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Outline. Introduction Conceptual issues Theoretical Framework African Perspectives and the construction of Resilience Resilience Strategies in Education Systems Some Empirical data on the development of Resilience Lessons drawn Conclusions and recommendations  . Introduction.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Introduction
  • Conceptual issues
  • Theoretical Framework
  • African Perspectives and the construction of Resilience
  • Resilience Strategies in Education Systems
  • Some Empirical data on the development of Resilience
  • Lessons drawn
  • Conclusions and recommendations  

Masten (2000) points out that a vital quality of resilient communities is

that they foster the development of their children into competent

adults and productive citizens (Masten, 2000).

But the context of development varies because of differences in

norms, beliefs and values specific to the culture.

Since there exists interaction between biological and cultural

factors, this presupposes both a universal and context

specific view of the development of resilience skills.


This paper focuses on African indigenous

approaches to developing resilience in children to find

out the extent to which these can impact formal education practices.

Children in Africa grow up in difficult situations that are

characterized by poverty, war and violence, dysfunctional

families and different forms of natural disasters.

But formal education in Africa is influenced by inherited tripartite

values from western education, Christianity and influences from the

Muslim east.


African education focuses on developing children’s generative

capacity through its humanitarian values and resilient skills.

It addresses relational norms and obligations exemplified in practices

of exchange and shared values in order to inculcate a sense of collective


The problem facing current educational practices is the much focus on

western systems to the exclusion of other knowledge systems and

thought processes that can contribute to the development of humanitarian

values in resilience systems.

conceptual issues
Conceptual Issues

Humanitarianism education is an attempt to teach various social topics that should

Provide children with sound knowledge on human relations and skills.

Humanitarianism in resilient systems in education addresses sustainable education.

The aforementioned, echoes the position of the Dakar World Conference in 2000 that

emphasizes the rights of children in emergencies. It also stresses that education

programmes should promote mutual understanding of peace and tolerance.

Today in most school systems for example in Cameroon, ministries of education are

expanding the curriculum by enforcing environmental education, civic and citizenship

education and peace and nation building at all levels. It is taught as an independent

discipline or mainstreamed across the curriculum in some cases.

In indigenous African Education, humanitarian education is person-centered and

emphasizes the teaching of spiritual and human values such as respect, tolerance,

solidarity, feeling and support for others, sense of responsibility and other skills.


Genero (1998) views resilience as a relational concept rather than as an individual

characteristic whereas Walsh (1998) suggests that being resilient includes more than

merely surviving and being a victim for life.

Resilience is thus a dynamic and multidimensional construct that incorporates the

bidirectional interaction between individuals and their environments within the family,

peer, school and community and society. Resilience systems.

Resilience systems in African context would be those structures at home, the

community, school and society at large that ensure that children have access to

Livelihood opportunities for quality development and wellbeing. The end product is a

focus on the development of positive mental health, self-image and reduced access to

risk conditions.

theoretical perspectives
Theoretical Perspectives

Resilience theory is associated with a reduction in emphasis on

pathology and an increase in emphasis on strengths (Rak & Patterson,

1996). This permit a shift from vulnerability/deficit models hypothesis

when faced with adversity.

If resilience is developmental whereby children continuously acquire the habit of using

both internal and external resources to ensure positive adaptation even in crisis

situations then there is need to see the explanative theoretical framework from an

interactional perspective.

Processes employed can be explained from cognitive framework (Ionescu, 2006), the

ecosystem approach (Bronfenbrenner, 1978), psychosocial approach (Erikson, 1968)

and Bowlby’s theory of attachment (1977) which provides a strong foundation for

resilience. Such wide perspective in the use of explanative theories should pose

problem for research.

african perspectives and the construction of resilience
African Perspectives and the construction of Resilience

Africentric education has as one of its tenets, the

decolonizing of the African mind in order to overthrow

the authority of alien traditions over the African (Chinweizu,

1987). This is not rejecting foreign tradition but it is a denial of

its authoritative control in the African culture.

Africentric education equips African children with self

knowledge with the purpose of instilling in them a sense of

agency for the purpose of personal development, community

development and nation building (Shockley, 2007).


In other words, children are taught about their responsibility to

forge their development and that of their community.

Despite the lack of support in the notions of Africentric systems

of education, the concept of African agency and resiliency

remains critically important for African children.

In the context of African-centered literature, a "sense of agency“

or resilience is understood as a people's or person’s ability,

empowerment, and entitlement to control and mandate the

arenas of life around them (Asante, 1988, 1990;Maluccio, 2002).


According to Asante (1980), western educational systems do not inspire

a sense of resilience and agency in African children. Only Africentric

schools have attempted to imbue a sense of agency in African children

(Akoto, 1992). Africentric education systems offer a holistic approach

for bringing about a sense of agency and resilience for African

children by using education as one vehicle for such change.

Africentric education must be understood not simply as a tool for

improving educational conditions, but as a tool for a holistic change in

the local community. Resilient socialization networks in child

upbringing in Africa nurture a sense of responsibility for self and

others and their functioning.

resilience strategies in education systems
Resilience Strategies in Education Systems

Since 1972, education reforms have focused on relevance and quality through various reforms in Cameroon:

  • Ruralisation of education with the main objective to make children self-reliant very early by developing in them love for agriculture and manual work,
  • Environmental education at all levels; from primary to university education is emphasized with more field experiences where children and students are involved in different activities in the communities.
  • Bilingualism posed language barrier for most children particularly when none of these languages are any of the mother tongues of the children. Children become vulnerable and this affects school performance. Government’s strategy is through a policy where English and French are taught as both curriculum content and medium for instruction.
  • Gender sensitive education to increase access and progression for girls through school friendly system The school friendly policy introduced democratic values. Other enhancing strategies are the creation of a gender friendly school community, provision of healthy learning environment with available health centers in the catchment areas, good sanitation, borehole toilets, pipe borne water, increased partnership with the community and more parental involvement in school activities.
  • Schools, colleges and universities are now more disability friendly from divers perspectives, in particular infrastructure and pedagogical practices.
  • Other enabling strategies are the positioning of guidance counselors in schools and the strengthening of teacher education programmes in terms of content and professional development.
  • The institution of the New Pedagogic Approach (Participatory)

The participatory approach uses the

techniques of hands-on, apprenticeship and

collaboration in group and individual work.

Through these engagements, children gain skills

and ability to manage and cope.


Other nongovernmental and individual structures provide support to

vulnerable children. These institutions use community-based and grass roots

protective strategies to provide social support to children who were victims of

one form of natural disaster or another for example . “Serve the Orphans

Foundation "is an example. Effective support mechanisms include visits from

Community leaders, and training for self reliant skills.

Community-based approaches help children cope with the feeling of being

stigmatized, dropping out from school and other emotional traumas that

increase their psychological burden on the growing up process. The main

strategy to achieve this is through individual competency skill building.

other examples resilience in education from africa
Other Examples Resilience in Education from Africa

Resilience Strategies in other African Education Systems adopted the following

strategies (Bird 2009) to strengthened children’s learning and resilience:

Uganda Education Sector Strategic Plan for example,(ESSP, 2004-20015) has put in

place structures to address the conflict in the North of the country through its

approach which aims to support and guide quality education for national integration,

individual and national development by instituting

  • Free fees for universal primary education programme targeting disadvantaged children and children in conflict areas
  • Design and help teachers to use curricular and instruction appropriate for pupils in conflict areas
  • Provide sufficient quantities of reading materials in local languages to overcome feelings of alienation and exclusion

In Sierra Leone, UNICEF and Save the children sector plan (2007-20015) address

peace building strategy. In Kenya, context based indicators are being identified that

will be integrated into the education management Information System (EMIS) for

disaster preparedness and emergency response.


Another example comes from the new Afghan National Education

StrategicPlan (2010-2015), focusing more on references to school protection,

community participation and human rights, suggesting that peace messages

should be mainstreamed both in the national curriculum and in teacher training. The

“cross cutting issues are peace education, human rights, elimination of violation of

children and women’s rights, environmental protection, and HIV. These will be

addressed in the textbooks” (Afghan National Education Strategic Plan, p.5).

Incorporating the participation of the local elders and community leaders is important

for success. Tchad is emulating this model.

Christie and Potterton (1997) mentioned the characteristics of resilience schools in

South African society as a sense of responsibility, leadership and management style,

flexibility, commitment to teaching and learning, improving programme, safety and

organisation, authority and discipline, culture concerns, governance and community

relationship and parental involvement.

some empirical data on the development of resilience
Some Empirical data on the development of Resilience

Research findings are highly congruent with a growing world literature

on what makes a difference in the lives of children whose development is

threatened by adversity (Cowen, 2000; Glantz & Johnson, 1999; Luthar,

Cicchetti and Becker, 2000; Masten, 1994; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998).

Some of the most frequently reported "protective factors" in the literature;

provide clues about the processes that lead to resilience. Protective systems for

human development having implications in resilience studies are attachment

systems, self regulation systems and spirituality among others.

Findings from resilience research suggest that the greatest threats to children

are those adversities that undermine the basic human protective systems for

development. Programmes and policies that support effective parenting and the

availability of competent adults in the lives of children are crucial.


Literature is replete with research findings on what can be

learnt from cultural practices to enhance the development

resilience in formal education.

Even in Latino culture and Indian First Nation culture in the US

(Stutman, Baruch, Grotberg & Rathore, 2002:38) the rich values and

experiences provide good examples for the development of resilience. Heavy

Runner and Morris (1997) comment on these values and their relationship to

the development of resilience in children through oral tradition such as for

Examples, songs and storytelling. Listening with patience and respect

creates opportunities for developing resilience. The traditional Indian

family like most African family traditions are rich with profound values and



Grotberg (1992) in his study of Sudanese and

Norwagian child-rearing practices also found

variations in parental attitudes towards resolving

children’s problems with peers.

The use of song, music and dance has a strong tradition in

South Africa as a vital pedagogic mechanism (Sæther

2002),. They are valuable indigenous pedagogical tools

for learning in school and about cultural traditions.

lessons drawn
Lessons drawn

Lessons from the review illustrated that resilience varies as a

function of the culture. Cultural strategies for building

resilience are many and rich.

  • Network such as the family, school and the community are major partners in developing vulnerable children’s resilience.
  • Use indigenous pedagogy approaches and techniques
  • Use more participatory pedagogic strategies
  • Strengthening children’s resilience skills for the development of their self-image.
  • Identity and self-esteem are central processes in resilience.
  • Furthermore, it is important to build such skills based on pupil’s entry characteristics and what obtains in the culture.
conclusions and recommendations
Conclusions and Recommendations

The standards by which parents, teachers, and community

members judge how well a child is developing, though may

vary across cultures, are based on developmental tasks. These

tasks are the broad expectations parents and the societies

have for children of different ages.

More research is required for better understanding of

vulnerable children’s resilience. A study of the cognitive

functioning of vulnerable children and the impact the

development of resilience skills would provide added

knowledge on directions for interventions.