Nyerere’s essay, “Elimu ya Kujitegemea,” begins by defining the goal of education: To pass on wisdom and knowledge from one generation to the next in order to prepare young people to understand the environment around them and take their place in society. Nyerere then identifies three problems with the colonial education system that Tanzania inherited from the British. As you read these, ask yourself: do you see these three problems in the educational system of today in your country? First, the education system benefited only a tiny portion of students who could get lucrative jobs in the colonial bureaucracy, while teaching most children little or nothing of practical use. Second, the colonial schools raised children far from the farm, the family, and real life. Third, the education system gave students the mistaken impression that the only valuable knowledge is found in books, written by “experts,” and measurable with standardized testing. In the second half of the essay, Nyerere proposes the solution: Education for Self-Reliance. He argues that integrating farming and entrepreneurship into schools will benefit more students, bring families into schools, and open students’ minds to the wisdom that comes from experience.
The education provided must therefore encourage the development in each citizen of three things; an enquiring mind; an ability to learn from what others do, and reject or adapt it to his own needs; and a basic confidence in his own position as a free and equal member of the society, who values others and is valued by them for what he does and not for what he obtains.