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What are the Effects of Cultural Traditions on the Education of women? (The Study of the Tumbuka People of Zambia)

By Christine P. Mushibwe

Abstract

This study is an investigation of how cultural traditions can militate against the education of women in Zambia with a focus on the Tumbuka tribe. Ethnographic methods were employed over a period of three months in a village in the Eastern Province of the country. Data were collected through participant observation, focus group and in-depth interviews, narratives, and documents. A total of 47 participants comprised the sample. This research cuts through multidisciplinary fields such as social sciences, education and anthropology. Through thematic analysis data were analysed.\ud \ud \ud Evidence in this research demonstrates that patrilineal groupings are strongholds of the patriarchal predisposition and that patriarchal attitudes and cultural traditions do not recognize women as equal partners with men. The Tumbuka women‟s experiences and beliefs reflect socio-cultural traditional norms that tend to limit gender equality, and compel women to accept and justify male domination at the expense of their own status and to regard consequent inequalities as normal. Evidence demonstrates that the initiation rites, an active institution for girls of pubescent age, interfere more with the school-based education of girls. The women are active social agents as well as passive learners who will not allow the girls they are coaching to question the reason or purpose for some traditional practices that are oppressive and directly cause them to fail to complete their schooling successfully.\ud \ud \ud The strong hold that the cultural traditions has on the locals has further resulted in conflicts with modern schooling, which is viewed as disseminating „white‟ man‟s culture and values. Established in this research is the fear and suspicion that the locals have on the outcome of their children learning these values that they see as alien to their own. The modern education provided in school is perceived as a force that undermines cultural values. It is viewed as presenting an inherent challenge to the cultural traditional control measures that are in place.\ud \ud \ud Arguably, while ethnic traditions should be respected and sustained because they define one's identity, aspects of culture which are discriminatory, restrictive and tend to devalue women‟s physical, emotional and psychological development should be eliminated because they are retrogressive. Therefore the argument that deep seated socio-cultural traditions play a significant role in encumbering female education is proven

Topics: H1, HQ, HT, L1, LC5201, LG
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:9090

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