Patrick Awuah, cofounder of Ashesi College in Ghana and TED speaker, has argued that “the manner in which we educate our leaders is fundamental to progress on [the African continent].” This, in my view, is a strong argument that we should pay attention to. You can read his profile here and listen to his full talk on Educating Leaders at TED 2007 here.
According to him, “approximately 5% of school going population make it to the universities and they make up the elite, they are the leaders of the bulk of the people – we have to train them right.” The question is, how are we educating our leaders?
I have thought about the question of how we educate our leaders more this week as we oriented a group of freshmen, newly admitted to our Leadership Development Program, that are joining various universities at the start of the 2011/2012 academic year. Throughout the whole week, we engaged with young people brimming with a lot of potential. They present a world of possibilities in terms of being our next generation of problem solvers. I am asking myself; will they be educated right? Will the education be intentional or will it just be general?
As Awuah has observed, “Every society must be very intentional about how it trains its leaders.” I am asking myself and all those involved in leadership development, how intentional is our education system; how intentional are our educators in preparing the next generation of leaders? I sometimes think that a lot of our education in Uganda has been – to describe it in Awuah’s experience – one that prepares us to “take and follow orders.” I think that most times we “take orders” from the teacher and follow them religiously and when we leave the classroom, we continue “matching” according to the same orders, we never quite think and create matching orders beyond the classroom and the teacher.
I think that we must pay attention to how we train our leaders. We must be intentional about equipping them not only to ‘take orders’ but to think about ‘new orders to give’ beyond those received in the lecture room. Educators should teach us how to think about and create “matching orders” and not just give “matching orders.”
As the week progressed, I listened to some of the dreams of the freshmen or freshers as they are popularly known. For most of them, the chief concern was for the ‘right course of study’ so that in some way that might lead to the ‘right job.’ How I pray that somehow, during their course of study, they might be equipped to be critical, analytical and concerned about social issues so that at the end of their study the focus changes from finding the ‘right job’ to creating solutions to problems that they have been helped to think about critically and analytically and for which they have been equipped with knowledge and skills to solve. I hope that they can be helped to realize their creative powers because they posses them, and because, as Awuah has said, “the ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual.”
How intentional are our educators in preparing the next generation of leaders? What can we do to be more intentional in preparing the next generation of leaders? Give us your view in the comments section bellow.