CONTRIBUTIONS OF INDIGENOUS EDUCATION TO HEALTH PRACTICES: A CASE OF BUKUSU COMMUNITY OF BUNGOMA COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Health problems as a result of changes in health practices of the people and changes in the environment have been and are an issue of concern. While numerous efforts have been undertaken to curb these health problems, little attention has been given to the role which Indigenous education can play in fostering health practices. This has led to gradual abandonment and even extinction of some of the traditional health practices which have been shown to have promoted health. This study was therefore aimed at establishing how indigenous education promoted and propagated some of the health practices in order to maintain the well being of the society taking the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya as a case. The Bukusu occupy majorly Bungoma County in which the study was based. The study was guided by the medical ecology theory and the general systems theory. An ethno-historical approach was employed in the research design, instrumentation, data collection, analysis and interpretation. Validity of the instruments was attained through formulation of the items as per the research objectives while external and internal criticism was used to attain reliability of the study. The historical inquiry progressed in three major phases namely collection of oral evidence through field work, research into secondary materials in libraries and collection of archival data through archival research. Non Participant observation was also carried out throughout the three phases. To achieve systematic collection of data, purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used. The population of the study was about nine hundred thousand Bukusu individuals of Bungoma County. The research sample comprised of forty two elderly persons including both men and women who were interviewed and the data collected was analysed qualitatively through triangulation and deduction of themes. It was found out that indigenous education through its content and methodology promotes observance and propagation of health practices that includes wellness promotion, proper nutrition and traditional herbal medication. These contributions make indigenous education to be still relevant to the contemporary society because they correlate to current health promotion efforts. Results obtained from this study may be useful in informing the contemporary society on the valuable health practices that are at the verge of extinction and this can provide a contribution towards the current health promotion efforts.

CHAPTER ONE:
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Health problems as a result of changes in health practices of the people and changes in the environment have been and still are an issue of concern (World Health Organisation, 2012). There have been high cases of lifestyle diseases, disorders in reproductive health, dental health and many other bodily diseases which are some of the major causes of death around the world (Gordon, 1978; WHO, 2002). According to WHO (2002), health refers to physical and mental wellbeing of the individual and not just the absence of diseases. Health practices therefore refers to efforts that are aimed at providing or restoring the wellbeing of the individual hence curbing some of the aforementioned health problems.

As Gordon (1978) observes, lifestyle diseases which were initially common in Western countries and other high-income regions are now prevalent even in developing African countries due to gradual change in health practices and as Sifuna notes, such health practices were a product of the indigenous education (Sifuna, 1990). For instance, although the world's almost 400 million indigenous people have had low standards of health traditionally related to malnutrition, poverty, environmental contamination, and prevalent infections, as these peoples move to more modern or 'western' lifestyles, conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes have soared, as have physical, social and mental disorders related to misuse of alcohol and other drugs (Gracey, 2009).

These changes in health practices may therefore be linked to change in knowledge, skills and values that people acquire since indigenous knowledge has been variously shown to have promoted and propagated the wellbeing of the members of the society including health (Moumouni, 1968; Osei, 1970). More so, a good number of health problems have been shown to have been managed through traditional herbal medication (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 1998).

United Nations Development Programme-Civil Society Organisation and Participation Programme, (2000) notes that because Indigenous Knowledge is handed over from generation to generation in an oral way, it is not easily accessible and has not been stored

in a systematic way. Furthermore, as indigenous peoples become more integrated into Western society and economic systems, traditional knowledge and practices are being lost. This is the reason why the still needed traditional herbal medicinal knowledge is at risk of extinction yet many inhabitants of the world resort to herbal medication. A World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) survey on traditional knowledge in Africa (WIPO, 2001) highlighted that “traditional knowledge” was often discussed as “folklore”, of which the pejorative colonial connotations of backwardness and superstition persist (Kongolo, 2001).

Indigenous education which is also variously described as traditional education, pre- colonial education or African education in the African context refers to acquisition and transmission of knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another or within the same generation (Sifuna & Otiende, 1994). Indigenous education was not only concerned with the systematic socialization of the young generation into norms, beliefs and collective opinions of the wider society, but also placed a very strong emphasis on learning practical skills and the acquisition of knowledge which was useful to the individual and society as a whole (Sifuna, 1990).

It is therefore imperative to note that indigenous education was for survival and to help one solve the problems that may arise in the course of life ranging from social to health related challenges. In support of this, former President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere described indigenous education as an integral part of life (Hino & Camozzi, 1996). This is contrary to the intellectual fallacy of the fatuous assertion that knowledge systems were introduced to Africa through colonialism. The incontrovertible fact is that colonialism introduced Western knowledge systems, as a particular form of knowledge, through imposition and systematic attempt to destroy indigenous knowledge systems (Lebakeng, 2004).

Such African indigenous education and its contribution to health practices was well studied in the traditional Bukusu community of Bungoma County which had been said to have had well elaborate system of indigenous education that was embedded in its culture (De Wolf, 1977; Makokha, 1993). More so, Alembi (2000) and Barasa and Onkware (2010) had observed that Bukusu community still has conspicuous observance of traditional male initiation, traditional burial ceremonies and marriage related rituals while most of the traditional health practices are no longer observed . The study therefore focused on traditional practices from the past during which the Bukusu still had strong traditional lifestyles and practices most of which were geared towards promoting survival and wellbeing of the individuals (Osogo, 1966; Were, 1967) to the present.

The Bukusu are one of the seventeen sub-tribes of the Luhya, Bantu people of East Africa. Calling themselves Babukusu, they are the largest sub-tribe of the Luhya community making up to about 17% of the Luhya population (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2010). They occupy the major part of Bungoma County and smaller parts of Trans-Nzoia County of Western Kenya. The Bukusu had significantly rich traditions and culture some of which have persisted over years amidst Western modernization. Such practices include traditional male initiations, traditional burial practices and ceremonies and traditional marriage rituals (Alembi, 2000; Barasa & Onkware, 2010). The Bukusu indigenous education which is embedded in their culture and practices can aid in shaping of the relevance of our education systems to suit and respond to immediate needs and problems of the society.

The need for relevance in the school curriculum has been echoed in numerous forums of the education authorities. One of these was in the Dakar Framework for Action for Education for All, of 2000, which brought together many stakeholders propagating the implementation of the Jomtien Conference on Education for All of 1990. In the African report, it was recognized that African indigenous knowledge systems, languages and values should be the foundation for the development of African education systems. It was further recognised that there is a necessity for curriculum transformation so as to give children, youth and adults the type of quality education that promotes an appreciation of the diversity, richness and dynamism of their cultures, with a goal to liberate them from psychological, economic and technological dependency (UNESCO, 2000).

This relevancy of education can be geared towards improving health and curbing the health related problems which will be useful in achieving some of the millennium development goals related to health and the Kenya’s vision 2030 of ensuring proper health care to all individuals by the year 2030. Since health is partly determined by practices of an individual that one gets due to long-term accumulation of knowledge in which education (both formal and informal) is the major informant, some of the health problems can be addressed through the education systems since lifestyle is a product of knowledge, skills, and values that one acquires.

Statement of the Problem
Despite numerous efforts to improve health, health problems are still affecting both developed and developing countries. Indeed, lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dental disease and osteoporosis are some of the most common cause of death in the world and present a great burden for society. While some of these health related efforts focus on improving lifestyle and healthcare systems, little attention has been given to the role which indigenous education can play in fostering health practices. This has led to gradual abandonment and even extinction of some of the traditional health practices which have been shown to have promoted health. This study therefore aimed at establishing how indigenous education promoted and propagated health practices as a way of maintaining the well being of the society so as to inform the contemporary society on the knowledge, skills and values that maintained health but are now at the verge of extinction taking the traditional Bukusu community of Kenya as a case.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to investigate the contributions of indigenous education to health practices among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya.

Objectives of the Study
The study was guided by the following objectives:

i) To establish the health related content of indigenous education among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya

ii) To find out the factors that determined the content of indigenous education particularly in health practices among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya.

iii) To establish the ways through which health practices are propagated to individuals in indigenous education and how such ways contributes to health practices among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya.

iv) To determine how indigenous education contributes to health practices among the Bukusu community of Bungoma County of Kenya.

v) To find out whether indigenous education as practiced by the Bukusu community of Bungoma County of Kenya is relevant to the current health promotion efforts.

Research Questions
The study was to address the following questions:

i. What is the health related content of indigenous education among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya?

ii. What determined the content of indigenous education particularly in health practices among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya?

iii. How are the health practices propagated to individuals in the indigenous education and how do such ways contribute to health practices among the Bukusu Community of Bungoma County of Kenya?

iv. How does indigenous education contribute to health practices among the Bukusu community of Bungoma County of Kenya?

v. Is indigenous education as practiced by the Bukusu community of Bungoma County of Kenya relevant to the current health promotion efforts?

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may be useful to practitioners, policy makers and international communities in health sector on how to promote health through promotion of traditional health practices. The study findings may also contribute knowledge to the existing indigenous knowledge that can be useful to diverse sectors such as environmental conservation and sustainable development. More so, findings of this study may be useful to curriculum developers, teachers and policy makers in education sector.

Assumptions of the Study
The study made the following assumptions:
i. That the informants were honest in providing the information that was being sought by the researcher.

ii. That the translation of information from local language to english and vice versa did not destruct the intended meaning in the original context.
Scope of the Study

The study was carried out on the Bukusu community of Bungoma County targeting their health practices as promoted and propagated through Indigenous education. While health practices include efforts that are aimed at providing or restoring the wellbeing of the individual including disease prevention and management, proper nutrition and safety promotion, this study only focused on promoting bodily health, growth and development efforts.

Limitations of the study
Since every community has a system of indigenous education with some unique aspects, some of the findings of this study might not be generalised to other systems of indigenous education outside the Bukusu community.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 117 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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