Sunday, 5 August 2012

Learn In Order To Innovate- The Only way to beat Unemployment

William Kamkwamba, born in a village in Malawi, was 14 years old when he became fascinated with the idea of building a windmill after looking at a book on energy at a library he frequented when his family could no longer afford the school fees. Although he could not read the English text, he gleaned enough to build a crude windmill that produced 12 volts and powered 4 lights, bringing electricity and a water pump to his impoverished, famine-stricken village.
The story above is about a young teenager who made use of the knowledge he had to innovate solutions to his community problems. Though he had to drop out of school because of lack of school fees made use of the basic skill or reading to help him come up with his own invention. William is not the only teenager who came up with inventions. The world over there is stories of young people who have impacted their nations with various ground breaking innovations.
Could you imagine that a 15 year old invented braille? It’s unbelievable! Yes, Louis Braille invented Braille when he was only a teenager. Robert G Heft a fifteen year old designed the American 50stars Flag and it was only submitted to congress for selection after his teacher had given him a B for that design and he had challenged his teacher because he felt he deserved an A.
It is often the case if you ask all your friends what they want to be after school that they all have dreams to have good jobs that pay them much money. Few of the will have dreams to be inventors, entrepreneurs and employers if there are any at all.
While we truly are the best African Country in terms of literacy rate, with a literacy rate of 92% according to UNDP statistics, something should be somehow amiss in our education curriculums at all levels of study. Why do we boast the highest literacy rate in Africa but still the highest unemployment rate?
 Instead of spending years of learning to line up to all become employees and get all those nice jobs we dream of, we need a mind-set shift to becoming employers and creators of business empires that will employ others.
In these days we live in where even those with degrees fail to get meaningful jobs young people cannot afford to continue thinking in the same way our fathers, mothers and older brothers and sisters did. We need young people who will learn in order to innovate and be employers, bosses, businessman and inventors.
We have no value in education as a country if young people fail to establish new businesses, products and technology. It is not impossible for teenagers in Zimbabwe to be Innovators and inventors. If it has been done in other countries it can also be done in Zimbabwe by her own young boys and girls.
The teens today have a better standpoint and advantage compared to yesteryear teens. With so much information and knowledge available on the internet young people have all they need to be inventors. We are living in the information age and the beauty of it is that it makes research and development easy compared to decades before us.Teenagers should begin to toy around with ideas of setting up their own industries and introducing new technologies while they are learning. Our education curriculum should facilitate the interest of young people’s minds in invention and innovation.
While it is true that much of the education curriculum we have today in Africa was designed by Colonialists in order to produce a labour force for their newly established industry it should not hinder your mind from being inquisitive and creative.
There is much more you can do as a young person and the time to start is now. Start by looking at the problems we face today as a nation and think up solutions of what can be done.
When you have an idea start working on it, even if it does not work the first time keep trying. For the incandescent light bulb we have today to be there Thomas Edison had to go through many experiments until it finally worked. You too should not give up the first time your idea fails to work.
There is much room for innovation and invention in the technology area. Zimbabwe’s teens too can come up with their new social networks. Look at how many young people spend time on social networks e.g. Facebook, you can start thinking of developing Zimbabwe’s home-grown Social network and be known all over the world just like Mark Zuckerberg.
We must not all aim to be employed some of us must learn in order to innovate so that they employ others. That new invention can come from you.
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