Traditional Education in Africa

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  • Traditional western education provides literary and academic knowledge, unable to encompass culture and tradition fully.
  • The wider community needs to work harmoniously with the educational institutions, to make learning a full and meaningful experience. Society enriches the learning process and makes the aim of education clear.
  • Traditional African systems of education forego educational institutions and emphasize the formation of character in all stages of life within one’s family. A person’s learning is defined by their growth stage and is more focused on community traditions.
  • A variety of activities engaging on a physical, emotional, and intellectual level are performed, allowing children to develop while being ingrained into their society.
  • The traditionally beneficial and rational values have existed in African societies long before contact with the Europeans was established.
  • The current challenge for an African society is to sufficiently adapt and prepare the population for the highly technological environment of today. The people need better development and cultivation of appropriate skillsets. Changing the skills acquired to suit the modern age and its needs presents a difficulty.
  • In western countries, the general goal is the acquisition of high-end knowledge to adapt to the modern world.
  • African education centered on preserving the societal structures in place, the status quo, and the gendered roles of people.
  • The physical situation and location influenced the kinds of knowledge children to receive, and the skills they learn. Religious tradition and spirituality are also a major part of the experience.
  • Education was delivered by a combination of formal and informal methods, including rituals, traditions, and people of specific occupations that relayed life skills for a compensation.

The traditional education in Africa is significantly different from the western standards and practices many people have come to know. Generally, education is used to provide children with academic and literary knowledge, information about the history, science, and other things deemed necessary to learn in the current age. Pupils receive an education that allows them to further apply and develop their academic prowess by learning how the basic principles to function. The main drawback of this system, however, is that the system of education is mostly separated from the cultural and traditional background it is performed in. Regardless of the environment, the contents of the education mostly stay the same, creating a major gap between what children learn and what they need to know in their daily life. To appropriately compensate for the lack of coherence between the two, it is understood that other institutions and the society at large work to integrate children into their social circle and sufficiently adapt them to the bigger environment. However, that process is often flawed and can create a discrepancy that makes the wider expanse of knowledge a child receives useless. African traditional education, however, functions in a different way, putting emphasis on the synthesis of learning and culture. Most of the education provided to children before the Europeanization of Africa was focused on giving the children the knowledge needed to live within their respective societies. The information was delivered in an informal manner, mostly within one’s social circle. Knowledge shared occupies different niches including physical skills, practical skills, and intellectual skills. All education is also specific to the place where it is shared, as an emphasis is placed on the need for youth to become a part of their community. The nature of knowledge is highly hierarchical, standing to reinforce the existing structures of power. Such concepts as respect for one’s elders, gender roles, the role of community work, and cooperation are highly valued and are among the first to be taught to children. Education is facilitated under a variety of frameworks, formal and informal. In some cases, teachers are used to relate certain life skills or specific knowledge. The moral and traditional values of African society were in many ways similar to the ones in Europe, and existed far before contact with Europeans was established. African system of education, however, has a significant difficulty adapting to the modern environment and the needs of the 21’st century. Current developments in the fields of science and technology require significant entry-level knowledge, one which the traditional system is ill-equipped to provide. The African system faces the challenge of adapting to the current age and preparing them for a life in a global environment. With the effects of globalization and the spread of other cultures, Africa has to make its youth more accustomed to interacting with other countries and using newer technology. While it is apparent that the traditional way of educating the youth is flawed, I think it is still better for the people of Africa than being forced into a European system of education. The western style of education is too separated from culture and does not allow young people to successfully integrate into their communities. Inability to integrate leaves them without a good understanding of their place in the world, stability, and many possible roads for future growth.

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"Traditional Education in Africa." ChalkyPapers, 30 July 2022,


ChalkyPapers. (2022) 'Traditional Education in Africa'. 30 July.


ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Traditional Education in Africa." July 30, 2022.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Traditional Education in Africa." July 30, 2022.


ChalkyPapers. "Traditional Education in Africa." July 30, 2022.