Mungo Park

Posted By on 23rd July 2015

“Neither imperialism nor colonialism is a simple act of accumulation and acquisition. Both are supported and perhaps even impelled by impressive ideological formations which include notions that certain territories and people require and beseech domination, as well as forms of knowledge affiliated with that domination.”

Mungo Park, a name familiar to many generations of students in Africa

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  1. On attaining independence, post-colonial thinkers and politicians embarked on the decolonisation of the education system, to serve the needs of Africans than the now-gone colonialists. Arguing for the abolition of the English department and establishment of the African Literature and Languages department at the university of Nairobi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote:

    “We want to establish the centrality of Africa in the department. This, we have argued, is justifiable on various grounds, the most important one being that education is a means of knowledge about ourselves. Therefore, after we have examined ourselves, we radiate outwards and discover peoples and worlds around us. With Africa at the centre of things, not existing as an appendix or a satellite of other countries and literatures, things must be seen from the African perspective.”

    The river was called Kiira by the Basoga, who live around it, and John Speke was the first European to see it
    Uganda is not an exception. Several steps to decolonise the education curriculum have been undertaken to date. At present, learners in Primary One to Three learn about their immediate environment, through the oral strand. They learn about the family, the home, school, neighbourhood and sub-county. This is called the thematic curriculum, and they study in their local languages, with English studied as a subject.

    It is at Primary Four that learners transit to studying in English. Under Social Studies, learners are taught about the district in which their school is located. They learn about its location, physical features, vegetation, people, leaders, and how to meet people’s needs in the district. In Primary Five, they look at Uganda, Primary Six, East Africa and in Primary Seven, Africa. There is no doubt that the curriculum is very contextual up to this level.

    The textbooks in use are almost all locally produced. The textbook industry in the country is booming because materials produced from outside can’t be used to teach the new curriculum. Thus, where John Speke would have been praised as the one who discovered River Nile, the Primary Five textbook says that the river was called Kiira by the Basoga, who live around it, and John Speke was the first European to see it.

    It is safe to conclude that there is a level of decolonisation of education that has been achieved at the primary level of education in Uganda, at least as far as Social Studies are concerned. Does my mother see herself in the curriculum that her staff members now work under? The answer is no doubt a yes. How the Secondary level curriculum builds on this self-awareness and contextualisation of school education is another question altogether.

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