By Chenayi Mutambasere
I have heard it often said by well meaning voices that for Zimbabweans ‘education is our biggest problem’ or that ‘the problem is that Zimbabweans are too educated’!
Quite frankly being an avid scholar I don’t often pay that statement much thought I just put it down to frustration in the part of the author. In fact I would no sooner argue that complacency is our biggest problem. Well that is right up until I found myself doing some early morning reading of Kapil D.Regmi’s ,2016, paper titled Critiquing Hegemony of Capitalism : A Call for Popular Education.
Without giving any spoilers as I think it’s a very worthy read, if I was to produce a low grade version summary of the paper I would say that Regmi puts it to us that mass education is aimed at overtly promoting the principles of capitalism.
That is maximise your profit, be more competitive, be innovative so that you maximise profit, work hard and achieve your personal income goals …. and so on and so forth . The key term here being ‘you’ it’s a self centred profit seeking approach. Regmi suggests that there is a freedom to be gained as sold by this capitalism based education . That when you are rich you are free?
As I read it I did wonder what would have become of us Africans if we remained communal farmers and hunter gatherers. Way back then wealth was defined by community service.
Your family was wealthy because they had the most resources to service and protect their community. Of course competition amongst tribes etc existed and wars were fought but it was always at that macro community level.
Through modern mass education we are taught to better ourselves as individuals through this we admire those that have achieved exactly that.
I remembered as a wide eyed undergraduate once struggling on writing a paper which was meant to critically analyse why some airlines made more profit than others. I had never been taught to ask the question why or to criticise something that was doing well I would no sooner emulate it than ask why or whether there was anyone disenfranchised as a result .
As I read Regmi’s submissions I did turn to wonder more about us Zimbabweans. What would happen if we were taught from the get go to think more laterally and critically. I mean for instance if we sat down to ask why such a small country allows monopoly trade whether it be telecommunications, mobile money, supermarket, clothing stores and of course service stations.
Do we as Zimbabweans know who the top players in our retail economy are? Do we ask why and how they got there? Does our type of education enable us to critically understand the impact that that has on our income inequality gap?
Do we as Zimbabweans comprehend fully what Alex Magaisa’s published article on RBZ loans scandal gate means and the impact it has on our daily lives?
If I could I would invite Regmi to come and extrapolate his findings on us as Zimbabweans. Has mass education built this city? Has it stifled us from thinking hard enough such that not only are we moved to question it but we also want to change it?
When I read that at a hospital there were 7 infant mortalities in one day such that if the 8 births only one survived. There was a deep outrage in my heart but even that outrage was nothing compared to when I completed the equation to the fact that someone’s son made 154% profit on a deal recently to do with health supplies.
What if his profit was reduced even by 100% such that the other money was used to fully resource the maternity unit? Or what if the half a million dollars gifted to the clergymen by the central bank RBZ was instead gifted to that maternity unit?
Outside of twitter I looked for evidence of that same outrage I was feeling. But there was none. I thought maybe other mothers would storm the government building but there were none?
Alas are Zimbabweans educated so much that for them freedom is a personal achievement such that my focus is solely on my personal betterment.
I can’t speak up because I am too busy making money over here, or if I do I will lose my job or lose favour from my clients… That being the case look around us 40 years now we have behaved in this way but not much achieved as a people at personal or community level.
Is now the time that we finally step out of the ‘self focus’ we have been taught and stand up one for another for a better Zimbabwe. Where education has let us down surely experience hasn’t ?!
Chenayi Mutambasere (Msc Development Economics and Policy) is the MDC UK and Ireland Province Secretary for Industry and Commerce. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChenayiM