Restricted Opportunities

via The Chief Mourner

While some were busy drawing amusing cartoons that mocked the presidency of Joyce Banda, I received a comment on a blog post I visited the other day, which reads:

Hi Sangwani, Thanks for your comment. We’ve observed how the children we met, who are pupils at rural schools around the Mulanje area, seemed to have restricted opportunities to fulfil their ambitions and abilities due to large class sizes and lack of teaching materials etc. It’s difficult for us to answer your questions having only been in the country a couple of weeks and not knowing a huge amount about the politics here, but if there was more money available to spend on government schools, then maybe the children we met would have more support to be able to achieve their goals?

I couldn’t agree with this more. As I hinted here, Africa in general is severely underresourced, not only in educational equipment, but also in terms of manufactured tools that can be used to efficiently and safely undertake important tasks or activities. While many western countries have phased-out old and redundant equipment, machinery and other ‘tools’ necessary for some function, and generally tools that contribute (or at one point contributed) to creating, building and growing a society, most parts of Africa don’t even have such redundant tools.

And books and teaching materials are just scratching the surface; on this list we have:-

(i) Medicines + Medical equipment  [ there are people dying because they cannot be airlifted to hospital] (ii) Construction equipment [to build functional schools fit for purpose] (iii) Manufacturing / Industrial equipment [to reduce reliance on expensive imported commodities]  (iv) vehicles (or at least motorcycles — which advantageously uses less fuel–for the police + armed services to provide adequate security) (v) Firefighting equipment  …

Yet, with such shortages, you find leaders and managers who should know better continuing to make the classic mistakes. Why for example would  Escom spend MK1.4 billion (£2,701,636.88 ) [ Mid-market rates: 2013-08-30 10:00 UTC on GBP £1 = MK518.204) to buy a new fleet of vehicles in the current economic climate?? And when you hear reports such as these that there is a shortage of supplies and personnel in hospitals. Even United States government recently embarked on an initiative to help increase the number of medical personnel in Malawi…yet when the country is broke (the football team can’t afford to pay for a trip to a World Cup qualifier match) you have some people who think that money can be thrown around.

While Escom says  they bought the cars on credit, they will ultimately pay more for them than if they had sourced reliable second-hand cars, as I demonstrated here.

Beggars can’t be choosers.


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