Education IS a Privilege

More than ten years ago I worked at a private school in Nairobi, Kenya. People who have not had the opportunity to travel often have a distorted image of Africa. I had certain expectations when I got there, but I soon realized that I had been misled by what I had seen on TV about the various aspects of this amazing continent. In any case, what I can say about my experience there is that I met the most interesting, motivated and mature students of my entire career.

From a young age, they were simply grateful for their education. A few years ago I met another teacher who had been teaching on the other side of Africa, in Ghana, but not in a private school like me, but in a small town. School lost somewhere in the bush. It may seem strange, but she also met the most interesting, motivated and mature children there. These children, both the ones I met in Kenya and the ones she met in Ghana, could not have been more different. The futures of most of my students were already pretty much mapped out, with their parents’ businesses, a college education no doubt, and a promised life of comfort.

My friend’s Ghanaian students didn’t have any of this but they loved the school and would have done anything to be there. In a recent conversation with a very good Ghanaian friend of mine, we agreed that in both cases, and in Africa in general, people see education as a privilege and make the most of it. She also grew up in Africa and came from a better family than the average African, but education never came naturally to her. There and in many other countries around the world it is never when a child is born that it goes to school. So if you do, you’ll appreciate.

It is true that the image we usually have of Africa is that of the less developed side of the continent. We see how the people live in the mud huts, the crowded vehicles and the wild animals that surround the cities in the middle of nowhere. .We also see children living on the streets of big cities, who have to do anything to survive. These kids would give anything to go to school.

But what are the odds? A few days ago I read an article about two Afghan sisters who one day on their way to school were attacked by men throwing acid at them. They were teenagers going to school. He didn’t want women to have an education. These girls are more determined than ever to go to school.