Global Education: Africa and the World Cup

by Sadiq A. Abdullahi

As write this column, Nigeria has just lost to Greece. I will reserve my observation until the end of the competition. Today, as many of the second round matches of the World Cup soccer competition are getting completed, I wanted to shift focus to the big picture. Although, Nigeria plays the final match next week, there is much to be desired. The 32 teams in the prestigious tournament have demonstrated what the world is lacking and searching for: global understanding, diversity, security, peace, and growth. At the core is global interconnectedness in spirit and mind etc.

South Africa is one of the economically sound nations in the world and is playing host to the world in what many have described as the greatest event on the continent of Africa.

Africa has six nations representing Arabic-speaking north and the English-speaking south and French-speaking west: Algeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroun, and South Africa- are Africa flag bearers. For the first time, Africa is proud of Africa and the world is watching as the continent redefines itself amidst all the social, political, environmental, human rights, economic problems. For one month, all that we give way to a truly global education.

To begin with, let’s start with a little history. Africa has a rich culture and tradition. Although, the continent remains the world’s poorest, it has about 800 million people and is divided into four regions: North, South, East and West. The contemporary geo-political history of Africa began in 1884-1885 at the Berlin Conference in Germany, where Africa was partitioned. Initially, the European involvement in Africa began in the mid-15th century when the Portuguese traders came in search of gold. By the end of the 16th century, there were trading in African slaves (see previous chapters). And by the late 19th century, explorers had uncovered the untapped riches in the interior, including diamonds, rubber and iron, which led to the infamous “Scramble for Africa.” The struggle for Africa literally ended in 1980s. Today, Africa leaders have to grapple with the colonial legacy and with how to solve their own internal problems. The World Cup may change all that.

Consider first that it is an estimated 75 million children in the world (the vast majority of them in Africa, and the largest concentration of them in Nigeria) are not in school and cannot read or write. Consider also the various diseases such as HIV and malaria infecting the continent. Consider that the politicians are the most corrupt in the world. And consider the abundance of human and capital as well as natural resources untapped in the continent.

FIFA, the organizing body of the World Cup is aware. The organization has launched a global campaign that seeks to draw the attention of the world and to Africa social and educational problems. FIFA has partnered with ‘1 Goal – Education for All’ campaign, established by Princess Rainer of Jordan and endorsed by several world leaders. The goal is to provide as many children around the world with the opportunity of be literate and to grow up earn a living. In Africa, many of their parents live on $1 day. Education seems the only out for poor children of Africa.

In order to uplift the spirit and strengthen the minds of the poor children in Africa and around the world, a concerted effort is needed urgently. There is a movement around the world that sports can indeed go hand in hand with education. For example, at the draws for the 2010 World Cup in Cape Town (South Africa), the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter stressed that Africa must reclaim itself and show the world that by hosting the World Cup, it is sending the right message to the world that a nation and indeed a continent is reborn. He said FIFA would use occasion to campaign for the provision of quality education for every child in the world. The FIFA president spoke of the ‘1 Goal- Education for All’ campaign as a vehicle to draw attention to the global plight of 75 million children, over 10 million of whom are in Nigeria.”

Global Education as the Instrument of Global Change
Global education is the teaching and learning about other nations, peoples, cultures, regions, and the studying of foreign policy, national security, international relations, issues, and problems facing the world. It is the interrelated and interconnected world wherein our survival and well-being is intimately related to our ability to understand and deal responsibly and effectively with other peoples and nations. We need to teach all students of the world to develop a global perspective. Imagine developing a global perspective consciousness. This is the recognition or awareness that an individual has view of the world that is not universally shared and that others have views of the world that are profoundly different. This consciousness will change the world.

As the 32 nations compete for glory and for the World Cup, we not lose sight of the multicultural make of most of the teams and the various white coaches coaching the African teams, and to never lose sight of the big picture. We the champion is crowned and all is said and done, the African child, the poor child somewhere in the world, needs quality education, good health care, and a good community support. Africa will learn from the World Cup and will begin to make critical adjustments. The world will be watching. Until the World Cup returns to Africa, we need to work together to rebuild Africa. Good Luck, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast.

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