Emergence of a modernizing ideology : content analysis of children's readers in Sierra Leone

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1979

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Introduction. Since independence in 1961, Sierra Leone, West Africa, a Third World nation, has endeavored to formulate a particular modernizing ideology, expressed in the National Development Plan of 1974/75-1978/79, which included aspirations for attainment of economic and political aims and of the attitudes, values, and beliefs (norms) consistent with the development path envisioned. The Plan reflected an aspiration to modernize without destroying certain traditional (preindustrial) norms. Primary schools were principally charged with fostering Africanization (traditional norms), although the aim to foster modernity was emphatic throughout the Plan. Purposes. The purposes of the study were (a) to identify the major societal norms in the national ideology of Sierra Leone reflecting modernity and Africanization in the National Development Plan of 1974/75-1978/79; and (b) to ascertain the degree to which these national norms were reflected in the content of two sets of primary school readers: regional readers used in the early period just after independence (circa 1964) which were a baseline in the study, and the first indigenous readers used a decade later during the force of the Plan (circa 1977). Hypotheses. Eight norms were identified as major themes in the National Plan. Three represented Africanization; five represented modernity. Two hypotheses were tested. Compared with the 1964 children's readers, the 1977 readers reflect significantly greater emphasis on (a) each of the modernity norms-Planning, Value of Education, Efficacy, Openness to Change, and Non- parochial Affiliation; and (b) each of the Africanization norms-African Culture, Respect for Manual Labor, and Social Cohesion. Procedure. The eight norms were scrupulously defined to form a Code for the content analysis of the readers, which was used by four coders with a 4-point rating scale (0-3) to evaluate the degree of emphasis on each of the eight norms in each story, in three reliability runs of 12 different nonsample stories respectively. Coder training and practice preceded each run. High reliability was attained by the third run. The coders used the same procedure to analyze 150 sample stories. The categories, or norms, of the code were supported by face validity. An intercorrelation matrix for the eight norms revealed significant correlations among some of the norms (r = .25 and below). Therefore, separate regression analyses were applied to each norm, rather than to groups of two broad categories, with years designated -1 (1964) and +1 (1977). Results. 1. High intercoderreliability was attained in the sample run. 2. Contrary to Hypothesis I, emphasis on the modernity norms. Efficacy and Nonparochial Affiliation, was significantly less in the 1977 readers; emphasis on Planning, Openness to Change, and Value of Education also was less in the 1977 readers, but the difference was not significant. 3. Confirming Hypothesis II, emphasis on the Africanization norms, African Culture and Respect for Manual Labor, was significantly greater in the 1977 readers. Contrary to expectations, emphasis on Social Cohesion was hardly different in the 1977 readers. 4. The ratio of total emphasis on modernity norms to Africanization norms shifted from approximately 3:1 in 1964 to 2:1 in 1977. 5. The ranks among the norms with regard to their total emphasis in each year were similar in the 1964 and 1977 readers, although the total normative emphasis was less in the 1977 readers. Conclusions. 1. The 1977 readers generally reflected the modernizing ideology of the National Plan. Continued predominance of modernity norms in the 1977 readers suggested aspirations to continue along a modernizing path. The greater emphasis on Africanization norms reflected the mandate for schools to Africanize and the strategy to promote agricultural development through manual pursuits in socially-cohesive rural communities. 2. Less emphasis on Efficacy in the 1977 readers than in the 1964 readers was inconsistent with the national strategy of village Self-Help. Underemphasis on Value of Education in the 1977 readers was inconsistent with national goals to provide the skills necessary for development and to use schools as a vehicle for Africanization.

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