Education at all levels in the persistently underdeveloped countries (PUCs), including the university, consists almost entirely of learning the ideas and concepts of the Western economic and social model. Education in the PUCs is largely Western education in a different location. Any indigenous system of education that may have existed before colonialism is now subordinate to the Western model. The concept of education, as well as who is considered educated, have now become synonymous with the Western academic curriculum. In most of these countries, the language of the former colonial power is now the national “official language,” the language of education, the language of the educated. Western academic standards are the benchmark for determining who is capable of assuming professional, managerial and leadership responsibilities of nearly every type. The designation of scientist, engineer, physician, or sociologist, economist, academic, and the like, implies that the individual who bears it has a university certification, a degree. The people who teach in the universities of the PUCs have been certified at a high level in the university curriculum, and use the concepts, doctrines, and philosophies of Western academia in their teachings and for informing public policy. Textbooks in higher education and at lower levels are Western, or based on Western concepts and philosophies. The journal publications of local academics must meet the objective and subjective standards of academia in the West, to be published at all, etc. (chapter 5)
The significance of education dependency is the inability to address persistent underdevelopment from the point of view of those who suffer the problem the most. The West is the standard for development and is not directly suffering from persistent underdevelopment. Yet, the point of view of Western academia is dominant everywhere for addressing the problem. In the PUCs, the Western point of view is dominant among the educated, who happen to be those who control the venue of discussion, those with the influence and power to control the relevant narrative and dialogue and affect public policy, those who are respected and looked up to in society. There’s nothing particularly wrong with following the lead of the West. After all, our effort here is to show that we have an effective way for the underdeveloped countries to be as successful as the West, like China is doing.
But if Western academia does not know something, is wrong about something, or is ignorant about something, the dependents automatically have the same problem. Western academia has a wrong assessment about the reason why underdevelopment is persistent in the PUCs and about why the West is developed in the first place. More accurately, Western academia does not know why and has stubbornly mistaken the symptoms for causes. Education dependency has therefore served to keep the PUCs in the prison of underdevelopment because they don’t know why either, and are mired in mistaking symptoms for causes.
In contrast, we break away from the point of view of Western academia to explain why the developed countries are developed and, at the same time, we offer a curriculum that will liberate the PUCs so that university graduates can perform as well as expatriates from the developed countries and make development happen in their own countries too.
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.