Exploring Culture, Play, and Early Childhood Education Practice in African Contexts

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In Africa, as in many other parts of the non-Western world, Western-style schooling has become the institutionalized medium of organized or formal education since the era of colonization. The ubiquity of Western-style schooling in Africa is problematic when measured by the criteria that education must 1) be locally relevant and 2) transmit a society's enduring values and best traditions across generations. Today, the alienating effects of schooling in Africa are a major theme in discourse on education. Cole has remarked on the large amounts of time children spend in formal schools 'where their activity is separated from the daily life of the rest of the community' (2005: 195). Serpell (2005) has lamented the absence of a connection between the Western theories that inform teaching and learning in African classrooms and the perspectives and everyday life circumstances and experiences of students, teachers, and parents in their local contexts. In the area of early childhood development (ECD), Nsamenang (2008: 142) has expressed the concern that 'western ECD services initiate Africa's children into an educational process by which children . . . increasingly gain unfamiliar knowledge and skills but sink disturbingly into alienation and ignorance of their cultural circumstances.'

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Rethinking play and pedagogy in early childhood education: concepts, contexts and cultures, p. 73-85