120 schools have been burned down in Kenya since June this year. The arson attacks were largely instigated by students who are protesting the most recent education reform.
One of the students whose school was burned down conceded to the protest because he was ‘afraid to fail in his final exam’.
This story resonates with me because I went through the same education system and similarly to these young students, the fear of failing was daunting to me since this one event seemed to determine whether i went to college or not, whether I got a job and ultimately whether i succeeded in life or not.
Undoubtedly, there is need to reform the education system, not just in Kenya but in many parts of the continent.
Moreover, beyond education reform, the way in which we think about failure in our classrooms, in the office and at home needs to evolve in this digital era where failing forward is the foundation of innovation.
So, I attended the McKinsey/Facebook workshop this week and one of the key takeaways that I got was how Mark Zuckerberg nurtures and cultivates a work environment that is not afraid to fail. One of the ways in which this is done at Facebook is during end of year – performance reviews, FB staff are evaluated not only on the number of successful projects completed but also on the number of times they failed when they implemented an idea.
Today, roughly 140Mn Africans have the power to share and connect with people around the world using their smart phones. It is estimated, that by 2020, an extra 500Mn people will have smart phones and will have access to the internet in Africa. This access to the world wide web can be a transformative experience if the people given this dream tool have the right mindset.
With the growing number of smartphones in the hands of impoverished people in Africa, we have the power to unlock the burgeoning potential of millions of Africans by changing their mindsets to view failure as a launchpad to success.