Prospects for Recovery and Sustainable Development in Africa

By Aguibou Y. Yansané | Go to book overview

COMMENTS OF DISCUSSANTS

JOEL SAMOFF

Since the panel was focused on an issue of reformulating models, I thought it might be useful to tell a story and to talk about policy in a specific case as a way of showing both how a model emerges and how a decision gets made based on that model and then really to continue my argument yesterday after a need for alternatives and to highlight why it is difficult to generate alternatives.

The story is about education in Tanzania, and particularly secondary education. After its independence, Tanzania had a secondary school system for elites and a school system that was regarded at the secondary level as even more than at the primary as the way to escape from agriculture, as a way to escape from the rural area. As time went on there came to be perceived a problem, a problem that has been described in Tanzania and elsewhere as a problem of unemployed school leavers. As people who finish school who don't get the sorts of jobs they anticipate, who don't get the salaries they expect to get, and who become disgruntled, and that's how the problem is posed. Let's note in passing, since we're thinking about how models get created and about how languages set their pattern of thought, that here we have a clear example immediately of the way the problem is posed, and the limits for how we think about addressing it. I would be happy to make the case at some other moment that the problem of unemployed school leavers is not a problem in that form at all. One could ask for whom is it a problem. It's a problem for those in power, that is, those who are unemployed and who have finished school would surely not be better off being unemployed and illiterate. It's not a problem from their perspective. And indeed it's not a school problem. It's a problem of creating jobs. But as the problem gets posed, in general, it is a problem of unemployed school leavers and the general explanation offered is that the school curriculum is inappropriate, that's why

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