Some Implications of the Interaction of Formal Education with an Ethiopian Rural Community: The Case of Woyisso-Qancaara Kebele, East Showa Zone of Oromia Region

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Addis Ababa University


The rural community of Woyisso has been experiencing mounting internal and external pressures since its formation. These pressures are contributing to the recent rise in their enthusiasm for formal education. The sever draught that occurred during the ethnographic present has fanned this already high fervor. This means that formal education, as an institution that evolved in an alien culture, is coming into closer interaction with the social and economic reality of the inhabitants of Woyisso. This interaction has several implications. One implication is the function of the opposition that exists between the worldview and value systems underlying formal education and those that the community holds. In this regard formal education is attempting to replace the idealistic worldview and values of the community with materialistic ones. An implication of adopting, by households, education of children as a major function of the household is that they are required to make adjustment to the way they go about their traditional functions. Production and allocation of resources are some of the most disturbed household functions. Formal education is disturbing the traditional household division of labor by taking children away from the household and the hamlet for part of a day or for an entire academic period. Moreover, it is placing strain on the resources of a household especially as its children advance through formal education. It was noted that this economic strain was by and large responsible for school dropout. Among the implication of increased valuation of formal education by the community are the decrease in the practice of early marriage especially infant betrothal; the gradual transfer, from parents to children, of power to make decision on the time of marriage and choice of marital partner; the gradual withering away of the social institutions that provided for bridewealth and resources for wedding feast or their alignment to the service of formal education; the transformation of traditional norms of gender relations; re-socialization of children into the political values and principles of the government; creation of labor shortfall by taking children away from their traditional productive task which contributed to the migration of laborers into the community. In all these, formal education is contributing to the increased subordination of the community to the towns



Social Anthropology