Responding to the Challenge of Meeting the Needs of Children Under 3 in Africa

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Book Chapter

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In the 1970s Robert LeVine, who is recognized worldwide for his longrunning research in Africa, devoted substantial portions of his career to illuminating the importance of cross-cultural differences in the norms, values, and belief systems that shape children’s development in the context of parenting and the broader socialization process. He articulated a hierarchy of three universal goals presumed to inform parenting and socialization across cultures (LeVine 1977): (1) promoting and ensuring the physical survival and health of children, (2) fostering in children the capacity to attain economic self-maintenance, and (3) socializing across cultures to prepare children to develop behavioral competencies to internalize and act in accordance with the core values within their culture. Among others, these core values determine concepts of right and wrong (morality), authority, respect, spirituality, and so on, and also shape the relative balance between valuing interdependence, shared interests, and the common good versus valuing individual achievement, personal autonomy, and self-interest.The pursuit of these socialization goals begins in the context of the early parenting and primary caregiving process and finds ecological continuity through various other socialization agents, including the extended family, the community, formal institutions (such as schools, other group care settings, or places of worship), peers, and the myriad other forces in society that affect children’s development directly and indirectly.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Africa’s future, Africa’s challenge: early childhood care and development in sub-Saharan Africa, p. 201-225