Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Indigenous Cultural Practices as Precursors to Social Work Education in Nigeria

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Indigenous Cultural Practices as Precursors to Social Work Education in Nigeria

Article excerpt

This paper examines indigenous cultural practices as precursors to social work education in Nigeria. Charitable service, mutual care and concern for needy kinsmen are not new in the age-long tradition of communal care. There are also the traditional mechanisms of mutual aid and community education through the observance of cultural norms, which inhibit socially undesirable behaviour, facilitate acceptable social behaviour and promote self-help. The advent of Christian missionaries set in motion the establishment of a number of social service institutions. Indigenous knowledge, particularly in the Nigerian context, has long been ignored and maligned by outsiders. Educational frameworks in indigenous communities are fundamentally based on the trans-generational transmission of culture and knowledge, which are carefully regulated by elders and transmitted through a variety of forms of communication. One striking revelation of this paper is that indigenous technology and knowledge cannot be easily wiped away because they are deeply rooted in people's culture. This paper concludes that African governments and international development agencies should recognize that local-level knowledge and organizations provide the foundation for participatory approaches to development that are both costeffective and sustainable. The paper recommends that governments establish a global network of regional and national indigenous knowledge resource centres that document the historical and contemporary indigenous knowledge of numerous ethnic groups.

Key words: Indigenous, cultural practices, precursors, social work, education

Education provides an important framework through which cultures thrive and societies function. Access to education is crucial in determining positive sociocultural outcomes of peoples within all societies. Cross-culturally, there is much diversity and variation in the way educational framework exists. It is imperative that all cultural models of education are respected, not simply "tolerated' in order for different frameworks to exist concurrently and for all students to have equal access to education within culturally diverse societies (Horstman, 2001).

Educational frameworks in Indigenous communities are fundamentally based upon the transgenerational transmission of culture and knowledge. Knowledge is carefully regulated by elders within communities and transmitted through a variety of forms of communication. The European invasion of indigenous nations disrupted the socio-cultural frameworks of indigenous societies and, in particular, dislocated indigenous models of education, hindering the traditional pedagogies of learning (Battiste et al, 2005). The cultural paradigms through which indigenous knowledge is transmitted differ significantly from the Western cultural models of education and ways of knowing, being and doing. Disregarding the importance of difference, policies of protection and assimilation imposed Western cultural models upon indigenous people, with the intention to subvert indigenous sociocultural frameworks (Fletcher, 1989).

Education has been a means of transmitting one's culture from one generation to another. It is the process of bringing about a relatively permanent change in human behaviour. It is the main instrument used by society to preserve, maintain and upgrade its social equilibrium. A society's future depends largely on the quality of its citizen's education (Alcorn, 1992).

In all human societies, education is meant to pass on to the new generations the existing knowledge of their physical environment, to introduce individuals to the organization of society, and to give them skill for their own benefit and that of the society. In other words, education is a process by which the society assists the younger generation to understand the heritage of their past, participate productively in the society of the present as well as contribute to the future (Fletcher, 1989). Therefore, education draws inspiration and nourishment from a society, but it in turn, contributes to the growth, renewal and development of that society. …

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