The UoA25 Research Development Funding recently supported a pilot study in Cameroon on the subject “Forging a university-aided Indigenous community education policy: Village elders, informal education and social development in Cameroon”. The rationale for this study hinges on the fact that state-building in the horn of Africa requires a rethink and striking a balance between traditional and modern institutions within a framework of interconnectedness (Englebert, 2005; Bereketeab, 2011; Mbah, 2016). Village elders engender social resilience and pivotal assets in informal education and community development transactions (Fonchingong, C. 2016), as well as indigenousness has been advanced as a pathway to empowerment for ‘marginalized’ communities (Ndahinda, 2011).
The pilot study which ran from the 06th – 15th of July 2016 also had an objective of forming the basis of an application for external funding. It unpicks the role and instrumentality of the university, community elders and traditional authority governance in contemporary social development. The main proposition of the study revolves around the centrality of informal education methods and strategies that are deployed by village elders in community settings. Utilising a range of community assets and resources, elders use their community leverage to provide social justice with attendant outcomes on decreasing social inequality whilst maintaining a heightened sense of community education, cohesion and stability. The conceptual ideas of asset-based approaches, indigenous knowledge, social capital and its connections to poverty (Eversole et al. 2005) also resonate with the study. The pilot study took place in one discrete location in Cameroon, the Southwest region which is one of two English speaking regions hosting a state Anglo-Saxon university. Sixteen participants from disparate backgrounds took part in semi-structured interviews and these included traditional rulers, local elders and university lecturers.
The key guiding questions included the following:
- What informal/indigenous education strategies are deployed by community elders?
- Are there challenges in indigenous strategies and how can the university’s capacity be helpful in addressing these for traditional and modern governance architecture?
Participants were particularly interested in the subject of the study as they underscored an opportunity to once more identify and protect their indigenous roots, which according to them, are under threat from rapid encroachment of modernity and formal education. The recorded interviews will be transcribed, analysed and findings will help to provide a framework for integrating thriving aspects of so called indigenous/informal education strategies. Furthermore, the resultant output would potentially identify the challenges with informal education and higher education mechanisms for aiding traditional governance, matched with positive outcomes on community development at micro-levels.
If you need more information on this project, please contact Dr Marcellus Mbah.
Bereketeab, R. (2011). Rethinking State-Building in the Horn of Africa: Challenges of Striking a Balance between Traditional and Modern Institutions, African Studies,
70:3, 376-392, doi: 10.1080/00020184.2011.628799
Englebert, P. (2005). ‘Back to the Future? Resurgent Indigenous Structures and the Reconfiguration of Power in Africa’, in Vaughan (ed). Tradition and politics: indigenous political structures in Africa. Africa World Press, Trenton.
Eversole, P. et al. (2005) (eds) Indigenous peoples and poverty : an international perspective, London: Zed Books
Fonchingong, C. (2016) Optimising Community-Driven Development through Sage Tradition in Cameroon, Global Social Welfare, Research, Policy & Practice, 3(1), doi 10.1007/s40609-016-0052-6, Springer International Publishing 2016
Mbah, M.F., 2016. Towards the idea of the interconnected university for sustainable community development. Higher Education Research & Development, pp.1-14.
Ndahinda, F.M. (2011) (ed) Indigenousness in Africa: A contested Legal framework for empowerment of ‘Marginalized’ Communities, Netherlands: TMC Asser Press & Springer