Importance of family life Education in traditional African society

To what extent was family life Education important in traditional African society?                                                                                                                                     

It was important to a larger extent.                                                               

Family life education is also known as informal education or traditional schooling which prepared individuals to fit in society.                                                    

The traditional education was mainly practical and not just for knowledge.                                                                                                                          

There were special people responsible for education in families and in some cases it was the responsibility of everyone e.g. among the Nandi they were called 'teachers' or motirenek'

Education was meant to equip children with skills which would enable them live as full members of their society.

Education exposed them to physical, social, political, economic and religious life of the community.

It involved introducing children to communal way of living where there was since of brotherhood for instance when two people meet on the way the greeting would be geared in finding out whether they are related or not (Banyole).

They introduced children to visitors with the aspect of brotherhood so that even when they meet the relationship continues.

They were taught obedience and respect of their parents and other people e.g. among the Samia if a boy passed people without greeting, he would be called back and a boy of his size brought to fight him or a number of boys to learn respect and social life as he pleads for mercy.

Responsibility was taught for example working in gardens, cooking, looking after cattle.

Children were virtually introduced to spiritual life such as staying in forests where spirits stay or sharing new food in shrines.

Initiation rites had education programmes which introduced children to sexual life, marriage, hardships, and endurance, procreation and family responsibilities.

Education system in some societies was done on age set systems. This was a basis to enforce unity among scholars and society at large.

Story telling was done to moderate children's emotions.

More educational values were introduced as they grew older.

Sex education was well-organized where uncles, aunts, grandparents had great roles i.e. how to please a partner, cleanliness, when to have sex, with who (calling or faithfulness).

It taught the ethical order and how to enhance responsible parenthood.

However, to a smaller extent informal education limited personal initiative.

It had selfishness of ideal/expertise of medicine men that were very strict not to teach many people about their medicines.

It was also selfish and brought indifferences e.g. a Munyole was taught to know how bad a japadhola was or a Mugisu vis-avis Sabiny.

It was oral thus it could be misinterpreted, forgotten and no chance of reflection.

It did not give room to ask questions about cultural norms which brought hatred like between Baganda and Banyoro or like in Bugisu no boy would question against circumcision Just do what you are taught).

It was rigid and would not accept new changes easily.

It was oppressive to women who were to accept beatings as a sign of love or denied some foods.

It brought about inferiority e.g. a Gishu woman would see herself as 'omuhasi Bussa' (mere woman) who cannot do what a man is entitled to.

Family life education was not important to important men or infertile women who were looked upon.

Family life education was not important and led to bad behaviour like witchcraft e.g. a child of a night dancer or sorcerer, thief must learn to do so if not he can be discriminated or disowned.

Weaknesses of formal education in preparation of children for family life.

Formal education is the learning received from schools in an organised environment, syllabus and professionals. Formal education unlike traditional education has many weaknesses as follows:-

Academic emphasis passing education where ones level of passing determines how intelligent one is.

It does not adequately prepare children to fit in the society.

Morals are not stressed on grounds that they are not examinable.

Ignoring to put emphasis on morals is a big harm to society where hooliganism becomes the order of the day by some children.

It does not equip children with skills needed in families where a university graduate may not know how to cook or put up a simple shelter.

The system of education creates job seekers rather than job makers in a family.

Job seeking resulting from formal education creates idle ad disorderly lot of people who can be a menace in the family.

Those who have received formal education tend to think that they are better than those who have not gone to school.

Formal education has destroyed some traditional African values such as family life educative values.

It has aroused rapid social changes some of which are destructive to families.

Formal education has not effectively harmonised the relationships between children and authorities.

It is partly responsible for decline of religious convictions due to scientific ideas.

It has created long separation between parents and their children

As children spend most of their time at school they miss adequate parental care and love for the teachers' individualism where everybody is support to work alone "everyone full himself ad God for all."

Children are exposed to premarital sex where discipline is not strict e.g. in mixed schools.

It leads to poor choice of married partners i.e. those who cannot respect parents.

In schools children can copy wrong ideas from other cultures.

Sexual values are no longer taught.

It makes people hate manual work hence becoming too lazy.

Lacks the cultural aspects and social norms.

It lacks courage and self discipline etc.

In spite of the fact that formal education has weaknesses, it has various advantages as noted below:-

To produce future leaders who are conversant with international affairs.

It is the basis for one to get employment

It furnishes one with technical know how such as agriculture, mechanics, information technology and modern science.

It is the key to the problem of man power as it helps to mould teachers, doctors, Engineers etc.

It has helped the emancipation of women because today they are not entirely house keeper.

It exposes children to political, economic and social interaction.

It is used to inculcate nationalism to the people.

It brings people to be in contact with international communities.

Creates sense of unity and togetherness where they call for peace talks in spite of tribal wars.

It is the biggest future insurance not only for children but for the elderly parents.

In schools children engage in physical activities like games and sports where talents are recognised like Inzikuru, Akii Bua, Kiprotich and Kipsiro among others.

It eradicates parochial beliefs based tribal, regional and religious entities.

It has improved on scientific methods of agriculture, modern medication where even brains or the heart can be operated by doctors.

It has contributed to environmental awareness and conservation of nature through national game parks, forest preservation.

It has promoted research and innovations.

Many children who come from rural areas can help improve on their villages and living standards.

It has inculcated a sense of tolerance, patriotism among learners.

Of recent education is being geared towards job makers through emphasis on science and technology subjects.

Problem facing education today

There is shortage of trained teachers in many schools especially rural areas.

Wars and civil strife have led to neglect of educational institutions and quality of education.


Figure 15 More the country's resources are spent on maintaining a strong army to keep us secure hence reducing the education budget

Some schools lack necessary facilities.

Changes in curriculum often changed without proper training of teachers and provision of instructional materials.

Educational system does not equip children to be self reliant.

The quality of graduates from higher institutions has dropped.

There is poor planning e.g. UPE is not well-facilitated.

There is poor discipline, lack of accountability, low moral values, and motivation for work among teachers.

The education system is examination oriented.

 Problems faced by parents in upbringing children

Economic constraints hamper good education, providing basics of life like food, clothing.

Due to employment and sometimes long hours / distances and search for survival devices parents to give parental guidance to their children.

The permissive society; where there is too much freedom, reluctance given to children.

Peer group influence which can bring conflicts with parents due to the socialisation.

Religious differences where children convert to different religious against parents' will.

Teenagers often have a lot of demands and want to compare themselves with others.

Western influence makes children to stand against traditional cultures.

In boarding schools children learn behaviours that do not fit in homes to the parents.

In schools also children learn sex abuse or misuse such as lesbianism un pleasant to parents.

The differences in education levels between parents and children bring strife.

Popularisation of leisure activities e.g. discos.

Feminism movements make girls have biases towards men.

Seeking independence at an early age brings strained relationships.

Pornography, advertisements and desire for children to reach the taste of time brings strife.

Biblical guidance to the children and parents

Children should:-

  • Obey their parents in order to receive blessings.
  • Respect, parents.
  • Love their parents.
  • Look after their parents especially in old age.
  • Should work hard to contribute to the stability of the home socially and economically.
  • Should listen to parental guidance.
  • Seek guidance and counselling from parents in moments of difficulty.
  • Adopt Christian values such as prayer, patience and kindness.
  • Should always have time for bible study.

Parents should:-

Should not irritate or mistreat children.

Should pray, love God; a family that prays together stays together.

Should bring up children with honesty.

Should give some freedom and not always to dictate over children. Make sure that you discuss with them.

Should bring up children as God fearing.

Should know that children are gifts from God.

Protect them against dangers of pornography, bad company etc.

Should be more responsible and give material support.

Mass media should be geared towards promoting African culture.

The youth should be given more roles to play in society e.g. politics, worship, entertainment

The church and government should work hand in hand with parents to educate children.

The conservative parents should know that they are living in a rapidly changing society.

The government should censor the kind of literature, music, films and radio programmes.

The government should develop a curriculum that includes traditional values such as organising traditional foods, entertainment.