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Schooling and Difference in Africa

Schooling and Difference in Africa: Democratic Challenges in a Contemporary Context

George J. Sefa Dei
Alireza Asgharzadeh
Sharon Eblaghie Bahador
Riyad Ahmed Shahjahan
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Schooling and Difference in Africa
    Book Description:

    By studying the challenges of inclusive education in Ghana and, further, by making comparisons with the Canadian context, this volume seeks to shed light on the ongoing struggle for an empowering school system in Africa and elsewhere.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7961-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. 1 Introduction: Threads of Inclusive Schooling
    (pp. 3-39)

    There is African proverb that when the cock crows in the dawn it is a call for us to wake up, an indication that it is early morning and the start of a new day. We are also reminded that the cock performs this duty not for itself but for us. Why? Simply, the cock is already up, so it is waking others up. But how are we to receive this call? We must receive it as a call to duty, to wake up and fulfil our duties and responsibilities, to make our workplaces, homes, schools, colleges, universities, union halls,...

  6. 2 Understanding Difference: Method and Practice
    (pp. 40-67)

    This book emerges from the findings of a three-year fieldwork study conducted on African education with a research focus on the Ghanaian school system. The original research study was funded under a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) grant awarded to one of the authors, George J. Sefa Dei, as principal investigator. We (as authors of this book) have all been involved in the project through various stages since its inception. The original research study had three learning objectives. First, to obtain in-depth, site-specific ethnographic information on exemplary practices that promote educational equity and academic excellence for...

  7. 3 Acknowledging Difference, Responding to Diversity
    (pp. 68-94)

    Among the current challenges of schooling is the issue of how teaching, learning, and the formal administration of education can respond effectively to difference and diversity among the school population. An educator must deal with the question of navigating around difference while understanding the institutional and systemic conditions that structure students’ lives and educational experiences. There are perils in working with difference within communities of schooling. Difference is expressed in multiple and varied ways by many subjects in the school system. There are those who see difference as a source of tension that must be avoided. Difference can be glossed...

  8. 4 Majority and Minority Relations: A Question of Power
    (pp. 95-120)

    The distinctive communities and groups that make up Ghanaian society may be conceptualized in terms of majority and minority relationships. This designation is based on such categories as ethnicity, gender, class, language, religion, disability, socio-political power, and profession. One of the purposes of our study has been to see how the respondents viewed notions of minority and majority status, and how they looked into relationships that were generally referred to as minority – majority relations. They offer a vast array of views and insights to conceptualize, theorize, and define both majority and minority concepts and their intra/inter relationships. In general terms,...

  9. 5 Complicating Schooling: The Question of Ethnicity
    (pp. 121-148)

    We define ethnicity as a social relational category determined by socially selected cultural characteristics. Ethnicity is ‘difficult knowledge’ when it comes to discussing inclusivity and schooling, particularly in Africa. This is in part because of the historical baggage that comes with the term. In supposedly homogeneous populations, where there is no distinct physical marker of distinction (e.g., skin colour), any attempts to affirm a basis of difference, creates a dilemma, opening the door for denial and abuse. It is precisely because of this denial of difference however, that educators need to broach the subject of ethnicity and schooling. In this...

  10. 6 Gendered Subjects: Extending Beyond a Critique of Culture
    (pp. 149-181)

    Gender is an important trope for understanding power relations in schooling. Unfortunately, not enough attention has been paid to the critical discussion of this topic in Ghanaian schooling. It is little wonder that learners still have a very limited understanding of gender relations and schooling and will interpret gender as simply female/male issues and relations. This chapter expands our current understanding of gender relations in schools by looking at the different ways gender is negotiated in the everyday lives of students, educators, and school administrators. Moreover, our interest is on analysing the transformative possibilities or resistances played out by subjects...

  11. 7 The Economics of Schooling: Class and Poverty
    (pp. 182-207)

    Socio-economic classes represent another area of difference and diversity that affects individuals’ identities, world views, living conditions, and life-chances. Socio-economic inequalities, social classes, or social stratifications – as some prefer to call them – are not unique to modern capitalist or contemporary societies. Their existence can be traced as far back in history as the existence of ancient Mesopotamian civilizations some six millennia ago. Back then, socio-economic stratifications were largely formed between a minority ruling elite group and the masses of the ruled populations. Those belonging to the ruling group, those who ran the state apparatuses, and those affiliated with them were...

  12. 8 Resisting Normalcy: Disability and Inclusive Schooling
    (pp. 208-225)

    Disability is perhaps one of the most salient markers of social distinction that has been used throughout history to marginalize, exclude, and oppress individuals and bodies seen as different. In historical terms, perceptions of and conceptions about disability have varied from era to era, society to society, and culture to culture. In different stages of the evolution of human culture, numerous perspectives, from ancient religious narratives to modern scientific discourses, have engaged in conceptualizing and defining disability. In the majority of cases, individuals with disability have been viewed as ‘abnormal’ and linked with various negative conditions such as poverty, crime,...

  13. 9 Language as a Site of Exclusion
    (pp. 226-252)

    Language is another important factor that, along with race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexuality, and age, serves to differentiate and distinguish various social groupings. Based on various estimations, there are over 6000 living languages in today's world, of which over 2000 are spoken in Africa (see Batibo 2001, 311). The African continent has the highest number of spoken languages in the world, and this makes Africa a fertile ground for conflicting language issues, successful and unsuccessful language plannings, and language-related concerns, policies, debates, and discussions.

    The issue of language in education has been a central concern for many African...

  14. 10 Evoking the Sacred: Religion and Spirituality in Schools
    (pp. 253-286)

    In this chapter we take up the twin notions of religion and spirituality and highlight their relevance for inclusive schooling. This is a daring and perilous undertaking. We subscribe to a meaning of ‘spirituality’ that is not necessarily synonymous with religion. We see religion and spirituality as distinct and yet interrelated aspects of human life. The learner is a body, mind, and soul, and both religion and spirituality contribute to the development of this trialectic. We bring the twin notions together because we realize that while religion is separate from spirituality, for many people religion provides the basis of their...

  15. 11 Concluding with a Comparative Lens: Lessons and Possibilities
    (pp. 287-308)

    Contemporary world events demonstrate how the issues of difference and diversity are pressingly relevant. A plethora of concerns and demands call attention to the urgent need for multicultural, multilingual, and inclusive education. A rich body of literature has emerged in recent years that explores various educational policies and methods dealing with issues of difference and diversity in pluralistic contexts (Iram 2003; Schecter and Cummins 2003; Swiniarski and BreiteBorde 2003; Appelbaum 2002; Campbell 2002; Sanchez-Casal and MacDonald 2002; Nieto 2002).

    It is evident, that there are points of convergence and divergence in discussions of the possibilities and limits of inclusive education...

  16. References
    (pp. 309-328)
  17. Index
    (pp. 329-333)