Integrating our cultural heritage in our curriculum

Whereas in the past, cultural values and tradition mores were passed on from one generation to another through stories told around fireplaces in the evenings, this option seems not to be possible given the dynamics of our lifestyles today. At this rate, we are losing our cultural heritage, cultural values and history at a rate anybody could imagine.
Stephen Mugisha
Stephen Mugisha

Whereas in the past, cultural values and tradition mores were passed on from one generation to another through stories told around fireplaces in the evenings, this option seems not to be possible given the dynamics of our lifestyles today.

At this rate, we are losing our cultural heritage, cultural values and history at a rate anybody could imagine.

 

Parents have increasingly become busy and they hardly find time to interact with their children, the technological fall-offs have made it hard for the children to interact with their parents to learn from them.

 

The western model of education which was transplanted into Africa during colonial era has continued to define and shape Education systems in Africa today- 50 years after independence!  There is nothing that has uprooted our self-esteem and cultural values like the education system that we went through and we are busy preaching to our children today. From the colonial era, the western model of life style continues to be the measure and standard of who is who and has created a generation of elites that feel anything African is irrelevant and backward.

As such, it is not surprising that our young children spend most of their time watching movies, playing video games and relaxing. We hardly orient our children to physical work even simple chores like slashing the compound and washing dishes.

 

It is no, a surprise that because of this, poor mindset shaped over time especially through our education system, the attitude of the child in career orientation becomes negative towards technical education because it’s always associated with failures in life.

The biggest irony is that a few African scholars who tried to point out such evils and flaws that were eluding African values as early as 1950s ended up going to live in western cities because of different reasons. This includes the likes of the late Chinua Achebe (RIP), Wole Soyinka among others-so who will speak for Africa from Africa then?

Given this scenario and today’s realities where both parents and teachers have little time to teach morals and values to the young generation, there should be a deliberate policy by the government through the institutions concerned to integrate our cultural values and heritage at the core of curriculum and teaching.

African folktales, proverbs and African indigenous knowledge and values should be fully integrated in our curriculum to save these values from extinction. Another appropriate way to preserve and protect our cultural heritage from extinction should be through writing and preserving them through books.

Our history and traditions should be integrated carefully and information put in books to teach our children some of the social challenges that they meet today. For example, in Rwanda, our focus could be on themes that help our children to promote unity and reconciliation, environmental issues, HIV and AIDS, equitable education, promote human rights, implications of drug abuse, assertion of women’s rights, gender parity, and prevention of child mortality through immunisation, among others.

Although there are efforts being made to address some of these challenges a multi-sector approach might offer a best solution when we consider the extent of the impact and challenges. It is imperative to understand that today’s multiple challenges require the adoption of integrative strategies and integrating our cultural values and traditions would be one of the most effective options to protect these values and cultural heritage from extinction. 

Reading materials should be consciously generated to influence the character of our children today and the nature of adults they will be tomorrow. These works could be designed in such a way that readers will develop life and personal skills from reading such materials/books.

Again, the ministry of Education as well as that of Culture and Sports together with other institutions concerned should collaborate to come up with integrated approach to rectify the current trends. There is need of implementing a curriculum that would change the instructional approaches to those with appeal to problem solving and development of high cognitive skills.

Our Education system and curriculum should change from traditional approaches and focus on new and innovative approaches that appeal to contractive learning as compared to rote learning. Integrating the indigenous knowledge, cultural values and traditions should be at the centre of teaching and learning process throughout our education cycle.

Accordingly, integrating our cultural values and traditions is the most effective way of preserving our national heritage and promoting and protecting our esteem. Otherwise, we shall leave it in the dustbin as a result of the resultant and progressive generational gaps and in the end; we shall be a lost people. Until then I rest my case.

The writer is an educationist, author and publisher.

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