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Education policies Essay

Education is so important in any given society. For this reason, it forms a major part of any government’s plans. The plans that any government wishes to implement as regards their education system is determined by existing policies. Factors which influence formulation of policies form the subject of this discussion. For orderly presentation, the essay is divided into three chapters namely the introduction, the main body and conclusion.

The introduction gives definitions of key terms used in the essay as well as conceptual frame work, the main body outlines and discusses major factors which influenced education policies in African countries after achieving their independence and lastly the conclusion draws a summary of the essay. 1. 1 Statement of essay purpose This essay aims at discussing the factors which influenced education policies in African countries after their achievement of independence.

The essay will outline these factors and later give a detailed discussion of each factor. 1. 2 Definitions of terms In order to make this discussion meaningful, it is imperative that definitions of key terms that are involved are done. The key terms involved in the discussion are education, policy and independence. The definitions of the terms are as given below Education.

According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture Organisation (1975:1), education is defined as “organised and sustained communication designed to bring about learning” Thus education in this context involves a lifelong process by which an individual is incorporated into the group and made capable of behaving in the ways expected by the society for an individual of a particular age, sex or status. Education can take place formally, non formally and informally. However, in this context the emphasis is on formal education.

Policy A policy is defined as a deliberate plan of action which is put in place to guide decisions and achieve intended outcomes. Policies differ from rules or laws. Rules or laws are established to compel or prohibit certain behaviours while policies guide actions towards desired goals. This discussion, however, focuses on education policies. Bartlett and Burton (2012:134), define an education policy as the “rafts of laws and initiatives that determine the shape and functioning of educational systems at both national and local levels. Therefore, education policies give direction to the functioning of an education system.

Independence This is defined as the freedom from being governed or ruled by another country. African countries in this discussion acquired the freedom to rule themselves from colonial mast 1. 3 Conceptual Framework Blackmore (1999), states that there are three models of policy making namely popular participation, decree and delegation models. This discussion will refer to these three models in outlining and discussing the factors which influenced education policies in African countries after achieving their independence. These models are discussed in detail below. (a) Popular Participation Policy making model.

(b) In this model, everybody is given an opportunity to contribute to the formulation of policies. People in African countries were given opportunities to make suggestions on changes to make to the education system. For example, Zambia’s educational reforms of 1977. (c) Decree Policy Making Model In this model, the head of state makes pronouncements on the direction to be followed in a given education system. (d) Delegation Policy Making Model This involves appointing a commission to review the education system of a given country. For example the Onide Commission was appointed to review the education system of Kenya in 1963.

Policies are made with respect to the findings of the commission. CHAPTER TWO 2. 0 Main Body This chapter outlines and discusses the major factors that influenced education policies in African countries after achieving independence. These factors are as given and discussed below. Education for Economic Development The consideration given to education as an important vehicle for economic development is one of the factors which influenced education policies in African countries after achieving independence. Investment in formal education was considered as an essential precondition for economic growth.

African countries learnt lessons from developed countries that a high basic platform of education was a catalyst to rapid economic development. There was a belief among developing countries that the modernisation, industrialisation and wealth of developed countries were the direct consequence of their educational systems. Coombs (1970) argues that during the 1960s education in developing countries was regarded as a sort of intellectual yeast which would ferment and transform pre industrial societies by promoting knowledge, skills and attitudes which were favourable to economic and social development.

Therefore, education policies in African countries after the achievement of independence were directed at promoting education pro vision expansion in order to achieve meaningful development. In fact an argument is advanced by Anderson (1965), that analysis of evidence from major developed countries such as Britain, France, United States of America and Russia that in general terms, a thresh hold male literacy rate of 40 percent was required before there be any significant take off of economic development.

To this end, African countries directed their policies on education after attaining independence towards increased access to education in order to reach the required thresh hold of literacy. Therefore, in the 1950s and 1960s, demand and plans for investment in formal education by African countries increased. Education was regarded to be a principal weapon in achieving economic growth. To this end rapid quantitative expansion of the education system became the order of the day in newly independent African countries. Man power Shortages.

After attaining independence, African countries were confronted with shortage of manpower in various sectors of the economy. As a result of this scenario, they experienced economic stagnation. Man power shortages were heavily felt in technical and managerial fields. Thus, education policies in most African countries were directed towards resolving the man power shortages experienced. This situation was evident from what obtained in Kenya. As Eshiwani (1993:26), observes ‘’at independence in 1963, Kenya found herself with a high shortage of skilled manpower to run the economy.

In order to solve this problem, a commission was appointed to advise the government on the formulation and interpretation of national educational policies. ” Therefore, it can be stated that man power planning in newly independent countries of Africa gave a direction to the formulation of education policies. Consequently, the governments of newly independent countries of Africa saw it paramount to expand the education systems of their countries in order to produce more graduates from the education system that would fill the manpower gaps which were experienced in various sectors of the economy.

Most technical and managerial jobs at independence in most African countries were occupied by foreigners. Therefore, the aim of most African governments was to decolonise the education systems, produce more output from secondary and higher education so that manpower to participate in national development could be realised. Fafunwa (1974), Contends that education development in African countries like Nigeria was treated as a national emergency for the reason of curbing manpower shortages in crucial areas of the economy.

In order to meet the requirements of manpower in various sectors of the economy, the policies of African countries after independence were directed at increasing school enrolments, especially at the post primary level. Rapid expansion of secondary and higher education was considered as a pre requisite for sustainable economic growth. Enhancing education as a basic human right Newly independent African countries were confronted with a task of providing to every child their basic, essential right to education.

The kind education that was to be provided was supposed to be relevant to the child in his or her African setting. For this reason, most newly African countries had massive capital and recurrent budgets towards the financing of primary education for all. The provision of education especially at elementary level to citizens of newly independent African countries was prompted by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which education is enshrined as a basic human right. As Bishop (1989:1), postulates, “Everyone has the right to education.

Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. ”Therefore, from the foregoing, newly independent African countries were compelled to provide education especially primary education on the grounds of human justice and equity. The newly independent African countries were supposed to consider primary education as the birth right of every child.

This was due to the fact that education was seen as an effective way to give all children regardless of sex or family background an equal start in life. Furthermore, the leadership of newly independent African countries considered education to be the great equaliser that would help to narrow the wide disparities which were apparent in conditions of living in rural and urban communities. Before the attainment of independence, education in most African countries was a preserve for the elite.

In order to correct this, African leaders made radical changes to their education systems to make them more accommodative to everyone. As Carmody (1994:23), contends “As in most African countries, from the early days Africa’s leaders viewed education as a powerful, often the most powerful vehicle for social transformation. Thus, as the UNIP government assumed power, among its immediate priorities were the elimination of racial segregation in schools and expansion of education provision. Tuition and boarding fees were abolished.

” A point was also made by Bishop (1989), which in the days of the 1950s and 1960s massive expansion of education provision was regarded as the best means available for rooting out old prejudices and socio economic injustices. Therefore, education was regarded as basic human right which everyone needed to enjoy as provided in the foregoing arguments. In the pursuit of providing universal primary education, newly African countries set for themselves benchmarks. For example, the Addis Ababa conference on the development of education in Africa held in 1961 recommended that primary education was to be universal, compulsory and free by 1980.

The conference further recommended that secondary education was to be provided to 30 percent of the children who completed primary school. Similarly, the conference of Arab states which met in Tripoli in 1966 also set 1980 as the target date for achieving universal primary education. To this end, it can be argued that one of the factors that influenced the formulation of education policies of African countries after achieving independence was related to the consideration that education was a basic human right which every citizen of a given country was supposed to enjoy .

Hence, massive investment in the provision of education was undertaken by African countries after attaining independence in order to promote the achievement of universal primary education. As Court and Kinyanjui (1978:14), comment on the provision of Universal Primary Education in Tanzania. “President Nyerere had the choice of expanding the number of classes at grades V to VII so that those children entering primary education received seven years of schooling instead of four”.

It can be concluded from the foregoing statement that the decision was arrived at because it enabled finances to be spent on the provision of 7 years of education to one child which helped him or her to become a useful member of society. African countries aimed at improving the access to education by increasing the number of school places which was facilitated by expanding already existing schools as well as construction of new schools in different parts of their countries. Promotion of Modernisation.

African countries formulated their education policies with respect to the purpose of attaining modernisation. In order to influence modernisation in their countries, there was massive investment in education. This was a result of the belief that schooling would assist in the inculcation of modern ideas and attitudes. Bishop (1989), postulate that evidence seemed to indicate that schooling influenced the development of modern traits and ideas. To this end, schooling had some impact on modernisation. This was manifestated in higher levels of modernity among urban people and lower modernity among rural people.

Consequently, many African leaders in newly independent countries felt modernisation of attitudes and behaviours was an important pre requisite for their countries’ development. According to Carmody (1994), education should socialise a nation’s population into modern values, attitudes and personalities. For this reason there was more emphasis on the expansion of education systems in newly independent African countries in order to enhance the access levels. Increased access to education meant increased modernity levels within a given country.

In studies which were conducted be Inkeles and Smith (1974), indicate that education was the single most variable for modernisation. The studies indicate that each year of schooling improved a person’s score on their modernity scale by about 2 points. Education was also very effective in the development of positive attitudes and values. For this reason, formulation of education policies in newly independent African countries was influenced by the idea of modernisation. Modernisation was to be attained by every citizen in the newly independent African countries through education.

Ensuring Citizens’ Political Participation The citizens’ participation in political affairs of their countries could be seen as one of the major factors which influenced education policies in African countries after achieving independence. Political participation of citizens of a particular country was linked to the notion of modernisation. This was due to the fact that knowledge was regarded as power. For this reason, many political leaders of African drafted educational policies which were responsive to the promotion of political participation of citizens in nation matters.

This was highly evident in the content of education which was offered to the citizens . Again this could only be realised through the wide spread of education in African countries which most leaders promoted through the expansion of the education system. Cowan (1965), stressed that any political principle which governed education policy in independent African countries was supposed to regard as a top priority the provision of an education that would establish the most vigorous form of self government and independence.

Therefore, extending schooling to a larger population would make more people politically and socially conscious and more active in the process of nation building. Thus, if equal political rights were to be enjoyed by everyone then everyone ought to have at least an adequate primary school education to participate more fully in the political process of their country. Promotion of Social Equality and Removal of Divisions The attainment of social equality is among the major factors which influenced education policies in African countries after achieving independence.

Education was regarded as an instrument of social equality which was critical in the upbringing of social responsibility. Therefore, education policies which were put in place by African countries after attainment of independence were directed towards the promotion of social equality within their countries. Consequently, more and more school places were created in most parts of African countries to bring about the issue of equality within their countries in the provision of education services.

Equality in the provision of education was called for as it ensured that child was provided with varied and challenging opportunities for collective activities and corporate social services. Furthermore, Eshiwani (1993), points out that the promotion of social equality in the formulation of education policies in African countries after achieving independence helped young people to acquire positive attitudes of mutual respect which enabled them to live together in harmony and to make a positive contribution to the national life.

This contribution to national life was not supposed to be extended to every part of the country, hence the need of social equality in the provision of education. Respect and Development of Cultural Heritage The formulation of education policies in African countries after achieving independence was influenced by the need for promoting respect and development of cultural heritage. Education policies were directed towards the promotion of respect, fostering and developing the rich cultures which African countries have.

For this reason, policy formulation as regards this situation was clearly addressed in the content of education which African countries were to provide to their people. The content of education was adapted to the culture of the people in any particular African country. In support of this assertion, Eshiwani (1993), states that the commission which was assigned to review Kenya’s education system in 1963 recommended that Kenyan schools were to respect the cultural traditions of the people of the country, both as expressed in social institutions and relationships.

Similarly, Damachi et al (1978), reports that education policies in African countries after attainment of independence were influenced by the need to enhance every aspect of human development which included the promotion of cultural heritage. Consequently, African countries were to state clearly their language of instruction in their education system both at lower and higher levels. This was done with the sole aim of promoting the preservation of cultural heritage and national unity.

To this end the education policies which most African countries drafted after the attainment of independence were geared towards learners understanding of past and present cultural values and their valid place in contemporary society. Education for Self Reliance The education policies of African countries were influenced by the need for the curriculum offered to respond to the attainment of self reliance. Thus the recipients of such education were supposed to engage themselves in self employing activities.

The curriculum of African countries emphasized practical subjects in order to ensure the acquisition of self reliance by learners. It was realised that the kind of education which was offered in some countries in Africa was too bookish and academic. The education system in most African countries separated manual work from learning. Thus theory was separated from practice. This situation further alienated young people from their societies. Therefore, education reforms in most African countries were inevitable so as reverse this trend.

As Bishop (1989:116), reports “By the mid 1950s it was being argued once again that schooling should be reformed principally through curriculum reform to include more practical and vocational studies’’ Similarly, Carmody (1994), reports that Zambia’s First National Development Plan pointed to the need for increasingly relating secondary education to the needs of the country by diversifying the secondary school syllabus into technical and commercial fields and giving a new place to agriculture. Therefore, it can be pointed out that education policies in African countries were supposed to address the concept of self reliance.

Academic schooling was to be placed side by side with technical and vocational training in African countries. Improvement of Education Efficiency The education policies of most African countries after achieving independence were influenced by the need of improving the efficiency of the education systems. In education systems of African countries, it was felt that there was no correlation between inputs and out puts as well as between costs and returns. Education policies were centred on the need of making the systems of education to be more efficient.

That is, the education systems were supposed to achieve their output at the lowest cost and also get the greatest return for a given cost. According to Bishop (1989), most education systems in African countries after achieving independence were inefficient, particularly at secondary and higher levels. The inputs such as expenditure per student or teacher training did not seem to have the effects on test scores which educators anticipated. Therefore, education policies were designed in a manner that would make the education systems in newly independent African countries to be more efficient.

Additionally, education in many African countries was dysfunctional. It relied heavily on rote learning and led to an inappropriate reverence for paper qualifications. Furthermore, most curricular in African countries were irrelevant to pupils’ future lives and created an imbalance with many school leavers unemployed. Consequently, African countries formulated policies which were aimed at addressing the challenges which were faced in education systems. Education as a means of fostering international consciousness Education policies in African countries were influenced by the need to foster international consciousness in learners.

Education policies as complimented by the content of education provided to learners was supposed to ensure that positive attitudes towards other countries as well as the international community were upheld. This was emphasized because no country existed as an island. Each country depended on others for its prosperity. Therefore, it was essential that learners were provided with education that would instil international consciousness for the purpose of promoting cooperation among countries. CHAPTER THREE. 3. 0 CONCLUSION Education policies in African countries after their achievement of independence were influenced by a number of factors.

Some of the major factors which influenced education policies in African countries included manpower shortages, recognition of education as a basic human right, consideration of education as a tool for development, modernisation, improving education efficiency, need for citizens’ political participation, and promotion of international consciousness among learners as well as self reliance. Changes in education policies were inevitable due to the fact that African countries experienced change in government.

A change in government is associated with an ideological shift, thus aspects of the education system in a given country will be in a continual state of reformation. Hence, changes occurred in education aspects such as content, teaching methodologies, assessment and structure. REFERENCES.

Anderson, C. A (1974), Education and Development Re considered, Newyork: praeger Publishers. Bartlett, S and Burton, D (2012), Introduction to Education Studies, Los Angeles: Sage Publishers. Bishop, G (1989), Alternative Strategies for Education, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Carmody, B (1994), The Evolution of Education in Zambia, Lusaka: Book World Publishers. Coombs, P. H (1970), The Need for a New Strategy of Education Development, Paris: UNESCO.

Court, D and Kinyanjui, K, K (1978), Development Policy and Education Opportunity: The Experience of Tanzania and Kenya, Paris: Macmillan. Cowan, J. O (1965), Education and National Building in Africa, London: Macmillan Damachi, U. G, Routh, G and Abdel, R. A (1978), Development Paths in Africa and China, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan. Eshiwani, G. S (1993), Education in Kenya since Independence, Nairobi: East African Education Publishers Fafunwa, A. B (1974), History of Education in Nigeria, London: Macmillan Press. Inkeles, A and Smith, D (1974), Becoming Modern, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

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