Untold stories of the uneducated

By Hannah Siliya. Hannah, 19, is a student at Heriot Watt University Dubai Campus, from Lusaka, Zambia. Please read her entry and leave your thoughts and comments below.

According to Victor Hugo, ‘’He who opens a school door, closes a prison’’. He spoke as if systematic instructions were somewhat a palpable sense of emancipation. Well, Education has undeniably propelled the world into eras unimaginable. However, it has set humanity centuries backwards because society has become a prison in itself, impoverished of the things that truly matter and replaced them with fabricated standards of achievement.

The education system has led to a systemized world which breeds the same narcissistic characters, generating similar thoughts from unchangeable syllabuses. High achievers of great intellect strive to earn top positions in modern industrial buildings erected from the ground by people considered prisoners deprived of life’s goodness, they care only to obtain power, vanity and material stitched by hands that know nothing about academia.

White collar jobs are the reward after a four-year agonizing period of mastered information and scribbled notes, these jobs have left a legacy only to bellies they have fed, paving no way for social beneficial change or equality.

Critics often say third world nations are living in vaults of ignorance due to their level of intellect, but is that really the case? Isn’t ignorance working tooth and nail for perishables that depict a life of middle-class, a taste that eschews its environment and cares nothing on the conditions and methods of their consumption. Only to surround one-self with aesthetic designs which have been marketed the same for decades.

Majority of people are in an education system to secure a future they are uncertain of, rather than to create a future they will be happy with, so how do we close the doors to a prison, when school has become the prison?  in which captives trek the walk of this system in uniforms, carrying bricks of books on their backs while sitting in rooms plastered with dull paint.

Victims endure hours of training to speak with poise rolled off silver tongues, arched backs and heads raised to the sky, in search for never ending answers from clouds talking to the sun.

Depending on the pencil of ray that hits them, they are teleported into an interlude they cannot handle, a hub of overwhelming pressure that gives limited choice to participants and a platform that has done the least to ensure self-discovery. Instead has harbored feelings of insecurities of one’s capability, causing emotional breakdowns and cases of self-inflicted pain.

We wither away in careers that embody no altruistic acts because money runs our whole existence, our lives are captured from us for commercial capitalism, while we portray it as living. Communities are brainwashed that bad luck is a term created by the lazy, of which stupidity is the cause of their own misfortune tracing back to academic records.

From a young age a child is groomed and reminded that he must begin to attend a formal place of learning, for reasons unknown. Some individuals are granted this opportunity while others are sieved into despair.  Questions are never asked, until they must bid their guardians goodbye from waking them up in the morning.

A series of predicaments awaits each member at the colossal gates of higher education, once greeted by doors that are open for those who are believed to be adequate, it is shut on the ones seen un worthy, a sort of elimination for the unwanted minds. Differences are rooted in educations existence and this is a clear paragon of modern society.

A shining star in academics becomes oblivion to the fact that others lag, until he himself falls.  In the year 2016 I had just completed my 12th grade, nothing but excellence was expected of me as a regular award-winning student. I knew without a doubt I would pass, while anyone who did not was lazy, a common trait that ensembles our communities on its stigmatization of failure. I fathomed reading my name on the front page of the national newspaper as one of the best in the state, but it was not long before my dream had been shuttered by the release of my results.

A flush of confusion and instant fruition filled both my mentors and I, the least marks were granted to the best student, marking the beginning of a new reality.

The magnificent gates of school spat me out, mixing me with the rest. For the first time I was not good enough for the pre-eminent universities. I was sent to a campus that tutored ‘’rewrites’’ they called them, and here I found inmates of all ages and academic backgrounds.

They were like discarded robots who were failed experiments. Some were designed to solve formulas but could not operate under pressure or short time frames, while glitches like myself were advanced learners in a sector that society felt would one day retaliate on examiners for their failure.

The atmosphere of this cage reeked with self-expression, and fictitious dreams. The people on this side of the world spoke any how they liked with cool colloquial slang, cared for each other and signified their capabilities to aspire through their talents, understanding life and its true meaning.

Among these people I met the most eclectic remarkable characters ever designed, ones that thought like innovative programmers, with a slight eccentric twist. These characters held inextinguishably fragile information, society could not incorporate. Knowledge inspired by ancient times about historical eras that are not written in archaeology documentaries, wild animal taming by charms non-heard of by scientists or adopted pattern making and weaving that the paradigm shift of fashion has fallen short of.

They had ideas of ethical house thatching that interior degrees are not sharing and painting skills like those of Picasso, while telling contemporary stories as good as Shakespeare.

Their attitude towards life was a constant reminder of a thought which asked, is an educated man more troubled over piffle things than a man who owns no accolades nor credentials to his name?

The visibility of our differences influenced by our education is holding the world back from expanding ethnographies, unconventional areas of design and history. It is not enough to be content with what we know, and the potential is hidden in people that have been ignored by society, who have learnt to live, without being influenced by school systematic instructions.

I believe it is about time we gave a chance to the imprisoned, let them integrate back into a world with walls set extremely high to climb, listen to their ideas that will release poisoned nations from turmoil and change economies with their born talents and skills, exploring a new notion that will attract investment. Let intellects fellowship with them and create markets of opportunity, bridging Harvard students and peasant dancers.

Learn what individuals from collapsing nations know in order to catalyze progress and not exploitation, for masses will remain uneducated, but have skill and passion vibrating in their palms. If aided with the right knowledge and technology, they will become the dominants of evolution without walking through the gates of school, however telling the story of prison.

Therefore, Education is and will always be important, but it will remain an uncertainty whether school has brought more harm than good as long as society continues to masquerade under its truth. Thus let us help our children understand why education must be their priority, a priority that, if infused with skill and ambition that is already existent within themselves, will create an element for indestructible sustainable worlds for others who are uneducated, which will care for the important things in life.

For we must remember that not every child will be a doctor even though that is good. Others are musicians that hundreds of souls will conform to in weary and artists who will capture beauty in a world of darkness. Society must begin to face its identity and ask itself does knowing how to read make us better than an illiterate who volunteers in making a difference, in his/her community by using skill taught to them through traditional means of learning and ancestral understanding through experience.

If we are so smart and good at creating formulas, then we must improve the standard of living for others by not signifying education as the only medium of getting there, but adapting new means of succeeding in a world dominated by education, specifically designing it for each child or adult. Hence, school will stop crime, the crime of theft, ignorance and suffering. As it is a crime to steal the privilege of someone’s life because they are considered in ideal to learn and suffering to dwell in one’s wealth only to bask in death without changing situations.

We may have touched the universe and landed on the moon, but we have not worked inwardly to change the perception of each other based on class, taste, color or possessions. We have created a utopia infused with a misconception of meritocracy.

Finally, crime can be stopped without even building a door at all.

46 comments on “Untold stories of the uneducated

  1. Chinuma Siliya on

    Wow,very well said.our world would even be better if people were encouraged to not only use the education they get from school,universities or college but also to use their in belt talent and skills to better the world.so many ideas are left dead with the so called uneducated

  2. Mabvuto Banda on

    So inspiring, well articulated…. really the world would be a better place if inner abilities, talents and skills were more considered

  3. Humphrey J Simwinga on

    Hey! I can describe this as TRUTH of the new age….NEVER NEVER NEVEEEEEEER……EVER STOP WRITING.
    Loved the article!!!

  4. Auckland Kuteya on

    What a great article Hannah! It is a well thought through piece. So amazing that a 19 year old can think big like this. Well done!

  5. Thuli Dlamini on

    The naked truth of which the whole society needs to change the mindset . The world needs more youngsters like you,great piece!

  6. Christine Smith on

    So much has been unpacked in this essay. It feels like it should be further explored and turned into a book. Paragraphs could be chapters. The essay is well written and it reads very well.

  7. Rufus on

    Great article Hannah. Good insights about “our” education system and perceived vision of what it aims to produce.

    Excellent imagery!


    Great Article and great read. We can all learn from one another and provide better world to live in if we are allowed to explore who we are and want to be.

  9. Cecilia L. Nedziwe on

    An excellent and well thought-through piece of writing. The critical thinking displayed here around the issue of education does largely dismiss common narratives and perceptions about the generation labelled as ‘born frees or post 1990s” -as detached from real issues, concerns, problems, class divisions, and structural differences that societies face the world over, and in the African context. Siliya’s article does a brilliant job in taking the reader on a journey and pointing her/him to deep-seated gaps in the education system, and to a rigid knowledge project that has persistently failed to address the realities, and needs of societies. Siliya also shows how this education has, in turn, reproduced similar resuls, thinking, and a people that are not critical, and to its consequences:deep alienation, class divisions, and marginalization. This article further speaks to the right knowledge and technology to remedy the gaps in the education system. It, however, does not tell the reader what this right knowledge is or how it should look like. The author equally alludes to a capitalist system and its negative effects on education, but niether unpacks the nature of this system nor contextualizes it, and how the values of this system are at the root of the ineffective education. Her future writing should equally attempt to engage the reader on issues around decolonising Zambia’s education system, particularly the colonial knowledge project, as well as around the need to promote and develop African languages. The use of ‘he’ in the article perpetuates a one-sided narrative and a continuous marginalization of the female or girl child’s voice in such critical papers. Siliya should perhaps also consider and use this brilliant writing talent and platform to push for a girl child’s voice and experience. Her piece is well-written and researched, and deserves to be circulated to reach a wider audience. Keep it up xxx

  10. Kalonde on

    Great piece. It also be great if you do a summary, between 600-800 words so that it’s published in the Zambia Daily Mail as an analysis by a guest columist. Get my number from Sarah so that we can discuss if interested.

  11. Caristo Chitamfya on

    We all suffer from the “Diploma Disease”. We need a full dose of this article…to have any chance of survival. Thought provoking and piercingly truthful!!

  12. Friday Mcsleezy Mulenga on

    Wow! Splendid and magnificient article! This is a master piece! The greatest story evertold by a female teenager. Congratulations young lady!

  13. Richard Mvula on

    Very well presented article. I have personally encounted most of these issues that need to be dealt with. The problem is I personally have had to fight against it instead of bringing it to light, but you have come out and related most of our frustration to the article in light.
    This has brought about new awareness and God willing will be the begining of change. I hope this goes a long way that it breaks barriers and also brings in the right mindset and not mindsets to each one of us that we achieve one goal for a nation the right way and not only a set of individuals. Thank you and keep it up!

  14. Beaton Kaluba on

    Thought provoking. Indeed education is important I agree with you. It is absolutely necessary however for the education systems to be questioned. At higher education level, we see more diploma mills than factories that produce flexible moulds that will be used in open and lean factories of the future.

  15. Beaton Kaluba on

    Thought provoking article. Education is key but the challenge you pose about the education systems which have become more of robot factories rather than facilitating innovation, or instead of the systems being factories of flexible and agile human minds is a big one,


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