ROLE OF INDIGENOUS EDUCATION IN MITIGATION OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: A CASE OF THE ABAGUSII COMMUNITY OF SOUTH-GUCHA SUB-COUNTY, KENYA, 1905 - 1940

ABSTRACT
Youth unemployment is a world-wide concern that is experienced in both developed and developing countries. In Kenya for example, 24% of youth aged between 18-35 years are unemployed. This is one of the reasons why today’s youth engage in certain vices or crimes and other unethical activities that were not experienced in the African traditional societies. In these societies, the issue of unemployment was rare and consequently, the rate of crimes was minimal. Several factors contributed to the low levels of unemployment and crime rates and African indigenous education. However, the Abagusii community, which is not only one of the most densely populated communities in Kenya but also one of the communities with high unemployment rates in the country, has gradually been abandoning its indigenous education. This is despite the fact that the indigenous education prepared youth for future roles. This study was aimed at critically examining the role of indigenous education in mitigation of youth unemployment among the Abagusii community of South-Gucha Sub-county from 1905-1940. In particular, the study sought to examine the values, attitudes, skills (content), methods of teaching and training as well as validation modes that underpinned the Abagusii indigenous education and the role indigenous education played in mitigation of youth unemployment. The study was informed by structural-functionalism theory. This theory enriched the study through the various structures that indigenous had and how each functioned in mitigation of youth unemployment. An ethno-historical research approach was employed with greater emphasis on with emic and etic research designs. To attain systematic collection of data, a combination of purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used. The targeted population was 2.2 million people where accessible population was 3000 people aged 70 years and above. The actual research sample was 35 informants. This study used interview schedules and some archival sources to collect primary data. To supplement the primary data, secondary data was obtained from published books, unpublished articles, government reports and records, internet sources, journals and periodicals. The validity and reliability of the instruments was determined through member checks, triangulation, external and internal criticism approaches. Data collected through oral interviews was transcribed and then translated to English language after which was coded, analysed and then interpreted. The results of the study revealed that there was a clear link between the Abagusii indigenous education and youth unemployment. It was revealed in the discussion that traditional Abagusii people highly valued their indigenous education as it played a major role in mitigation of youth unemployment through its values, attitudes and skills. Furthermore, the results of this study emphasized that indigenous education was the only channel through which youths attained values, skills and attitudes through myriad methods of instruction and validation modes that were applied. Hence indigenous education had a great impact on collective behaviour on youth so as to mitigate unemployment. The study recommends the integration and harmonization of best indigenous education elements within the modern system so as to make it more viable to curb youth unemployment in Kenya. More specifically emphasis should be to develop a concrete and all inclusive as well as an acceptable curriculum.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Youth unemployment is a world-wide concern is experienced by both developed and developing countries, although at varying degrees. Despite some strategies that have been devised by a number of countries to cushion youth against unemployment, still the rate of unemployment has not really changed significantly. For instance, a report by the Office of National Statistics of United Kingdom (2012) revealed that unemployment rate was 9.6% in 2010, 10.3% in 2011 and 8.3% in January 2012, while the Report issued by US Bureau of Labour Statistics in January 2012 revealed that unemployment rate in the USA was 9.3% in 2009, 9.6% in 2010 and 8.7% in 2012. Developing countries have also been struggling with this problem of youth unemployment. The worst hit have been the Sub-Saharan Africa countries where youth unemployment rate has been shown to be consistently far beyond their economic growth. For instance, the International Labour Organization (ILO) revealed that Sub-Saharan Africa countries had youth unemployment which was estimated to be more than 21% (ILO, 2003). A decade later, that is up to 2013 this situation had not changed appreciably as youth unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be 23% (ILO, 2012). A report released by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT, 2012) showed that unemployment in Zimbabwe was 84.5 % which was the highest rate in Africa. Djibouti was the second with 60% as per the report released by UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair in 2007 (OCHA, 2013). According to the Economic Survey of 2012 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in Kenya stood at 40% of the total employable and of this 70% was youth thus a serious national concern (KNBS, 2012).

Although there are many types of unemployment, including structural, frictional, seasonal and cyclical unemployment, this study was based on involuntary unemployment. Unlike other categories of unemployment, involuntary unemployment is experienced when an individual is willing to offer his or her labour at the prevailing wage rates but no job is available. This has been the most common type of unemployment experienced in Kenya (Omolo, 2011).

Many factors have been revealed to be contributors to unemployment among school leavers in Kenya. They include high expectations from employers, the education system which does not prepare young people to develop entrepreneurial minds, the lack of technical skills relevant to the market demands, rapid population growth against the slow rate of economic growth, and the use of capital intensive methods of production (National Economic and Social Council, 2011) and (Onsomu, Kiiru & Wamalwa, 2009). It is therefore not uncommon to find young people idling on pavements or gathered in groups with nothing productive to do. This state of unemployment has led to the soaring crime rates among youth in the country (Okioga, 2012). Hence a major concern among policy makers and other stakeholders not only in Kenya but also in the rest of Sub Saharan Africa.

At independence, the Kenya government identified poverty and unemployment as major problems facing Kenyans (Government of Kenya, 1965). Despite numerous policy initiatives that have since been undertaken towards mitigating these two problems, such as “kazi kwa vijana” (job for youth) and Kenya Rural Youth Livelihood Strategies programme, unemployment still continues to afflict many Kenyan youths (ILO, 2012). One of the studies revealed that 94% of Kenyan school leavers looked for formal paid employment, but only about 125,000 representing about 4.6% were absorbed annually (Onsomu et al, 2009) This was partly because since the introduction of Western education by Missionaries and Colonial government, many Kenyans had been educated and had hope that one day they would be employed, although such hope was not always fulfilled (Hooker, 1975).

With non-attainment of such high expectation, many youth have been frustrated and subsequently resorted to vices to earn a living. Such vices include armed robbery, prostitution, violent destruction of life and property of individuals and the public at large, despite being learned (Okoro, 2009). These vices were not much witnessed in African traditional societies because unemployment was rare to the people therefore no one was found idling as most people engaged in different apprenticeship schemes and other productive activities (Quan-Baffour, 2012). In fact, emphatically youths had enterprising spirit and personal industry and indeed, they were job creators and not mere job seekers as experienced today (Sklar 1967). Even though the population was low in relation to opportunities, there were no modern industries, modern technology and other complex systems as witnessed today and yet unemployment was rare.

A Survey conducted by KNBS in 2009 indicated that Abagusii community was not only the most densely populated community in Kenya but was also among the communities with high rates of youth unemployment, despite many of the youths having embraced western education. Like most of other native people in Kenya, the Abagusii community initially responded with armed resistance to the missionaries thus the mission activity was not initially very successful in this community. People like elder Nyakundi, who was a forceful character and commanding figure and always took the front line opposing the government, had a large number of followers. Furthermore, areas like South Gucha district were relatively inaccessible (KNA/DC/KSI/3/2). Bogonko (1992) revealed that first missionaries arrived in Gusii land in 1905 and the first school was established at around 1934. (KNA/DC/KSI/3/6) sources also exposed that schools started being established in South Gucha as from early 1940s. This implies that Abagusii of South Gucha born between 1905 and 1940 were eyewitnesses of the Abagusii indigenous education and hence appropriate informants in this study.

Moreover, from the analysis made in the sections earlier in this thesis, three observations could be made. First is that unemployment is a worldwide phenomenon, but is more pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Second is that youth unemployment is rampant unlike pre-colonial times and this has been attributed to various factors, including high employer expectations, questionable relevance of the education system, the mismatch between population growth and economic growth, and inappropriate methods of production. Third is that the negative effects of unemployment, such as soaring crime rates among the youth, has reinforced stakeholders’ concern about, and the motivation for mitigating unemployment.

However, despite indications that youth unemployment was rare or largely absent in the traditional societies, and that these societies were characterized by well established African indigenous education systems, including among the Abagusii community, there has been little attempt to examine the role indigenous education might have played in mitigation of unemployment, and even much on what lessons could be drawn to aid contemporary efforts towards solving the problem of youth unemployment. This study therefore sought to contribute towards filling this gap by examining the role of indigenous education in mitigation of youth unemployment among the Abagusii community of South-Gucha from 1905 - 1940.

Statement of the Problem
Youth unemployment, though a world-wide problem, has however been more acute in developing countries like Kenya. Specifically, the Abagusii community has recorded one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Kenya. Traditionally, however, on the one hand unemployment as known today was rare in the African societies such as the Abagusii community, while on the other hand; African indigenous education was not only highly valued but also consistently offered to the youths. That notwithstanding, the researcher had noticed, from the daily interactions and experience within the Abagusii community, that indigenous education was almost vanishing in view of the western education that has progressively been greatly embraced. This is despite the fact that there are many literate youths that are unemployed in this community unlike in the pre-colonial times. Although numerous attempts have and continued to be made towards seeking innovative solutions to youth unemployment, little such attempts have been directed to a scrutiny of the relevance of African indigenous education systems and the possible lessons these systems could offer given their documented success in curbing unemployment before the onset of western education in Kenya. It was against this background, and a firm belief that past experiences and successes can explain present challenges as well as inform present decisions and guide future actions, that this study sought to examine the Abagusii indigenous education in terms of its content, methods of instruction and modes of validation so as to identify some fundamental aspects that they cherished which might be incorporated in the current education system to mitigate the challenge of youth unemployment in Kenya.

Purpose of the study
To investigate the role played by indigenous education in mitigation of unemployment among the Abagusii youth from 1905-1940.

Objectives of the Study
The following specific objectives guided the study:

i. To determine values, attitudes, and skills which were passed on to youths in the Abagusii indigenous education 1905-1940.

ii. To examine how teaching, training and validation was done among the Abagusii Community from 1905-1940.

iii. To assess the role that indigenous education played in the mitigation of youth unemployment among the Abagusii community from 1905-1940.

iv. To establish lessons that can be drawn from the Abagusii indigenous education in solving the current challenge of unemployment among the youths in Kenya.

Research Questions
The study was guided by the following research questions;

i. What values, attitudes, knowledge and skills were passed on to youths in the Abagusii indigenous education from 1905-1940?

ii. How were teaching, training and validation done among the Abagusii community from 1905- 1940?

iii. What role did the Abagusii indigenous education, in terms of its content, teaching and training methods and modes of validation play in the mitigation of youth unemployment among the Abagusii community between 1905-1940?

iv. What are the lessons that can be drawn from the Abagusii indigenous education that may help to mitigate unemployment among the youths in Kenya today?

Significance of the Study
The study findings will be useful in providing knowledge about the Abagusii indigenous education and also shed light on how the community resolved the issue of unemployment among youths. Further, the results of the study will provide useful information to policy makers in the field of education in regard to formulation of policies that will integrate some relevant and appropriate skills, attitudes, knowledge and values from indigenous perspective in the current education system.

Scope of the Study
The study focused on the role of Abagusii indigenous education as from 1905 to 1940. The period was chosen as the demarcation of the time the missionaries arrived in Kisii and the first time a school was set up around south-Gucha Sub-county. This study specifically addressed issues such as content, methods of teaching and training, validation and not on employer expectations, population growth and capital intensive methods. The Abagusii living outside South-Gucha were excluded from this study because other sub-counties of Kisii County have gradually gained the status of being cosmopolitan in nature.

Limitations of the Study
The native language, Ekegusii, was used to conduct oral interviews. Translation of Ekegusii conversations into English did not capture all the words and flavour of the Ekegusii language. This was because Ekegusii is more of a spoken language and had limited vocabularies that can be translated effectively into English. In the process of translation, the flavour and weight of the words especially powerful quotes and excerpts were likely to be lost. This limitation was solved by probing the informants further and also seeking additional clarifications from the informants to ascertain what they meant. However, the limitation did not undermine the importance of the findings to the understanding of how Abagusii indigenous education mitigated unemployment among youth. This study also focused only on involuntary unemployment aspect being the common type of unemployment that was and still is experienced in Kenya.

Assumptions of the Study
i. The respondents gave honest feedbacks.

ii. Sampling strategies solved the issue of representativeness of the total population.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 85 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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