Political leaders should have respect for education

Political leaders should have respect for education

A week ago I was sitting in a taxi eavesdropping on a conversation between two young men. Their argument was that Lesotho needs educated leaders not just influential leaders.
They said it is only when we have educated leaders that the Lesotho government will see the need for engaging in relevant research, clear implementation strategies, effective monitoring and implementation programmes.

They further argued that Lesotho is currently stagnant as we vote populist not visionary people to represent us in parliament. I agree with the argument of those two gentlemen even though I did not join their discussion. I am of the same mind with them for several reasons that I will discuss in this article.
Besides the gentlemen in the taxi, I felt challenged last year during one South African university graduation ceremony when cadres from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) made a fanfare of the graduation of their leader Julius Malema. The same display was also accorded another member of the EFF, Dr Ndlozi as his graduation pictures trended on social media with the #makeeducationtrend challenge. That said to me that the EFF leadership considers education important.

I was again moved last week when I saw a picture of the leader of the Alliance of Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki in Russia. The picture reminded me that Hon Moleleki, our current Prime Minister Dr Motsoahae Thabane and their peers were sent to study abroad by the Basotho Congress Party, a party that was in the opposition then. I also remembered that the likes of Hon. Joang Molapo and his peers who were aligned to the Basotho National Party were also sent abroad to study.

Moreover, I have also been moved by the speech by Max Du Preez at the winter graduation ceremony for Masters and PhD students at University of Free State. The speech which has been trending on social media has garnered a lot of views because of the power it wielded with regard to leadership.
In this speech, Du Preez made reference to the kind of leadership that was displayed by Morena Moshoeshoe and Morena Mohlomi. He hailed them as heroes and philosophers of their times. The two men were not populist but visionary leaders of their times.
In recent times I look at the leadership displayed by Dr Leabua Jonathan and Dr Ntsu Mokhehle. They had a vision to send Basotho children to school because they knew the importance and value of education in moulding the future generation.
They, in their wisdom foresaw that in the coming years educated leaders that will fit into the global demands will be needed. In their wisdom, they tried to build a crop of leaders that will be better than them.
The leaders of the 20th century (Drs Jonathan and Mokhehle) envisaged a Lesotho that would escalate in terms of economy, political stability. Their dream was for a country that would have a well-established technology, a prosperous nation, a nation with a healthy and well developed human resource base, a united nation at peace with itself and its neighbours as also stipulated in the Vision 2020. However, we are nowhere near the dream of these stalwarts.

These leaders knew that a nation that has educated (not schooled) people will prosper, that is why they sent their youth to foreign lands to go and get that knowledge and bring it back home to develop their people. The current crop of leaders, unlike their predecessors do not hold education in high regard. I wonder what went wrong.
Currently, our leaders, both in government and in opposition do not seem to be doing much to advance the education of youth and young adults. I know there are people who will argue that they advanced education by introducing free primary education. I will not dwell on that as it is argument for another day.
Currently, education and to be educated in Lesotho has turned into a key to hopelessness, emotional distress, dejection, depression and all forms of negativity. In present day Lesotho, going to school to get an education seems to be a waste of time and money.

The educated are on the side-lines and their knowledge is not important. If the government could just embark on a census of the graduates that are loitering it will be shocked. I am aware of the problem that IMF pointed out to the government of a public service that is too big.
I am also aware of the rhetoric on how youth and young adults should not expect to be employed but rather should start their own businesses. The latter makes me laugh all the time. I laugh not because I think encouraging youth and young adults to be entrepreneurs is funny, I laugh because its advocates are not realistic, they just say what they think will sound sweet in the ears of the IMF and other international donors that say the public service is too big.

We can talk about youth and adults starting their own businesses until we are blue in the face. But as long as they lack entrepreneurial skills our talk is in vain. Thus, it is imperative to ask as to what then can be done to ensure that people get jobs without compromising the already saturated public service. The answer is to seek counsel from those leaders that, in the dark turbulent times were able to foresee that Lesotho needs educated people.

It is time for our current leaders to implement that which they learned from the foreign lands they were sent to. Chief Joang Molapo and his peers know the English ways of advancing their people, Hon. Monyane Moleleki and his peers also know how the Russians go about issues. It is time to bring home that which you learned. It is also time for the current leaders to groom the next generation of leaders that will fill their shoes in future.

It is time for all leaders in Lesotho, both in government and in opposition, to bring back hope to scores of Basotho youth and young adults that the old adage, “education is key to success” remains true in their time.

Just like CIC Malema and his EFF, our leaders should make education look lucrative by recognising the educated people of their country. Time is no longer on our side to achieve the Vision 2020 but we still have time and human resources to develop a new vision that will be implementable.
Let us, as Lesotho make education trend, let us respect education and stop making a mockery of it. Lastly, we should remember to groom visionary and educated leaders, the time for populists is gone if we are seriously contemplating a prosperous Lesotho.

BY; Kelello Rakolobe

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