This is a study of skill learning in an informal learning setting in Africa. The purpose of the study is to describe an analyze the nature of the skill acquisition process in one indigenous training system: the apprenticeship of the wayside mechanics workshops in Koforidua, Ghana.
The study first examines informal skill training from a broad perspective. The history of the West African craft workshop and its associated apprenticeship is traces. Several major themes in the literature on informal skill training systems such as apprenticeships.
The second part of the study describes the specific setting of the wayside mechanics workshops and the general features of the apprenticeship system. Subsequent sections consider contextual factors which may have a bearing on apprentice skill acquisition. Case studies of several apprentice and master artisans are presented to illustrate personal experiences at various levels of the mechanics profession.
Finally, the learning/teaching process in the wayside workshop is analyzed intensively using data gathered from general observation, structured interveiws, and structured observation instruments.
Apprentice skill competence is assessed through self-reports and administration of mechanics skill test. Results are used to evaluate the effectiveness of apprenticeship training in fostering diagnostic skills and higher-order theoretical understanding. Several possible ways of enhancing apprenticeship training through supplementary training programs are suggested.
The implications of the study are of interest to educational anthropologists who are concerned with learning in traditional naturalistic settings. The study is also significant for educational planners in that it calls attention to the strengths and limitations of building nonformal educational programs around indigenous learning systems.
Center for International Education