New Era Newspaper

MTC Shares
Icon Collap
Home / Opinion - Decolonising the education system 

Opinion - Decolonising the education system 

2021-05-14  Prof Makala Lilemba

Opinion - Decolonising the education system 
Top of a Page

In line with apartheid philosophy, the South African government imposed an oppressive Bantu education system in Namibia. Hotep (2003) maintains that Europeans perfected three types of colonialism over the years, namely territorial, intellectual and mental upon the indigenous peoples of Africa. Now China has moved in to continue exploiting the Africans economically and politically. 

Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1981) a renowned Kenyan scholar and world acclaimed writer, asserts that the process of colonial education annihilates a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. Among other evils, two forms were created: Mis-education, which describes the destructive effects of Western schools on the black mind, in using a curriculum and pedagogy that deliberately omits, distorts or trivializes the role of African people towards world history and their culture. 

Mentacide is a term linked to genocide of campaign to destroy the African mind as prelude to destroying African people. To try and remedy the situation, government should embark upon the following measures:


Decolonising the 

African minds

This demands the dismantling of white supremacist beliefs and the structures which support them in every sphere of African life. The masses should be taught systematically and inculcate into their minds the effects, importance and advantages of liberation pedagogy. This can be done through different fora such as discussion groups, media and through other means of communication. 


Easing the cultural bomb

The government should do more by encouraging Namibians to stick to acceptable cultural practices like beliefs in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves  


Revisit the issue of traditional healing

There were also cases of traditional healers who would heal and cure some illnesses using traditional methods. Like in many African countries, this system is being revisited and assessed whether it is really beneficial in a modern society. Studies have shown that western medicine is fang to cure some of the diseases like cancer and therefore nations like India and China are resorting to traditional medicines. 


Protecting folklore 

of all Namibians

These include stories, fables, songs sang for ages among Namibian communities. The wisdom embedded into the stories of the lion and the cunning jackal and hare has have been told for ages by the Namibian sages and can imbue into the young one’s life-long knowledge. 


Implement a work-oriented curriculum

The current formal, more academic curriculum which encourages diploma disease type of education should be done away with. 

In its place, educators should strive to implement a curriculum which is vocational and self-reliant. 

Education must inculcate and reinforce the traditional African socialist values of equality, cooperativeness and self-reliance. It must foster the social goals of living together as communities and lastly as a nation. It should involve the young ones in developing their societies. 

The young ones must learn to combine practical and intellectual activities and to respect and make use of the stock knowledge and wisdom accumulated over generations in the society. Education should also prepare the young people for work in the rural society, where development depends largely upon the efforts of the people in agriculture and village development (Akinpelu, 1981; Nyerere, 1967).


Learning should be 

by social interaction

Children like to learn together, and to be allowed to do so will encourage and increase their zest for learning. As an educator, encourage the children to talk to each other quite freely in and outside the school premises, and in the process discussing whatever they are doing as a team. Secure as much output from each child as possible.  

 Recognise and encourage the value of traditional art, music and dances among Namibian community members, whether they are displayed at festivals or encouraged by specially-funded institutes (Knight and Newman, 1976). According to these authors, one way of establishing self-identity is to turn to the past (of course useful past) and to reinterpret history through African rather than European eyes. Historical identity may take the form of campaigns for ‘authenticity like discouragement or abandoning meaningless European names in favour of meaningful African names as it was done in former Zaire (renamed the Democratic of the Republic of Congo) in the 1970s. 


Involve learners 

in the education process

Freire (1972) advocates a system of education in which children are involved and advocated a stance that the oppressed of the world need to liberate themselves through education and alphabetisation.  

Education should be 

problem solving orientated

At both formal schooling setup and in the community, what is taught should assist children and other stakeholders to solve everyday problems. According to education should be pragmatic for example, at both primary and secondary levels, learners should be taught basic carpentry skills. If a desk is broken, learners should be able to repair it. 

Where the school is in short supply of vegetables, learners should do some basic gardening and grow vegetables to feed themselves and at the same time, earn some income. Learners need not be told that, this needs common sense.


Freedom and responsibility

After going through a system that was traditional and later on oppressive, Namibia became a democracy with its constitution founded on principles of freedom. From early years, learners should be taught the tenets of freedom and exposing them to its realities. 


Encourage research 

among the learners 

Educators should be encouraged to reflect on enquiry teaching and learning methods. Children should be encouraged to discover their neglected valuable past. This can be done through research and by using riddles, idiomatic expressions and proverbs. As Mbeki (1999) puts it, “We must embrace the culture of the globe, while ensuring that we do not discard our own.” Through these processes, we will decolonise our education system en masse.

2021-05-14  Prof Makala Lilemba

Share on social media
Bottom of a page