It has often been said that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Africa provides many lessons on the damage done by ignorance, and if the continent is to get rid of gloomy perceptions, it will be through education. For the continent to develop, its education must change, writes Pusch Commey. After all, as Nelson Mandela put it: “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”
From the eco-systems of Silicon Valley to the slums of Nairobi, and the squeaky-clean streets of Doha, experts are adamant that education as we know it is changing. No longer does a formalised, structured educational system serve global needs. The game has changed to fostering creativity and innovation. The game has changed to finding imaginative solutions. Panel experts at summits and leading entrepreneurs have pointed to the significance of a little bit of craziness, adaptation, problem-solving, innovation, teamwork and disruption. After all, with an element of craziness and innovation, Apple and Google disrupted the way we communicate and the way we seek knowledge. The Internet and email disrupted postal services. All became possible through collaboration, competition and teamwork.
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China emerged from chaos 35 years ago to become perhaps the largest economy in the world. The BBC's Martin Patience asks if Nigeria can do the same.
Swapping Asia's giant for Africa's powerhouse can be a disorientating experience.
Leaving Beijing to go and live in Lagos is not a well-worn path.
But both Nigeria and China are the most populous countries and biggest economies in their respective continents, making them ripe for comparison.
I feel I've left behind the grey, imposing order of Beijing for the chaos and colour of Lagos, where fun and frustration are doled out in equal measure.
Part of the correspondent's condition is that your ears prick up at the slightest mention of a previous posting.
Imagine my surprise then when, watching last month's inauguration of the new Nigerian cabinet, a remark about the Great Wall of China cropped up during the opening address.
The point, I believe, that the official was trying to make was that the Great Wall was not in itself enough to protect China from invaders - the government and people need to be incorruptible as well.
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What if the Black Plague had killed off almost all Europeans? Then the Reconquista never happens. Spain and Portugal don't kickstart Europe's colonization of other continents. And this is what Africa might have looked like.
The map – upside down, to skew our traditional eurocentric point of view – shows an Africa dominated by Islamic states, and native kingdoms and federations. All have at least some basis in history, linguistics or ethnography. None of their borders is concurrent with any of the straight lines imposed on the continent by European powers, during the 1884-85 Berlin Conference and in the subsequent Scramble for Africa. By 1914, Europeans controlled 90% of Africa's land mass. Only the Abyssinian Empire (modern-day Ethiopia) and Liberia (founded in 1847 as a haven for freed African-American slaves) remained independent.
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