Leadership Development: Fixing a Flat Tire, or Re-inventing the Wheel

Leadership Development: Fixing a Flat Tire, or Re-inventing the Wheel

The paper argues that many of the forms of leadership development performed by international actors targeting youth in civil society become a futile attempt to reinvent the wheel if they do not start and focus on schools. The threefold argument states that schools are by nature multiplying. They have inherently a pay-it-forward dynamic. Critical leadership development happens at an early age and school-age is most ideal. And teachers are inherently entitled to lead. In their leadership development endeavour, INGOs’ intervention often targets ‘youth’ when it is sometimes too late to develop some character traits. The whole claim springs from the belief that leadership is the key and that change should start from institutionalised.

Read the full publication here.

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  1. Gabriel Benarkuu

    Says November 05, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Great write up.
    In Africa, our curriculum is focused more on memorizing and reproducing.
    Teachers are becoming irrelevant.
    The Education system is compromised.
    Our African values misplaced.

  2. John Paul Pwa Abeng Amah

    Says November 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Interesting! I agree on the three points that leadership education is anchored on; 1) the proliferation of schools in Africa in a pay-in-forward dynamics, 2)that educators should be at the forefront of leadership development and that 3) leadership education should begin early enough. And I agree with him that INGOs, targeting management principally and not ‘participants’ or stakeholders, does not help the cause in appropriately tailoring youths to become effective leaders.

    However, I think he ought to make mention of the fact that INGOs work within the ambit of national laws and policies. Most African countries have educational goals and make laws, that are slightly tilted from international obligations of the RTE as elaborated in UN- Conevant on Economic Social and Cultural Committee’s General Comments 11 and 13 and other instruments. Many states adopt policies to suit specific agenda. This, INGOs must take into consideration. eg) in Cameroon primary education is compulsory and free by law (’98 Law on Education)AND is hosted by different sub-systems. Its realisation as a right which ought to be progressive, is stifled sub-system policies which levy indirect costs and have different curriculums. Surely, these present challenges to leadership education at early stages in Cameroon. INGOs take that into consideration. As well, early interventions on building leadership may be stifled by limited access to quality leadership education in a particular.

    It is true that as is bent the twig, so grows the tree. Early leadership development would build solid foundation. But cultural relativism in education ought to be taken into consideration. In other continents, young people gain ‘economic independence’ much earlier than in Africa. This is a result of effective education, which oversees that objectives of education are met at every stage of progress. Our’s in Africa, is education whose objectives and indicators to measure progress are either not well developed or not designed with focus. Thus we find qualifications across Africa, equal in academic grading but most unequal in quality of content. And we are stuck bending the twig a lil bit later than should be the case. Well…

    For INGOs to be judged, an isolated evaluation of their work is not enough, i think. Outcomes of their interventions need to target learners, for sure, but their activities need be evaluated to the degree of their contracts with states, which is often determined by state laws and policies.


  3. Jimm

    Says November 11, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Great perspectives in this paper. It was worth my time and I hope we can design new ways of strengthening leadership competencies of young Africans at the earlier stages.

  4. Mungai Nfi

    Says November 11, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Absolutely agree. Having served at the highest level in a youth organization, some character traits are best developed before 18. After that and bearing in mind our environment, the focus of many young people shifts to subsistence and survival and hence forging the leader/servant mindset is quite complex. Many become impatient to learn

  5. Divine

    Says November 11, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Interesting perspectives. Yes I think cultural relativism is a major factor. These could be included in the school curriculum at appropriate ages. Also, at the community level, small regular workshops can be done targeting secondary school students to teach these things by the INGO’s.

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