Transforming Education for Just and Sustainable Futures

By Kristina Lekova

On June 28th, the International Commission met to discuss the future of education and the need for educational transformation to make the system more sustainable and just. The IC was summoned in 2019 as an independent institution by UNESCO and is now led by the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde. The Commission focuses on rethinking the role of education regarding current opportunities and obstacles. Following the 2021 UNESCO report “Reimagining our Future together: a new social contract of education”, the IC released a report with a list of changes in the school system, teaching, and the digital sector, which includes five directions of transformation. According to UNESCO, transforming education is a process by which the educational system is altered for entire nations to focus on learners through supporting teaching. The information described in the IC is not a complete overturning, but rather a “metamorphosis”, a sustainable and stable change. Due to current disparities in education, the call sounds relevant, and much needed as the change and progress made worldwide are highly uneven. Under a similar program, the primary school completion rate in Chad significantly improved between 2015 and 2019, with a 24% female and 31% male primary graduation rates increasing to 29% and 38% by 2019. In the nearby country of Mali which has utilized traditional educational models, the percentage of both male and female youth dropped by 2% from the year 2015 to 2018. However, due to differences in educational systems around the world, the approach to education must be constructed in each context according to each state’s spending, social, political, and economic problems, as well as rates of gender and class inequalities.  

This UNESCO initiative is organized into five policy changes, what they describe as directions. The first is to make the educational system a place of equal opportunity. The Commission calls for changes in school systems while protecting them as places of “unique social and educational sites, because of the inclusion and equity”. The IC argues that the expertise and knowledge at schools should be distributed equally rather than concentrated in the hands of the few by reducing competition and loosening the selection process. The second direction describes a transformation in curriculum, allowing learners to look beyond the scope of the already existing system of views and widen the perspective to develop “creativity, engagement, and a breadth of capabilities across the lifespan”. The third directives calls for policy-makers to provide teachers with excellent working conditions to support cooperation and solidarity. The fifth direction highlights the need to ensure collaboration across countries. This point asserts that there is a need to move beyond aid and philanthropy and instead work on the reparations of existing inequality and strengthen the North-to-South transfer of resources.  

While the directives mentioned above seems like transformative change, several of these proposals have already been featured in previous UN directives. The report “Reimagining our Future together: a new social contract of education” was informed by a consultation process that involved around million people (including governments, institutions, and organizations) and attempted to create a new social contract for education. There are questions, however, about how much authority global initiatives hold to effectuate the change they seek. The educational systems of African countries tend to be inferior to those in Europe and the United States, though there has been some improvement in recent years. In Ethiopia, the Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) for pre-primary education is at 43%. This is up from 36.7% in the 2020 academic year (UNHCR). It is crucial that global initiatives do more than provide lip service to issues in education. For any proposal to be effective, the directors must provide strategies for resource for the implementation of these projects, particularly when discussing countries with limited financial resources.

Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century

By Maura Mulholland

Despite misguided references to the “country of Africa,” the African continent is actually composed of fifty-four distinct countries. But despite social, cultural, and economic differences between these nations, Pan-Africanism has emerged as a solution to establishing African influence on the global scale. Some advocates have argued that Pan-Africanism promises a future where all of the inhabitants and descendants of the continent can coexist and stand together. 

The movement of Pan-Africanism emerged out of a sense of shared struggle. During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the first uprisings against captors occurred when people from numerous tribes and linguistic backgrounds, who had all been thrown together indiscriminately in the hold of a ship, came together against the slavers. The practice of Africans from different backgrounds uniting in the face of these enemies, which continued on the American continents, was eventually consolidated into a body of thought by academics like Henry Sylvester Williams, and political leaders like Kwame Nkrumah. 

The evolution of Pan-Africanism was directly spurred by the development of African diaspora communities. The Haitian Revolution was a turning point in asserting the power that Africans were able to wield, and it began an effort to weld various uprisings within global African communities to a singular cause. Various Pan-African conferences surrounding the African diaspora communities in major cities also followed this revolution. The formation of the country of Liberia was the most major effect of this organization, as the American Colonization Society sent thousands of African-Americans back to the continent to establish a country of their own, in an effort to reclaim their heritage and reject the countries their progenitors had been unwillingly brought to. 

Today, Pan-Africanism continues in the form of social movements and in the creation of alliances that seek to encompass the whole continent. The African Union, whose goal is long-term economic growth in the region, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which establishes a collection of countries involved in free trade, represent more individual nations than NATO or the European Union. In addition, the rise of social media, and the penetration of the Internet into Africa, has connected those involved in social movements on the continent with members of global diaspora groups. These online alliances have strengthened loyalty to the idea of a united Africa on the worldwide scale, and have increased awareness of social justice issues. 

The reigning mindset in African-American diaspora communities is that “Black is beautiful”. It certainly is, and the unity of that simple phrase reflects centuries of an ongoing effort to create a more cohesive community for Africans and their descendants. 

Immigrating to Africa

By Maura Mulholland

Africa has a long history as a continent full of rich resources and vibrant culture. It has also been one of the most historically exploited and volatile places on Earth. While forty-six percent of Africa’s inhabitants seek to leave the continent, increasing economic opportunities and the natural beauty of the continent make it an appealing place not just to visit, but to settle. Like any other area of the world, certain places are more open to immigrants than others, and certain countries offer a better experience for immigration. 

Kenya is the most popular immigrant country, especially its capital, Nairobi. Many Americans who settle in Kenya report affordable, comfortable housing. a thriving nightlife scene, and a mild climate that is easier to acclimate to than the often-extreme temperatures of the African interior. It is also a sociable and Anglophone country. Nairobi, home to multiple multinational Fortune 500 members, allows one to inhabit a city that is a continental leader in terms of economic growth and progressive politics. 

Morocco is another popular country for outsiders. Tourists are commonly attracted by its food and natural beauty. Some popular foods are couscous, which is the national dish of Morrocco, and tagine and tanjia. Morocco’s proximity to the Sahara Desert is a major attraction, but it is also home to a large coastline and several beautiful beaches. Morrocco enjoys a consistently strong economy, high education, and low crime rates. 

Egypt eclipses all others in the number of tourists who visit its historic sites each year. Egypt has historically been a destination for American expats, it enjoys a high percentage of English speakers and rich history. Money flows into Egypt tourism and trade, and businesses that cater to globetrotters are a good place to find work for someone new to the region. Home to the biggest metropolitan area in Africa, Cairo, Egypt has been urging wealthy and middle-class individuals to emigrate there in an effort to even out massive economic disparities in their social structure. 

With the constant focus on immigration out of Africa, we often forget that many cities and countries are actually an attractive destination for outsiders. Many economists are calling Africa the land of opportunity, and a thriving social scene, expanding economy, and low cost of living will continue to attract immigrants from around the globe.

South Africa Feels Punished for Alerting World to New Variant

JOHANNESBURG — As the United States and European countries close their borders over fears over the recently detected coronavirus variant, many South Africans say they feel as if they are being “punished” for alerting global health authorities.

Hours after South African scientists announced the existence of a new variant that they said displayed “a big jump in evolution,” Britain banned travelers from southern African nations. Other European nations and the United States quickly followed suit.

“I do apologize that people took a very radical decision,” said Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform and the scientist who announced the new variant on Thursday.

Fresh from a virtual meeting with global health leaders, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus, Mr. Oliveira told journalists he believed that international solidarity would be in favor of South Africa’s decision to publicize its findings.

The variant, named Omicron by the World Health Organization, was first detected in South Africa and in neighboring Botswana. The government in Botswana announced that four initial cases were all foreign diplomats who had since left, and that contact tracing was continuing.

Cases have also now been spotted in Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel, in travelers sometimes returning from countries other than South Africa or Botswana, and suspected cases are being investigated in Germany and the Czech Republic.

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