Childhood and adulthood education

Childhood and adulthood education also known as back-to-basics, conventional or customary education refers to long-established customs that the society used during their informal education. They were mostly done by the elders in the community.

In Africa, traditional education is based on informal apprenticeship with kin and early participation in the workforce. Special skills such as medicine, music, craft, etc. are acquired through more formal apprenticeship with specialized persons. Other special skills such as tree felling, hunting and metallurgy are taught by religious leaders during initiation ceremonies.

Children start pastoral duties at a very young age progressing naturally from the plays to actually guarding calves in the compound. In almost all groups the father teaches his sons by going out with them first then giving hands-on responsibility and the knowledge is already firmly established by ages 9-10 for example among the Samburu of Kenya and Tallensi of Burkina Faso.

The child learns all he/ she needs to know to become a functioning adult. Although the education involves harsh trials and ordeals, every child who survives them is allowed to “graduate”.

With the introduction of formal education, it has made it almost impossible to learn such skills again. As much as formal education is good, there is no clarity whether formal education replaces the highly effective traditional system.