participation of community members, including children, in the

perception, implementation and interpretation of the research.

Action research should give particular attention to the following topics:

 

 

traditional and local practices of childrearing;

 

local and traditional perceptions and understandings of the child and his/her place in

 

   society;

 

exploration of kin and family structures and the child/children within them;

 

the impact on children of social conditions such as poverty, sexual exploitation, abuse

 

   and armed conflict;

local and traditional forms of art and culture (stories, songs, puppets, poetry, pottery,

  weaving, games, dances, drawings, etc) that reflect and transmit children's values; this

  research should also embody the places where they happen and the people who

  transmit them.

 

To enable action research to be multidisciplinary and inclusive, it is essential to draw upon

local networks that embody local knowledge and traditions; research links with

communities (including children), within regions, and with governments, NGOs,

universities, and other partners.

2. Work on the girl-child and women

 

Studies should particularly target the girl-child, since the fUture of the girl-child in the

world is a bleak one. The world observes that gender biases which deny equal opportunity

to girls and women are an abuse on human rights and an affront to any rational concept of

sustained development. Yet of the 100 million children between 7-12 year old children

not in school around the world, two thirds are girls.

 

At family level the education ofgirls, it has been repeatedly shown, is closely associated

with a falling infant mortality; a falling birth-rate; and improved nutrition. In short, the

health and well-being of the family is highly dependent on the literacy of the mother.

 

At national level it has been observed that discrimination against women in the education

sector will rebound on nations that ignore their needs for decades to come. Educated

women have a direct impact on nation's GNP through higher productivity, and on the

healthy development of children through knowledge of basics such as good nutrition,

hygiene, oral rehydration against diarrhoeal dehydration, immunisation, and family

planning. Studies have repeatedly shown that educated women tend to marry later, have

fewer and healthier children, and to multiply those advantages by investing in the

education oftheir offspring.

 

Given all this information, and knowledge, how isthe situation on the ground in Africa

with respect to gender issues?

A major theme of The Progress of National 1997 Report is Violence Against Women

and Girls. According to the Report more than 60 million women should be alive today are

"missing" because of violence associated with gender discrimination. Millions more, in

every country, on every continent, and of every class, live under the daily threat of

physical abuse. Carol Bellamy says, "In today' s world, to be born female is to be born

high risk. Every girl grows up under the threat of violence ... which deliberates them

physically, psychologically and socially. It affects the healthy social and economic

development of all societies".

 

     Permit me to red to you a few paragraphs from the Chapter by Charlotte

     Bunch. "Imagine a people routinely subjected to assault, rape, sexual

     slavery, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, verbal abuse, mutilation, even

     murder --- all because they were born into a particular group. Imagine

     fUrther that their sufferings were compounded by systematic discrimination

     and humiliation in the home and workplace, in classrooms, at worship and

     at play. Few would deny that this group had been singled out for gross

     violations of human rights. Such a group exists. Its members comprise

     half humanity.

 

Yet it is rarely acknowledged that violence against women and girls, many of

whom are brutalised from cradle to grave simply because of their gender, is the

most pervasive human rights violation in the world today.

Gender violence is also a major health and development issue, with powerfUl

implications for coming generations as well as society in general. Eliminating this

violence is essential to constructing the paradigm of human security - and by that I

mean peace, peace at home and peace at large. Without it, the notion of human

progress is merely a fantasy. However, opening the door on the subject of

violence against the world' s females is like standing at the threshold of an immense

dark chamber vibrating with collective anguish, but with the sounds of protest

throttled back to a murmur. Where there should be outrage aimed at an intolerable

status quo there is instead denial, and the largely passive acceptance of"the way

thing are"

 

Some broad cjuestions that could be explored in gender studies could include the

following:

 

 i) What is the context in which children develop gender identity?

 ii) What factors affect gender identity and expectations?

 iii) What are the factors that affect how children are socialised?

 iv) What is the role of education in socialization?

3. Empowerment of families

 

 

At the global forum held in April 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, US4 considerable emphasis

 

 

                                 families to enable them to care better far

was placed on the need to provide support to

 

 

their children. The aspirations of parents and kin for their children contain far and away

the most relevant of child development objectives. For it is the family more than any other

social institution, that determines and predicts what a child's core developmental

outcomes will likely be. The family is virtually every child's source oflife, primary

nurture, immediate physical safety and identity. Moreover, the family in all our cultures

and sub-cultures is a child's most significant pro~ider offood, clothing, shelter, and access

to wider experience. Equally important, the family is virtually every child's most critical

source oflife, knowledge, social skills, intimacy, confidence, connection, and belief. All of

this underlines the need to empower the family to look after and bring up children better;

and the need to provide answers on how this empowerment can be provided. An

empowered family is a family able to secure more positive outcomes for their children.

There are several criteria we can use to identify an empowered family. Examples include

the following six.

 

 i)   First of all, an empowered family is one that has the information, the right, the

     power, the resources to control the timing of its information and the frequency of its

     child bearing. The fourteen year-old mother in Swaziland or the thirteen child family

     in Kenya living in Mathare Valley do not possess this control and the consequences

     will be measured in their children's diminished futures.

ii) Second, an empowered family is one equipped with the knowledge, skills and

  education required to both protect their children from avoidable environmental and

  health risks and - at the same time - to provide their children with basic and essential

  developmental experiences.

 

iii)  Third, an empowered family is one that has the opportunity and the skills to capture

      and control enough resources to at least meet their children's minimum need for

      food, clothing and shelter. Children born to dependent and destitute parents are the

      children at greatest risk of adverse outcomes.

 

iv) Fourth, an empowered family is one that has the capacity and autonomy to shield its

      children from destructive involvement in broader adult conflicts and other societal

      violence. There is an increasing number of families which are unable to provide their

      children with refUge from war and violent crime. It is a tragedy measured each year

      by the deaths of thousands of youth who never reach adulthood.

 

v)    Fifth, an empowered family is one that has reliable access to networks of other

      caring adults - adults who can supplement or substitute for parental care in times of

      family stress and crisis or in the event of parental disability or death. Across our

      continent tens of thousands of young families are being driven or drawn to cities.

      But what they frequently do not hnd in their crowded new urban co~nes are

      support systems or affiliations to take the place of the kinship networks and

      traditional community supports they left behind in the rural areas. The resulting

family isolation and fragility is now being measured in growing rates of child

   abandonment, neglect, and homelessness, leading to the "street children"

   phenomenon increasingly evident in African cities.

 

vi) The sixth attribute of an empowered family is that its children have access to

    affordable and effective schools - to educational opportunities that enable children to

    acquire knowledge, develop skills, and cultivate talents far beyond what they could

    obtain from their parents or relatives alone. The vitality of families across

    generations and the overall welfare of communities now depends on equipping each

    generation with the skills that a new world demands. This empowerment of families

    can be strengthened and supported from the results ofresearch. (Nelson, 1996).

 

4. Concerns Relating to Curriculum of teacher education, methodology and quality

 

President John F Kennedy drew attention to the importance of education when he stated in

his message to Congress on 20" February, 1961, "Our progress as a nation can be no

swifter than our progress in education ... The human mind is our fundamental

resource". Other equally important tenets to which Z subscribe include the following:

 

 i) Theeconomic prosperity of the nation is dependent on the quality of the

 

   educational system;

 

 ii) The quality of the educational system is dependent on the quality of the

 

   teachers;

iii) The quality of teachers is dependent on the quality of teacher education.

 

A teacher education programme anywhere in the world would normally be concerned

about a number of areas in the preparation of teachers, including the curriculum of teacher

education, methodology, and quality. a word about each of these would be in order.

The curriculum of teacher education, methodology and quality

 

The curriculum for teacher education needs to be seen as part of the wider curriculum for

school education of a country. It is therefore linked at every stage with the curriculum of

the schools for which it prepares teachers, for all work of teacher education and all the

labours of those preparing school curriculum are directed at the same point, helping the

learners learn better.

 

The curriculum of a college must also be seen as part of a wider curriculum for teacher

education - pre-service, and in-service. The curriculum is concerned with needs - needs

of the schools; needs of students as individuals; needs of the communities and the nation;

needs of the international community. Consideration should also be given to priorities:

"survival priorities" which a beginning teacher needs in school during his first years of

teaching; academic priorities, which involve the need to concentrate on the core

curriculum in which all children must be grounded, and development priorities including

basic preventive health, better soil use, and the conservation of natural resources, which,

certainly in developing countries, are vital for the well being of communities.

In addition to considering needs, there is need to examine the methodologies of colleges of

education. There is need to link content with methodology, as well as need to widen our

approach to methodology. We also need to devise appropriate methodologies for specific

countries. For example in many African countries there is need to take into account

teaching classes in difficult circumstances: big classes of 80 pupils to a teacher; classes

without classrooms; teachers teaching two classes at the same time. Finally, we need to

select and develop methodologies which are particularly appropriate to local cultures.

 

We need in a teacher education programme which is relevant to context; to needs; to

humanity and to something more. We comment briefly on each of these in turn.

 

Relevance to context

 

Relevance to context is both clear and unambiguous. An alien education is both

unproductive and psychologically disturbing, leading often to dangerous forms of half

learning where children can answer questions on content yet do not Illy understand what

they are being asked or what they are saying in their answers. Such a system was what

was contained in the Cape syllabus for Namibian children before independence. Such a

system is what many of our countries originally inherited from the colonial governments

and which many have attempted to modify and reform with varying degrees of success.

Relevance to needs

 

 

The programme should be relevant to:

 

i) the needs of rural societies (such as those found in Third World countries) with all that

  implies in terms of language, self-reliance training, and use of intermediate appropriate

   technology.

ii) the needs of advanced technology which children anywhere must master, if they are

  not to become totally dependent on the ideas and machines of others. To match these

  conflicting needs is the challenge of many poor countries with high aspirations.

 

Relevance to humanity

 

Most of us will know the inspired word of John Donne when he reminds us that 'T\To man

is an island "... and "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." In our

increasinglyinterdependent world which, in so many different ways is trying to tear itself

apart:

 

through aggression;

 

through overpopulation in relation to food supply

 

  through its destruction of its natural resources

  through pollution ... no education anywhere which fails to respond to these threats

   can be truly relevant.

Relevance as something more

This refers to:

duality in schooling which adds something extra to learning and life;

quality ofinteliectual challenge; over enjoyment, or human kindness which

  distinguishes the interesting school from the uninteresting; the memorable from the

  unmemorable, the happy from the drab.

 

The fUnction of the school, therefore, is not just to prepare children for the life after

school. It is to make children happy and productive and interesting and linked with right

 

 now.

 

 In short, preparing teachers to teach at different levels, including global perspectives is no

 different basically from producing competent teachers. Student teachers should normally

 be assisted to become competent organisers of own and pupils' learning environments

 and also effe~tive facilitators of pupils' learning. Teacher competencies should exist in

 "teacher knowledge" (facts, principles, generalisations, awareness, and sensitivities that

 the teacher is expected to acquire); "teacher performance" (behaviours that the teacher

 is expected to demonstrate), and "teacher consequences" (outcomes that the teacher is

 expected to bring about in the emotional and intellectual growth of his pupils) A basic

 goal of any teacher training college should be to produce a cadre of effective and notjust

 

  competent teachers.

The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) makes the

distinction between effective versus competent teachers. The ultimate base of teacher

education curriculum, it is pointed out, must be a thorough understanding of the dynamics

of effective teaching - of what a teacher must know, and be, and do in order to provide the

greatest possible assistance to learners in their efforts to achieve the goals of education ...

Only, when we know why a teacher is effective ... as well as how, can we know how best

to train teachers ...

 

The distinction between competent and effective implied is important and yet easy to

forget. Competence has to do with how a teacher teaches and is measured in terms of the

teacher's behaviour; how effective a teacher is ... is measured in terms of pupil learning.

In other words, a competent teacher may not always be effective, for a multitude of

reasons ... (Cooper, J M, Weber, W A & Johnson, C E, 1973).

 

To prepare teachers to teach effectively there will need to be undertaken a great deal of

preparatory and concurrent work, including educational research, to develop a model of

an effective and international standard of teacher preparation CKissock, 1993). In this

particular regard, from the Afiican teacher education perspective, there will be need to

emphasise relevance to the African context. The agendas and priorities in African

education are mostly determined by the externally initiated, commissioned, and supported

studies. Most of these, as Gmelin (1995) points out, reveal a striking lack of attention to

context and feasibility and reflect concerns deemed important by external agencies.

Gmelin suggests rightly a need to bring about collaborative research clusters between

several countries, thus contributing to a critical mass of research potential in a region

which would also be beneficial to graduate training and thus enhance the re-production

capacity for research. Samoff(1995) supplements this point by emphasising the need for

full African participation in educational research in Africa. He states:

 

     "At the end of the 20" century it should not be accepted that there is so

     little African participation, particularly in senior roles, in externally fUnded

     and commissioned research on African education.

 

     I do not mean to ignore the importance of extended experience or to

     underestimate agencies' needs for researchers in whom they have

     confidence. Those concerns, however, cannot justify agencies' lack of

     attention to helping African scholars develop the skills and experience they

     deem important, or their slow pace in integrating Africans into their groups

     of core consultants.

 

     ...Africanisation is likely to promote greater sensitivity to African problems

     and increased responsiveness to African constituencies and their needs and

     interests. But Africanisation will not automatically lead to intellectual

     heterogeneity, methodological diversity, or critical inquiry". (Samoff, 1995,

     p.3)

5. The Mode of Delivery of Education and Adult Learning

 

Dhanarajan (1997) in discussing the role of education in equalising opportunities has

_ pointed out to the need to explore new modes of delivery of education. It is pointed out

that if the world is to meet the global agenda of equality in opportunities by the year 2000,

then governments the world over need to double their educational capacities, using

present and emerging technologies as well as encouraging all educational institutions to

expand their provisions.

 

We have less than five years before we see the beginning of the next millenium, an era

during which human development should be measured not by scientific and technological

progress alone, but by the simple yardstick of the level of equal opportunities for all; along

the Jomtien agreements enunciating Education For All (EFA).

 

       "lfwe believe that education can indeed make the difference between wealth and

       poverty, health and misery, conservation and destruction, as well as assist in

       eradicating inequalities between nations and within communities towards building a

       better 21"' century, then we have an obligation to revisit our paradigms of

       delivering education as well as the education itself an a global role". @hanarajan,

       New Era p.14). The role of educational research and of researchers would be

       paramount in this endeavour!

  To provide education training to the large and very diverse users of education services will

  recluire teachers and their institutions to make fUndamental shifts to the ways in which they

fashion their curricula and deliver them. The assumption of teachers and institutions as to

where, when and how's of teaching will have to undergo profound changes. Courses will

have to be organised so that learners can access them from wherever they are.

 

The delivery methodology described as distance education, and which has been in use for

the past thirty years by many open universities around the world, may have to be

considered as a major vehicle for educational delivery for the next century. How this will

be made possible, surely again falls, in part at least, on the lap of educational researchers.

 

The role of adult learning is equaliy important, and the announcement for the International

Conference on Adult Education which took place in Hamburg, Germany, 14-18" July,

1997 sounded a note of optimism at the close ofa century marked by deep traumas; and

underlined a belief that the learning capacity of human beings will be central to the task of

shaping the new century and the new millenium.

 

      "Ifthe key to survival and to sustainable development is the creativity of

      the citizen, then adult learning becomes one of the critical issues of the

      coming century ...

      Learning is ajoy, a tool, a right and a shared responsibility. A true learning

      democracy is one in which all women and men participate actively in the

      building of their communities and are able to pursue their individual and

      collective projects and visions". (Announcement of the InteIllational

      Conference on Adult Education).

As indicated earlier, the four areas identified for priority research are illustrations of what

can be done. Our efforts should be in research, analysis and dissemination activities based

on information gaps identified. We turn briefly to a consideration of some strategies for

implementation.. These include, among others, partnerships and fUnding strategies.

 

6. Partnerships

 

If we have learnt anything in the past few years, it is the need to mobilise all sectors of

society towards common goals, to cross old borders and break down artificial barriers

among school institutions, departments, other institutions, including communities,

academics, and politicians; among ideas, and bodies ofknowledge. As Dr Martin Luther

King Jr. put it, "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools".

What are the current challenges to possibilities of partnership and how do we resolve

them? Let us briefly examine these questions in turn.

 

 Current challenges to possibilities of Partnerships

 

 Recently Adedeji (1997) pointed out that traditionally in virtually all (African) countries

 academics are held in suspicion by the powers that be, while they (academics) in turn are

 full or contempt of at least condescension of the "ignoramuses" in power. "More often

 than not, governments refUse to recognise the expertise of their (own) academics while

 holding in reverence and gullibility academics from the North". (Adedeji, 1997 p.l).

 Diescho (1997) made the same point when he stated, "African leaders have difticulty in

appreciating, much less encouraging, thinkers from their own nationalities. It is almost as

though their feeling is that the African politician is good, foreign advice is better; and

white is best" @iescho, 1997 p. 12).

 

Rist (1995) too calls attention to concern expressed time and again in educational research

communities that their advice and pleas are neither heard nor well understood by policy-

making communities. Swamy (1997) believes that the greatest barriers to any broad

influence of academia on government affairs today are the language and patterns in

which results are presented.

 

"To the politician, much of the process of modern scholarship seems incestuous.

Academicians often appear caught up in an elite culture in which labels, categories, and

even jokes are of in-house value. Their writings are filled with references to other

scholars' writings; they speak to each other rather than to a wider public ..." (Swamy

1997, p. 23). How do we resolve these challenges? Swamy makes four possible ways of

"bridging the gap" which we briefly refer to:

 

Bridging the gap

 

i) The participation of senior government officials in major scholarly associations could

  provide an opportunity for exchanges across scholar/government gap. During the

  symposium in Lesotho Sun, Maseru, Lesotho, in 1987, it will be recalled that all three

  of the Permanent Secretaries of Education ~om Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland

were present. Those who were present will readily admit that their presence not only

  enhanced the quality of debate, but also generated a spirit of good will, a will that has

  led to continued support ofBERA, LERA and SERA by their respective

  Governments, through their Ministries ofEducation.

 

ii) Government Officials participating in organised annual reviews of scholarly research.

  The participation ofa practitioner could perhaps increase the relevance to policy-

  making of some of the research proposals *Their participation will enable the officials

  to appreciate the need for a critical mass of researchers necessary to produce impact,

  as well as generating research data that can eventually feed into policy.

 

iii) Establish a scholar-official interaction programme in the government. A week-long

  programme is usefUl in acquainting young members of university staff with the process

  of official decision - making, and in turn, help de-mystify for the officials, scholars' use

  of in-house university jargon. Academia could organize special seminars for guest

  government leaders to address and/or lead.

 

iv) A system of government research grants to scholars who should take leave from

  academia, and research on site on topics directly related to specific policy questions.

  But the time they devote in government should count in professional advancement.

 

   Other partnerships include those involving funding. A brief reference is made to these

   next.

Funding Strategies and Partnerships

 

It would be easy, especially when it comes to resources just to meet on the problem and

spend our time sharing anecdotes on how hard it is to make progress. With receding

donor fUnding which started in the 1980's many individuals (including many among us)

and organisations, find that "years of trying to do too much with too little have taken

their toll on the institutional health of these associations and individuals. (Some research

associations, including my own, have remained so by name because ofthis!)

 

 Although the performance has been credible during the initial development phase of most

 of our associations, a more challenging second phase of reform and renewal awaits us.

 We must make decisions on how to work together to break inertia, and move towards

 success, with out new revitalized partnerships, including colleagues from government and

 non-governmental organizations.

 

 In looking for fUnds for our important work, as in other areas already dealt with, it is

 important to emphasise the following:

 

    Mutual cooperation through pooling resources, exchanging staff and promoting

    cooperation based on agreed division of labour in order to make productivity gains

 

    visible.

Real cooperation can only thrive on the grounds of common mutual interest, where all

  parties to the cooperation give and receive, and where there isjoint definition of the

  purpose of cooperation objectives by dialogue among partners in which objectives are

  harmonised and by which a strong commitment is created.

 

Working or acting together for a common purpose often takes place between two

  equals, and in order to create that situation, capacity building has to take place.

 

In the case ofinstitutions, the cooperation processes must be based on mutually

  definable goals among cooperating universities and the aid giving organisations which

  should play a role of a facilitator.

 

Besides the traditional ties with Europe and North America, and increased cooperation

between African countries, serious efforts are required to establish fruitfUl collaboration

with other industrial countries, including the newly industrialised countries in Asia and

South/Centra'l America.

 

Donors to African Education @AE) which recently was re-christened Association for the

Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) has at its main objective to improve the

effectiveness of donor assistance to African education. With headquarters and its

secretariat at IEEP, Paris, ADEA works through working groups. The Working Group

on Higher Education has had an increased understanding on current university issues

through commissioning and dissemination of sixteen studies, and has an increased

awareness among donor agencies of the contribution that universities make to national

development programmes. The Working Groups are each sponsored by a "lead" agency.

The lead agency for the Working Group on Higher Education is the World Bank. The

Working Group on Teacher Education is the Commonwealth Secretariat based in London.

Other working groups include areas such as Female Education, Distance Education, Non-

formal and Adult Education, and Early Childhood Care and Development. ADEA,

certainly through the Working Group on Higher Education, is one of the most likely

candidates to provide fUnding for activities described in this paper. Another important

body with which a link could be established for fUnding purposes is the Association of

African Universities, apart from our traditional supporters such as IDRC, and DSE.

 

In concluding this section on fUnding one should also say a word or two about what donor

agencies should (or should not) do. We all readily appreciate and are gratefUl for the aid

and support received to date. However, some donor actions have helped to exacerbate

the current crises in Africa, particularly in universities. Therein you will find that

assistance agencies have frequently hired away the best of university staff (particularly

those with a track record in research) as their own employees or consultants. They have

often pursued their own interest by promoting specific projects with universities that

match up poorly with the institutions' own priorities. For instance, in many cases, they

have supported inequitable linkage programmes which have favoured their home country

universities while claiming to support Afr-ican higher education. And they have benefited

from brain drain while generally failing to recognise it as a legitimate problem for their

attention. With this brief reference to fUnding strategies we now turn to concluding

remarks.

 

Concluding Remarks

 

Given what has been said above about the challenges that face us, someone might easily

conclude that we have ended with a "paralysis of analysis". I should therefore hasten to

echo James Thurber's words: "Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear; but

around in awareness". In concluding I want to draw our attention to two key areas,

attention to children, and attention to the critical role of education, to which we as

educational researchers must pay attention.

 

Let us remind ourselves of the UNICEF position paper for the World Conference on

Human Rights, held in Vienna in June 1993:

 

     "The best interests of the child are universal. They include the right to

     survival, to healthy development and protection from abuse. These rights

     are agreed. They are international standards. But what value do they have

     in a world which turns its back on hunger and want, on torture, rape, and

     exploitation of children?

Children's lives cannot be put on hold while adult society mulls over its

    obligations towards them. Public commitments have been made. Treaties

    have been written and ratified. The time to act is now!"

 

Also, as I have had occasion to say many times before, in different fora, the survival and

protection of children is the responsibility of all of us, individually and collectively,

including us the participants at this bi-annual colloqium, because as Leon Chestang (1974)

has aptly observed:

 

    "And so I ask, who if not us will nurture our children?

 

    Who if not us will protect them?

 

    And who, if not us, will assure them of their birth right? Who?"

 

On education one can say that it holds the key to development, to receptiveness to others,

to population control and to the preservation of the environemtn. Education is what will

enable us in Africa especially, to move from a culture ofwar, which unhappily we know

too well, to a culture of peace, whose benefits we are only just beginning to sense. We are

prepared to deal with the threats of the past but we are still helpless when confronting the

threats oftoday and tomorrow.

There should be a consensus that time has come to move from discussion to decision, and

from decision to implementation. Further delay in tackling the education crisis particularly

in teacher education as it exists in each country or region and globally will have a very

high cost in both financial and human resource terms.

 

Dean Acheson, one of the great and witty secretaries of state in the USA tells about a

bright young diplomat who came to him once and outlined a brilliant strategy. The young

man ended his presentation by saying, "And with the help of God, we shall carry this

through." To this the Secretary responded: "Unfortunately, young man, God doesn't

work for the State Department!".

 

God may not work for BOLESWA Educational Research Associations either: I would

hope and pray, however, that HE has a watchfUl eye on the development of quality of life

in Africa which is the topic of our discussion.

 

AswesayinEastAfrica: "AsanteSana"

Aswe say inBotswana: Pula!

Aswe say inlesotho: Khotso! Pula! Nala!

  Aswe sayinNamibia: Dankie!

  As we say in Swaziland:

 

  AndaswesayinEnglish: Ithankyou!

REFERENCES

1. Adedeji, A (1997) Town, Gown and Government: Partners in Development Paper

  delivered at the Prime Minister's Consultative Conference with Academicians,

  Windhoek, Namibia, February 27-28", 1997.

 

2. Amar, J J A(1996) Quality of life and child development The Hague; Bernard van

  Leer Foundation.

 

3. Cooper, J M, Weber, W A & Johnson, C.E. (1993) A Systems Approach to

  Program Design. Berkeley, California; McCutchan Publ. Corp.

 

4. Dhanarajan, G. (1997) Education: Equalising Opportunities. Windhoek, New

  Era Newspaper, March 7-9", 1997.

 

5. Diescho, J (1997) The Role of African Academics in A Changing Milieu - The

  Challenges'of the New Milienium. Paper delivered at the Prime Minister's

  Consultative Conference with Academicians, Windhoek, Namibia, February 27-28"

  1997

 

6. Gmelin, W (1995) The Scope for Alternative Paradigms in External Support of

  Education Research. In King, K NORRAG NEWS, Number 18, November, 1995.

 

 

     7. Hagstr(im, S. (1995) Keynote Address at the AAU Conference. In the University in

       Africa in the 1990's and Beyond, Colloquium jointly organized By AAU and

       DAE National University ofLesotho, January 16-20, 1995.

 

     8.    Hesser, P.A. (Ed. 1989) The United States And the Third World: Building

           The Future As It Ought To Be. New York. International Development

           Conference.

 

     9.    Kissock, C. (1991) A proposal for A Network for International Teacher

           Education Centres. A discussion paper.

 

     10.   Maslow A (1954) Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row

 

 

     11.   Nelson D W (1996) Translating Knowledge into Action Keynote Address at the

 

           Children First: A Global Forum, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10~h, 1996.

     12.   Rist, R C, Information needs in the policy arena: Linking educational research to

           the policy cycle. In OECD (1995) Knowledge Bases for Education Policies,

           Maastricht, Netherlands: OECD.

     13. Swamy, S (1997) Are Government and Academicians Partners in Development

       or Antagonists? Paper delivered at the Prime Minister's Consultative Conference

        with Academicians, Windhoek, Namibia, February 27" - 28~h, 1997.

 

     14. UNICEF (1997) The Progress ofNations, 1997. New York, UNICEF.

 

 

 

        

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