I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in the great lakes region. I grew up in a very polarized society in which I felt unwelcome and at times not tolerated due to my ethnic background. In September 1996, my father and three of my brothers were killed due to their ethnicity. It was very depressing and at times outraging to know that they died simply because of who they were. Ever since, it has been a long journey to healing. As I moved on and recovered my “joy of living” I realized that I have a responsibility toward the future generations in this region.
Like neighboring countries in the region, namely Congo and Rwanda, Burundi has been subject to ethnic violence for the last decades which has negatively impacted its social economic development. We have a responsibility to address issues of our time to pave a path for future generations and to ensure they inherit a better society. I am a strong believer in education as the corner stone of any country’s development.
My modest contribution is focused on creating a learning philosophy that provides academic excellence and human values:
On one end, we are setting a strong academic foundation by administering a technology-focused curriculum reflecting the needs of the country through science, math and technology;
On the other end, beyond knowledge, we are sawing into the younger generation a seed of personal responsibility, respect for others and recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; “Ubuntu” the oneness of humanity.
We need to equip our countries to compete globally, not only today, but in the coming decades as well, and the best way to do that is by honing our children’s creativity, and providing them with the analytical and communication skills needed and channel it toward productive ends.
A recent study found that 65% of children currently in primary school will grow up to work in jobs that do not exist today. These jobs will be created by a generation taught differently; It is time to revolutionize education in Africa. The Era of memorizing notes and reproducing them is over. Innovation, creativity, critical thinking approach should lead the way of our education system. By providing world class education, we empower future generations, we provide them with wings that allows them to fly as high as they wish.
Beyond the strong academic foundation that we instill in this future generation is the confidence that such education breeds and the hope it creates. We end the isolation of our youth and make them global citizens ready to compete in the global market. In an ever-changing world, the education systems must prepare future generations to serve the needs of their communities as well as to thrive within the complex rules of the world market economy and democracy. We understand that cosmopolitan values must be embraced for the students of Burundi to ensure connectivity and to engender an exchange of ideas in a fast-paced, increasingly border-less, innovation-based world.
BAIA represents hope for positive change, a greater symbol of future endless possibilities with a sense of mission. This vision is our reality, our passion and my personal mission. Together we can make this world a better place than we found it – will you join?
Dr. Freddy Kaniki
Founder, Burundi American International Academy