I’ve been bingeing Instagram videos of Katie Stauffer’s twin girls and the McClure twins — oh, who doesn’t! 🙄 — for longer that I can remember or care to admit. I also occasionally come across videos of children who are outspoken, clearly smart, are exposed and whose parents are visibly interested in their development.
This is the thing: the average African — who lives in Africa or lived there for a long while — is very likely to think that such children are far developed than their years and are doing “exploits”. The truth is that these children are not necessarily developed beyond their years. They’re just surrounded by an environment — comprising of their parents, the educations system, the right media and more — that is aware of the need for these children to develop at the scientifically and academically recommended level for their ages. This type of environment is what is generally missing in Africa. Some are even naturally more developed beyond their years, but unlike their Africa-based counterparts, they are provided with the right resources to aid their development, and the right people to help them harness these available resources.
Once upon a time, I used to wonder why some people sound so regressive and unexposed in their thinking. My cousin made it clear: a lot are educated, but few are enlightened. A lot of African parents are educated but unenlightened. They are knowledgeable but they are not exposed. They are not aware of the potentials and the heights at which their children can perform. They are not aware that there are opportunities and more to life than what the African educational systems dictate. They keep their children shelled and sheltered from… from what please?
There are African children that are barely below the 2-figure ages, and cannot spell basic words. Their diction is below average for their age, their vocabulary is so sparse, their intellects are substandard. They are unfamiliar with a lot of concepts, with world histories, with world cultures, with technologies, with a whole lot of things. They are not exposed to the skills they should be developing; they’re not exposed to the tools and the facilities with which they can develop these skills. A lot of these children are smarter than years, but there is often no framework in place to allow the expression of their intelligence. It’s a huge shame that in Africa, we are proudly raising children who are significantly substandard for their ages.
I remember thinking more times than I’d care to admit during my degree, how much different my choices would have been and how my life could have panned out if I had more knowledge of the courses available at University before starting. In the average African household, there are only a number of courses a child can select from to study at university: medicine, law, engineering, accounting. Anything else is looking for trouble.
I originally wanted to study Fashion Designing but was asked to find a “serious” course. Fast-forward to my final year in uni and me almost crying every other day for my Law degree to come to an end. Still feeling grossly dissatisfied and unfulfilled, I am now chasing a career in Information Systems and Cyber Security, something I would have paid attention to early on if I hadn’t been brainwashed that those who study IT at university only do so to become cyber fraudsters (419ers).
The educational systems in Africa are only one of many ingredients that cook substandard children and individuals. The average educational institution in Africa does not inform pupils, students and parents/ guardians of the seemingly endless variety of courses available for study at university, inside or outside the country. They don’t do anything to kill the silly superstitions that certain degrees are substandard, insignificant or useless. They don’t provide career counselling. They don’t emphasise on the importance of aptitude tests and on their interpretation, and their application in decision-making. The average African child has to “figure it out all on their own”. It should not be so.
When will African-bred children start to sit at the same table with their inventor, media mogul, entrepreneur, developer, researcher peers? When will the average African child start to grow up enlightened and empowered?