Does the Village Still Raise the Child?

A Collaborative Study of Changing Child-Rearing and Early Education in Kenya

By Beth Blue Swadener
With Margaret Kabiru & Anne Njenga

Subjects: Comparative Education
Series: SUNY series, Early Childhood Education: Inquiries and Insights
Paperback : 9780791447581, 322 pages, September 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447574, 322 pages, September 2000

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Table of contents


Introduction: Decolonizing Research, Deconstructing Change

Part I. Multiple Contexts for the Study

1. Child-rearing and Early Education in a Changing Kenya

2. A Collaborative Study

Part II. Traditional Communities in Transition: Narok and Samburu

3. Narok District: It Takes Grandmothers to Raise a Maasai Child

4. Samburu District: It Takes a Clan to Raise a Child

Part III. Tea and Coffee Plantations: Kericho and Kiambu

5. Kericho Tea Estates: It Takes Child Care Centers and Older Siblings to Raise a Child

6. Kiambu Coffee and Tea Estates: It Takes a Weighing Station and Supportive Manager to Raise a Child

Part IV. Rural/Agricultural Contexts: Embu and Machakos

7. Embu District: It Takes Tradition and Intergenerational Support to Raise a Child

8. Machakos District: It Takes Preschool Teachers As Health Workers to Raise a Child

Part V. Urban/High Population Density: Nairobi and Kisumu

9. Nairobi: It Takes Money and Partners to Raise a Child

10. Kisumu Municipality: It Takes Ayahs and Preschools to Raise a Child

Part VI. Conclusions, Recommendations, and Reflections

11. Making Meaning: Does the Village Still Raise the Child?

Epilogue: Methodological Reflections
Appendix A: List of Local Collaborators
Appendix B: Research Questions
Appendix C: Research Methodology and Description of Procedures

Considers the impacts of rapid social, economic, and cultural change on child-rearing and early education in Kenya.


Examining the degree to which Kenyan children are still communally raised, this book presents findings from a national collaborative study considering the impacts of rapid social, economic, and cultural change on child-rearing and early education in Kenya. The narratives of over 460 parents, grandparents, preschool teachers, children, and community leaders provide unique insights on the impacts of neo-colonial policies, "development" practices, and national austerity measures on everyday lives of families.

A unique aspect of this book is that it "decolonizes" research through sustained collaboration on all aspects of the study, from design and interview protocol development, to data collection and analysis, through dissemination. This book becomes, then, an invaluable model, for how to do thoughtful, collaborative, comparative research.

Beth Blue Swadener is Professor of Early Childhood Education at Kent State University and the coeditor (with Sally Lubeck) of Children and Families "At Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk, also published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Shirley A. Kessler) of Reconceptualizing the Early Childhood Curriculum: Beginning the Dialogue. Margaret Kabiru is Director of the Mwana Mwende Child Development Trust in Nairobi, and Anne Njenga is Lecturer of Early Childhood Education at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.


"Insightful. Substantive. Makes a major contribution to a sparse literature of early childhood and family ethnographies in Africa written from a collaborative 'decolonized' perspective. " — Valerie Polakow, author of Lives on the Edge: Single Mothers and Their Children in the Other America

"Remarkably fine coverage of social and economic variation as it exists in Kenya. A truly superb descriptive feat!" — Philip L. Kilbride, coauthor of Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood