OUR LAST LINE OF DEFENSE?
Homeschooling has been practiced for decades in many countries around the world knowingly, deliberately or not. It is simply the training up of a child in the way that he should go that when he is grown he would not depart from it. In some countries in the world (such as South Africa) it has been legalized, it is highly regulated in some of those, while in others it is illegal or simply frowned upon and looked down upon socially. Under international law education must conform to certain aims, one of which is developing the child’s personality and talents and mental and physical ability to their fullest potential. Which, honestly speaking, few formal education programs in Afrika ever achieve.
Homeschooling is simply a hands-on approach taken by parents towards the training and socialization of their children. Many of these parents use the standard curriculum but infuse it with life, or they choose an alternative curriculum that they deem more beneficial to the social, mental and spiritual growth of their children. Some practice it because they live in remote locations or because they want to be able to provide their child with a more personal touch than the formal school environment provides. Yet others do it because regulatory environments in their communities are unfavorable to their personal beliefs and so they choose to keep their children away from what may be environments detrimental to their own cultures.
I heard an American preacher speak about the history of formal education in the US and he said that schools were started by the pioneers simply as a tool to enable children to learn how to read the bible, so that they would be able to connect to the word and be able to grow their relationships with God. However, when the government saw the effectiveness of these classes, they took over and created the system you see today and the purity and simplicity was lost. What started as a tool to help people know God became a vessel that took them so far away from God that many ‘educated’ people now reject Him or even claim His nonexistence.The irony!
When you see a child misbehaving, don’t ask… “who areJohn Wills Njoroge, Mentor, Author
the parents?”. Instead, ask yourself … “what is my role?”
It is African to Care.
While homeschooling appears to be a recent trend in Afrika, the truth is, it is not. It may seem a strange and novel concept because of the growing availability and acceptability or even desirability (socially) of formal education systems, which have been touted by governments in Afrika (and governments that have interests in Afrika and the UN) as the key to Afrika’s growth and development, but if we’re honest, and if we look back with an accurate lens, Afrika was never backward or poorly developed. Additionally, Afrikans were training their children in a home setting and in the field, long before they ever heard of colonialists or colonial or western style education and it was sufficient.Sometimes you will find that ‘modern’ terminologies and socially accepted norms such as school, along with the deliberate downplaying that the colonialists engaged in with regard to the wisdom of Afrika that existed before colonialism, tends to distract us from the obvious. Afrikans had established social norms, training standards and methods of socialization that guaranteed that their children would grow and graduate age-set by age-set into healthy and productive members of their communities, fully capable of raising up the next generation well. This training was conducted by parents, close relatives or trusted elders who passed on truths, understanding and knowledge beneficial to their young charges as well as their societies. They were supplied with the skills that were relevant to the sustainability of their societies as a whole. Such training included inter-personal and inter-community relations, mediation, conflict and conflict resolution (or what would be called international relations in modern parlance), agriculture, health and sanitation, home science, culinary arts, medicine, social skills etc. We must keep in mind that the Afrikan civilization had not barely survived for millennia, but rather had THRIVED for millennia prior tothe colonial experience.Yet, how soon we forget.
Recent pressure by governments in Afrika to ensure that every child receives mandatory formal education are linked to MDGs, SDGs or whatever other development goals have been set by the global community and forcibly ingested by Afrikan governments. The indigestion is left to the people to suffer as their approach seems to overlook such ancient and profound – yet so simple – wisdom. Afrika has her own track and has had it since the beginning. The blind embracing of methods proposed by a global body cannot be allowed. Afrika must, of necessity, take into account the local needs, settings, priorities and pre-existing wisdom of the nations and communities in Afrika FIRST before anything else is added to it. And we must do it right now.
At the moment we have a community of young people who are so devastatingly detached from a way of life that was healthy and wholesome and positive in many respects. They are desperately damaged to the extent of needing urgent rehabilitation in order to re-acculturate to a level where they can be self-sustaining. The effect is so great that Afrika’s own trajectory is now distorted beyond measure. But is it redeemable? Yes, but we must change some key things back. We must allow the families that are willing and have time to pour into their children the wisdom that is needed, before it is lost. People have become so busy that they don’t have time to inculcate values into their children because they are focused on paying bills and surviving.
We must create room for homeschooling in Afrika. We must not over regulate this space and force it to live up to an artificial standard, but provide gentle and carefully considered guidance where needed. Let the families that prefer to school their children at home be able to do so in an empowered manner. For those who have neither the time nor the inclination to (which is fine and their choice), then allow for the inculcation of indigenous knowledge and wisdom into their children’s training. This has greater value and depth than many give it credit for.
We must remember that western education has its roots in western imperialism and their strategy for global domination. We really cannot afford to deny that or to pretend that the education that was introduced to Afrika had no ulterior motives. That would be just plain ignorant and foolish! So for those of you who go around the world forming allegiances with former colonial imperialists, you would be wise to consider that they still have their and only their best interests at heart, so don’t swallow holus bolus all the garbage they propose by way of deals or policy changes for your countries. No. They are using you and if you’re not wise enough to know this and navigate this minefield then perhaps we should choose someone who is.
An imperialist’s agenda is control, pure and simple, and the imperialist carefully selects the most influential tools of control and manipulation to gain maximum advantage against his or her target. Carefully consider this quote by Lord Macaulay during an address he made to the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835: “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people with such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture. For if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.” I put it to you that in the 85 years since they implemented their strategy of domination, that it has worked and worked very effectively. I also put it to you that the oppression successfully transitioned from the first generation oppressors to a second and third tier and guess in whose hands the enforcement of said oppression is? That of Afrika’s sons and daughters. Which is excellent news because as bad as that is, guess where the authority to liberate Afrika is? In the same hands.
Too much has been forgotten, uprooted or destroyed in the name of modernity, so bedeviling or belittling homeschooling in an effort to raise a generation of people disconnected from the land, each other and their own selves, gifts and talents is not the way to go. More urgently, Afrikans and their governments must consider the true reason and purpose behind standardization of education globally in a world so ethnically and culturally diverse. If it is indeed true that our diversity is beautiful and a source of strength to each other, then why homogenize what was designed with such deliberate variety? Could the answer be, to better control and organize the world from one central location? Does this not mean, therefore, that we are playing into the same hands that manipulated us before and continue to now? Stop and think.
Consider the growth and progression of Yeshua the Messiah. At just over one month old, He was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem and the relevant sacrifices and offerings made along with the prophecies and prayers of Simeon and Anna. After that we are told they returned to “…Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” The next time we see Him, He is 12 years old, His family had travelled together with other pilgrims to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast and on their journey back, realized that He wasn’t with them. They found Him three days later in the Temple sitting in the midst of the teachers (the PhDs of that day) listening to them and asking questions… and astonishing them by His understanding and His answers. The young boy knew His purpose at that time, that He ‘should be about His Father’s business’ but He returned with Mary and Joseph, submitted to them and further increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. The next time we see Him, He is challenging the religious and political leaders of His day, defying and upending social norms and beliefs and cultures and setting things in order. This I believe He did without any formal education, for scripture clearly says the people whom He taught wondered at His teachings with authority, since He was unlearned. And you know what, He went on to train “unlearned” folks like Himself who the world could not fault, for the wisdom they manifest, was beyond what the formal schools could give.
There is a growth in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men that we have disconnected from and we must be genuine with ourselves. The beauty and power of Afrika is in her belief in what is beyond the power of the eyes to see merely physically. The colonialists came and told us that we had no connection to God – which is a lie. Yes, there were witchdoctors and sorcerers in Afrika – but that was no different to Europe, Asia, America or Australia or wherever you would find man domiciled. As long as there has been conflict with darkness, there have been those willing to follow and practice darkness. But, my beloved Afrika, it doesn’t mean there was no connection between us and God – that was the lie that broke us absolutely. It caused a disruption in our spiritual connection to the Most High God.
You must relook the formal education system in Afrika and fix it now IF you insist on its continued use. Homeschooling allows for the natural spiritual bond between parent and child that was activated at the word of promise from God to be sustained such that the wisdom that was placed in the parents for their children can be steadily dispensed in an environment of nurture that can NEVER be touched by a formal education system. It allows for the parent to play his or her God-given role – which he is answerable for – in the life of the child. I know there are teachers who are genuine nurturers and very caring and have been used by God to transform generations, but they too tend to be hamstrung by a system or by parents who insist on specific set directions. Surely you must see the horrendous effect that all of these disconnections are having on our society as a whole?
It is time to face this major foundational issue as a people in Afrika, if we ever hope to transform our nations and stand our ground as a unique and authentic entity globally. If we ever hope to come out from under the yoke of oppression that we still exist under. If we ever hope to find our true path in Christ and enter into our destiny as individuals, communities and a continent. We must return to old paths and ask where the good way is, and walk in it. It is time.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
God blessed man and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion of the things He had created. Part of that demands an understanding of the true nature of God, part of which we can connect to as we connect to ourselves, our community and the environment around us and learn a mastery of the things which were set forth in the beginning. That, at its most basic, will help with some aspects of the reset that Afrika needs.
Re-Enriching Afrikan Education
Some basic things to consider:
1. Inculcate cultural norms and values: Enable children to understand who they are and to learn and practice compassion, respect, love and honor between each other and with other members of the community.
2. Environmental Harmony: Teach children in-depth skills concerning their environment and how to relate with it and care for and sustain it. Plants, animals, water, air – all aspects which sustain us in return.
3. Understanding Basic Anatomy and Health Management: Mastery of self, one’s body, mind, emotions, spirit, one’s health and how to relate with God and how to use what He created to honor Him in how we live.
4. Technical skills: Restore or begin technical skills training, where children work with their hands to grow, create, heal and repair things so that they can be empowered to be able to manage their environment with ease and less personal expense. There is healing and blessing when the hands relate to the natural earth. Teach children to relate with the earth and nature. The unnecessary protection of children from germs in the soil is certainly uncalled for. For the immune system of the body is only made stronger when in the presence of germs. It is a natural phenomenon and it is healthy.