As the world evolves, so does the exchange of knowledge and culture. Africa, a continent rich in diversity and history, has witnessed the importation of various elements over centuries, including clothes, watches, education, and religion. While some of these elements have seamlessly integrated into African societies, others have faced significant challenges in finding their place. This article explores the journey of education, particularly in the corporate learning space, within the African context. It sheds light on the delayed arrival of critical knowledge and expertise and the evolving role of African trainers in bridging this gap.
The Delayed Arrival of Education Knowledge
When education first arrived in Africa, it brought with it the promise of enlightenment and progress. However, within the realm of education, certain crucial aspects lagged behind. Knowledge about how humans learn, the principles of learning science, and theories of instructional design were among those delayed arrivals. These essential components of effective Adult education in Corporate setting took many years to reach African shores, leaving a void in the field of corporate learning and development.
African Trainers: Navigating Uncharted Territory
African trainers found themselves navigating uncharted territory. Without access to the foundational principles of learning and development, they were left to design, develop, and evaluate learning programs on their own. Prominent names in the field, such as Gagne, Malcolm Knowles, Mager, Merrill, and Thomas Gilbert, remained foreign to many who were tasked with skilling adult learners in the workplace. The lack of this foundational knowledge hindered the growth of the learning and development (L&D) field in Africa.
The Struggle for Recognition and Effectiveness
Learning and development as a practice struggled to earn its value in the African corporate setting. While many organizations established L&D departments, their effectiveness remained unrealized. Often, these departments existed merely to fill organizational charts, lacking a clearly defined career path for L&D practitioners and a competency framework to guide them. Consequently, the potential for L&D growth was stunted.
A Global Dependency for Knowledge
To compensate for the knowledge gap, African L&D practitioners had to depend on external organizations such as the Association of Talent Development and the International Society of Performance Improvement, which promote best practices in L&D in the USA, Europe, and Canada. While these resources were valuable, they underscore the need for localized expertise and support within the African context.
Skills Beyond Public Speaking
In Africa, becoming a trainer traditionally required two key skills: the ability to speak in public and the confidence to do so. While these skills are undeniably important, seasoned L&D practitioners understand that there is a need for more. To bridge the gap effectively, African trainers must possess skills in both instructional design and training delivery. These skills are essential for creating impactful and effective learning experiences.
The evolution of education in Africa has been marked by delayed arrivals, challenges, and a struggle for recognition. However, the continent is not standing still. African trainers are taking charge of their own professional development and the advancement of learning and development practices in the region. With a growing understanding of the importance of foundational knowledge, competency frameworks, and effective instructional design, the African L&D landscape is poised for positive change. As Africa continues to develop and progress, bridging the gap in education knowledge will be instrumental in shaping the future of the continent's workforce and organizations