UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Society, schools and progress in Kenya Jackson, John Alan


The groundwork for this study was established between 1955 and 1964 when the writer was employed as an expatriate Education Officer in Kenya. This was a period which covered the final years of colonialism, internal self-government, final Independence, and the formal beginning of the Republic of Kenya. The writer's first appointment was to the Teacher Training College at Meru in the Central Province, prior to helping to set up the Government Secondary School in adjacent premises belonging to the Intermediate School. Later, completely new premises were designed and built for the secondary school, which had been in full operation for one year before the writer was transferred to the Government Teacher Training College at Kagumo on the western side of Mount Kenya, This was a larger college with a wider range of students. As head of the Mathematics Department, and one of the senior members of the college staff, the writer was responsible for the arrangement and supervision of much of the practical teaching experience of two hundred students in schools from primary to secondary level. It was only after some three or four years in Kenya that the writer became aware of the complete absence of relevance of the whole educational system to local and traditional social or economic structures. Even in the matter of teaching primary arithmetic, no attempt was made to incorporate local number concepts, and the skill of the children in learning by rote, and extensive memorising covered up the lack of understanding of fundamental concepts. A tentative study of tribal number systems—as yet unpublished—led to further study, at U.B.C. in anthropology in an attempt to relate what had been achieved in the field of education in Kenya with what might have been achieved, had colonial educators and administrators been more aware of their African charges as tribal individuals and groups. Purpose The purpose of this study is to consider: 1. The effects of colonial influence on the social structure, education and economic structure of the many and varied tribal groups of Kenya. 2. The extent to which these effects are reversible if considered to be undesirable for the future development of the country. 3. The extent to which such effects are considered to be desirable and advantageous to the future development of independent Kenya. 4. The extent to which traditional values, perhaps long neglected under colonial and missionary influence, may yet be incorporated into the social, educational and economic structures of an identifiable national Kenya, Format The study will be divided into three separate, but closely related sections: 1. Society 2. Education. 3. Economic Structure. Each section will follow the same basic pattern, and to the extent that all three sections are related and interdependent, treatment will be cyclical, and to some extent, repetitive. (a) The traditional structure, organisation and function. (b) The immediate effects of colonialisation. (c) The persistent effects of colonialisation. (d) The present situation. (e) Future trends. Detail Since the Kikuyu represent the largest single tribal unit in Kenya, and also the most closely associated with, and directly influenced by the early European missionaries and administrators, examples of traditional structures and practices will be of Kikuyu origin. Ethnography of many of the tribes of Kenya is limited and not readily available, but the Kikuyu life-style has been clearly and comprehensively detailed by Jomo Kenyatta—presently, His Excellency Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya—in his book "Facing Mount Kenya"₁ which has been used extensively for reference

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