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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'It brought some kind of neatness to mankind': mass literacy, community development and democracy in 1950s Asante
Author:Skinner, KateISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:mass education
central-local government relations
colonial period
Abstract:This article is concerned with mass education in late colonial Ghana. In particular, it examines why, in an era of African nationalism, a literacy and development strategy that appeared to concur with both material needs and cultural values could not be sustained through structures of democratic local government. The first part examines how people in the Ashanti Region interpreted and responded to a policy that was conceived in the period of power-sharing between an African nationalist legislative assembly and a civil service that was still dominated by British expatriates. Literacy campaigns and related community development activities were shaped by the expectations and ideals of the Asantes who participated as learners, tutors, volunteer leaders and salaried employees. Mass education was popular partly because new skills, techniques and materials could be used to pursue older ideals about enlightenment, progress, cleanliness and good character. Government policy indicated that literacy campaigns and community development activities would help to build democracy from the grassroots, yet, in spite of its popularity, mass education remained beyond the control of elected local government. The later part of the article focuses on the small town of Kwaso in order to establish why this was so and what one local resident was able to do about it. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]