For 168 hours in a week, 1440 minutes in a day, my mind moves in circles. I feel caged and powerless, powerless as the stubble exposed to the draught of a furnace. I see robots in our ecosystem blindly following tunes and standards set by the system and instructors. These robots burn the midnight oil, struggle in ungodly hours to pass in chemistry and physics whilst their quest lies in music and art. They are forced to believe that intelligence is an A in KCSE, that calculus is their destination and that talent is for the failures and dupes.
Who sets this cookie-cutter standard? Who stops us from flying? Who makes the rules that say agriculture, human resource and anything that doesn’t look like medicine, law or engineering is unfit? Why are we sticking flounders into the forests? Why are we then complaining of lack of innovation, lack of creativity, lack or market disruptions? Has our current education system failed us?
As I write this down, I remember a quote that was written down by the father of modern physics, Albert Einstein. He said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. This is exactly what our education system is doing to the students. All the robots have been designed to believe that their aptitude and intellectual capability is a combination of a 98% in mathematics, 80% in physics, 75% in chemistry and a 90% in biology.
But what if amongst the lowest performing students is an artist that can draw powerful images that can provoke conversations around the world? What if amongst the students that are seated behind is a programmer who can create software solutions that can address the sustainable development goals? What if among those students who are always scorned and despised by all is a brain that is sharp enough to bring on board the cure for cancer, innovative proper waste management techniques, technological advancement, or even novel solutions to improve on facility-based deliveries?
A classroom should be a place to foster collaboration, creativity, innovation and empowerment. A classroom should be designed to remind each student about his or her importance in the eco system. That we cannot transform Africa alone, we need every single person to be in participation.
What would I like to do to empower youth in my country? Well, in every challenge, I see an opportunity and that is why I came up with my own community-based organization, Motivational Talks for Youth (MTY) that teaches students more than what the books tell them. It deals with motivational speaking forums that are uniquely designed to cater for the needs of all the students, forums that do not just tell students you got 0 but forums that tell students in every 0 is a smile, a smile that means that you can do better, a smile that means that even Bill Gates was once like you.
I have reached more than 500 youth in Mombasa County, but my dream is to reach out to more in Kenya. To tell students what they always wish to hear from their teachers and parents, to design a learning hub that has categories for students of all needs, be it artists, musicians, lawyers, doctors, agro-economists and even disabled students. The MTY Hub will remind the world that disability is not inability; it will lead to more market disruptions, more innovations apart from Mpesa, more growth and stability, proper services and a more sustainable and developed Kenya. In the MTY hub everyone will be allowed in with no restriction barriers as those set by tribalism which have limited our progress.
Security will improve because even the drop-outs will have something to do and thus have less time to engage in criminal activities, peace will prevail and stronger leaders will be born who will have the potential to transform Africa.
The hub will not only be a one-stop center, but also a place where budding entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to fellow youth and even to successful entrepreneurs and investors. All the youth will go through a thorough design thinking training that will then allow them to use the innovation lab, a space that will have all the resources possible for more ideas to be born and creativity to thrive. This free-Wi-Fi zone will be the most comforting zone for the youth with pictures of hope and paintings designed on the walls by the artists and the walls will speak and roar with revived optimism fostered by our own very young leaders who were at first, just designed robots.