Igbo traditional educational thought and practice: Processes and products in philosophic perspective

Date of Completion

January 1995


Anthropology, Cultural|History, African|Education, History of|Education, Philosophy of




This study is an in-depth description and analysis of the nature, purposes and characteristics of the thought and practice of Igbo traditional education in the context of traditional values as an educational goal. Igbo traditional education theorists stress the "beauty and richness" of family values in Igbo culture but there has not been a clear articulation of the nature of Igbo traditional educational thought and practice. Also the underlying implicit philosophical assumptions upon which the Igbo traditional education is based, as well as the ways in which traditional thought and practice are changing in contemporary Igbo society, the processes and the influence on the products are analyzed and articulated in this inquiry.^ The study is that of an ethnographic examination of three selected communities in Igbo society of Southeastern Nigeria. Participant observation through field work was the medium for data gathering activities. Visits to homes, marketplaces, farms, schools, attendance at village and town meetings and participation in church and social ceremonies provide the framework for organizing the etic and emic data for the study.^ Interviewing techniques included both semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Most of the interviews were audiotaped, and a few were videotaped. They were conducted in English and Igbo as appropriate.^ In the three sub-units of Igboland under study, traditional education still continues, though not in its pristine form. It is a reality that many sociocultural changes have taken place as a result of the advent of missionaries, their evangelization efforts, the British colonial rule and its administrative policies and structures, and subsequent rise of schools, and "formal education outgrowth of a crop of foreign educated members of the Igbo community." In spite of the major forces and developments, traditional process and practice still exist; interruptions and interferences notwithstanding. However, the anchor of excellence and the standard of measurement of nnomara manu/ezigbo mmadu and ezigbo nwa (wholesome person and wholesome child) still remains the identified traditional culture in Igboland. ^