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How African Traditional Education Has a Role Now

What Does Traditional Education Mean in South Africa

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Traditional Education in South Africa refers to a holistic approach to learning that is rooted in indigenous knowledge systems. However, even though the term “Traditional Education” has gained formal recognition, indigenous knowledge continues to play a marginal role in the country.

What does Traditional Education Involve?

For me, traditional education can build a deeper connection to the overall learning experience. I believe it can enhance self-esteem, a sense of identity and belonging.

It involves the transmission of cultural values, community engagement, and the development of individuals physically, mentally, spiritually, and morally. When I reflect on my own high school experience, the colonial model of education lacked warmth and entrenched an unequal notion of status.

Indigenous African education

Indigenous African education is deeply rooted in the customs, beliefs, and practices of diverse communities across the continent. Passed down through generations, this form of learning emphasizes the importance of oral tradition, storytelling, and hands-on experiences.

Elders and community leaders play a central role in imparting knowledge and wisdom to younger generations, teaching them about history, culture, values, and survival skills. Learning takes place in various settings, such as under the shade of trees, around the fire, or during communal gatherings.

Through practical activities, like farming, hunting, and craftsmanship, learners develop essential life skills while also gaining a deeper understanding of their place within the community and the natural world. This holistic approach to education fosters a strong sense of identity, resilience, and interconnectedness among individuals and their environment.

The Role in South Africa

Traditional Education, on the other hand, emphasizes communal values and a connection to the land. Land ownership is controversial in South Africa so schools need to address the topic. As a result of Apartheid, most Black people are still unable to afford land and many have been robbed of their historical land inheritances. There were forced removals when areas became segregated. Segregation splits families and communities apart.

In contemporary South Africa, there is a growing effort to revive and integrate traditional education into formal systems. This could possibly help remove some of the inherent biases we find in our education system.

Okay, I admit I’m ranting a bit now. But consider the Afrikaans that’s taught in school and the Afrikaans spoken by the Cape Coloured communities. Totally different! So it’s not just an English cultural prejudice, but an Afrikaans one too. Black Afrikaans and White Afrikaans is different, yet only white Afrikaans is permitted. Tell me I’m wrong and explain yourself below.

But do you see how traditional education can result in balancing cultural preservation? Also, do you see how traditional education can help us create our unique response to the demands of a rapidly changing global society? I believe there is money to be made with our unique African identity and that we consistently undervalue it.

Do you Believe Cultural Preservation and Heritage are Important?

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Traditional Education?

A: This way of learning has been passed down through generations. It includes teachings about our culture, values, and how we live together as a community.

How is Traditional Education Different from Regular School?

A: Traditional education focuses on academic subjects in addition to cultural and community values. It’s a holistic approach that helps us understand our roots and become responsible members of our community.

Why is Traditional Education Important for Children?

A: It is important because it helps children learn about their culture and community. It teaches them how to respect others and be a part of something bigger than themselves.

How Can Parents Support Traditional Education at Home?

A: Parents can share stories, traditions, and customs with their children. Engaging in cultural activities and celebrations at home helps reinforce the values taught in this education.

Can Traditional Education Help Children Speak English Better?

A: Yes, it can enhance language skills. Through storytelling, songs, and cultural activities, children not only learn about their heritage but also improve their English language skills naturally and engagingly.

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How Does Traditional Education Encourage Respect?

A: This education emphasizes values like respect for elders, community members, and the environment. By learning about these values, children understand the importance of respecting others and their surroundings.

Is Traditional Education Only for Certain Communities?

A: No, it can benefit children from all communities. It’s about understanding and preserving cultural values, and every child can benefit from learning about different traditions.

How Can Teachers Incorporate Traditional Education in the Classroom?

A: Teachers can incorporate cultural stories, customs, and celebrations into lessons. This helps create a more inclusive and culturally rich learning environment.

Does Traditional Education Conflict with Modern Learning?

A: No, it can complement modern learning. It provides a unique perspective on culture and values, enriching the overall educational experience for children.

Can Traditional Education Help Children Succeed in the Future?

A: Yes, this education equips children with a strong cultural foundation, essential life skills, and a sense of community. These qualities can contribute to their success in navigating the challenges of the future with resilience and pride.

Check out our List of 6 Traditional Education Research Studies on 7Sundays.

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Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Carmen

    Hi, I really enjoy your article.

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