Identifying indigenous conceptions and assessment criteria of intelligence for integration into Zambia school curriculum.

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Simatende, Barnabas
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The University of Zambia
Psychometric measures of intelligence, which are grounded in early 20th century psychological investigations of intelligence in Europe and USA, are established means of assessing intelligence across many contemporary societies. In Zambia, schools, hospitals and employment opportunities use adopted Western assessments of intelligence to classify, sort, and rank children and candidates in relation to opportunities in life. Yet African communities have well developed, and culturally embedded motivational and cognitive assessment systems ensconced in a single curriculum that integrates skill and knowledge about all aspects of life and which was traditionally implemented in the child’s daily routine and as a preparation for successful life in community (Nsamenang, 2006, Akinsola, 2011). A qualitative hermeneutic research was conducted that explored embedded traditional cultural motivational and cognitive assessment practices through which child intelligence is assessed among the 7 major language groups of Zambia - Lozi, Tonga, Chewa, Luvale, Kaonde, Bemba and Lunda. Findings reveal that in indigenous Zambian cultures, primarily there are two types of intelligenceinnate and acquired, explicitly highlighted among the Bemba and the Lozi as: Chifyalilwa and Ngana tanu (innate), and Mambulwa and Ngana takuwanina (acquired), respectively. Innate intelligence is recognized as intelligence that children are born with or as natural potency, capacity or powers that need only to be actualized through an appropriate education system and assessment criteria that are tailored towards their abstraction and actualization. Acquired intelligence on the other hand is intelligence that children acquire from social interaction and formal school systems. Whereas formal school system ensures a child’s fuller participation in universal educational standards of successful learning, intelligence acquired in indigenous knowledge system is basic and essential as it is tailored towards the promotion of basic survival skills while maintaining harmony of all in society. Certain commonalities were detected across the seven language groups. According to each group’s cultural belief system, certain established concepts of intelligence must be elucidated, activated and/or elaborated through a social culturally appropriate learning system. In each group’s cultural belief-system the appropriate learning system must follow the hierarchy of innate characteristics of intelligence that must be actualized. Each cultural belief system specifies characteristics of intelligence that are necessary for the development of a child and the wellbeing of society. These characteristics of intelligence are nurtured through indigenous childcare practices. When relevant indigenous childcare practices associated with developing psychosocial skills among children are included in the ECE curriculum, student retention and success may be enhanced in these centers and in subsequent higher levels of education. Community acceptance of the general formal school system would likely improve. A curriculum review could incorporate appropriate findings from this research and improve the current state of affairs whereby many children in Sub-Saharan Africa leave school pre-maturely or perform poorly in academic tasks such as reading and mathematics and are assessed at primary school level as incapable of undertaking formal school education. Learning from and incorporating indigenous educational practices into formal school systems across Africa will further increase the current value and meaning of formal education.
Thesis (PhD)
Children--Intelligence levels--Study and teaching. , Child rearing. , Children--Intelligence testing. , Assessing intelligence--Children and adolescents. , Psychometrics.