Mwalimu Julius Nyerere: a critical review of his contributions to adult education and postcolonialism

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Despite being one of Africa's greatest postcolonial thinkers, implementing an award winning national literacy campaign and writing extensively on adult education and development, the contributions of Julius Kambarage Nyerere remain relatively unknown within mainstream adult education. This paper critically examines the contributions of Nyerere to adult education and postcolonial theory. The paper makes two assumptions. First, it assumes that there is a relationship between the discourses of postcolonialism and the project of constructing a more inclusive knowledge base of adult education. Second, that postcolonial theory provides a relevant framework for understanding the politics of adult education and development. Through a comprehensive and critical textual analysis of Nyerere's major works on adult education and development, the paper concludes that Nyerere's philosophy of adult education and lifelong learning was very progressive if not radical. Nyerere's ideas on education for liberation and development resonate with those of Paulo Freire. By linking the principles of education for liberation to the goal of building an egalitarian, socialist society based on the philosophy of Ujamaa, Nyerere provided an innovative and yet 'localized' theory of social change. Finally, Nyerere provided a sustained critique of colonialism and racism, and was a committed advocate of equality, unity and economic and social justice for the postcolonial world.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2001

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