Tutaleni I. Asino
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Does “demigodification” or “vilification” prevent us from learning

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What is the role of the head of state in shaping or establishing an educational system? In “Mwalimu’s mission: Julius Nyerere as (Adult) Educator and Philosopher of community Development”, the authors, Mhina and Abdi (2008), argue that the president can shape the definition of an education in the country. The article leads one to believe that without Nyerere’s value and world views, education in Tanzania would have evolved very differently and that Nyerere’s policies could not be generalized to other countries because his values, beliefs, and backgrounds were so unique that only he possessed the ability to bring such transformation about.

Nyerere was a great man! However, as it is with any early leaders of a nation, Nyerere’s story is unfortunately told in a binary form. It is often a choice between “he screwed up the education system/country” or “he was the best thing for the education system/country.” What is often lost is the time period in which the person exist and how combined with many other factors contribute to the changes.

In reading the chapter the one thing that I was left with was: how does the “demigodification” or “vilification” of individuals/icons prevents us from learning and fully benefiting from their experiences? If we accept the premise that the definition adult education and educational reforms in Tanzania during the 60s/70s could only be achieved by one person does that limit the discussions and the lessons learned?

Mhina, Christine & Abdi, Ali A. (2008). Mwalimu’s Mission: Julius Nyerere as (adult) educator and philosopher of community development. In A. Abdi & D. Kapoor (Eds.), Global perspectives on adult education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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