I would like to share how complicated schooling and university education is in Madagascar, and how people are going about it, trapped between history and modernity. This big Island to the right of Africa hosts20 million people, the majority still living under 1 £ a day. They have a lot of opportunities which still need to be explored. And those opportunities are in the hand of the future generations who need some rejuvenation.
Malagasy parents used to tell stories and legends to give wisdom, advice and knowledge to their children. When there were some schools appearing they thought that a story is not enough to raise their own child. Wisdom came before knowledge for Malagasy people. As Malagasy are saying “Let your behavior be like a tree: if the roots are strong enough, leaves can shake as they want.” Parents decided to send children to school and encourage them to go further as long as they can support them. In fact having a son or daughter graduate from University is an honor for parents and children, it means that both are successful. In that time, to accept a job opportunity easily, leaving the familial cid and flying with their own wings is easier.
Nowadays, child education is a must until the 6th grade, to be exact. Knowing how to count, writing one’s name or read, that’s enough in some suburban places. Somewhere in the South of Madagascar kids have to travel 3 hours through village or dunes. Sometimes walking 15 km from school and going back and forth, sometimes students get a half day of school. There has never been a bus school or transport, and even if students get a student car they don’t get reduction.
It’s happened that teachers don’t get paid for three months, become lazy and don’t teach classes. Sometime parents and someone in charge on school find a solution, telling parents to give some amount of money or telling his child to bring some rice for the canteen. In small villages school is far, college and high school is even farther, University is more in the province.
It’s happened also that parents are less educated and don’t know how to guide the child, in fact the essential for the children is to manage their own life insurance.
Graduating from University doesn’t make sense anymore for young people.
As a young Malagasy person I know where we have been, but I don’t know where are going…
After finishing your studies you need to line up behind millions of jobless for a job opportunity. After investigation ; Many those young people struggle and move on the street working as a “taxi phone” mobile cheap call, bus driver, gold digger… any available job in general. Some get influenced by easy money called “bizna”: it means selling anything, from a friend or relative, like cell phones, computers, tyres, cars. Those who have funds to run their business can invest into something short term or permanent like restaurants, jewelry, imports etc.
Let’s talk about it: 67 % of Malagasy people are about 15 to 25 years young. Statistically 15 % of graduates get an exact job for the position that they prepared for in University, 65% remain jobless and 10 % know someone high placed and get to work for an unsuitable job and that they don’t have any idea what it is about or how to do; about the last 5% have something planned for, and finally the 5% remaining help parents at home. Many foreign companies like to employ people from Sri Lanka or Indonesia because they are more skilled and less corrupted… We have more and more foreigners who are coming here to get rich. It’s also another gate for economy and illnesses from both sides.
There are some good things in progress. Recently I met some people from Christian missionary called ADRA “Adventist Development and Relief Agency” using techniques to improve farming for those who have land or what to farming it was only a campaign. NGOs like USAID who have been here since 32 years to help Malagasy people to realize goals of development, recover from natural disaster like cyclones, health care like malnutrition, sponsoring on project used to be only for educational like “youth and reproduction”, “Youth against HIV”. But it’s only in the capital or on a regional campaign for few times and not long enough to be remembered by people. They are trying to give free training, help and support for young people in suburban areas but … sometime with no success . Youth Volunteers like Peacecorps almost every year whose giving free teaching, help and give some supplies like pen and copy book, chalkboard etc… if they have something to give.
All those things are looking good for a while, but they have no impact on their lifetime. There is no precise political with systematization or screening. There is not enough community who cares especially for young Malagasy. Insecurity, infrastructure and corruption are principal factors which still exist since long time and drag in deep water the majority of those young people. When I was asking them to give their thoughts, they say: " We felt abandoned by the government, they only thinking about how to full they pockets. As we learned from school: “I” is going first and “YOU” is after, that’s how people in government are thinking. Our daily duty is to wake-up, go outside chilling with friends, and go back home at lunch time”.
Finally, Malagasy people cannot lean on their own government, it doesn’t have enough budget to overcome this or: the budget is going somewhere else which is more important, like towards health. Private school is plenty even if some of them don’t have the right character as a normal school: no playing ground, no gates… Parents like it because the teaching method is quite modern and up to date, teachers are quite professional. Some of those private schools belong to someone on the Government. The good thing is that teachers in private schools are at least able to do their job smoothly and actually finish school programs.
Malagasy people still believe that education is the best legacy.
How do you find ways to make a living as a young generation which government does not care for ?
Please go ahead, ask questions and add your comments
The production of this article was supported by Op3n Fellowships - an ongoing program for community contributors during May - November 2016.