Development and Education

Development and Education are first of all about liberating people from all that holds them back from a full human life with dignity, justice and freedom. Therefore ultimately development and education are about transformation – a process that involves spiritual and political growth. It therefore becomes imperative for the educator to recognize its role to present to the people in challenging form the issues they themselves have raised in a confused form. 

Transformation is not a process where one person can do the transformation for somebody else. Rather it is a spiritual journey that involves the personal and the collective characters of a human in relationship within, with other human, with Nature and with the Creator. It is through the continuous process of ‘reflection and action’ that people learn to read their realities, understand their surroundings, write their own history and evolve strategies that will best enable them to realize their aspirations. 

Development and Education is made possible when people are conscious to enable and empower themselves by providing the democratic space to participate and take ownership of their lives and future by deciding what is best for them and evolving systems, structures, policies and processes that best represents their values, worldviews and aspirations. It is the values of self-determination that facilitates a people’s growth to become makers of their own culture and their destinies. 

Revitalizing sustainable democracy and economies means rethinking education. Education is a critical aspect in any Developmental policy. As such any developmental policy must focus on people and communities by involving and recognizing mass-based peoples organizations. 

No education is neutral or fully objective – it either facilitates the growth and capacity of people to be critical in thinking, pro-active to injustice, responsive to transformation and creative in development or to be passive to injustice, reactive to transformation and dependent on a larger power for survival. Due to the State’s centralizing and hegemonic tendencies, educational policies and educational institutions have often succumbed and become instruments of the State in carrying out its hegemonic policies. 

Education is in dire straits. Not only is our dependence in specialization taking over but also the lack of depth and critical learning as to how and why certain ‘truths are truths at all,’ and the lack of connection between mind, heart and hand are all increasing. Today modern education is training children all over the world for the centralized global economy and essentially the same curriculum is being taught in every environment no matter what the cultural tradition, resource or aspiration. The end result has been catastrophic – it has led to disorder, confusion and dysfunctional minds. 

As Schumacher adds, the problems of education are merely reflections of the deeper problems of our time. They are problems that will and cannot be solved by organizations, administration or money because the problem of education is a metaphysical disease and the cure therefore must be metaphysical. He continues education, which fails to clarify our central convictions, is mere training or indulgence. For it is our central convictions that are in disorder and as long as the present anti-metaphysical temper persist, the disorder will grow worse. Education, far from ranking as human’s greatest resource, will then be an agent of destruction. 

Lets listen to Catherine Sneed; she says that our society and educational system teaches us that solution lies in progress – better and faster technology and more machines. When we as a society fail, so often we place blame on these machines and on technology. But the crisis in not what is wrong with machines but what is wrong with us. The question that therefore arises out of her thesis raises the need for educational institutions to liberate themselves from powers that be; and the imperative need for education to rehumanize itself. 

The Declaration of Persepolis, International Symposium For Literacy in September 1975 declared, “literacy work, like education in general is a political act. It is not neutral, for the act of revealing social reality in order to transform it, or of concealing it in order to preserve it, is political.” 

Education for the fullest development for human beings must be a political act that involves an awakening process to understand the surrounding realities, to stand for justice and dignity. Human capacity building must begin with this premise of first ‘decolonizing the mind’ and actively participating in the restoration of dignity and engaging with ‘the powers that be’ that suppresses the growth of human capacities. As Amilcar Cabra in Unity and Struggle echoed – “Self criticism is an act of frankness, courage, comradeship and awareness of our responsibilities, a proof of our will to accomplish and to accomplish properly. To criticize oneself is to reconstruct oneself within oneself in order to serve better.”