Magazine article New African

"We Need Africa-Centred Innovations Systems"

Magazine article New African

"We Need Africa-Centred Innovations Systems"

Article excerpt

Professor Mammo Muchie is one of the leading pan-African voices championing African innovation for development. He spoke to Pusch Commey and argues that educational and innovation systems in Africa are still too colonial and need to be revamped if Africa is to undergo a technological and digital leap that benefits its people.

New African: Current global trends in education point to a shift towards creativity and innovation. Why is this of such great importance?

Prof. Muchie: Inevitably it is through creating innovative products to sell to the whole world that we will be able to generate more wealth and develop our economies.

So where does Africa start?

Africa should start with its children. The whole educational system on the continent needs to be revamped and developed into an African-centred one. We need to do away with the "David-Livingstone-discoveredthe-Victoria-falls" type of education.

The content of education is therefore extremely important. It requires support for African publishing houses, to produce and innovate African-centred books and the curriculum, which put African children in touch with African success stories, other than Snow White. Our children need to be taught that Africa is the cradle of civilisation and was behind the creative wonders of antiquity, until that creativity and innovation was interrupted. We need to teach our children of these great achievements, such as the construction of the great pyramid 1 of Giza--which to this day, still confounds scientists.

The evidence of Africa's greatness is everywhere for our children to see. They only see [images of] the architecture of the Nubian civilisation and the great pyramids. They also know very little about the artistic creativity of the andent Nok in Nigeria--a civilisation that predated Jesus by centuries. Timbuktu is another, and there are the bronze works of Benin. People often forget or simply do not, know that the first university in the world was African--the Al Karaouine University --founded by an African woman in Fez, Morocco in 859 AD. I am not the one saying so. The Guinness Book of World Records says so. And the second university in the world was also African--Al Azhar in Egypt, built in 969 AD, which still exists today. Europe saw the lecture halls of a university a full 229 years after Africa; the University of Bologna in 1088 AD.

How can this be implemented in today's world?

The emphasis must be on critical thinking and problem-solving. Apart from giving the current and future generation a strong historical foundation, the next step should be to introduce an emphasis on creating stuff, making stuff, selling stuff, and solving problems. And that must begin at the stage of early childhood learning.

African education should position itself in that space as early and as quickly as possible. Knowledge is now available on the internet at a touch of the button. We should invest in the latest tools. The rest involves applying that knowledge, in order to create, make, innovate, and sell. But innovation requires the seamless cooperation of governments, schools, universities, the private sector, research laboratories and financial institutions.

But is there anything wrong with the current educational and innovation systems in Africa?

It's colonial. They are steeped in the image and knowledge systems of the colonialists and need to be revamped. …

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