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A review of traditional Ghanaian and Western philosophies of adult education

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The primary objective of this article is to critically examine some aspects of the traditional Ghanaian and Western philosophies of adult education. It is a well-attested fact that many of the pre-colonial and early colonial writers about Africa portrayed Africa as a dark continent devoid of advanced centres of learning worthy of emulation by others. The old West African civilizations of Ghana, Mali and Songhai with advanced centres of learning at Timbuktu and Djenne in the 11th century seemed to have been completely ignored by these writers (Boahen 1967: 20, Davidson 1966b: 50). Even though many other writers including several missionaries, anthropologists and historians, depicted Africa in a rather positive and scientific manner (Davidson 1966b, Goody 1966), much of the negative image created long ago still exists and needs to be examined and corrected. The formal Western system of school education was introduced in Ghana more than a century ago. Despite this, about 60% of the adult population today makes its living as illiterate farmers, workers, apprentices or master craftsmen in the various traditional art and craft production centres. Consequently, traditional adult education continues to play an important role in the social and economic development of the country. Like the Western system of adult education the Ghanaian traditional education has sound philosophical foundations, which have helped to maintain political stability and social cohesion in the country over the years. Much is written about Western and eastern philosophies but there is a dearth of literature on philosophies of adult education from Africa. Given that Africa is the second largest continent on the globe and that adult education proliferates throughout the continent, the authors felt their investigation would make a significant contribution to a global understanding of the field. Additionally, there is an increasing need for African students to appreciate and re-establish confidence in their own culture. This review cannot cover all of Africa so the focus is on Ghana, one country in West Africa.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Ghana, Legon 2: University of Memphis, USA

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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