International Day of Education 2022

Education Holds the Key to Our Future, and Our Alumni Have Role to Play


By Muhidin J. Shangwe | UDSM Alumnus Class of 2006 | Lecturer of Political Science and Public Administration at University of Dar es Salaam


On the 24th of January each year, the world marks the International Day of Education where humanity gets to reflect on the state of education. Despite the fact that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 26 recognizes education as a human right, the United Nations observes that “258 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school.”


As we reflect on this disturbing reality, the responsibility to change things is everyone’s. However, those fortunate to have received an education bear even more responsibility. At this point, it is important to recall Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s words when he spoke about higher education. He said, “Those who receive this privilege, therefore, have a duty to repay the sacrifice which others have made. They are like the man who has been given all the food available in a starving village in order that he might have strength to bring supplies back from a distant place”. Mwalimu Nyerere’s government saw education as the only solution in fighting the “three enemies” of the Tanzanian society: poverty, ignorance and diseases, hence education was made free.


The message in Mwalimu Nyerere’s words is that education is transformational. A good education is one that steers progress, but this can only be realized when those who acquired it are willing to shoulder the responsibility. Humanity is currently facing serious problems which include poverty, rising inequality, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The key to solving these problems rests on an education that will instill confidence and inspire innovation which will, in turn, lead us to make informed decisions. Yet, to arrive here, education must be made accessible to all.


However, it is not enough to just talk about education. Instead, emphasis should be placed on quality education. The Fourth Industrial Revolution points to a technology-driven future, one that will require special set of skills. Quality education, therefore, is one that will sufficiently prepare the younger generation for such a future. This message is well captured in this year’s International Day of Education theme: Changing Course, Transforming Education. Yet, no country can do this alone. It will instead take coordinated regional, continental and global efforts by state and non-state actors for its realization. Echoing Mwalimu Nyerere's message, it is now high time for the fortunate of the starving village to bring home supplies by leading us to the future.