African Educational Theories and Practices: a generative Teacher Education Textbook

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African Educational Theories and Practices: A Generative Teacher Education Textbook

Authors’ Retreat: August 7-8, 2009

Holiday Inn Resort, Limbe, Cameroon


(Retreat Rapporteur: Andy Dawes, with Timelines notes from Robert Serpell)

Note: Only key points and Decisions are recorded


Esther Foluke Akinsola; Oumar Barry; Pierre Dasen; Andy Dawes; Mary O. Esere; Emmanuel Fomba; Théogène-Octave Gakuba; Mathew B. Gwanfogbe; Moses Mbangwana; Maureen Mweru; Bame Nsamenang; Nareadi Phasha; Ikechukwu A. Nwazuoke; Mohamadou Sall; Robert Serpell; John Tabe Tambe; Valentine Tame; Godfrey Tangwa; Therese S.M. Tchombe; Florence Yuyen; Roderick Zimba.

New Authors recruited during the retreat:

Paul Oburu (Kenya): Research and the Classroom Teacher; Peter Baguma (Uganda): Issues in African Education


Ruth Bashuru (Nigeria), Leikness Simbayi (South Africa); Arthur Whaley (ISR, U of Michigan, USA)

Retreat Secretariat: Rose Ndonka


9:00: Welcome and introductions. (Bame Nsamenang)

Bame opened the meeting and outlined the journey toward the production of the book.

He then outlined the history of the Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) which is a private centre (not part of the university) established with colleagues in Bamenda in 1995. The focus of the HDRC is on the human development of young generations in Cameroon. A goal is to illuminate the extent to which Africa is supporting the development of the next generations. HDRC seeks to generate culturally appropriate knowledge and products for Africa

HDRC has several key objectives. Key among them and particularly related to this volume is to produce research, knowledge and products that enhance the development of African’s children. HDRC is furthermore committed to services psychology that is relevant to social context and is guided by the best evidence.

Targeted interventions are need to be appropriately targeted.

There is a gap in services to later childhood (prior to adolescence).

Key question for the HDRC: how does one raise children to be Cameroonian and African in the face of global trends education, knowledge and competitive labour markets?

A further key question is the effectiveness of education and other interventions.

Another is the need to ground education in local knowledge systems.

Concern about Cameroon training locally for jobs abroad.

Concern about blindness (in education and other training areas) to what is there in children’s developmental cultural contexts.

9:30: Meeting / Project Overview and Brief on Jacobs Foundation Funded HDRC Initiative. (Bame Nsamenang)

Bame then went on to say that the above factors are behind the motivation for the book.

The book seeks to address these issues; to open up awareness among educators and policy makers regarding the need to insert cultural realities into the content of education so as to enhance the production of graduates who take account of the local context but operate in a global competitive world.

The Title: African Educational Theories and Practices: A generative teacher Educational Textbook

Project year is July 1 2008 – June 31st 2009.

We need a product that justifies the award of the grant.

This is envisaged as the first as a series of textbooks. Future possibilities will include a book on ECD (among others).

The book should be a generative textbook (see the advanced preface notes).

The book cannot cover all Africa but will include case studies.

HDRC put a proposal to the Jacobs Foundation which has funded the grant.

Jacobs felt the book should include the Lusophone countries and should have translations; Bame argues that translation is not viable at present.

HDRC has made certain promises to Jacobs. Among these are:

A pretest of the book;

Link with regional African bodies for support for this initiative.

Bame reviewed the author list and status of contributions.

Issues / Discussion Suggestions / Questions arising from this session:

Bame: Refer to the guidelines for the book sent to us for a description of layout.

Bame: A change to the original guidelines must be that authors provide local own country examples (case studies of “African ways” in the author’s country) to illuminate the chapter.

Some new chapters have been included since the original list of authors has been assembled; only a few authors dropped out from the original targeted list.

Pierre: bring out a first edition (1000) and then the subsequent edition would follow pre-testing

Robert: Marketing: Piloting what would it mean if there were ten sample copies that you could take to ministries, publishers, etc to make a judgment as to whether this book is a good contribution before we go to a major print run?

Bame Proposal: HDRC would produce the book locally; authors can form local collectives to print and distribute (royalties to HDRC!).

Robert: how to we move from the vision to agreement on the key outcomes associated activities? We need to discuss in some detail these matters including the long term dissemination plan is.

Robert: If one just wants a Cameroon volume OK. We need to have a country perspective from each country.

Godfrey Tangwa: Is this aimed at students aiming to be teachers? Bame: Yes teacher training college; 1st year teacher trainees; what is the level of the reader? This is presumably not a scholarly text; need agreement about level of language and citation conventions; what are we going to do with people who have not delivered? Risk of subverting the project?

Pierre Dasen Should we not direct this at teacher trainers – because currently the book seems to be at this level. Level should reach our colleagues who are trainers. Also address decision makers. We imply that the curriculum has to change; teachers need to change; book should be geared to ministries and decision makers: Suggestion: summary of what each chapter mean for structure and curriculum should be directed at government people.

Therese Tchombe: for us to write to the African arena we need to reflect on what teachers are encountering; we need to identify the problems so that we can deal with these in teacher education so that teachers can deal with the school situation. She agreed that the target should be teacher educators and officials policy makers. Also suggests inclusion of issues such as counseling for issues such as children with HIV in classroom.

Godfrey: supports the idea of target being the teacher educator. Language should be fairly simplified. We should limit references.

Bame: this book must be directed at student teachers. It is a textbook for teachers in training.

Key question: How do we deal with regional relevance; some countries are already grappling with these issues.

Could be appropriate to have a sound comparative chapter at the front of the volume?

Agreement / Decisions this session:

Bame to email his presentation to all.

Target audience: This is a textbook for teachers in training at all levels.

See Chapter Guidelines for form and length. Sixteen pages as a guide. References will probably be limited and inserted in an appendix.

We will scrutinize the final draft of content and suggest additional chapters to Bame.

We do not cite in text. Write a plain text.

New authors to recruit: Research; comparative education; Education partners; Language of instruction. Pick up gaps later in the meeting

Executive decisions to be made regarding style:

  • English spelling conventions: Use UK English spell check.

  • Referencing and citation conventions: Use American Psychological Association style. Bame to circulate to all authors.

  • No footnoting

  • Writing in the first person: Editors to advice.

Draft Chapter Presentation & Discussion Days 1 and 2


  • We agreed to give a few key comments on each paper at the meeting.

  • Colleagues may send further comments to Bame

  • Everyone who has a power-point for the meeting, please send this individually to all the people on the email list.

Discussion of Draft chapter Presentations

1: Mathew Gwanfogbe: History of Education systems in Africa: the case of Cameroon.

Key comments:

  • ? should be a wider review on education systems in Africa prior to colonialism; colonial systems (in the Luso, Anglo and Francophone regions); and then follow with education strategies in post colonial period.
  • The discussion on pre-colonial education is perhaps limited: there is a lot of information on traditional education published by Anthropologists and African authors. There is work on Islamic / Koranic education and its impact (e.g. Daniel Wagner).

  • Modify some global statements on Islamic education.

  • Do we not need a broader chapter at the front of the book?

2: Godfrey Tangwa: Ethics in African education.

Key comments:

  • Godfrey: says we should have limited citations – e.g. not more than ten or less. No footnotes / endnotes. Also avoids the challenge of plagiarism. He also sees the chapter on research as very important because an element of research is part of the curriculum. Others agree.

  • The paper is for teachers. There are some moral issues in the education systems e.g. bullying; corruption; abuse of power (by teachers and students) should be referred to.

  • The standard is perhaps too high for most of our teachers in training – this is an issue for all chapters.

  • Would it perhaps be useful to discuss particularities of moral principals of local and imported educational systems (e.g. an examination of educational policy to extract key goals will perhaps provide examples of the moral repertoires embedded in educational goals – both in the church and the public sector).

3: Mary O. Esere: Indigenous parenting practices in Nigerian society

Key comments:

  • Begin with the oral tradition of stories then move to proverbs.

  • How does the loss of identity operate – e.g. particularly in urban areas – should this not be considered?

  • How do we address the impact of IT media in this chapter and others? Change has come. Discuss in what form does what happened in the village can come through to modern schooling alongside modern media etc? Teachers need to know local practices – discuss issue of parent-teacher meetings - particularly their contribution to the school – their skills can be built in.

4: Maureen Mweru: ECE in Kenya

  • Do we need to point out some of the risks as well as the value of respect – obedience scripts – e.g. adults may take advantage of ‘culture’ to exploit the young?

  • Content of presentation (sib care) is at variance with the title. Others disagree – sibling caretaking does have relevance to pedagogy.

  • Situate the age period; people are formalizing early education. This is a problem.

  • Does she have a list of references?

5: Dawes and Biersteker: Early childhood development

Key comments:

  • Be careful of Bob Levine’s hierarchy which is problematic (Dasen comment).

  • Include disability in the early hazards

  • Possible add a little detail to nutrition – given its importance?

  • Be aware of the importance of not framing cultural practice as a risk, while also pointing to the manner in which some aspects of practice can lead to abuse.

  • Editors should harmonise chapter with Robert (below) and Mary (above). Possibly this chapter comes before Mary. Possibly: Zimba, then Dawes, then Mweru.

  • Do not forget the role of fathers.

6: Roderick Zimba: lessons for childcare givers and teachers on promoting children’s development and rights in the African context

Key comments:

  • Should we discuss somewhere in the book (or in this chapter) the move from ‘traditional lifestyles’ to modernity (from countryside to town; from communal living to individual households). The key issue is that these transitions and the associated dissolution of supportive cultural institutions leads to a situation of “cultural in-between” which can pose risks to childhood (examples – punishment of children is not regulated by the immediate kin and community (as in a village); men may take advantage of their power to assert ‘cultural authority’ over girls in order to perpetrate abuse (where there is less protection than would have been the case before).

  • Perhaps Robert should re-frame a bit to look at the situation from the perspective of their needs and responsibilities rather than rights given the sensitivities in this regard?

  • Perhaps cut the more general overviews and give preference to original research conducted in Africa. Reader will benefit more from original sources than introductory texts.

  • Very universalistic chapter. Needs more focus on specific aspects of Africa – e.g. there could be a discussion of the right to instruction in home language?

7: Omar Barry: Education Des Meres Et Pratiques De Stimulation Et d’eveil A Partir Du Curriculum Traditionnel Et Moderne De La Petite Enfance Au Senegal.

Key comments:

  • Most of what children learn from mothers in the traditional set up is abandoned once the child enters school; need to emphasise what the child learns at home should be followed through in schooling.

  • Importance of dealing with the loss of mother-tongue as children go to school.

  • Please do not only emphasise the role of mothers. We need to include the role of fathers

8: Nsamenang: Developmental learning in African cultural circumstances

Key comments:

  • Could be some overlap with Dawes (sources of development)? Learning is a process rather than and outcome or can it be both (slide 3?).

  • Bame’s work is also a source of theory and evidence; you interpret the ideas that people put to you; Bame’s theory has its roots in his society – as was the case for Piaget.

9: Esther Foluke Akinsola: Reconstructing African education: a wholistic approach to educating the African child.

Key comments:

  • The issue of use of indigenous language of instruction arises again. Should we not have a chapter or at least some mention in the introduction of the book of the evidence base on this and the shift over to English, French etc.

  • Topic might lend itself to oversimplification (one side is wrong and the other side is right).

  • Discuss the importance of parents assisting in the teaching of children.

  • Paper moves from basic ideas such as children’s songs and moving to more conceptual level. This is a positive aspect for a non-sophisticated audience.

10: Ikechukwu Nwayzuoke: Giftedness.

Key comments: Difficult to take, the way the discussion went!

11: Fomba Emanual Mbebeb: Exploring the critical role of community engagement in vocational experience

Key comments:

  • Positive response to the paper. Advice to move beyond exhortation to actual examples of how you will implement indigenous practice into contemporary vocational pedagogy.

12: Gakuba Theogene-Octave: Psychosocial guidance of the African child.

Key comments:

  • There has been quite a lot of work on risk factors, and the promotion of resilience and reduction of child vulnerability on the continent. Andy has a number of papers that may be useful. He can provide them if this is helpful.

  • Asking the school to do more that it already does. Requires teacher training to undertake these rolls. Need to ensure that teachers are not over-burdened. We must say how schools can do these things.

  • Insert the point that all teachers take on a counseling role. This must be included in training. Teachers need to be trained to identify children at risk; distinguish between the role of counseling and being a psychologist.

  • Diagramme of the house is great. But then you suggest that the relationship between these elements is not linear – the diagramme looks linear. Consider this carefully.

DAY 2 - AUGUST 8 2009

13: Pierre Dasen: A theoretical framework for human development in cultural perspective.

Key comments:

  • The word ‘research? Be aware of the need to perhaps not use this term in the formal sense? Others commented that this may not be such an issue.

  • Consider whether there should or should not be some space given to evidence for / against benefits of early mother tongue education and transition to the dominant “foreign” language of instruction?

  • Discuss the time element in your micro- marco systems diagramme? Illustrate that content would look different for children in a rural village and for those growing up in modern settings.

  • Cognitive processes are universal, but styles are not. Would you draw on Pasqual Leonie (task analysis)?; Nunez etc?

14: Robert Serpell: Ku-gwirizana ndi anzache: peer group cooperation as a resource for promoting socially responsible intelligence.

Key comments:

  • Address the issue of the ‘modern’ school child as well as the rural child for whom indigenous knowledge is more accessible even if the paper focuses attention on examples of indigenous knowledge in the rural context.

  • General point for all authors: Rather than chapters having a list of ‘we should’ and we must do this or that’ we all need to use real examples of what has been applied / worked.

  • Note that CTC is applied more widely than Zambia, and that this is an example of the Zambian case. Other chapters will include references to this practice where relevant. Robert noted that evaluations that come out negative then it can kill the idea. Highlight the idea rather than the programme (which can be poorly delivered)!

15: Therese Mungah-Shalo Tchombe: African Strategies for Cognitive Enrichment and Transformative Learning

Key comments:

  • There is a need to address the matter of teachers needing a new mindset – greater commitment to work etc. Other speakers agree this matter is important. Professionalism is essential.

  • The role of theory in education is important to stress as you have done.

  • Need to discuss the question of how you ‘change the mindset of teachers’. But is it only the mindsets of the teachers? Positive teachers need support could you not also stress this please.

  • Perhaps we need in the book to make clear what we mean by indigenous pedagogy – could be an issue for the introduction to the volume.

16: Nareadi Phasha: Inclusive education

Key comments:

  • Excellent example of how inclusive education can be contextualized.

  • Please include a section on the role of the donor community in pushing the instrumental instruments.

  • Concern: The question is how are these needs to be addressed in the classroom – given the range of disabilities possible in the classroom. She needs to address the challenges of pedagogy in the inclusive classroom. How possible is inclusive education in the constraints of African pedagogic setting. This is the applicability question.

  • Note that teaching strategies should be adjusted to arrive at the agreed learning outcomes.

  • Would be good idea to have a discussion of how disability is understood in the African context and then link this to African notions of inclusion and exclusion (given the long history of streaming of children with special needs – also the history of exclusion that prevailed in the West.

17: Lizette Ngeng , John Tabe Tambe, et al: Informal knowledge and evaluation (La place des savoirs informels dans l’évaluation des activités pratiques du First School Leaving Certificate and “Certificat d’Etudes Primaires)

Key comments:

  • Really good examples of the practice of involving children in accessing ‘informal’ knowledge (reflecting local realities) – and the manner in which schools can either support or undermine this practice through the specified approach to evaluation.

  • Audience of the present draft is not too clear. Looks like a paper for the policy maker rather than the teacher. Clarify issues that are for the teacher and those that are relevant for the policy maker.

  • The statistics on child outcomes could be excluded.

  • Summary of PhD research findings does not link up well with the rest of the paper.

  • There is a problem in examining material that is not taught in school. However, if there is no evaluation of the practical activities then they will not be valued. There should be a unified way of evaluating across the country.

18: Sall Mohamadou: Ethnicite et confiance

Key comments:

  • Very interesting study. It starts from demography and ends up proving a theory in social psychology, But as a paper it is a could candidate for the IACCP proceedings. However, in current form it is not appropriate for this book.

  • The point would be to see how the social psychological theory and findings (SIT etc) could be incorporated into educational practice to affirm identity while building tolerance for others.

19: Florence Yuyen: Agrarian childhoods and integration of agriculture in school curricula.

Key comments:

  • Interesting and important paper.

  • Suggest you check on the policy regarding incorporation of agriculture

  • Be aware that in high school in Cameroon agricultural work is regarded as punishment. Consider this in your paper.
  • In many countries this approach (introducing agriculture) has not worked due to resistance from parents who want a modern education. The literature on this question should be reviewed. So be careful of assuming that this approach will in fact be successful. What is needed to make it successful – need to learn from the experiences elsewhere (i.e. the evidence).

  • Be careful of the claim that “90% of Africans depend on agriculture”. The meaning of ‘depend’ is not clear. Do you mean that they grow their own food? If so, the figure seems too high. If you are speaking about your country this should be made clear. Please check the statistics for African countries – you could perhaps use data on rural and urban population distribution as a proxy for persons who do and do not live in agricultural settings. World Bank country reports will have this data.

20: Valentine Tameh et al: Re-Africanisation of present day African education.

Key comments:

  • Need for a separate systematic review of the evidence on teaching first in indigenous languages and then shifting toward the national official languages. This should not be undertaken by Valentine but by an expert in this field.

  • You need to examine the status quo regarding educational assessment in Cameroon and consider what the problems are and what the solutions might be. Note: The status quo of educational assessment in Cameroon and how to make progress from there was the assigned theme.

  • Sensitivity to what is valid knowledge needs to be applied here in the engagements between academics and policy makers. We must have an openness on issues such as language policy – there should not be a preaching approach because this will alienating to the reader.

21: Mbangwana Atezah: The use of assistive technology in improving the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

Key comments:

  • Comment on African technologies that can also be used. All to please send them if they have them. Some people in Kenya are doing this.

  • Special needs are not the same as disabilities.
  • Authors who are working on special needs and disability to consult with one another as they review.

  • While ICT is important, most do not have to access. Suggest you discuss the use of ‘appropriate technology’ in less well resourced societies. Refer to David Werner’s disabled village children – refer to this. We need to de-mystify technology for the teachers. Also perhaps refer to the volume ‘Disability in South Africa (HSRC Press). Available at

22: Chapter slides displayed for 4 chapters whose authors could not attend:

  1. George Brannen: Social Relationships: Determinants of Supernatural Forces and Misfortune

    1. Key Comment: Requires serious re-orientation. The primary focus should be on the health of school children, school sanitation and hygiene and how African forms of social or interpersonal relationships could enhance these.

  2. Levison Maunganidze, Joseph Mavu Kasayira, & Pilot Mudhovozi: Educational Assessment and Analysis in the African Cultural Context.

    1. Key Comment: In need of some copy-editing.

  3. Byron Brown & Almon Shumba: Multiculturalism in Education in South African schools: Significance and Challenges for affirming unity amidst Diversity.

    1. Still an abstract and needs to be developed rapidly to ‘catch up’.

  4. Magen Mhaka-Mutepfa & Joseph Seabi (Developmental assessment of children of African ancestry and implications for the student teacher)

    1. needs a lot of clarification and revision.


(Chair: Therese Tchombe)

Topic 1: Building a comprehensive Strategic Project Plan

1.1: Strategy & Business Plan for the future volumes!


  • We need a clear goal: Improve quality education across the system from early education through to the higher education system.

  • The problem we want to address:

    • The quality of teaching and learning

    • Pedagogic skills

  • The focus is education.

  • Giving voice to silences or domination on key issues.

  • Publication agenda: Production of Education and teaching aids.

  • Agreed it is too early to take forward a discussion on future books.

  • Topic 2: We need to reflect more on the next steps, i.e., which textbook volume to develop next. All can get back to HDRC with ideas.

  • Importance of using partners for support.

1.2. Resources Development


  • This refers to accessing funding etc.

  • The conclusion is to focus on the current product.

1.3: Consultations, Advocacy and Networking Framework for the current book. How do we advocate in country region and higher?


  • See Robert’s proposal for an operational plan for production (on PowerPoint) as a possible way forward.

  • By January will have a complete prospectus.

  • Once the drafts are ready HDRC should prepare an outline of the book.

  • The draft will be provided to key informants in education departments for comment (Pilot testing). Feedback will be requested in one month. Adaptations to be made as necessary.

  • Each author can provide Bame with contact details of key country contacts.
  • Appropriate users will be approached: university departments of education in the author countries; ministries of education; African Union Education Desk; Dakar November meeting; UNESCO EFA International Bureau of Education; UNICEF; Plan; Regional bodies; education networks; ADEA; IBE; IDRC; ERNWACA; ERNESA; AGFUND.

  • Work further on email. New ideas can be sent.

  • A Yahoo group will be formed for further contacts.

Topic 3: Timelines for Tasks Completion

3.1: Author guidelines

  • A Guideline for authors (checklist of criteria) must be elaborated by the editors (see Robert’s power point).

  • Inclusiveness, intellectual property and quality assurance (no one left behind?), copyright etc) (see Robert’s power point).

3.2: Pilot Testing

  • Refer to this as peer review prior to finalization – not ‘pilot testing’.

  • Proposal accepted: send book to key persons in teacher education structures and policy makers and education NGOs; teachers; student teachers. Request feedback within short period.

3.3: Timelines for the way forward up to ISSBD in Lusaka, Zambia





By 20 August 09

1.Feedback on present draft (1),

+ guidelines for revision

+ style requirements

+ target dates


Comprehensive understanding by each author of his/her next task

Aug/Sept 09

2.Recruitment of authors for additional chapters


Gaps in overall book schema filled

15 October 2009

3.Submission of next draft (2)

Each author

Material for editor to assess

15 November

4.Notification of acceptance,

or need for further revision


Understanding by author of next task

15 January 2010

5.Submission of next draft (3)

Each author

Material for editor to assess

31 January 2010

6. Feedback on second/third draft,

with guidance for cross-referring to other chapters (or at step 4 ?)


understanding by each author of his/her next task

1 March 2010

7. Submit final revision (draft 4),

or drop out

Each author

Editor is able to detect remaining gaps

March 2010

8. Integrate, cross-reference chapters,

finalise editorial introduction


Coherence of book enhanced

1 Apr 2010

9. Final, in-house editing for style


Final MS ready for printing

1 May2010

10. Deliver final, camera-ready MS to printer


Printer able to embark on production

30 June 2010

11. Prepare, print and bind



1,000 copies printed and ready for display/ distribution at ISSBD 2010 Congress: July

Lusaka July 2010

12. Book Presentation at ISSBD in Lusaka, Zambia

HDRC & Authors

See 30 June 2010 above

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