Sample History Paper on Education in Modern Africa

Comparison of pre-colonial and Western Education Systems

Education in Africa has taken various advances from the pre-colonial time through the colonialism to the current postcolonial time. Early before European colonialism in Africa, people still practised formal education through clans or families (Reef, 2008). People had ways of passing skills such as the making of leather, iron- making, fishing and techniques of trading. For instance in Kenya, the Kikuyu had rituals where one passed several initiation stages and graduate after acquiring skills and training.

The Islamic schools also existed in countries like Nigeria, Somalia, and Ghana among others that taught people how to recite Quran. There were Madrassas and University of Al –Azhar in Egypt, and the Timbuktu University in Mali before colonialism (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015). This indicates that European colonizers did not introduce education in Africa but rather they just introduced a new form of formal schooling in institutions that were not there before. However, the European system of education introduced reading and writing in English language and were against the use of mother tongue teaching that faced resistance.

Western Education Mission

The European colonial power’s education mission in Africa was not to assist in African countries develop in Education, but rather they used it as a platform to overcome the Africans resistance. Through teaching young people how to read and write in English, it would work to make Africans shy away from their cultures and hence embrace the Western culture (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015). As a result, the Europeans used Christianity as a way of softening the hearts of Africans.  Through missionary, they built schools, which were not there in the pre-colonial period. The colonial education only focused on training few individuals who would work in the local administration positions in the companies that were owned privately by the Europeans. Privately owned companies focused on stealing and exploiting resources within the African nations. The colonial education system benefited few individuals. In Zimbabwe, for example, the primary and secondary education is narrow due to the resistance of the European colonial system to allocating funds to education.

Analysis of Post colonialism progress of education

After colonialism, African education has been advancing with most African countries progressing in supporting both primary and secondary education. It has resulted in the increase of the number of children attending schools. From statistics, from 1990 to 2002 the number of students in both primary and secondary schools increased drastically in Africa. However, even with the high numbers of the primary and secondary schools, there is still low enrolment in the tertiary levels due to lack of finances to pay for the high cost of University education.  The other challenge is low funding of the tertiary education, especially during 1980-2002, where weak economy affected many learning institutions. Currently, there is high demand for university education than the facilities can support in Africa (Nnoromele & Anyanwu, 2015).



Nnoromele, S., & Anyanwu, O. E. (2015). Re-tracing Africa: A multi-disciplinary study of African history societies and culture / Salome C. Nnoromele, Ogechi E. Anyanwu. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Reef, A. (2008). African Words, Academic Choices: Re-Presenting Interviews and Oral Histories. History in Africa, 35, 419-438.