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Educating Africa’s future generations

Educating Africa’s Future |  African Ethics | African Poem | My Mozambique

An interview with Florence Oloo – Deputy Provost, Strathmore University (Nairobi, Kenya)

Florence Oloo, of Strathmore University in Kenya

WHAT’S THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN HELPING AFRICA DEVELOP?

African youths are eager to get a quality education. Parents would do anything to be able to send their children to university. They are willing to sell their cows and land to pay for their kids’ education because they know that proper education will give them better job opportunities. Having a good job means a better economic status, and the chance to get out of misery. So, education is essential; in my opinion, it’s actually the only way to develop the continent. If all the aid we receive was channeled more towards education, it would really benefit Africa.

 

STRATHMORE IS A HUB OF ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE BUT IT’S ALSO EXTREMELY INVOLVED IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOR THE COUNTRY’S MOST MARGINALIZED AREAS. WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES THAT GUIDE SUCH A STRONG COMMITMENT?

Strathmore was founded with the belief that every educational institution should make it its priority to serve its country and the society it is part of, with a careful eye towards its specific needs.
That’s why Strathmore is always mindful of its environment, to be able to identify the best way to address the problems that arise. Today, there are a lot of pockets of marginalization existing in Kenya so we’ve focused on implementing projects that help strengthen the education of at-risk youth, and support small entrepreneurial activities through proper training; it’s a way to give everyone a chance of improving their conditions.

Strathmore University students helping the community

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE AFRICA’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS?

Corruption, for starters; in both the public and private sector. How can we solve it? Certainly not with street protests or revolutions, but with education. By teaching our students the importance of the common good. If our children grow up believing that they can help and “serve” others through their work and professional status, then there is going to be less and less room for corruption. Of course, it’s not a quick solution but education itself is a long-term endeavor.

 

WHAT ARE THE STRENGTHS THAT AFRICANS SHOULD INVEST IN TO PROGRESS AND FACE THEIR CHALLENGES?

Our strengths lie in our core values. The value of life, of the person. In Africa, a person’s worth is not based on what he/she owns but what he/she is as a human being. Our values are our most important assets and we must fight to preserve them against external influences. I’m not saying all Africans are virtuous but life here is valued in its very essence.

 

2015 IS THE DEADLINE TO MEET THE UNITED NATIONS’ MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS BUT PROJECTIONS ARE DISCOURAGING… IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT SHOULD THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DO TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS?

It should support our ideas. It should help us implement our solutions to our problems. We are the ones who know what our problems are and we also know how to solve them. We don’t need external solutions; we need your support.

As far as the Millennium Development Goals go, we have achieved an important milestone which is a guarantee of free primary education for all. In 2015, the first generation of students who have benefited from this success will enter university. It’s a significant step forward.

Providing free primary education for all Kenya's youth

 

GOING BACK TO STRATHMORE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MAIN RESULTS THE INSTITUTION HAS OBTAINED THROUGH THE YEARS?

Through the years, we’ve been able to educate open-minded professionals who have experienced first-hand the value of responsible citizenship and (working for) the common good.

Strathmore was the first interracial college to thrive in a time when the idea of unity among our different ethnic groups was novel to say the least. We had a civil war a few years back and we were the only university to stay open, not only to allow our students to continue their education but also to provide a place for open discussion, debate, and reflection on the positive aspects of unity, in spite of the ongoing tensions. It was a very positive, uplifting experience for everyone involved.