The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has unanimously passed a motion to pave the way for an introduction of a regional syllabus on EAC integration process to be used by schools at all levels.
The EALA members passed the motion that was tabled by Ms Shy-Rose Bhanji (Tanzania) on Thursday evening, directing partner States’ ministers responsible for EAC affairs and education to write and widely distribute materials on the regional integration process in schools at all levels.
Led by House Speaker Dan Kidega, members voted unanimously to pass the motion to kick start its implementation by partner States. Mr Kidega said that each partner State should start implementing the motion.
Supporting the motion, Mr Martin Ngoga (Rwanda) said the regional integration was an important step as the treaty forming the EAC had it at heart, saying the (new) EAC should be people-centred, as it belonged to them and not political leaders, the bureaucrats or a few who were active in some formal activities and businesses.
Mr Ngoga said citizens needed to be thoroughly enlightened about the integration process and its benefits, insisting that the best way to achieve the goal was to come up with the EAC integration syllabus at all levels of education among member countries.
The Speaker said it was only through the regional syllabus that the integration process will be built on a strong, fruitful and sustainable foundation.
Earlier on, Ms Bhanji said that about 65 per cent of the block’s population consisted of young people who knew little about the benefits of unity and integration, hence calling for the need to come up with a comprehensive strategy and process of changing the mindsets of the emerging society, so that they were made aware of the opportunities and benefits to exploit.
“Regional integration will not only improve social-economic wellbeing of regional residents but also largely contribute to the much cherished unity in East Africa,” she said.
She added that the regional syllabus will enhance the EAC integration, given the fact that the process has not been handled comprehensively within partner States.
The outgoing EALA member from Tanzania told the august House that the principles of the Community include provision by partner States of an adequate and appropriate enabling environment, such as conducive policies and basic infrastructure.
She asked the partner States to come up with concerted effort to foster cooperation in education training within the Community. Ms Bhanji was of the view that the EAC integration was such a huge challenge and new to most regional residents, especially the young ones.
For practical reasons, she said 17 years since the re-establishment of the EAC only a small percentage of citizens were fully conversant with the integration agenda. She noted that the percentage related mostly to the business community, the academia and EALA members.
“I’m not saying nothing has been done so far, to educate the general public on the EAC integration process, but only that the impact is not widespread and this is because very little education has been disseminated among the majority of our people,” she explained.
“Given the fact that about 65 per cent of East African population is made up of the young generation, we have to engineer the change of their mindsets in a more systematic manner and that is through the introduction of integration process as a lesson in primary and secondary schools in the bloc,” she added.
She insisted, saying: “When this is done, we can be rest assured that the coming generation will have acquired more and better knowledge about the integration agenda.
Integration is core to the future of East Africans.” Sharpening her argument, she said the benefits of writing a common syllabus were many because the younger generation will be enlightened on the entire concept on EAC integration.
As they grow up, said the EALA member, they will appreciate and understand all the stages of integration, developments, benefits and opportunities. EAC education at lower levels will open the minds to those who will not be able to pursue higher education to opt for small-scale businesses across East Africa.