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MOTIVATION IN MODERN EDUCATION - 1.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote



….but do we RECOGNIZE it??

By Yogesh Bahadur

(Focus : Ethiopia)

Pic: vibrant, festive and colorful on Ethiopian National Day


My interactions in Ethiopia through phase of business entrepreneurship in particular, made me think in ways I had never thought of before and ‘motivated’ me yet more to come here to Ethiopia again and again - to explore, not just the vast possibilities and opportunities that Ethiopia as a highly potential African economy represents in my own core fields of Water, Energy & Infrastructure; but to unravel “Mystique” of “WISDOM AT THE SOURCE OF BLUE NILE”, which is how the Bahir Dar University expresses itself on its flag and logo.

This article or ‘paper’ itself is motivated by a simple notice on notice board at the University, which I had a chance to see earlier this year and summarize as below (its essential points):

“All those applying for Post Graduation courses must submit a paper on Motivation………We welcome female applicants.”                                            

Somehow this corroborated the growing feeling I had been having in recent months: In the land of Nile, “The Wisdom of Solomon has gone into Sheba” (you can laugh!!)and the phenomena was universal, so dear friends and Solomons of Ethiopia, minim idelem, okay?!

But the issue here is how does this HYPOTHESIS augur for Motivation?

So please read on, for I have only the idea at this moment that I am writing the “Preface” before the “content”. In fact I will be writing this paper, which you are going to read (or put aside, for ‘lack’ of motivation to read it!) and believe that Motivation indeed needs “acceptance” or it has no place in our lives. You all know that a pat on the back was only good for us until age 16 maybe, get out of basic education and you know who is conning you, rather than motivating!!!

Universally, man has not changed much from what man always was; but the woman is holding the house together and now also the office so brilliantly and with much grace, ease and élan that the man ever did……. 

…..for SHE accepts and SHE infuses, ever so thoughtfully, caringly and respectfully……. Motivation!!

In this land of predominant Christians, I am drawn to a famous book which later went on to become a movie where Christianity itself finds its essential place from the “cup” and the “chalice”, man and woman must come together to make the “ideal” blend of what a human being should be like.

Simply, a man too must be not too macho, nor so weak and frail in personality. Motivation to me comes as a predominantly female trait…for if it is not accepted, then it has no consequence!

So, how do we Motivate and How do we get motivated? We can enter into a discussion of course, if not the final answer!!!

1. On Human Resource & Entrepreneurship: my visits to Ethiopia

For someone who did not know or care for existence of Ethiopia just 2 years ago, the only source of insight is some library reading during my 6 months at Bahir Dar University, but most of it comes from this untiring resolve I seem to imbibe when I come to Ethiopia and agony of feeling I accomplished very little by time I leave the country (mostly minimum of 3 months) - motivation of 'much can be done here' far exceeding 'what gets done'. This is my motivation to jot down my observations on a subject of great importance to this country - developing human resources with from within the large population of educated youth who carry due aspirations but lacking in optimism.

I find myself walking, traveling by share-taxis, buses across Addis Ababa and nearby towns; whatever the pocket allows to meet people, share experiences, needs, etc. in my quest as entrepreneur with limited money to invest. As such I have no fixation or ‘focus’ per se as to why I am doing many of the things I find myself doing and am forever accused of doing too many things at one time.

But if that was so, then what is it that is motivating me to run around like a clone of a college graduate across Ethiopia, far away from my own country, culture & possibilities elsewhere?

I wonder how many will agree that Entrepreneurship itself is >80% Self-Motivation, ability to sustain than it is about making money at the earliest after chucking your job. Just think!

For me Entrepreneurship was not a choice, but enforced when I gave up my job 5 years ago to find a better way to utilize my international experience and as an independent consultant taking teaching/training on the sides, including in Ethiopia; I often had to find new trade and direction as an unusually diversified professional and engineer with significant multi-national and international experience to back me up.

And so, after many trials to obtain much needed funding for my venture in India and then at Ethiopian Investment Office, seeking funders and business partners for my ‘project’ for Ethiopia (Water & Energy resources), I had to find various alternative options over these last 6 months of toil in Addis Ababa; finally finding myself back in Bahir Dar yet again at the University gate on a casual visit now, where I had taught once, a fulfilling period in my lifetime.

These points below are the gist of some meetings with various Ethiopian enterprises AND educational institutions and highlight why “Motivation” needs better understanding (these are put forth in a logical sequence to highlight significance of “Motivation”):


  • The dependence on China, Japan & Europe for Infrastructure development although needed and perhaps an immediate solution is an opportunity for Ethiopian businesses to adopt organizational strengthening, enhanced ability for risk taking and TAKING ACTION on Analytics which are day by day costing Ethiopia far too much than actual Action Plans which contribute to REVENUE – from universities & institutes to large corporate bodies.
  • Little in turn has been done to utilize the large youth population graduating from universities, colleges and polytechnics to identify talent, synthesize and use them pragmatically within the scheme of such development process.
  • Simple measures like putting “restrictions” on number of foreign personnel for overseas investors does not in any way help the cause of Ethiopian talent to find their rightful place in economic growth of country.
  • In doing so, the youth must come to expectations of the overseas principles and local companies must adopt an international and globally acceptable culture.
  • Education bodies to Global Funding and overseas intellectuals are creating so much paper and hence a “Dollar Expense” on a dollar-depleting economy through repetitive socio-economic scenarios, scientific models, etc. than actually MOTIVATING local managers to be leaders who can identify and hedge risks while creating efficient human resources from grass-roots.
  • There exists a huge gap of common resolve between Industry and the Educational Institutions for the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP), which was made to uplift “middle-income” economy when ability of local talent to work at middle income levels in a efficient and desirable manner is clouded in something called “Ethiopian way” or kas-bakas*!
  • Time has come for Ethiopians themselves to understand that Ethiopia is not unique in “kas-bakas” and India, perhaps the world’s largest bureaucracy (not just democracy) suffers from this ailment even now and so does US and many European countries in parts. However our ability to OVERCOME this ailment is called “Modern/Global Business” in this shrinking world.
  • To OVERCOME this ailment in turn, to me, is called “MOTIVATION” in the context of this paper.
*at an easy (slow) pace

If we do not understand problems and issues at hand and hide behind ‘isms and the past in name of culture, beliefs, ethos and pride; then we can forget about encouraging motivation in others or of being the motivators ourselves – in this globalized and shrinking world.

It is also for this reason that understanding our business or work objectives, evaluating whether these core objectives have been met and where we are lacking must be undertaken honestly and sincerely; for Motivation also means rewarding those who have accepted and contributed to this “cultural overhaul” for their betterment and contribution to the nation.

Motivation is for Transformation to respond to call of time and not to bring some drastic CHANGE.I always shy from the word “change, but even in my own country as long as we were contributing to the “change” without defining ourselves as some kind of “change-agents”, I found that all was well.

Soon as these Human Resource specialists started giving such names and titles, including “Corporate Social Responsibility”, I feel the whole world has cascaded to unimaginable lows.

Motivation, like “change” has to be done without announcements or pronouncements or for that matter any kind of definitions and titles!

Just think what somebody who does not have it in him to motivate anybody else or to motivate himself (trust me there are many people who are born like that!), will do if given a topic to write on “Motivation”.

Of course, he will go to “Google”! This is the irony of Education 2014 and thank God that Chinese are banning its use; although this is not my idea of “Positive Change”.

2. Psychology of Motivation

Can we motivate a pauper on the street asking of alms to get up, start working and make a living from a “job” he gets somehow? Do we give money or offer him a job? Any man who persists to GET this poor soul a job? Well, this is of course minim idelem (never mind, not important) and lousy hypothetical talk, you agree, right?

I come from a “country of beggars” or “Midnight’s Children” as it was rounded up in an award winning book written on India (there are many), so I ought to know. But the truth is that I don’t know for sure! Yes, I have seen some Bollywood movies, which say “yes, we can”. But HOW it happened was the story itself. Yes, such a story always had some kind of motivation for whoever was the protagonist in the story. In many cases motivation led to crime and we called that a phase of HEROES with ‘shades of gray’ (good-bad men).

I always thought when we have shades of gray; there will be some white. And so, I have lived a harder life than I deserved in a world where most dismiss “gray” as having “Black” for certain. It is like a glass half-empty or half-full; but I have chosen to stick by my beliefs for following reasons:

  • My conviction over the years through my career in my own country and overseas, that “Change” is imminent universally; motivation including self-motivation is the catalyst
  • For whatever bad there is in this world, people only listen to where the good lies; it is only the path that could be bad.
  • In today’s world where we even teach our own children to be at least “street smart” and not too good, Motivation too is mostly aimed at “Success at any cost”
  • Motivation to excel and be ahead of competition never comes with wholly Gandhian principles of truth, honesty, non-violence and vegetarianism in today’s times even in my country of Gandhi; but the issue of ethics in any workplace or home will always exist with some underlying ground-rules and regulatory framework

Hence a paper or study on Motivation will not be complete without a discussion and insight into the Rules and Regulations that quite possibly must accompany Motivation of students and employees in particular. But I am keeping that out of scope of this paper, purpose of which is not a research thesis but a brief insight!

3. Motivation in Modern Education

In a world where morality is diminishing and where we make dismissive statements like ‘all is good and nothing is bad’ OR “This is how it is” to keep inert and un-effected, where is the need or desire to be motivated or to motivate somebody from “gray” to “more white”?

It is for this reason that I gave the title of this paper “Motivation in Modern Education”. These are times when we are brainwashed by all kinds of cinema, TV and gossip on fast-track through “World-wide-Web”. Do we BLACK OUT WWW or make use of it; because we have mixed beliefs about its positive values and distorted usage – an uncomfortable debate possible within Board members of any University or Organization, be it in China, India or any of the developing countries.

So times are when at times we must blank out perceived negatives, giving benefit of doubt to the youth of today who are having progressively better and better access and exposure. In such scenario where there is feeble balance on the fulcrum, it is motivation and guidance that perhaps tilts the balance to what can the acceptable or better path when it comes to choice amongst the youth.

This brings us to the question: “When do we need to Motivate?”.

Nobody gets motivated unless he or she sees some “gain” and “profit”. This is not even time specific and I am sure for whatever an older generation may say, human mind works that way! About “old values”; this is Human nature and in our times we plan only for the WORST case!

So the idea or agenda for any motivational exercise or schooling too has to be such that can be “sold”. But is it enough to sell an idea for betterment of our pupils in name of Motivation to bring about some kind of positive change?

No, we have to KNOW the person and be sure it is specific to him or her and will help develop the person to contribute better for some cause. An individual may be easy enough, but to motivate a group of people is more difficult. Yet, when we look at great people and world leaders of historic relevance, we can see so many who motivated their countries, classes, wide sections of humanity in the world!

As such MOTIVATION can be considered as intrinsic to certain kinds of people with largely inborn qualities or some deep passion to drive motivation. There too, it is many struggles, sometimes wars, sometimes mayhem and not all motivation brings “positive” change.

Whatever be the case for Motivation, I am convinced it is definitely not something that takes origins from a classroom course or a textbook of scientific formulas!

But these could be the tips and guidelines (from my observations) for Educational Institutions and Employers; but are already part of Global multinational transformation tools like 6-Sigma and Balanced Score Card in such organizations:

  • Know your employees / students for their positive and negative traits
  • Identify talent and encourage creativity and innovation
  • Create Task Forces / vocational training groups aimed at motivating them to inculcate personal interests are positively directed towards objectives and goals
  • Don’t make meetings and seminars overtly subjective, technical; in other words boring for Gen-Next is growing on fast food and music
  • Morality is taught in high-schools and direction to succeed within one’s trade and field of work is taught in colleges, universities and training institutes/workshops.
  • Serious training and workshops must always be complemented with light-hearted group sessions, one-to-one meetings, coffee table sessions

Motivating Youth of Ethiopia

Motivation is inbuilt into one’s character and persona. It makes its presence felt through some deep passion triggered from within and which creates a ‘halo’ around the very being of people whom we see as ‘motivators’. They then, through course of time and with much persistence, radiate some kind of kinetic energy that transforms into potential energy building chains of other motivators who take on the cause. When such ‘euphoria’ is generated does motivation transform to create any kind of a change.

That way, each human being sometime or another becomes a motivator to somebody. As parents, we want to be motivators for our children. At times of course in our desires and persistence we go overboard with preaching than motivating.

To be a motivator, one also needs to be a role model to those one is having to motivate. We cannot motivate others to do something that we ourselves are seen as not following.

With all the exposure to the world that they are getting, the children, the youth of today are keen observers. They are highly analytical and brashly critical.

The ANALYTICS and the CRITIQUE too follow split second impressions created in mind of the youth. Often “First Impressions” are “last impressions”.

In the land of “Wisdom”, where wisdom runs down ethnicity and diversity of a vast nation like Ethiopia, opinions are strong. Inciting ideas of change or transformation therefore does meet with initial resentment.

In 90% discussions I have had, the sentences start with “But the problem is…..” or “problem with our country…”, etc.

This is common to all people in the world; trust me, including United States of America where people are known to be perennial complainants and India, whose diversity and complexity goes well beyond any other country.

My only expectation from Ethiopia will be to keep the SOLUTIONS close to the PROBLEMS and the challenge is how we motivate Ethiopian youth to overlook the problems, utilize awareness, knowledge and your historic Blessings of WISDOM AT SOURCE OF NILE to improve your lives through hard work, longer hours of study/work, raising your benchmarks of achievements, making Objectives for Success.

In the end I will beg to quote to my Ethiopian friends from the Nobel Laureate and great poet of India Rabindranath Tagore: “…into that tireless striving sense of freedom, my father, let my country awake”!

Motivation to TIRELESSLY STRIVE HARDER is the need for Modern Education in Ethiopia and I can guarantee many of my multinational business fraternity will wait with open arms for graceful jobs and success of Ethiopian ‘thamari**’ in times to come. The Motivator too has to have the ‘woman’ of patience and caring in him/her than the ‘manliness’ meaning authoritative or commanding demeanor.

The Gross Domestic Product is determined by what we produce ‘domestically’ but this must come from the will WITHIN the people than the rules & regulations imposed on anybody for marginal comfort of those less motivated to excel and depending entirely on college/office/government policy alone to find their desires to act and excel. This, to me, is what MOTIVATION is determinant of and is apparently, the challenge for modern educators in Ethiopia!!

************* student*************



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