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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Traditional Educational Institutions in Child Education

Academic institutions of learning are now turned into international communities with diverse students of varied and complex cultures. As a result, instructors must strive to put in structures to accommodate all the cultural diversities of students in his/her class. This is very important because educational institutions must be communities where cultural hybridism is encouraged to serve as a pilot community of peace and unity. However, instructors must be assisted with practical steps in knowing how to handle a class of students with varied cultures. This would prevent any form of culture abuse that may stir anger, chaos and mar the unity that should be the hallmark of every academic institution.

The instructor must provide a learning context that is friendly to all cultures. To be able to do this, the instructor must take time to study the different cultures of the students in his/her class. S/he must research and know more about the cultures of the students so that s/he wouldn't offend any of the students via the instructional delivery, demeanor or attitude. For instance, when citing examples to illustrate points highlighted in lessons, the instructor must not use a particular ethnic society or culture and paint a bad image about them. It would even be better not to cite any example using a particular cultural group. Also, offensive language of particular cultural groups must be taken out of instructional materials such as reading materials to be given to students. In addition, the instructor must bridle the tongue so as not to say anything offensive. Students must notice from the instructor's speech that s/he talks well of every culture and does not favor one culture over the others.

Another powerful way of dealing with a multi-cultural class is for the instructor to ensure cultural integration amongst students. When group works, assignments and presentations are given, the instructor must carefully pair students from the different cultural backgrounds in each group. This would promote cultural tolerance even amongst the students. More importantly, the students would learn how to relate respectfully to people of different cultures. These working groups would afford them the opportunity to see the good traits evident in members of different cultural groups. It would help them in correcting the wrong perceptions people have about people from specific cultural backgrounds.

Instructors must constantly vary individuals who act as facilitators in the class. This would erase any mental biases in the minds of the students. If possible, an instructor can show through his clothing that s/he accepts people of different cultures by wearing to class the noted attire of the particular cultural groups in his/her class. This is, in fact, a personal decision, though it is one of the sure means of preempting any cultural bias that may be in the minds of the students.

In addition, instructors must tolerate the values and norms held in high esteem by the different cultural groups in the class. In no way should the highly valued systems of a particular cultural group be mocked at, reduced as unimportant or negated against. Students who disrespect the cultures of their colleagues must be punished to serve as a warning for the others not to tread their steps. Expensive jokes that poke fun on the cultures of particular groups must be avoided and must not be entertained by the instructor in class discussions. This would ensure that all cultures are appraised and appreciated, bolstering respect for the diversified cultural groups while fostering unity in the class which are the required tools for the provision of an enabling environment for discharging effective teaching and learning activities. The term museum is from Ancient Greek, Mouseoin, which means "the place sacred to the muses." According to Greek Mythology Mouseoin was the temple of muses, the nine goddesses that presided over poetry, songs, the arts, sciences and learning. In Greek Mythology the nine goddesses were the daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Greeks believed that the muses lived on Mount Olympus with their leader, the god Apollo (American Association of Museums, 2000). In the 3rd century B.C. during the rule of the Ptolemy Dynasty, when the Greeks ruled over Ancient Egypt, Ptolemy 1 Soter founded an institution for literary and scientific study in Alexandria and called it a museum. With the revival of learning during the Renaissance in the 15th century A.D. Italian scholars kept their collections of historical materials in rooms called museums. The Renaissance nobles also had adorned their palaces with art, sculpture and collections of curiosities. It was much later that private collections passed to public ownership and were put on display. For example Pope Sixtus IV opened the Capitoline Museum to the public in 1447 and this was followed by Cesarini also in Rome. The first museum to be operated as a national institution was the British Museum in 1753 followed by the Palace of Louvre in Paris in 1793.Other famous museums are the Art Gallery in which the Mona Lisa is portrayed, the Metropolitan in New York, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in Petersburg (Leningrad), and the Smithsonian in Washington (Sears, 2006).

ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SIERRA LEONE NATIONAL MUSEUM

'There is always something new from Africa' stated Pliny who lived from 23-79 A.D. This vast continent of Africa has some many firsts. The north of Africa is believed to be the cradle of civilization that is Ancient Egypt. It was in Ancient Egypt that the first museum came into existence. Further south are almost impassible barriers of desert and tropical forests, and beyond these, lies the greater part of Africa known to the Arabs as Bilad-as-Sudan, the land of the Black people. It was in this part of Africa in the Rift Valley in East Africa also known as Eastern Sudan that the oldest form of human life was discovered. The Western Sudan (West Africa) can boast of powerful ancient empires like Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Kanem Bornu.

Sierra Leone too has a very rich and diverse heritage. She has an abundant natural life; her archaeological sites date back to the Old Stone Age in Africa. Oral traditions date back to the time when the ancestors of current inhabitants settled in their respective areas. There is a great diversity of numerous secret societies with their associated cultural materials such as the Poro, Bondo, Gbagbani, Kofo, Regbainlay and Mathoma Secret Societies. There are also the old traditional arts and crafts monuments and relics which commemorate people and events long ago. This heritage has been built upon over the years by the works of sculptors, architects, painters, musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other creators of form and beauty. Up to 1957 Sierra Leone had no museum. The Monument and Relics Commission of 1st June 1947 provided the basis for the protection and preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical (traditional Art ) and historical or other scientific interest as laid down by the Act. These historical relics were scattered all over the country collecting dust and mould in government ware houses, while her ethnographical treasures were being destroyed by weather wood-boring insects. In 1954, Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, a former Governor General challenged the Sierra Leone Society to create a National Museum for the country. This museum, according to the Governor, can contribute to the growth of national pride by collecting and preserving objects and making them available for contemplation and study. This challenge was taken up by M.C.F. Easmon and others with the formation of a Museum Sub-Committee (Cummings, 1996). The Old Cotton Tree Railway Station was acquired and rehabilitated, with the help of government, and was opened on the 10th December, 1957. The National Museum, according to Sir Maurice Dorman, was intended to collect, put in order and preserve the work of man's hands that was fast disappearing from the lives of Sierra Leoneans. The National Museum, he added, 'should be a place where the illiterate man can be inspired by the display of what is best in his culture, both in the past and present, there-by keeping a record of Sierra Leone for posterity.'

MUSEUM COVERAGE

The Sierra Leone National Museum covers three areas: Archaeology, History and Ethnography. In the area of Archaeology there are large steatite (soapstone) heads, the Maye Yafe or Chiefs' devils. These are believed to bring good luck to Chiefs and bad luck to the common man. There are figures called Nomoli, which are an enigma and are of unknown antiquity. The curator believes that these figures date back to the Middle Stone Age. There is a large collection of poetry and potsherds and it is believed that some of the pots on display in the museum date back to B.C. days. There is also an abundance of Old Stone Age tools such as choppers, hand axes, and polished New Stone Age tools together with many steatite bored stones which were once used as currency and as digging stick weights. In the History area the most prominent item is the original Charter of Sierra Leone signed in 1799 by King George III by which the settlement became a British Colony. There are also models of the de Reuter Stone on which the Admiral engraved his name after sacking Bunce and Tasso Islands in 1664. Bunce Island was a depot from where slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean. There are effigies of the late Sir Milton Margai, the first Prime Minister of Sierra Leone and Bai Bureh, the last warrior chief who fought the British from 1898-1902. There is also a host of materials drawn from the colonial period such as canon, staffs of chiefs, swords, medals, coins, photographs, paintings and documents. In the area of Ethnography (Traditional Art) there are fully dressed masquerading dancers e.g. Sowei of the Bondo Society, Goboi, the regalia of Chiefs, Secret Society paraphernalia, exquisite carved masks, carvings in human and animal form, indigenous musical instruments like the drums which are integral in African rituals in birth, initiation and death, textile, basketry and other crafts. The Sierra Leone National Museum has a magnificent collection of artifacts and is truly a store house of the nation's cultural treasures (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013).

ROLE OF THE MUSEUM

The Sierra Leone National Museum preserves the national heritage; it is a complex institution for research, education and culture. It is an instrument of mass education, which caters for the needs of literates and illiterates, both young and old. Children of school going age make up the largest public served by the National Museum through guided tours. Apart from school groups individual children visit the museum every day. The museum exhibits are relevant to the school syllabi more so in disciplines like History, Social Studies, Agricultural Science and Civics. Thus essay and poster competitions are run by the museum for children. Since Art is the most natural means of expression of people who can't read and write the exhibits in the National Museum are so arranged that they can speak for themselves. The museum is an important research center. It is research that brings the museum to life and makes it much more than a repository of dead objects. As research center the National Museum is the only place in the country where someone can find such historical documents like the Sierra Leone Charter. Thus students from both higher and tertiary institutions as well as researchers (locally and internationally) make extensive use of museum material in writing their projects. Some of the topics widely researched on in the museum are the origins of St John's Maroon Church, tourism as instrument of socioeconomic development, traditional schools in Sierra Leone during pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary times, interment rites of paramount chiefs among different ethnic groups in the country, and mining in pre-colonial Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone National Museum is not only established for elites and the scholarly community but also to provide a service for the general public. The basic purpose of the museum is to enable the public to know and appreciate under conditions of display the artifacts which the institution collects, preserves and protects. Entrance to the museum is free because it is not only a national museum but also part of an international agreement (International Council of Museum) to which the Sierra Leone National Museum is a signatory should. Sierra Leoneans are aware of the fact that the National Museum forms an integral part of the local culture. The specimens of the cultures represented in the museum are currently in use and people are conscious of their existence and functions. The museum though national also interests non-national public composed mostly of European, American and Asian nationals, most of these are ignorant of African culture in general and Sierra Leonean culture in particular. Paradoxically the museum has touched both an informed and quite largely illiterate as well as educated and totally uninitiated publics. The following are a few remarks from the Museum's Visitors Book:

• It is spectacular, keep it up! (A Nigerian).

• We entered into African mysteries (An Italian).

• Very interesting! Very painful especially the slaves (An American).

• Most and the best experience in Local History).

• It goes a long way in preserving our cultural heritage (A Sierra Leonean).

The Sierra Leone National Museum is an exhibition and communication center. It provides contact with real objects. It disseminates information about Sierra Leonean Art. Art pieces are themselves documents which are eloquent. From naturalistic figures held in the museum people can learn about the dress of the time. A sculptured piece reveals a little more than the person portrayed. For instance a carved warrior or hunter in the museum shows the type of weapon used at the time. The museum steers clear of ethnic distribution in the country of its objects. It aims at representing rather than pointing out local peculiarities. For example Rhythmic Arts (musical instruments), Occupations (fishing gear, basketry and pottery), cultural objects (insignia of Chiefs and bride money), and Women's Activities (ornaments, combs and cooking utensils)) are portrayed in the museum. The reason being that both urban and rural visitors are anxious to see their ways of life reflected in the "Ancestral Home," which is the museum. As local visitors go round the museum they search attentively for utensils, tools, weapons or familiar faces and are usually delighted or sometimes complaint to staff when these are absent. In brief the Museum plays a very important part at national and international levels. It helps the public to appreciate articles illustrating history. As repository of the national heritage it helps people to find the elements of their past and to acquire new spiritual wealth. The Museum renews in Sierra Leoneans a sense of belonging to a particularly civilization and stimulates in them the spirit of national pride and cohesion which are essential ingredients in nation building.

MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATIONS

The Sierra Leone National Museum is a member of several professional bodies both at home and overseas. It has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) since 1964. The Museum is also a member of the Organization for Museums, Monuments and Sites in Africa (OMMSA), the cultural arm of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), currently African Union(AU ). The Museum is represented in the Arts Education Association of Sierra Leone, which in the past organized Art Festivals in schools and colleges; it is also represented in the Public Archives Commission and the Sierra Leone Association of Librarians, Archivists and Information Professionals(SLAALIP).

The Sierra Leone National Museum continues to enjoy cordial relationship with UNESCO which has assisted in staff training and supply of equipment; the West African Museums Program in Dakar(WAMP),which has conducted several workshops on conservation and preservation of artifacts. Foreign Missions too have contributed immensely to the development of the museum. For example the Federal Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone erected an extension of the museum as a bicentenary gift. The French Embassy in Sierra Leone through the French Cooperation Technical Department rehabilitated the Old Cotton Tree Museum Building. The United States of America, through the Department of the United States Information Services has on several occasions invited the curator to visit the USA which has resulted to close links with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Museum of African Art in Washington, Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The U S Embassy was also instrumental in the twinning relationship with the Museum of Coastal History, St. Simons Island, Georgia. Through these links the Museum was supplied with the results of Indiana-American research projects, pamphlets, calendars of coming events, posters and future exhibitions. The twinning with the Museum of Coastal History, St Simons Island, Georgia, USA has led to the investigation of the "Trans-Atlantic Linkage-the Sierra Leone and the Gullah/Geechee Connection." There has been a series of exchange visits between curators and the Great Spring Lecture was delivered at Fort Frederica, St Simon Island in 1995. In the same year a joint exhibition and a symposium was held on the "Trans-Atlantic Linkage" in Georgia.

CHALLENGES

One of the primary concerns of the Sierra Leone National Museum is how to combat the theft and illicit exportation of cultural artifacts. The Government of Sierra Leone has formulated a comprehensive national policy with statutes as contained in the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1947. The Ordinance provides for the preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of historical, ethnographical and scientific interest. Any person who desires to export from the country any ethnographical item must submit it to the National Museum; a license will be issued which should be shown to customs officers at the point of departure. If an intended item for exportation has cultural, historical or archaeological value it will be retained in the country as part of the national heritage. Anyone found violating any of the regulations is liable to criminal prosecution under the provision of the Ordinance. If found guilty the person concerned will have to pay a fine of two hundred pounds sterling. In default of payment, the person will serve a prison sentence not exceeding six months. However, in spite of the efforts made by the Museum to protect cultural property smuggling of artifacts continues. It is disturbing to note that in Sierra Leone educated and intelligent persons purchase, sell and export protected cultural materials just for the sake of business promotion. What is more Sierra Leone has porous borders which people use to advantage in smuggling cultural materials out of the country with impunity.

Further the public service that the National Museum plays warrants public expenditure, especially if standards are to be maintained. Sadly government grants to the museum are meagre and this poses another challenge for the running of the museum. Often salaries paid to staff are not only discouraging often but delayed in payment. In 2014 for instance so much salary backlog was owed staff that staff struck and the museum ceased to operate for a while. Besides the National Museum does not have branches in the provinces but only centered in the capital city, Freetown. Staff are limited in number and ill-motivated. Hardly are they engaged in capacity building due to lack of funds. This has led to massive staff turn-over. More over working in the museum is not well regarded nation-wide. Most people view it as a job for school drop outs. Thus young people do not like pursuing museology as a career. Also staff do not embark on massive public education on the importance of the museum in society. Little wonder why school going children form the largest number of visitors to the museum as opposed to government functionaries and key stake holders in the country. Even the line ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the Museum is under does not seem to understand its importance in nation building. The Ministry priorities its activities and supporting the museum is not a priority. Thus in time of economic stringency the museum is a prone area to swindle funds (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013). If therefore government wants the National Museum to continue playing an ever increasing role in national development there is every need for government functionaries to give second thought on how best they can support it to meet this goal. Where the challenges faced by management are addressed the museum too can help generate the much needed foreign exchange in addition to its preservation of the national heritage.
Sierra Leone is bounded on the north-west, north and north-east by the Republic Guinea, on the south-east by the Republic of Liberia and on south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 27,925 square miles. The colony of Sierra Leone originated in the sale and cession in 1787 by native chiefs to English settlers of a piece of land intended as a home for African settlers who were waifs in London and later it was used as a settlement for freed African slaves. The hinterland was declared a British Protectorate on 21st August, 1896. Sierra Leone attained independence on 27th April, 1961 and became a Republic in 1971. Education is provided by both private and state-sponsored schools. The current system of education is 6-3-4-4 (that is six years Primary school, three years Junior Secondary School, four years Senior Secondary School and four years tertiary/higher education. This system is complemented by non- formal education.

CONCEPT OF EDUCATION

Education is frequently used in the sense of instruction in the classroom, laboratory, workshop or domestic science room and consists principally in the imparting by the teacher, and the acquisition by pupils, of information and mental as well as manual skills. A wider meaning than instruction is that of schooling. That is to say all that goes on within the school as part of the pupil's life there. It includes, among other things, relationship between pupils and teachers, pupils and pupils both in and outside the school. J. S. Mill (1931) opined that whatever helps to shape the human being; to make the individual what he is or hinder him from being what he is not is part of his education. Implicitly education is lifelong and ubiquitous; it is the sum total of all influences which go to make a person what he is, from birth to death. It includes the home, our neighbors, and the street among others.

Education is to some extent a deliberate planned process devised and conducted by the educator with the purpose of imbuing the learner with certain information, skills, of mind and body as well as modes of behavior considered desirable. In part it is the learner's own response to the environment in which he lives. Education has three focal points: the individual/person upon whom the educator's influences are brought to bear; the society or community to which he belongs; and the whole context of reality within which the individual and society play their part. Man is a social creature; he grows as a person through the impact of personality on personality; and even for his basic physical needs he depends on the help and cooperation of his fellow men and women. Without society and the mutual support and enrichment of experiences which it provides civilization is impossible and the life of man, in Hobbes' words, is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

One of the fundamental facts of human existence is the tension between the pull of the past and the forward urge into the future, between stability and change, tradition and innovation. For effective living,man needs a circle of security, an area of established habits and relationship which forms dependable relationships. This is also true of society. For its effective functioning there must be an underlying continuity of traditions and outlook which preserves its identity as a society and safeguards it against the disruptive effects of change. Change must be for life and not static but this change in turn must be controlled by the basic traditions of society. It is tradition which gives a nation its character and distinctiveness as a society. The conservation of tradition therefore is obviously crucial.

It has been recognized from time immemorial that the conservation of traditional education has a vital part to play in the development of the child. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow; they must be trained therefore, to inherit and perpetuate the beliefs and modes of life peculiar to the particular society to which they belong. For every society has the desire to preserve itself not only physically but as community consciously sharing certain aims, ideals and patterns of behavior. This type of education is not necessarily formal in schools by means of classroom instruction but that effected indirectly through the family and through the impact on the individual of social influences and customs which the child cannot evade. In Sierra Leone this social education included elaborate ceremonies of initiation involving feats of endurance in which young men and women must prove themselves worthy of the community. The ultimate goal was to produce an individual who was honest, respectful, skilled, cooperative, and who could conform to the social order of the day. As Aristotle once stated "the constitution of a state will suffer if education is neglected. The citizens of a state should always be educated to suit the constitution of the state. The type of character appropriate to a constitution is the power which continues to sustain it as it is also the state force which originally created it" (p. I).

TRADITIONAL EDUCATION IN SOCIETY

Traditional education has both a creative and conservation function in society; it is a powerful means of preserving a society's customs, if not culture. In the past the nature and needs of society played a vital part in determining the nature of education. Professor M.V.C. Jeffreys (1950) once wrote in his book, Glaucon, that "in a tranquil society the educational system will tend to reflect the social pattern, while social uneasiness and instability create opportunity for using education as an instrument of social change"(p.7). A similar view was shared by John Dewey (1897) who opined that through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources and thus save itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move. Education looks both to the past and the future; inevitably it reflects the traditions and character of society. Traditional education can be used to prepare for changes in society and anticipate and prevent changes or the effects of changes in society.

Traditional education conserves and hands on the customs and ways of life which constitute the character of a society and maintains its unity. It also helps society to interpret its functions in new ways to meet the challenges of change, seeking ways or lines of development which are consistent with the traditions and customs and will at the same time raise society to a more complete fulfillment of itself.
TRADITIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE

History reveals that there were no formal schools where children were educated in Pre-colonial Sierra Leone. The Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies were looked upon as institutions to train children. They were bush schools. And the education these bush schools provided was informal. Children who went through these secret societies were considered capable of carrying out their civic responsibilities. They became adults and can marry and start life. They considered themselves as one family. In other words both Secret Societies created a sense of comradeship and unity among members irrespective of family, clan or ethnic affiliation. It was therefore considered that children who had not gone through these secret societies were not fully matured.

The Poro Secret Society is for boys. The spiritual head of the Poro Society is Pa Gbonu, seen only by the older graduates or members. The physical heads are the Pa Sama Yorgbors and Pa Somanos. They direct the activities of the institution. The senior instructors are the Pa Kashis, who generally teach and give instructions to other initiators. The Pa Manchiyas serve as teachers to the initiates while the Kachemas are the scaring spirits. They scare the women and children alike together with the new initiates. The Rakas are the errand boys carrying messages around. The Yambas are the head boys. The Bomos are the senior prefects while the Sayboms are the prefects; and the monitors are the Gbanaboms. Informal classes are held in the Secret Poro Bush. The subjects taught include Creative Practical Arts, Performing Arts, Practical Agriculture, Medicine i.e. use of local herbs for the treatment of different ailments), warfare and other skills. In Creative Practical Arts initiates are taught how to make fishing nets, baskets, mats, and carving wood and soap stones into different objects such as animals and humans; in Performing Arts initiates are taught singing, dancing and the use of Poro musical instruments. In Practical Agriculture initiates practice farming. Boys are taught to bear hardship without complaint and grow accustomed to it. Thus they are taken to the farms of their teachers and elders to work on pro bono basis. However during the harvest season initiates could pass through these farms taking whatever they need and eat without being questioned by farm owners. Initiates are taught to respect elders and use of guns to kill animals. In a similar vein initiates are taught how to use guns in fighting in defense of their communities. Other skills initiates are taught include making fish traps, fishing and hunting net, and basketry. In the use of herbs initiates pay money (some freely given) for healing various sicknesses as well as for protection against enemies, evil spirits and snake bites. Initiates who want to cause harm to others using herbs could 'redeem' the herb/medicine concerned. Over all initiates are taught a new Language spoken only by members called Ke Sornor. For example fonka trika meaning I am talking to you; fonka bonomi meaning Talk to me. The use of this new Language makes graduates very proud and feel different from non-initiates. Graduates come out with new names such as Lamp, Langba and Kolerr. A graduation ceremony climaxes the event.

Parents make massive preparations including sewing dresses for the graduates. To mark the graduation ceremony there is feasting, drinking, dancing and singing praise songs for the graduates and their parents. Those qualified for initiation must have been circumcised and grown to age of puberty. They have to live on their own during the period of training which ranges from one to seven years. Graduates are fully admitted to the general Poro society through another ceremony called Enkorie, which lasts for four days.

The Bondo/Sande Society is the institution where girls are trained for womanhood. Its spiritual head is Na Bondigba. The Na Gboyamas and Na Wulus are the physical heads. These have spiritual powers used to foretell the future and catch witches. They are the senior teachers. The Na Sokos are the service teachers. They can initiate girls even up to the advanced stage of the Society. The Digbas are the general teachers and stay close to the initiates. The Sampas are the skillful dancers and errand girls/women. They make announcements about the progress and activities or programs during the graduation ceremony.

The Na Fets, as the name implies do not know all the secrecy of the institution. They carry the institutional implements and regalia. The Karr Ayeamus are the 'waiters' to be initiated into the higher status of the institution. Girls admitted to the Bondo/Sande Society are trained informally. Classes are held at Kantha or sacred home. The teachers are largely concerned with the transmission to these adolescent girls the skills and knowledge which adult women are expected to possess in order to function properly and intelligently in their community. The subjects girls are taught include Cooking, Performing Arts, Fishing, Husband and Child Care, and Home Management. In Cooking girls are taught how to prepare food through observation and participation in the preparation of various dishes and are later allowed to have a go with little or no supervision. Those who could not cook properly are allowed to repeat. In Performing Arts girls are taught how to compose and sing songs and how to beat the Bondo/Sande drums (sambories). Alongside singing girls are taught how to dance and those who dance well may join the hierarchy of the Sampas. Girls are also taught how to fishing, make fishing nets, fishing baskets, sleeping mats from bamboo and palm leaves. Further girls are taught how to help their prospective husbands and how to take care of children especially those of senior members. Like the Poro Society graduation ceremonies are marked by massive preparations. Both parents and prospective husbands would buy new dresses, slippers, perfumes, powder, and beads to make neck laces. On the day of the graduation ceremony the new initiates are arrayed in white with coronets. They come out with new names such as Burah, Yeanor, Rukor and Yainkain. This demonstrates a sign of maturity. Initiating girls into Bondo/Sande society lasts between a few months and three years.

CHALLENGES

If education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to richer and more fruitful expression then both the Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies, as traditional agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these secret societies the nation's culture flows from one generation to the other and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. They stand at a point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities. Through these secret societies children remember the past activities of their predecessors. They help in behavioral training patterns of society. These societies are institutions of inspiration and both politicians and chiefs use them to advantage. That is to either gain or maintain power. Major and binding decisions are taken in the Poro Bush of which only members are allowed to attend and take part. The Poro Secret Society acts as a check against the abuse of power. In crisis ridden situations major decision are taken in the Poro Bush. The Poro society even acts as arbitrator in chiefdom disputes and could promulgate general laws and regulate trading practices. It is also involved in the burial of chiefs and other important local officials (Alie, 1990).

Western education has existed in the country for long and is now so integral part of the civilized life that there is a tendency to assume that it is the main or sole means of imparting skills, knowledge and social values in children. This is not the case in Sierra Leone. The importance of the Poro and Bondo traditional secret societies cannot be over-sighted because of their enormous potentiality in educating children for life in society. Fundamental is that respect for persons as persons is the basis of traditional society. Linked with this is courtesy, sensitivity to the needs of others, cooperativeness, self-discipline, moral and physical courage, hard work and high standards of achievement. These are passed on to children in the environment in which they are part of their daily experiences. Notwithstanding, these traditional institutions as agents of education are currently faced with many challenges there-by forcing their demise. The practice of female genital circumcision is of international concern and in Sierra Leone people are agitating for its total ban. Currently girls are allowed to be circumcised at age eighteen during which time a child is perceived to be matured enough to choose whether or not to be initiated into the Bondo/Sande secret society. In addition the period of initiation is perceived too long and is being challenged. Besides children these days no longer have to be initiated into these societies to be taught how to be clean, cook, rear children, practice agriculture, and inculcate morals and virtues to cite a few examples. All these could be learnt either in or outside formal schooling through reading. What is more Religion, especially Christianity and Islam, western life, as well as rural-urban migration are forcing these secret societies to obliteration.

Besides the activities and work of these traditional societies are not in curriculum form and documented. Neither also is the use of herbs documented. Therefore by discontinuing these traditional secret societies Sierra Leoneans stand to lose their cultural heritage. If however, education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to a richer and more fruitful expression then these traditional secret societies, as agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these societies the national culture flows from one generation to another and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. These secret societies stand at the point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities.

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