Before the coming of colonialist in Africa, the African they had their own form of education. Prior to independence movement, many East Africans were socialized within indigenous contexts. Indigenous knowledge encompassed what local people know and do what they have known and done for generations. These practices developed through trial and error and proved flexible enough to cope with change.
The purposes of African indigenous Education.
The general purposes of indigenous education in each society or tribe in East Africa prior to establishment of western education by the foreigners, was to enable each societal member to be useful or helpful to his/her society, to the family, to the rest of members of that society and to the state in he or she belongs. In addition, indigenous African knowledge intended to transmit a common culture and prevailing gender based division of labor.
The following was the specific goals and objectives of African indigenous education
To develop child’s talents physical skills
To develop good character among individuals
To inculcate respect to elder and those in authority
To develop intellectual skills
To acquire specific vocational training and to develop healthy attitude towards honest labour
To understand, appreciate and promote cultural heritage of the community at large.
To preserve the cultural heritage of the tribe
To produce a complete individual, a lifelong learner who is cultured, respectfully, integrated, sensitive and responsive to the need of the family and neighbors
To archive the above goals of indigenous education, each member of a given society or tribe was taught the basic knowledge, skills, desirable social behavior, customs, history, biology, geography, chemistry, agriculture, religion and philosophy and others.
THE AFRICAN INDIGENOUS EDUCATION SYSTEM
In education system we have to look on the curriculum that used, Organization of indigenous education and Pedagogy of African indigenous education.
a) The curriculum
The African indigenous education was designed by societal members in accordance to the need and interests of a particular tribe. This means that learning of skills, social and cultural values and norms were not separated from other sphere of life. Children were taught local understanding of soil types, trees, crops, ecological changes, traditional healing, land tenure and inheritance rights as important aspects in sustaining local communities.
The knowledge provided was inseparable to the nature of environment because they were rooted in the community from which they arise. Political opinions, religious beliefs, gender roles, ethnic identities, professions, and the subject they teach were influenced by dominant culture. The nature of contents, there for was used to differ from one tribe to next depending on the geographical settings and social economic positions of each ethnic group. The curriculum of indigenous education in this manner emanated from the physical, social and spiritual aspects of each society.
Basing on physical aspect: The physical environment influenced the content of the curriculum in that what was taught was meant to make a child to adapt and adjust to the environment so that he/she can gain benefit from the environment. The child learns landscape, weather and about pants and animal life. As the child grows learn to practice different issues about their environment, for instance those who lived in fishing areas learnt how to fish, to preserve fish and manufacture canoes.
The social environment shaped the content of African indigenous education. The child learnt manners, laws, history of the clan or ethic group especially of his/her heroes. Good manners like generosity, hospitality, care for others, and respect for others. The training given to youth prepared them for military, family, agricultural and cultural purposes.
Also in spiritual aspect the curriculum of indigenous education considered things like birth of child, death, sickness, floods and drought were accorded with the spiritual significance. There for education focused on religious teachings or instruction. The young children received instructions concerning the bad and good spirit. They were taught about the values of making the spirits stop such disasters.
b) Organization of indigenous education.
This refers to the areas or places in which indigenous education conducted and people involved to conduct that education. The indigenous education was organized within the local community context. Being contextualized, local knowledge is concrete and part of what is real to those who live in local communities. In traditional or indigenous education the teaching and learning of the basic knowledge and skills was arranged in homesteads, around the fireplace at night in sleeping houses and anywhere people carried economic, political and social activities in the whole society. For example teaching took place in the garden, grazing ground and in the communal places.
Teachers were mostly the parents and all the responsible grown up citizens in the tribe. Parents had a duty to teach their children at home before they go to be taught by other member of the community who are responsible for teaching them. Also there were special teachers to teach young people such specialist includes rainmakers etc.
c) Pedagogy of African indigenous education.
The pedagogy of African indigenous education emerged from the local context of practices. In due course, the traditional method of teaching used is what westerners would today call masterly learning. Every effort was made, encouragements were given and incentives were provided to make sure that even the most coward goes through. Group instruction, group assignments, apprenticeship and age groupings to experience a particular significant event were the most common methods employed to instruct the youth. The private instruction by one’s brother or sister also was provided. Repetition, internalization and practice were the main methods employed to educate the youth.
The common methods used in indigenous education includes oral form of literature, the mini lecture, observation and imitation, cultural function, games and plays, active participation, Apprenticeship, reward and punishment also was used.