Education is the foundation of any society. It is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. The history of education reflects human history itself – the history of the knowledge, beliefs, skills and cultures of humanity. In the early stages of human history, education was transferred orally and through observation and imitation. Learning was done informally with parents, grandparents and extended family members. At later stages, learners received instruction of a more structured and formal nature, imparted by people not necessarily related, in the context of religion, initiation or ritual.
Education directs the development and maintenance of social and economic order. It is the basic instrument for change and alleviation of suffering. Hence, the aim of education should be to develop the capacities and talents latent inhuman beings, and to coordinate their expression for the enrichment and progress of society. Genuine education must not only instill information and skills and prepare individuals for jobs; it must also empower us to use our minds creatively, to find and follow our passions and create a deeper understanding of how and why our long-term wellbeing depends on the wellbeing of others.
Liberation may be described as a process of extricating oneself from social hegemony, which institutes inequality and oppression. In a spiritual sense, liberation is a state of freedom where the individual ego is eliminated and the true egoless state or the state of self is recognized. This is known as the liberation of the soul. It involves freedom from our mental limitations and our prejudices, and enlightenment as to our own real and true existence.
Liberation Theology, which arose principally as a moral reaction to the poverty caused by social injustice in Latin America in the 1950s–1960s, has now grown into an international and inter-denominational movement. It seeks to interpret the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of liberation from unjust economic, political or social conditions. The term was coined in 1971 by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote one of the movement’s most famous books, A Theology of Liberation. The struggle of women for social justice has given rise to another form of liberation theology, frequently referred to as feminist theology. In the United States, black women speak of a womanist theology, while the liberation theology of Hispanic women is referred to as Mujerista.
Creative Minds Academy: An Example of Education for Liberation
Creative Minds Academy is a coeducational school established in 2007 in Jos, Nigeria. Our mission is to develop a quality educational environment based on the foundations of positive values and to instill in our students a profound sense of ethics and character, which are conditions for building an honourable and productive society. We are helping young people discover and develop their inherent gifts, talents and abilities, and support their development as ethically responsible, self-disciplined and creative social citizens.
At Creative Minds Academy, we mentor, guide and lead our students to understand the issues facing the world and to know that they have the capacity to effect change. To facilitate this process, our educational curriculum blends values education with social and scientific research, and student project-based learning. International educators and teachers are invited to share practical experiences with our students on contemporary issues ranging from career prospects, social responsibility, community development and international politics, among others. In so doing, we are gradually working towards the integration of social, creative and intellectual development within the context of supportive human relationships.
We have gone beyond just transferring to our students the skills necessary for healthy competition and survival in an increasingly complex world. We also focus on the cultivation and development of the heart, which we hold as an indispensable prerequisite for human liberation and the attainment and enjoyment of freedom. Our curriculum exposes our students to a variety of opportunities to discover, reflect and act on positive human values, and to view themselves as responsible members of both the local and global community. In addition to instructing our students in conventional subjects like Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Physics, History, etc, we encourage them to develop basic human values of compassion, friendship, cooperation, community service, self-discipline, perseverance, honesty, kindness, generosity, courage and respect.
Another key element of our educational curriculum at Creative Minds Academy is the “Values in African Thought Education Program.” Introduced in 2008, this Program is committed to the vision of a healed world and especially to ensuring that the rapidly vanishing voices of the traditional African wisdom-keepers of the earth are heard and respected. Learning is facilitated using African proverbs, storytelling and personal narratives. While the proverbs provide wisdom and insight into the mysteries and realities of life, the stories and personal narratives provide lessons and instructions on good social conduct and integrity . Through the Values in African Thought Education Program, our students are supported and encouraged to develop sound knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Africa’s rich traditional values and cultural heritage, and to situate this understanding in a global context through a greater shared acceptance and understanding of our diverse world.
Through these methods, our students gain an understanding of reality and life, which enables them to better respond to daily challenges.. We recognize and treat our students as conscious beings by creating space for their creative wisdom to blossom. This way, we are equipping our students to create for themselves and future generations a sustainable future of greater personal, social, economic and environmental wellbeing.
It has been noted that effective education is the greatest force for change and the greatest investment for the development of the world’s economic, political, social and human resources. Therefore, deliberate efforts must be made to ensure that education is relevant to the needs of the time by enabling empowerment, independence and fearlessness through the cultivation of critical thinking and responsible actions. African educators and policymakers must ensure that the quality and type of education provided to our children clearly reflect the cultural and historical heritage of our people, as well as the realities of modern times.
Dr. Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba is the founder of Creative Minds Academy and the Director of Project Happiness – Africa. Dr. Ivorgba will be the special guest this month at Valencia College’s “Conversations on Peace” conference and then will be a guest lecturer at Stanford University and attending events in and around San Francisco in February.
This article is a reprint that originally appeared in the April-June 2011 issue of Africa Unbound. Click here to read the original article.