A debut treatise offers a new approach to sub-Saharan African education.
The educational systems of sub-Saharan Africa are not suited for the continent’s economic needs. Modeled on 19th-century European ideas about schooling, they offer an extremely one-size-fits-all approach that ignores the individualized needs and strengths of students. As the nations of Africa move toward postindustrial service- and skills-based “creative” economies, an alternative paradigm in education is required. With this book, the author presents a new method: authentic learning. Steve Revington, whose thoughts on pedagogy underlie Muganga’s work, defines authentic learning as “real life learning…that encourages students to create a tangible, useful product to be shared with their world.” After describing his own traditional education in Uganda, Muganga delivers a portrait of sub-Saharan education as a whole, contrasting it with the more personalized and economically pragmatic practices of authentic learning. The author explains the benefits that this new system would have for the continent and then explores the realities of how it could be implemented. The creative economy represents a way for Africa to make up a lot of ground, exploiting the near-limitless innovative potential of its citizens. But, the author argues, unless an educational overhaul occurs, that resource will remain untapped. Muganga writes in a crisp prose that is technocratic without suffering from opacity: “Globalization connects strongly to the creative economy through the movement towards specialization, where modern information and communication technologies facilitate the sharing of cultural knowledge.” This short book, aimed more at influencers than a general audience, is well-argued and thoroughly sourced, synthesizing a large body of recent research and educational theory. While there are many ideas out there about how to teach children, it’s difficult to argue that a personalized education that prepares students for the economy isn’t an attractive system. On paper at least, Muganga’s proposal is a persuasive one, ambitious but not impractical. While the implementation may be complex, he has succeeded in his stated goal of starting a dialogue on the subject.
A thoughtful prescription for a pedagogical strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.