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Traditional African education: Its significance to current educational practices with special reference to Zimbabwe

Chrispen Matsika, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to critically examine three different approaches to educational provision in Zimbabwe during the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. It was the intention of the researcher to then select certain features of the pre-colonial, which is also known as the traditional approach, and adopt them into the present practices in order to improve the later. To this end, two methods were employed, literary works and interviews. The major form of obtaining information here was through literary works. Various documents on the history of education in Zimbabwe during the colonial and post-colonial periods were examined and those relevant to this study were selected. Those of the current practices were also used. It was determined that both in the colonial and postcolonial eras, governments were using education as a tool to realize their political objectives. The concerns over political security led colonial governments to provide and withhold education provision as they saw fit. This was their way of checking and controlling the rate of African advancement. Current efforts in the provision of education by the government are a way of cementing the ruling party's administration of society around its own political ideology. This study has found that in both the colonial and the post-colonial periods, the African children were subjected to very strange experiences in the form of the school curriculum. The type of thinking and activities children did at school was not supported with the experiences that they had at home. The worlds of traditional Shona and thought (home) and that of the West (school) in many cases were found to be diametrically opposite. This study argues that these opposite worlds can be bridged if certain aspects of traditional thought and practice was allowed into schools. This would be done by providing a curriculum at school, which incorporated some of those experiences that are highly valued at home. That would make the students' experiences at home continuous with and complementary to those at school.

Subject Area

Educational theory|Teacher education|Education history

Recommended Citation

Matsika, Chrispen, "Traditional African education: Its significance to current educational practices with special reference to Zimbabwe" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9960770.