The center of Darkness
By Gezaee Hailemichael
August 25 2008
The social situation Ethiopian people find themselves in the past four decades, today and tomorrow must blamed on the education system. The theory behind this is that "education" is neutral and automatically leads to a rise of the standard of living.In contrast I discuss that the situation we are hemmed in is due to that very "educaton" which is still breaking down our culture, norms, values, languages, symbols, community and our society at large. Education for any society can be successful only when it has grown within the culture, values, and social facts of any society.
It is not only Ethiopia's land has been scrambled by colonizer into the present Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, but also Our culture and identity has been onsaught since the Italian and Btitish set thier foot in the Ethiopian soil. It is not apparent for us since we have been molded to be molds for other people's cultural insemination. Systemic colonization has been successfully implemented in Ethiopia by the British. Without occupying Ethiopia,they changed tactics, and convinced Emperor Haileslassie to throw away his language as a forsake for the British giving hand to Haileslassie to drive out Italian. Then Hailesslassie imported an alien sybmols to teach and to civilize his own people. As such our social facts, norms, cultures and indentity have been under systematic onslaught through the imported contents and method of the delivery of the education system we have imported.
As a result now, in contrary to the fact that English is not spoken hundred percent in Ethiopia, English is a hundred percent enforced on the Ethiopian people. Ethiopians believe the key to civilization is first to know english then to civilize. According to Ethiopians scholars without english Ethiopians cannot civilize. Without exaggeration,no one has been colonized like Ethiopians. Other Africans were colonized and occupied physically. Other Africans have english or French their official language. They are in a better position than Ethiopians. Ethiopians claim they were not colonized, but we still do not get that we are still colonized much worse than our fellow Africans.
The help offered to us so called underdeveloped, backward, famine stricken, hopeless, hapless never comes without a price. There is no real development in a scenario like this. It is rather that our development is being stopped and we have to adjust to something which is alien to our social facts that is offered to us. The price is always that instead of developing our ways and adjusting them to the new environment, we have to give up them up. Secondly, education per se is not neutral. Educational institutes have to follow curricula, and these curricula are used for legitimization. Nations are given legitimacy... through which social and cultural ideologies are rebuilt, recreated and maintained over the indigenous ones. For instance, African degrees debased all over the world whether we do them in English or French. It does not matter whether we study in English, we are still a second citizen.
It is self-evident that the nations' social and cultural ideologies I am referring to are not based in the culture of the nations' people, but they are based in the culture of those who offered the alien education system. What those people who were ruling or who are ruling Ethiopia ignore probably by design or by ignorance is that we have not grown up completely uneducated and we do not need an alien education system to civilize. We do not need to spend our lives studying an alien language which has nothing to do with our social facts. Why do we need a social fact that does not exist in Ethiopia?
We were required to develop our existing education system and the only need was and is to adjust the existed system to new realities on the ground. The content which is taught in schools cannot necessarily fall under new realities because the content of the books we learn have been already decided by overseas political, cultural and social facts which has nothing to do with the hosting social facts. Education is no neutral since curricula are not neutral and the contents and knowledgelearned from the imported books can never be neutral. Thus education is not a neutral activity. It is profoundly and purely political. When Ethiopians label someone who speak english educated, civilized and honourabled, it is a fact that we have been inseminated to think, act and feel the other way round.
Ethiopians are linguistically inseminated to standardize themselves based on alien social facts. The social facts within the conten of books are not ours. As such when one holds the theory that ones own language is inferior to another language, it is like shooting oneself on the head. It is possible to mention some verification on the implications of throwing ones own language. Most developing or poor counries do not use thier own languages. Most wealthy countries use thier language.
The United states, UK, Germany, all scandinavians, Australians, Japanese, Chinese, Korean,Russians,Arabs Spain, Israel, Iran,... many other countries which are wealthy use thier language whereas most countries which have their language, but struggle to adopt English are poor for example all African countries, India, Pakistan, Turkey,many south American countries and others.
It should be understood that the conditions we are in is not our original condition. We are being conditioned to be in this condition. The western social facts are cloned and duplicated by the education system which has been offefered to us. Thris education is a system that redesign and remold us be someone else, not ourselves. It is hard to find an Ethiopian who translate and transfer technology to Ethiopia. It is too difficult for an Ethiopian to contextualize the alien social facts to the reality in Ethiopia. Thus mother tongue as it is called has a deeper meaning than we literally understand. According to recent studies it has been found that we actually learn our language while were still in the womb of our mothers. mother tongue is not something external. It is internally embedded in ourselves. It is an inborn built-in tool which we must not throw away. By throwing away our mother tongue, we are actually throwing away ourselves. If that was not the case, if we have had developed our own language, we would have had people who claim they are educated, but apparently who have no any skill or capabilities to contextualize anything they have learnt from the imported books. We have people who claim to be educated who adorne themselves with ties and do nothing except sucking the poor people and serving other english speaking countries which they escape to. It is those who have learnt english who escape to be employed somewhere else. It is those inseminated Ethiopians who do not see the opportunities at their backyard and crave to migrate to to foregn lands to secure job.
If we could have developed our education system, we would have had by now farmers with PHDS Who do farming in the villages and apply what they would have learnt. We would not have those so called scholars who hang around hotels in addis Ababa or other small cities in thier comfort zone. Ethiopia would have had good shepherds who can lay thier lives for the people.
The power to help ourselves is being take away from us without our realization because it is not us who decide what the contents of education we learn and it is not us who decided what methods we must use to learn the content. We are being given a perpetual homework to struggle to be someone else. The content of the curricula is already decided and our schools must follow these books if they are ever to be recognized.
Thus unless we learn in the forces that shape us, our hisotry, our values, customs, and norms, languages, we will never really know ourselves or our potential as human being. what we learn must reinforce our whoness. What we learn must not serve to destroy our whoness or our identity.
It is most important that our education system must be built based in our culture no matter what content is being taught. This means that western skills to be learnt are still learned on the basis of our culture which includes our learning and teaching methods. This is because we draw our identity from our culture. we do not draw our indentity from foreign culture and working against our culture is working against our identity. When we learn, we need to have a reference point. Our reference point is our culture. If we have no reference point in what we study, it is like a plane flying from no destination to no destination. If there is no destination, there can never be orientation or direction. we be lost our truck.
Acculturating other cultures is not bad byitself, it becomes bad when the acculturated culture destroys the othe other cultures. If the cultures are enriched to each other it is reciprocal and nourishing. However, an attempt of acculturation to the demise of ones own identity is a goal against ones own goal. And the education would have to be based on our own culture and the other content, that of the western culture can be included by comparison by looking their merits.
The humiliation of having to falsify our own reality and social facts lies in the theory that we can solve our problems by learning english, by leaving our own culture behind which is the ultimate goal of the education system based on western culture and social facts. Different cultures are not expressions of different development; they are expressions of different realities. Culture is the only face of the human condition and of life in which knowledge of the human reality and the human interest in self-perfection and fulfillment merge into one.I consider myself as much human as anyone from a different culture and therefore claim the right to define my own reality. My reality is based on the environment that surrounds myself and inherited from those who developed my culture. Culture which embodies the act, thinking, feeling a means of survival in an environment cannot be applied everywhere due to the fact life's social facts are governed by thier respective social and physical environment. If I see a culture as a system, it must be acceptable as a workable means of adaptation to a particular given environment.
I infer that the social, economic, political, environmental situation Ethiopia finds itself these days cannot be referred as due to natural causes. And it cannot be remedied by the education system we have which is based on different supposedly superior or more developed language ( culture) which has nothing to do with our reality. The trend at this point in time is very bad in Ethiopia. Young Ethiopians must break the bondage of slavery and free themselves from injustice which is the mother of backwardness. Therefore Ethiopia requires new enlightment to get out of the darkness.