The lack of quality education is one of the biggest challenges that the African continent faces. The statistics released by various organizations on the state of education in African countries paints a pretty bleak picture of our education system and subsequently the future of our nations.

With each passing year and with every delay in bettering the system, a generation loses out on getting a good start to their future.

Do you feel like you are losing out on education or losing a grip on your future? Perhaps you are hindered by schools closing, by domestic issues, civil wars or disruptions. Perhaps you feel like you are deprived of an education by your own physical disability? Don’t think that it is over…it’s not.

Listen to this talk by Jacob Barnett, speaking at TEDx Teen


To summarize the piece:

In 1665 Cambridge University had closed due to the plague so Sir Isaac Newton couldn’t be taught, couldn’t go to university and didn’t have a way to learn.

He had to take his education into his own hands.  Though he had to stop learning, he didn’t have to stop thinking.

In the years the university was closed he continued to ponder over problems that needed to be solved.  During this period while he was not learning he discovered and ‘created’ science. He developed the theory of physics, calculus, Newton’s 3 laws, the universal law of gravitation, the reflecting telescope and tons of other great scientific innovations. All this in the 2 years that he stopped learning.

Jacob challenges us to think of things based on our own unique perspective and do them in our own unique way. We just have to start learning, thinking and discovering on our own.

It is so easy for us to wallow in self pity and observe how bad or useless our future is due to the bad educational environment.

My challenge for us is this:

If no one has a curriculum for you, if no one has a syllabus for you and if no one can teach you, it doesn’t mean that you need to stop learning. Creativity and discoveries come from pushing forward and seeking new ways of learning.

Now, Jacob Barnett is in fact a genius, but he was born with Asperger’s disease.  He was written off by many people who believed that he would never be anything more than a child locked up in his own world. A loner who would never be able to communicate, read or even tie his own shoe laces. Now, at just 14, he is considered one of the best brains in science with an IQ higher than that of Albert Einstein!

Even so, he is determined that this transition between learning and thinking to creating is not exclusively for people who already have a mighty IQ but for anyone who is determined to acquire knowledge, to discover and to develop themselves.


Should we as Africans be sacrificing generations as we wait for a better education system or should we, as individuals, push forward to look at things from our own unique perspective? How can this inspiration change our continents way of approaching learning, thinking and discovery?

Let us know your opinion by commenting below…

You can read more about Jacob Barnett here:

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