I WRITE this to my fellow teachers and parents at large. As teachers, we have a huge task on our hands and we must not take it lightly. The future of our great great grandchildren is in our hands. We have a huge and important task of changing the mindset of the children we teach.
Unlike other education systems that teach nationalism and patriotism, our education system does not teach learners to appreciate values that place nationalism and patriotism at the top. Since nationalism and patriotism do not grow on us the way teeth do, they need to be embedded in the children. They need to be taught in the right way.
As teachers and parents, we have the power to change the mindset of the children we teach and raise. We have the duty to bring up children that will love their country with a passion. This will lead to creating a society in which our children grow up to be citizens that will appreciate why our forefathers fought the colonialists to create the country we call Zambia today. These will be citizens that will not sell their land to foreigners at any price. Citizens that will hold on to their land and defend it and everything in it the way a loving mother would defend her own baby from harm with her very life.
Patriotism and nationalism, when embedded in a person, bring development and oneness to the extent where people will always want to support everything Zambian. These will be people that will plan to visit Samfya for a holiday instead of going to Dubai regardless of how many millions of dollars they have in their bank accounts.
In order to create a citizenry that will appreciate Zambia more than other countries, we need to instil in our children the love for their country. We need to teach them the history and laws, cultures and traditions of our country. They should know why October 24 is an important day in Zambia and what the colours on our flag represent or what the coat of arms stands for.
They should know about the Victoria Falls and why people come from all corners of the world to view it and that they can also get to view it and be proud to be Zambian. They should also know that there are other beautiful waterfalls they can visit such as Kalambo, Ntumbachushi, Lumangwe and Kabwelume. They must be proud to eat foods that identify us as Zambians, such as chikanda, inswa, ifinkubala, chibwabwa and so on.
In short, we should not talk ill about our own country in front of our children or else they will grow up thinking other countries are better. They will always think a holiday in Dubai is better than one in Mfuwe or Livingstone.
In 2018, teachers and parents should take time to talk to our children about being loyal to our country. It is fine if we bring up children that will be “Zambiacentric” as long as it does not affect the next person negatively. If that will change their mindset and make them love their country more, so be it. It is the only way we will develop our country.
It should start with us supporting our own entrepreneurs and local products instead of always appreciating foreign products. We should end the tendency of pulling each other down. Instead, we should support and celebrate each other’s successes as Zambians, the way Nigerians, Indians, Rwandese and other foreign nationals do right before our eyes here in Zambia.
The onus is on us teachers and parents to change the mindset of our our children. We ought to take time at home to talk about our country and its beautiful history to our children. In this regard, the Ministry of Education should not suppress the teaching of history in our schools. While the emphasis on teaching science and technology is laudable, we should not forget that no country can develop by forgetting its own history, laws, cultures and traditions.
The author is a teacher at Nkhwazi Primary School.