Economisation of education is promoted by global bodies like the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In his book, Globalisation of Education, Joel Spring discusses the bank as having put a price tag to knowledge imparted in schools through what it brands the “knowledge economy”.
The bank considers education as the creator of human capital that propels economic development in contrast to inculcating societal values.
The OECD, labelled as the World Ministry of Education, has agreeably perceived skills cultivated in schools as a global currency of 21st century economies.
Skills relevant to the economic model of education include literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in “technology rich environments”.
Both organisations have provided evidence through surveys, hoping that educators, policymakers and labour economists will use the findings to come up with economic, educational, and social policy transformation.
The discussion above illustrates the need for economies to adapt their school curricula to addresses the ever-changing challenges to their learning economy.
The World Bank and OECD propose standard recommendations from general surveys that sometimes are incompatible with specific contexts. Various economies have different challenges related to their economic model of education.
This gives rise to the need for each knowledge economy to produce a labor force that will help it grow by addressing its specific challenges.
In Malawi, the problem is not about human capital creation but more of a brain waste or brain drain.
Although the economy has not reached a point where every deserving student has access to public colleges—an issue for another discussion—it fails to effectively absorb its human capital.
Jobs are in short supply as compared to the available trained labor force. Consequently, some well-trained individuals have no jobs, some work in fields they were not trained for and others have migrated to foreign countries in search for jobs.
In all this, it is the Malawian economy that has lost out big time.
In fact, it is one of the reasons the country has experienced stunted growth over the years.
Job-creation is a must in our context and yes, it has been a song on our lips since time immemorial.
That is exactly where we need to bang heads to unravel the job-creation issue through our education.
One way of inculcating the job creation mindset in young men and women in institutions of higher learning is incorporating entrepreneurship in every university programme.
We have already seen lawyers opening law firms, engineers starting construction companies and doctors setting up private clinics, but we could do even better.
For example, students majoring in education may undergo entrepreneurship training related to the provision of educational services in Malawi and beyond. In future, they would create jobs for themselves and others.
Opening a private school is just one of the many job creation means that professionals in education have done, but that can be done by other professionals as well.
A course in “educational entrepreneurship” would expose the students to many business opportunities that require their expertise to come into being and run effectively.
The same can happen in other disciplines such as media studies or public health. A few years later, this would give Malawi a human capital whose focus is not entirely on securing jobs but creating them.
Adopting such an economic model would help in utilising the country’s human capital to its maximum potential and counter the neglected brain waste and drain.
Issues like where the graduates will get capital to kick-start those businesses after graduation are but not entirely beyond this discussion.
Some investments can be set from scratch if the entrepreneur dares think big. Others would require policymakers to devise ways of providing funds for graduates with sound job creation proposals.
After all, it is the Malawian economy that stands to reap the benefits of such initiatives.